Have you ever wondered what sets successful people apart from average people? I do! All the time. In fact, I read more than the average person, I guess I'm looking for the psychology and scientific reasoning behind what makes people tick. I'm genuinely curious and curious minds want to know.
I "stumbled" across a book recently that provided the best understanding I've yet to uncover and can't help but agree with the author's logic. While I'm not the CEO of a company in an emerging market with a ground-breaking innovative product to sell, I'm certainly proud of my accomplishments and constantly striving for more. I recognized a few behaviors in myself that Brendon Burchard, author of High Performance Habits claims are the signature habits of successful people. That said, I learned I still have a lot of work to do. Onward and upward!
Burchard says there are 6 defining habits of truly successful people. He also speaks to the fact that these habits are practiced consistently. They are not inherent gifts successful people are born with, they don’t form by accident, they are taken on deliberately. Think about it! It’s not who you are but what you do that defines success. That’s a game changing mindset-shift for many people. This means I have complete control over my own personal success, it’s my book to write. Who knew? Well…I guess I did. Now on to the fun part – the work!
Habit 1 – A Clear Sense of Purpose – Seek Clarity
I’m working on this. Every. Single. Day. I’ve always known my “why” from a general perspective. Now, thanks to Simon Sinek, author of Find Your WHY, it’s presently in the polishing phase. I’m giving it a little spit shine to make sure it still holds water. I believe that our why is fluid, it depends on what chapter of our lives we’re in, it’s always evolving. Now I’m focusing on how I want to be remembered and what I want to accomplish in my life. According to Burchard, high performers ask these questions of themselves all the time.
Habit 2 – A Positive Outlook on Life and Being Mentally and Physically Fit – Generate Energy
In truth? I’m new to the physically fit club, it’s never really been my thing. That said, for the last six months, I wake up at 4AM to hit the gym. It really has given me loads more energy, more time in the morning to evaluate my day and set priorities. It has changed my overall outlook on the amount of time I have in the day and the amount of control I have over my day. I’ve also learned through this process, there is no such thing as motivation…only discipline. I decided to go to the gym, I was not (I’m still not) motivated. I still don’t love it, but I’ve made a commitment to myself and I’ve decided through discipline to keep that commitment.
While I’ve always been an incredibly optimistic person, I’m taking it to an all new level now. Life is just all kinds of great! I attribute this happiness to my new habit of owning my morning.
Burchard states that Neuroscientists have found that regular exercise increases the production of new neurons in the brain that are related to learning and memory as well as improving mood.
For your mental health, Neuroscientists believe that the sheer anticipation of positive events for your day (birthday party, happy hour, etc.) at the start of every day, releases more dopamine than the actual experience. Meaning, take time in the morning to think about something that you’re looking forward to that day.
Dopamine = Happy.
The anticipation AND the experience both release dopamine! I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for a double dose of happy every day.
Habit 3 – Know What’s Motivating You – Raise Necessity
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.” - Albert Einstein
This (in my opinion) goes back to knowing your why. The truth is, you don’t HAVE to do anything, go to work, show up for family and friends, or even life and yet many do feel they HAVE to. The goal is to WANT to.
True high performers feel they do what they do because it’s just who they are. They can’t imagine doing anything else and they know they were made to do exactly what they’re doing.
Do I feel I was made for staffing and recruiting? I mean, does anyone grow up and say, “I want to be a recruiter?” No! But I do love what I do. I love helping people find their way when they feel they’re out of options. I love helping someone find a new career, a new job, or even a new outlook. I love mentoring a new leader, training a new team member, and coaching someone through a difficult decision. I was made for that.
Habit 4 – Avoid Distractions, be Smart with Distractions - Increase Productivity
I’m not so great at this one! We must learn to separate what’s important from what’s not important and stop spending all our time on small tasks that suck our time minute by minute, hour by hour. Think about the last time you set a hard deadline (a deadline YOU set) that was challenging and clear that you actually kept.
Side note not mentioned by Burchard, but noteworthy to say the least - we have become so completely addicted to social media, email, texting, and other distractions that we no longer know how to focus completely on one task without distraction for any length of time. We think we are multi-tasking but the truth is, no one truly can do this.
Gary Keller, author of The One Thing says, “Multi-tasking is a lie”. He says, it is those who concentrate on one thing at a time who advance in this world.
Food for thought! Put up the phone for an hour at a time, set clear, realistic deadlines that challenge you, and hold yourself to them. I can assure you, this is something I will be focusing on during my quest to achieve High Performance Habits.
Habit 5 – Be Appreciative, Giving, and Know What Others Need to Succeed – Develop Influence
Ever heard, “It’s lonely at the top"? Guess what? According to Burchard, not true for high performers. Research shows they are capable (and seek) meaningful and lasting relationships. They are appreciative and giving and aware of what those around them need. They trust their teams and give them freedom to make decisions AND mistakes.
I’ve been in a leadership capacity for over 10 years. While I have a lot to learn (as we all do), I have made it my career long objective to become the best, most trusted and valued leader I can possibly be. My goal is and has always been to create a culture of learning, continual growth, with the freedom and flexibility to make mistakes while becoming better in your craft, and better as a human on this planet along the way.
Habit 6 – Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks & Be Open About Your Ambitions – Demonstrate Courage
This is my favorite take away from Burchard. If we seek to become extraordinary, we can’t be afraid to fail. We must be cautious of getting stuck in our comfort zone because it’s safe and easy.
I have accepted many opportunities over the years that I knew were risks. They took me out of my quite comfortable comfort zone where I was only responsible for me and placed me at the forefront a risky endeavor that may or may not have worked out. Some did, some didn’t, but the lessons I’ve learned along the way are far more valuable than the comfortable positions I held prior. I learned more about myself as a leader and as a human than I ever would have otherwise.
It can be scary to raise your hand for an opportunity that seems out of your comfort zone, or step into a new career entirely, take the plunge into entrepreneurship, or just accepting a project that seems overwhelming. There is so much power in saying yes. Yes, to that new promotion, yes to that exciting project, or simply yes to yourself.
According to Burchard, you know you’re on the right track when your often hear, “that’s delusional”, “that’s unrealistic”, or “that’s just crazy” when sharing goals and dreams with others.
My goal this year, find my crazy, unrealistic, delusional dream! I hope you find yours too.
Interesting fact...I have spent my entire life pretending to be an extrovert.
Most likely because my family is full of them (my mother being THE most extroverted of all) and I just assumed the role I was destined to become. I now know after years of contemplating "who am I", I am 100% an introvert. I love being alone, I'm ridiculously organized, I love being at home, I’m direct but really don’t love confrontation (outside of family), stubborn as it’s humanely possible to be, LOVE reading more than breathing, and can be insensitive at times (I’m not the most intuitive with emotions).
I write this for a reason. I think many people (especially women) spend years being who they think they are supposed to be rather than embracing their true selves. We create an image in our minds of who we should strive to BECOME and work to BECOME that, rather than learning more about who we are today, in this moment. I’m not referring to personal or professional development, this is more about pretending or convincing yourself to be something you’re not.
Once we finally learn (and embrace) our true selves, unnecessary stress is eliminated, happiness is allowed take up residence and you are released. Free to be you! Free to be your true authentic self.
Hopefully you’ll self-discover before 42. :)
I recently ran across a meme that said, "My resume is just a list of things I really never want to do again." It made me chuckle a bit and then made feel a little depressed. Luckily, I don't share that opinion; I really love my career. Why is it that so many people dislike theirs? Perhaps if we conducted a study we would learn that most people don't really dislike what they do, they haven’t found a way to connect what they do to why they do it (beyond the paycheck).
In 2013, Forbes magazine reported on the Gallup poll, "Work is more often a source of frustration than fulfillment for nearly 90% of the worlds workers." The good news for those of us who reside in the United States, is that it's closer to 70%. Think about that for a minute though...7 out 10 people are frustrated by their jobs. 7 of 10 people do not feel fulfilled by their jobs. Another Gallup poll in 2017 showed the number of people emotionally disconnected from their job is 85%. 62% are not engaged (hate their job), 23% are actively disengaged (pretty much hate their job), and only 15% feel engaged (love their job). Are these staggering statistics a result of a poor career choices, poor leadership, lack of training, lack of upward mobility, or perhaps a lack of motivation? I don't think so.
"When it comes to motivation, there's a gap between what science knows and what business does." a quote by Daniel H. Pink.
I recently read a book by Pink, if you haven't checked out his work, I highly recommend you do. His book, DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, released in 2009 addresses this very topic. Pink's book is full of scientific experiments by Economists, Social Psychologists, and Scientists conducting studies around what motivates us and what doesn't. You'll have to buy the book to get the details, however I'll share his theory on motivation; not what gets people out of bed every day, what inspires them to be the very best they can be, to operate at their fullest capacity, and go beyond the expectations of the job; to become fully engaged.
Pink says there are three motivational drivers, he describes them as Motivation 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0:
Motivation 1.0 - This is the biological drive to eat, drink, and procreate. Essentially, meeting our basic needs.
Motivation 2.0 - This is the most commonly recognized driver and what most businesses use today to motivate…Rewards & Punishments, also referred to by Pink as “Carrots and Sticks”.
“The phrase "carrot and stick" is a metaphor for the use of a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior. It is based on the idea that a cart driver might activate a reluctant mule by dangling a carrot in front of it and smacking it on the rear with a stick.” Wikipedia
Example of Rewards – “Carrots”: Compensation, Benefits, Bonuses, Trips, Raises, and Promotions
Example of Punishments – “Sticks”: Being Fired (supreme to all others)
For most people, compensation is one of the biggest “carrots” of all. There is some truth to this. People are motivated to pay the rent/mortgage, put food on the table, and keep the lights one. And frankly, not many are willing to work for free. The question is, does that pay check motivate you to reach your fullest potential?
According to Pink, Motivation 2.0 is why people show up; it’s not what drives them to fulfillment, engagement, and a sense of purpose. Pink also says that adequate compensation is merely a baseline reward. When baseline rewards are insufficient, workers will focus on how they are treated unfairly; creativity and productivity will decline, and the seven deadly sins can ensue:
Pinks’ Seven Deadly Flaws of Motivation 2.0:
1. They extinguish intrinsic motivation (internal motivation driving our behaviors)
2. They can diminish performance
3. They can crush creativity
4. They can crowd out good behavior
5. They can encourage cheating, shortcuts, and unethical behavior
6. They can foster short-term thinking
Motivation 3.0 - This is the purpose motive.
Pink says, “We’re not destined to be passive and compliant, we are destined to be active and engaged. We know the richest moments of our lives are not when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice - doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of something larger than ourselves.”
Read that 2 or 3 times, if it doesn’t resonate, I don’t know what will. This (in my opinion) is the very reason why so many people feel disengaged at work. They aren’t being motivated by the right reasons. A paycheck to pay your mortgage will only give you a place to live (which of course, is VERY important and necessary) but it won’t lead you to fulfillment and purpose.
Motivation 3.0 is all about Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose; the three elements of Motivation 3.0.
Autonomy - The ability to be self-directed. DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is full stories of organizations that have embraced this philosophy and allowed their employees more control over what they do, how they do it, and when they do it. While it may seem a bit radical according to today’s corporate standards, these organizations have found they are outperforming their competitors in customer service, new product development, and sales.
Mastery- While motivation 2.0 requires compliance, motivation 3.0 requires engagement. Engagement leads to mastery – the desire to become better at something that’s meaningful to a person. True mastery can never be reached as someone seeking mastery will always strive to know more and became better. The drive is internal, not driven by the goals or expectations of an external party.
Purpose – People, by nature, want to contribute and be part of something greater than themselves. They desire a purpose. The challenge for most people and organizations is to find a way to align intrinsic (personal) goals with organizational goals. Some organizations have figured out this recipe and the results are staggering.
So, what motivates YOU? What gets you out of bed every morning? More importantly, once you get out of bed, do you feel fulfilled and engaged? Are you working to master your craft? Do you feel you have a sense of purpose?
Please share your comments, I’d love to know what others think about Pink’s theory on motivation. Do you believe that offering autonomy to all workers would allow more people to feel less managed, more engaged, more fulfilled; leading them to strive for mastery, and find their purpose? Or do you question whether most people are even capable of handling the freedom of autonomy and motivating themselves to self-direct?
Grab the book, give it a read!
Written by: Kimberly Shapiro
I watched a video last night about an author that was told multiple times throughout his life that he wasn’t smart enough for (fill in the blank), he was lazy, he didn’t try hard enough, etc. This author was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. His own father told him he probably wouldn’t graduate from high school, a high school teacher told him he’d probably end up end jail. His Freshman year of college (yep…college, not jail), he attended an English Literature lecture and knew that’s what he wanted to major in.
He gleefully waltzed the Dean’s office to declare his major and was quickly denied due to a less than stellar academic record, which included an IEP. For those who don’t not know, and IEP is an Individual Education Program, a plan for kids with learning and attention difficulties. The mere existence of this plan was enough for the Dean to declare him “not smart enough”. The great news, he proved them wrong, graduated with honors with a degree in English Literature and is now a bestselling author.
It’s stories like these that I find so inspirational and sad at the same time. Inspirational for the obvious, sad for all the people who heard these “prophecies” and believed them. I honestly think more people believe them than except them as challenges.
Please don’t label your children, your students, or anyone. You do not have the right to declare what their future will look like based on what you think you know. Words have real power, they can encourage, empower, and motivate or they can tear someone down faster than a burning building doused in gasoline. What’s worse, not everyone has the will to rise again. They stay down, they give those words power.
If you are someone whose been on the other end of these “prophecies”, remember…their opinion of you doesn’t matter, what matters, is your opinion of yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s your beloved parent, sibling, teacher, boss, (girlfriend’s parents) who state these declarations; what matters is the choices you make each day in pursuit your dreams, what matters is how you label yourself. Be the best you can possibly be and prove them all wrong. Accept the challenge.
This doesn’t mean we don’t value constructive advice if it could help us become better. It means hurtful labels have no power unless you give them power. No one can determine where your life will lead, you are driving that car. No one else!
Now go do life and do it well.
Written by: Kimberly Shapiro
I'm 42! To some, I'm old, to others I'm still young. That's the beauty of middle-age. Where you fit on the lifeline is subjective according to your audience. I love that feeling of being the wise old owl to those who seek my advice, and still be a perpetual knowledge seeker. I also love the 20 years of lessons I have chalked up on the board of life. It's been a wild ride, and I wouldn't change a thing.
I'm often asked, "If you could go back to 20, and start all over, what would you do differently?" I can honestly say, not a thing. I have learned some very valuable lessons that will serve me well in my time remaining on this great planet. While I don't wish to return to my 20's, I will share the 10 things I wish I knew when I was 20.
Written by: Kimberly Shapiro