LEADERSHIP IN THE LEANING REST #7: “HOW’D YOU DO IT?” – SIX THINGS THAT KEEP ME SUCCESSFUL   Leave a comment

This morning I was asked by a group how I accomplished the significant goals in my life – “How’d you do it?” I want to share my short list with you, so that you can look through it and see if any of my “operating principles” as I call them, might help you reach your personal goals and establish a more fulfilling and meaningful life for yourself. Here are six things that keep me successful:

1. 24-Hour Mindset: I view the world, plan and act with a 24-hour cycle in mind. This keeps me focused on what I need to prioritize for the next 24 hours, and helps me accomplish more difficult goals as I focus my energy. This doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that the world’s statisticians are saying there’s a high probability that tomorrow will happen, I am conscious of the need to prepare for the future in the next 24 hours. By thinking and acting purposefully in 24 hour cycles, the days add up to weeks and months of success.

2. Self-Check: Rather than adopting a point of view, immediately acting on it and stubbornly expecting everyone and everything else around me to do so, I check out that point of view for misplaced motives, intentions, blind-spots and most of all – FEAR. I have very much benefitted from self-check, and reality checking with others to see if my point of view needs adjustment, or some additional information in order to be more realistic, and for it to be more to be more effective.

3. Warrior Ethos: Adopting and acting with the mindset of a warrior helps me be the true and best me. It is a place I can go to within me from which I can operate with profound commitment and focus. When I get out on the trail or in the woods to exercise, warrior ethos pushes me to train harder and to discover deeper places within myself. The same warrior ethos is the foundation of profound commitment to letting go of my own ego and striving for the safety and welfare of others. In this way, warrior ethos is about being a highly committed defender of peace and prosperity. A quote that has always been important to me in this regard is, “Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he indeed is the noblest victor who conquers himself” (Siddhartha Gauttama).

4. Resilient Humor: Humor, especially in tough and even the worst situations, helps me disrupt the reflexive arc that otherwise might lead to despair and surrender. Instead, humor always presents an option of hope. It introduces to the situation some new space for bigger context that lowers the ominous factor in a bad situation. It also opens up space for some alternative attitudes toward a tough situation besides attitudes of despair and self-pity.

5. Prioritized Needs: Being self-conscious in the right way keeps me mentally, physically and spiritually on track. What I am talking about is using Maslow’s “Pyramid of Needs” to prioritize first things first. For example, before anything else, my physical health comes first. If I am sick or injured, I need to attend to that because my physical body is my platform for my mental and spiritual life. I can be altruistic and self-sacrificing for a while, but it’s a house of cards and not a good long-term strategy. Right next to that priority are things like food, water and sleep. When I am irritable and having a hard time making calm decisions, a self-check on hunger, dehydration and sleep is often called for. Granted, sometimes you are in a situation which calls for you to delay food, water or sleep, but it is a mistake to ignore hunger, dehydration or sleep deprivation. It is much wiser to factor it in, recognize your limits, and do a self-check and reality check with others before taking decisive action. A good operating principle says “when I’m hungry, I eat, and when I’m tired, I sleep.” I picked that one up from the old Chinese Zen master Han Shan. It worked for him a long time ago, and works for me today.

6. Always challenge your mind!: Challenging and pushing my own thinking helps me to stay in motion and to stay in growth mode for my view of the world. I enjoy having my points of view challenged because it can be a valuable learning experience. I even purposefully seek out and consider conflicting information. I always want to see as many sides of a situation or question as possible, because this helps me work through those questions and situations in the ways that are most productive or beneficial to myself and others, or best fulfill an ethical or moral imperative. I am fully open to being dead wrong on something, and appreciate being informed when that is the case. I am a true lifelong learner and a perpetual student. I am always seeking and working with new knowledge that will open new more productive and beneficial ways of living and working for me, and that help me reach personal goals. I regularly review and happily throw away decisions, ideas and points of view that have outworn their usefulness, effectiveness or grounding in reality.

As I said, this is my list, and it doesn’t need to be your list. If you see something that might be useful, try it out. If it works, keep it! If it doesn’t, throw it away. If you or your team want to spend some dedicated time identifying or working through personal strategies for success contact me – Tom Delaney – at greatriverfitness@gmail.com and we will design a productive and sustainable experience.

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