by Brad Roderick
The year 2017 is officially underway and the pages of the calendar are rapidly being filled in. Flip to December 31, 2017. What do you see besides the words “New Year’s Eve”? Nothing? Take a minute and write (or type) “Annual Review.” Go ahead, I will wait. All done? Great. Now flip to the last day of March, June and September. On each of those days, plug in the words “Quarterly Review.” Now, do the same for the last day of each month, writing “Monthly Review.”
Kudos to those who took the time to do the exercise. Feel free to call me and I will send you 12 shiny gold stars, or maybe something even better. By doing these simple exercises you are far more likely to accomplish your goals and see progress throughout the year than those who do not invest the time in purposeful planning.
Don’t dismiss this as just one more “goal-setting” project. The review times you schedule with yourself are for you alone to: 1) Look back at a certain block of time and see how well you have lived and just how far you have already gone; 2) Plan the road ahead by setting objectives and milestones along the way to keep you moving forward; and 3) Make any adjustments necessary. Most of us know about goal-setting, goal-reviewing and such, and yet few set goals and monitor progress. Do what most people won’t do so you can live like most people don’t.
Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to get caught up with some high achievers to learn a little more of what they believe separates them from the pack. Some of these people I know personally and some through their books, writings and teachings. Out of these conversations and readings, six characteristics surfaced time and time again as differentiators. This article looks at three of them: hard work, beliefs and gratitude. Next time we will look at commitment, development and communication.
No, I don’t mean just putting your nose to the grindstone. After all, that doesn’t produce any results other than the need for reconstructive surgery. I don’t mean making one more call. I don’t mean staying later. And I certainly don’t mean working all the time. What hard work means is doing the hard stuff, and effective hard work is doing the right hard stuff. It is making the things that matter your priorities and letting the other stuff go. That’s the real hard work – staying focused on priorities and not getting sidetracked by “shiny objects,” other people’s priorities and the natural tendency to choose what you want to do in the moment versus what you should do. It’s all too natural to think, “I really should go over that proposal one more time before hitting send. I should but I’m sick of proofing it and well, it’s probably good enough … besides, I better check email.” Doing the hard work means proofing it TWO more times AND being willing to tear it up and start over if that’s what is really needed. The hard thing is frequently the right thing. The easy thing is usually the thing that most people choose. Don’t be most people.
Hard work, for achievers, is the combination of purpose-driven priorities and effort. Lots and lots of effort.
“If you’re not doing things that matter, don’t expect results that matter,” writes Dan Waldschmidt. (There is one easy thing that I can recommend, subscribe to Dan’s blog at http://danwaldschmidt.com/blog. He’s a guy who doesn’t choose easy! He’s also a cool guy who lives his life with purpose, passion and enthusiasm. He isn’t most people.)
Angela Duckworth, the foremost expert today on grit, puts it this way, “Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential.” Hard work — it’s called “effort.”
When you combine extreme focus on priorities that truly matter to you, along with effort, that’s the hard work that will deliver the results of the highest achievers.
Coach Lombardi said it best: “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
Let me ask you a question. Do you truly believe that you will do your best work (so far) in 2017? How did you answer the question? Did you respond with “I think so” or “I believe so”? There is a big difference. Our thoughts influence our beliefs which influence our thoughts, which develop more entrenched beliefs.
Steve Jobs put it this way: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Passion and purpose.
Let me ask you another question, “What are the things that have prevented you from already attaining your goals and dreams? Don’t gloss over this question. Take a few minutes and jot down your answer. This may be the most important thing you do this year! Are there some “limiting beliefs” in there? A limiting belief is anything that you believe that is holding you back. Limiting beliefs are just that, both “limiting” and “beliefs.” They are NOT truths. I am 56 and lack the physical attributes, the skill and the desire to be an NBA superstar. This is a fact. I have never made a million dollars in a year and therefore probably never will. That’s a belief, not a fact. I haven’t made a million in a year (fact), therefore I never will (belief). Left unchecked, the belief will become a fact because it can influence my thoughts, which influence my activities, which influence my outcomes. If you truly want to change your outcomes and achieve more than ever before, you may need to change your beliefs. Michael Hyatt says that your limiting beliefs are the only thing blocking your path. I agree with Michael.
Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Ford spoke about our thoughts, the things we tell ourselves. The original Rough Rider (not some touchy-feely motivational pundit), Teddy spoke on beliefs. Don’t confuse thoughts with beliefs. More importantly, use thoughts to build beliefs!
You and I have both traveled around the sun more than a few times. We have some wins, some trophies, some accolades and more than a few scars. As Jimmy Buffet wrote, “Some of it’s magic, some of it’s tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.” The wins don’t come without losses. The peaks don’t come without a few valleys. There have been times of frustration, discontent and anxiety along the journey. As you set your sights on greater accomplishments, there are going to be those times of setbacks and slowdowns. Times that, if we aren’t careful, can derail the real progress that is happening but may not yet be seen. The one tip that high achievers mention as an antidote to frustration, and even depression, is gratitude.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has,” goes the quote by Epictetus. The moment we compare ourselves to others or focus on the things we don’t have, we become self-obsessed, which leads to more comparisons and frustration. Frank A. Clark said, “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” “An attitude of gratitude,” as Zig Ziglar wrote about, is such a powerful tool. Many achievers speak about the time they take at the beginning, the end, or even both times of the day, to purposefully note what they are grateful for. To those who may lean toward cynicism (this isn’t you or you wouldn’t still be reading this article), taking a moment to reflect on three things to be grateful for each day can completely reframe the situation.
While many high achievers didn’t mention sharing their gratitude, some make this part of their daily routine. G.B. Stern said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” Why not let a few people know how grateful you are that they are in your life. Worst case, this doesn’t help you a bit (it will) but it just may do wonders for someone else.
Let’s make 2017 a year unlike any other… at least so far. Until next time, work hard, create empowering beliefs and be thankful for what you have. And never forget the old Polish proverb: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Don’t let other people, circumstances, or things outside of your control take control of your efforts, your beliefs, or your gratitude.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of The Imaging Channel.