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.