Tag Archives: goals

The Benefits of a Personal Retreat

A couple of weeks ago, I spent two days in West Virginia for an individual business retreat. I used this time to review my goals and progress, make necessary adjustments, and work on some strategic goals that I find challenging to complete during my everyday work.

It can be hard to find time to really focus and get meaningful work done when you are surrounded by distractions, interruptions, and a calendar booked with meetings.

Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up.

Pausing for an hour (or a couple of days) to recalibrate and get clarity on where you are going and what you need to do to get there can actually speed up your progress. When I start to feel overwhelmed,  it’s usually an indication that I don’t have clarity about what I need to be working on. Slowing down to create clarity allows me to refocus my energies and increase my productivity.

Watch the video below to hear about my retreat in West Virginia and how a personal retreat can help you to refocus and get better results. I almost canceled this scheduled retreat because of some big life changes we have going on (I share some of that in the video), but I honored my commitment, and the results were awesome.

Once you’ve watched the video, I’d love to hear from you. How do you build time into your schedule for strategic and meaningful work? Share your tips in the comments below!

Three Books to Read as You Start the New Year

It’s a new year, and no doubt you have some ambitious goals you want to accomplish. This is the perfect time of year to reset and determine what is important to you to focus on this year.

I didn’t achieve all my goals last year, but it was still my best year ever. I used to feel like I failed if I didn’t accomplish all my goals, but that just put me in a negative mindset when the new year would start. It’s important to have goals that stretch you–people who have written goals accomplish more–and it’s also important to keep things in perspective and realize that you should focus on doing the best you can.

My  mantra for this year is “progress, not perfection.” I’m focused on making progress over last year, just as I do every year. As someone who values achievement, I often have to remind myself that it’s not just about the destination; that the journey is what life is about, the small moments every day that contribute to a fulfilling life. And while I have some lofty goals, I’m not expecting myself to be super human.

If you want to make great progress this year, there are three books I recommend putting at the top of your reading list. These three books will create a positive mindset and inspire you to take action, accomplish many of your goals, and make this year your best yet.

  1. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. This book will not only give you the principles for multiplying your success, it will motivate and inspire you to become greater. There is no magic bullet or secret to becoming successful. It all happens as a result of the compound effect. Small daily choices and habits lead to significant results. Darren says that you already know all that you need to succeed. Learning new strategies and tactics is not the issue. You just need a new plan of action. Although the concept is not new, the book is full of inspiring stories and impactful exercises that will motivate you to elevate your life. I couldn’t put the book down, and I reread my notes at the beginning of each year.
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This classic personal development book is as relevant today as it was almost 30 years ago. Covey writes that our character is a composite of our habits. The seven habits are: Be proactive, Begin with the end in mind, Put first things first, Think win/win, Seek first to understand, then to be understood, Synergize, and Sharpen the saw. These habits will help you to be a better leader, partner, parent, and employee. The principles can change your perspective and change your life.
  1. The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield isn’t just a book about professional success; it’s a book about life success. Canfield shares 67 principles that will propel you to success. That may seem like a lot of principles, but some of them are so simple, it’s a matter of making a decision and sticking to it. Whether you want to become more clear about your purpose in life, achieve greater levels of success, become a better leader, increase your confidence, or become a better parent, this book will transform your life. I felt so motivated and inspired by this book, that I signed up for Jack’s training on how to teach these principles.

I’d love to hear from you. What books do you think are great reads for the beginning of the year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

A Vision Exercise for the New Year

Organizations that have a vision of where they want to go and can align the entire organization around that vision create momentum towards their goals. Just like it’s important to create a vision in an organization, if you want to make positive changes in your life, creating a vision for each area of your life can be a powerful way to get clarity around what you want.

One of the main reasons why most people don’t get what they want is that they haven’t decided what they want. A vision is a mental picture of a preferred future.

As you prepare for the new year, first take a look back on the past year to set yourself up for continued success. Following are some questions to contemplate.

  • What were my biggest achievements, both personal and professional, in the past year?. This sets you in a positive frame of mind and creates energy around progress and accomplishments from the year.
  • What were my biggest learnings in the past year? Once you have reflected on your accomplishments and learnings from the past year, turn your attention to the coming year.

Imagine it is December of next year. What would you like your life to be like, both professionally and personally, one year from now? Close your eyes and let your mind wander about your ideal life one year from now. If you find it challenging to visualize your ideal life, take one area of your life at a time. Following is a list of the seven most important areas of life with a few starter questions to get you thinking. This is about what you want, so let your mind visualize what would be ideal for you. Take one area at a time, close your eyes and visualize for a few minutes, then open your eyes and write down your vision.

Financial: What is your ideal annual income and monthly cash flow? How much money do you have in savings? What other financial goals would you like to achieve in the next year?

Job/Career: Where are you working? What are you doing? Did you receive a promotion that you have been working toward? Are there other job achievements you want to accomplish?

Recreation: How do you spend your free time? Are there hobbies you are pursuing? Is there a family trip you want to take? What do you do for fun?

Physical health: Do you exercise and eat healthy food? Are you disease free or pain free? Are you taking a class at a local gym? Exercising outside? Drinking more water? How does your body feel? Are you flexible and full of energy?

Relationships: What are your relationships like with the important people in your life? What kinds of things do you do together? Are your relationships loving and supportive?

Personal: are there areas you want to develop in? Are you going back to school, taking a cooking class, or learning a new language? Are you traveling to other countries? Running a marathon? Meditating regularly?

Service /Community: Are you volunteering in your community or involved in other work that makes a difference? Who are you helping?

Based on what you visualized, what are three to five goals you would like to focus on for the next year? Is there a specific area of your life you would like to improve?

Once you have determined the most important goals you want to set for the new year, the next step is to create specific actions and timelines. One of the main reasons why many people don’t make traction on their goals is that they are too vague. Goals should be specific enough to create clarity so you know exactly how to take action. There is a difference between an intention and an effective goal.

  • Intention: Improve engagement on my department team
  • Goal: I will meet with each of my employees and ask them how they like to be recognized by February 15, 2017

Once you have taken the time to visualize your ideal life one year from now and created your most important goals, spend time each day visualizing your goals as completed. This will keep you energized about your goals so that you can stay connected to them and create momentum toward achieving them.

Now I’d love to hear from you: What is the vision you have for one area of your life, one year from now?

Share your vision in the comments section below.

The #1 Mistake When Setting Strategic Goals

When it comes to goals, Tony Robbins says that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years. When you look back on the past year, did you accomplish all you set out to do? If so, congratulations! For the rest of us, I’d like to offer a perspective about how to make next year your best one yet.

Whether you are setting goals as a leader in your organization, or more personal in nature, there is one mistake most people make: they set too many. Most organizations create way too many strategic goals or “priorities” and end the year having half-fulfilled a bunch of intentions that didn’t make the impact they desired in the business.  It’s hard enough to harness a whole organization of people around one goal, let alone fifteen or twenty. And we all know that one strategic goal probably involves ten projects to complete. Employees become confused because they are so many “priorities” they don’t know where to focus. And focus is essential for achieving results. As Jim Collins said in his book, Good to Great, “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities.”

So how do you utilize the power of focus? First, you must have clarity. The entire organization needs to be clear about what they are working toward. As a leader, you must communicate over, and over, and over again to reinforce the message and goals you are working toward. Only then will you harness the power of a collective group of people who make things happen and get results.

So think big, but in small numbers. Meaning, set some grand goals for your organization, but keep it to a manageable number so you can achieve extraordinary results instead of mediocre results.

As you move into the new year and start rolling out the new annual goals and initiatives, think about these four things:

Do we have the resources to achieve all the goals we have set? Many leaders spend two days at an off-site retreat creating strategic goals, but fail to think through the next step: do we have the resources to achieve these goals? Resources might be employee time, money, or training. Often, the IT department is involved in many, if not all of the annual goals. Do you have the resources in IT to manage the projects successfully? What do you need in order to achieve each of these annual and strategic goals? Just by thinking through the required resources, you may discover that some of your goals really aren’t achievable with the available resources at this time. Or you may decide you need to take resources from one initiative and allocate them to another, more important goal.

Are all of these goals really a priority this year? Many organizations create a “wish list” instead of a realistic goal list. Throwing goals on the list hoping that you might get to it is not a good strategy. As a leadership team, it is useful to go through each goal and discuss if it should be a priority for the year, and why. For example, perhaps one of your goals is to implement a new type of software next year. For some organizations, this might be an immediate and important project that must get done in the next year. For other companies, it might just be nice to get it done, but it’s not really a priority compared to some other pressing issues. Perhaps adding positions in  a department is much more important than implementing a new software system. The point is, every organization is different, and it’s prudent to dissect each goal to determine where the best focus of time, money and energy will be.

What is our plan for communicating these priorities? Once you have determined your most important priorities for the year, the leadership team needs to determine how you will communicate these priorities to managers and staff. This important step is often overlooked or underestimated. The very people who are tasked with accomplishing the projects to achieve these goals are often the ones who don’t have clarity on what they should be doing. Your job as a leader is to create absolute clarity around where employees should be focusing their efforts, and then continue to communicate the message consistently throughout the year. A great book that will walk you through this process is The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.

What process will we use to track our strategic and annual goals? Whether it’s a software system or regular meetings, you must have a way to track progress and make adjustments when necessary. Communication is essential in this step, as the more goals you have, the more projects are involved. How will your employees communicate goal progress to you so you can make sure the credit union is on track to meet the goals?

These principles can also be applied to your personal life. The reason most people don’t achieve their New Year goals or resolutions is that they set too many goals and don’t think through their strategy. The key is to pick a few priorities that will have the biggest impact in your life, and think through how you will achieve the goal. This includes setting the proper expectations for progress. One of the most common goals on resolution lists is to lose weight, yet most people don’t think through their plan of how they will accomplish it. They jump right in and get frustrated when they don’t see immediate results. Results aren’t immediate;  progress happens little by little and compounds over time. The book, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy will inspire you to take those small steps to achieve your goals.

As you prepare to make next year the year of clarity and achievement for your organization, I would recommend reading the following three books that will support your leadership team in getting excellent results:

  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  • Great by Choice by Jim Collins

Success doesn’t just happen. It requires clarity around the goals, followed by consistent effort. But with proper planning and regular communication, your organization can knock it out of the park next year.

I’d love to hear from you–how many strategic goals have you found to be the limit for ensuring they are all accomplished?

5 Ways to Earn a Promotion or Raise

I was recently facilitating a leadership program and a participant expressed her frustration that she hadn’t been promoted. Lately, her supervisor had assigned her some extra work, and she felt she should be recognized and compensated for the additional effort. She went to her boss to advocate for a promotion, and was surprised when her efforts were unsuccessful and her manager was annoyed by the request.

There may be times when asking for a promotion is necessary. If you have consistently used the strategies I share below and you are viewed as a high performer, then perhaps it’s time to ask for a promotion or seek other opportunities. But a better approach is to strategically position yourself for a promotion or raise.

Advocating for a raise or promotion (even if you deserve it) usually doesn’t work because your manager may feel backed into a corner. She may not feel you are prepared for a new role, and now she needs to communicate that to you. Even if she does feel you deserve a promotion, now she may feel pressured to act on it.  Either way, it puts your manager in a position of having something else on her plate to deal with.

When you ask for a promotion or raise just because you’ve taken on some additional work, it may come across as entitled or self-focused. The perception is that you care more about your own interests than the needs of the company.

The best approach is to take full ownership of your professional development and prove yourself before you get the promotion.

Below are five strategies for earning the promotion or raise you want:

Take 100% responsibility. Many people believe it’s their managers responsibility to develop them for future growth opportunities. While great leaders do invest time in developing their employees, you should take responsibility for your own development. Delegating your development to your manager is an indication that you won’t take full ownership of a new role. Managers are looking for self-starters who are confident and capable of getting results. Now is the time to prove you possess these traits. Are there new skills you need to learn before you take on a new role? Sign up for a course. Do you need to learn more about the financial side of the business to expand your organizational breadth? Ask someone in finance to mentor you. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what to do. Take ownership of your career.

Share your professional goals. Have you shared your professional goals with your manager? Your boss can’t support you if she doesn’t know what your personal and professional goals are. If you are interested in a leadership role, share that with your manager and ask her what you would need to do to achieve that goal. Your manager is a great resource for communicating specific actions you need to take to position yourself for a new role.

Earlier in my career, I started working for a credit union as the assistant manager of the call center. A year later, I realized I wanted to work in leadership and human resources. I approached the human resources vice president and told her I was interested in moving into her department. Although there weren’t any positions available at the time, six months later when a position did become available, I was chosen over another internal candidate because I had shared my goals with the VP and had enrolled in an HR class on my own time. Don’t wait for someone else to notice you. Ask for what you want.

Go above and beyond. Don’t wait for a promotion to take on extra work. Be of service before you get the promotion. Ask for additional responsibilities and stretch projects that will prepare you for future roles. This illustrates that you are a hard worker who is willing to support your boss and the organization, and that you are an action-oriented, motivated employee who wants to help your boss succeed.

I believe one quality that helped me to earn four promotions in four years, was supporting my boss any way possible. If she talked about a project she wanted to implement or something we needed to get done in the department, I would step in and take care of it. I took things off her plate and followed through. Go the extra mile to help your manager look good. Become an employee who is easy to delegate to and who welcomes new responsibilities.

Ask for feedback. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a promotion is to ask for feedback on your current performance. Don’t wait until your annual evaluation. At least quarterly, ask your manager to rate your performance. A great tool is the feedback scale. Ask your boss:

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate my current performance?

If he says a ’10’, ask, “What did I do to get such a high score?” (this gives you feedback on what to continue).

If he rates you lower than a 10, ask, “What would make it a 10?” (this gives you feedback on what to start or stop doing).

Also ask what knowledge, skills, or abilities are important to be successful in the position you aspire to, and ask your manager to rate you on each of those factors. This may initially feel uncomfortable, but the way to get promoted is to get as much information as you can to improve your skills and performance.

Be a solution provider, not a problem finder. Don’t go to your boss and point out the problems in the department or the organization. Take ownership of problems and come to your manager with solutions. Even if you don’t know the answer to a problem, think through how you might approach it before going to your boss. Managers don’t need more on their plate. They are looking for employees who will take ownership of their role and bring solutions instead of problems.

Employees are rarely promoted for meeting expectations in their position. It takes some extra effort to show your dedication to the organization and the value you bring. If you take 100% responsibility for your development, you dramatically increase your chances of getting that raise or promotion you have come to deserve.

Now I’d love to hear from you. If you’ve been promoted in your career, what did you do to earn the promotion? What advice do you have for someone who wants to move up in their company?

Share your comments below.

8 Ways to Develop More Discipline

I once heard one of my mentors, Darren Hardy, say that at his core, he is a lazy person. Left to his own devices, he would watch golf and eat ice cream all day. Yet he is one of the most disciplined people on the planet. This guy gets more done in one week than most people do in a year.

Discipline isn’t the absence of temptations. There will always be something more enticing to do than the task at hand. I’d much rather have a leisurely lunch over wine every day than meet a deadline or exercise. Discipline is getting yourself to do something you don’t really feel like doing, so you can get the result you want.

Most people try to unsuccessfully fit important tasks into their already jam-packed day, and then leave the office feeling very little sense of accomplishment. One of the secrets to developing more discipline is to create structures that enable you to be more productive on important areas.

If you want to accomplish your goals and become more successful, here are seven ways to develop more discipline:

  1. Understand your “why”. Whether you have a goal to lose weight, or to finish a project at work, understanding why you want the result will help you muster more energy and enthusiasm when you don’t feel like being disciplined. A few months ago, my husband and I completed a 21-day health detox. Eliminating sweets (my vice) for three weeks felt like torture at first. But I kept reminding myself why I was doing the detox in the first place. I want more energy, I want to fit into my smaller size jeans, and I want to look and feel great. It wasn’t easy, but it got easier as time went on because I was connected to my why.
  1. Plan your day the night before. A little bit of planning can make a huge impact on how your day goes. Have you ever tried to start a diet when you weren’t prepared? If you don’t have the right foods in the house (or the wrong foods out of the house), it makes it much harder to follow through. The same goes for setting up our days. Taking ten minutes each night to plan how you will spend the next day will set up the conditions for getting more done. At the end of each night, I choose my top two important goals for the next day, and schedule focused time for each in my calendar. Not every day is the same, but I use this structure for any time I am not facilitating leadership programs, working with clients, or in meetings.
  1. Schedule focus time. There is one habit I implemented a few years ago that has made a huge impact on my discipline and getting things done: productivity sprints. Productivity sprints are blocks of focused time to work on a project or task. They are a structure of discipline that provides the environment to actually get something done. I am writing this blog during a two hour productivity sprint I scheduled on a Monday morning. I will not take a break, check email, or do anything else until I have completed my two hour productivity sprint. Your productivity sprint can be as little as 15 minutes, but the point is to schedule time without distractions where you can focus and get into the state of flow. And you will feel so accomplished when you complete that important task!
  1. Remove distractions. If you are trying to lose weight, nutritionists recommend removing all junk food from your house so you are not tempted to cheat. Makes sense, right? The same is true for your work environment. You probably struggle with discipline because there are too many distractions begging for your attention like email, your phone, Facebook, or your coworkers. I’m sure on more than one occasion you’ve wasted an hour or more surfing online with no specific intention (I know I have) and then wondered where the day went. Remove all things that tempt you so you can get down to work!
  1. Give yourself constraints. Work tends to fill the time we allot to finish it. If you have a month to finish a report, you probably take a month. if you have a week, you take a week. Deadlines can be a great discipline tool. When I plan my week, I assign deadlines to each of my tasks, even if they don’t involve a deliverable for someone else. For example, I gave myself a deadline of finishing this blog today. It’s not due to anyone but myself, but I create these deadlines to keep myself on track. If I gave myself all week to finish it, I’d probably start it on Friday afternoon. When you have a task or project, assign yourself a specific day that it needs to be completed by that will spur you into action.
  1. Get Started. Most people procrastinate because they don’t “feel” like doing it. Ninety percent of the time, you probably won’t feel like doing what you need to do. People who are more disciplined work through the discomfort even though they would rather be doing something else. And once you get started, most times you will build up some momentum and get on a roll.
  1. Find an accountability partner. Let’s say you have an important project you need to work on but it’s not due for a few weeks. Find someone who can help hold you accountable to getting into action. Set up rewards or punishments that motivate you to get it done. For example, don’t allow yourself to go to lunch with your co-worker unless you finish your report first. Or reward yourself with a half hour break if you complete the project plan you’ve been putting off. I have an accountability partner who I text every morning and night. We each send our top five goals for the day (for me, it’s typically my top two work goals, and then some personal goals like exercising or reading a chapter in a book). At the end of the day, we text each other to report what we have (or have not) done. I often push myself to finish that one last goal because I don’t want my accountability partner to think I’m slacking!
  1. Forgive Yourself. One of the most important things to remember is to forgive yourself for not being perfect. There will be times when you don’t take action like you should, and you need to be able to forgive yourself so you don’t get stuck in negative thinking or beat yourself up. Being human means you will at times fail. Learn from your mistakes and start to notice your own patterns that trip you up so you can get back on track faster.

Left to my own devices, I would eat chocolate ice cream and watch When Harry Met Sally every day (I could never see that movie enough).

Discipline is a pursuit. It’s not something you master and forget about, it’s a daily practice  that takes effort. The rewards are the achievement of your important goals that lead you to success.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you create more discipline in your life to reach your goals? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

How I overcome self-criticism

I found myself getting anxious a couple of weeks ago as I realized that the end of the year is approaching. Before the start of each year, I set goals for my personal and professional life. The anxiety began to build as I realized there were a few goals I haven’t made any progress toward. For example, one of my business goals this year was to start a video blog. I started to feel bad about my lack of following through on this project that I deemed so important in the beginning of the year. If I weren’t expecting a baby in five weeks, I may have been able to launch this project by the end of the year. However, I am forgiving myself for not accomplishing it and moving the goal to next year.

I heard someone once say, “You are exactly where you are meant to be.” This is a mantra I have worked hard at keeping top of mind. It doesn’t mean I don’t set goals or that I don’t stretch and challenge myself. It means that I put in my best effort, and then forgive myself if I sometimes fall short of accomplishing all that I set out to do. We all hit roadblocks or challenges along our path that we have to navigate. Yet life is unfolding exactly how it should. Every person on this planet has experienced setbacks and disappointments. Holding ourselves to a high standard is good, and also accepting that we are human and will sometimes fall short is better than continuing to focus on what we should have or could have done.

Is there something you are beating yourself up for not doing? Perhaps you had a goal of getting into shape, or to manage your time better, or to take a class to further your career. Whatever it is, be okay with where you are. You are exactly where you are meant to be. You can start now.

Here are three ways to motivate yourself to keep going:

Take an inventory of what you have accomplished this year. Focus on what you have done. When I make a list of all the goals I have reached, it makes me realize that I actually accomplished a lot that I should be proud of. Celebrating the successes puts you in a positive mindset to motivate you to move forward.

Forgive yourself for the “failures”. Focusing on what you haven’t done and beating yourself up is wasted energy. You can’t change yesterday or the yesterdays before that. You can only make changes starting right now. Focus on what you can do right now and in the future.

Focus on daily improvement. I have learned over the years of working with people as well as reflecting on my own behavior, that most people achieve more when they focus on improving each day rather than trying to create massive change all at once. Choose one area you would like to improve upon in your life and then choose one habit or action to work on today. These small changes will compound into bigger results over time.

Have you ever struggled with criticizing yourself? I’d love to hear your tips for overcoming self-criticism. Share your tips in the comments section below.

If you would like more inspiration, I recommend reading one of my favorite books, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. This book will motivate and inspire you to achieve beyond what you think is possible.

Making The New Year Awesome

Only 8% of people achieve their new year resolutions. Is it even worth setting goals? I believe the answer is yes. There is a way to set realistic goals and make significant progress in the new year.

Like many people, I take time to reflect and make commitments for the fresh new year approaching. I believe in setting goals and improving, and over the years, I have enhanced and changed my process for creating “resolutions”. I’ve figured out what works for achieving my goals, and most importantly, what doesn’t work. I don’t believe there is one formula for making changes;  each person is different and will respond differently.

Here are the lessons I have learned for achieving new year goals:

Lesson 1: Less is more

I used to make a laundry list of goals for the new year: learn Italian, improve piano playing skills, exercise more, etc. You get the picture. What I found is that when I set too many “stretch goals,” I become overwhelmed and just give up. I end up feeling worse about myself because I failed to achieve the goals I set. A few years ago, I started taking time to imagine my ideal life. What would the ideal look like in health, relationships, and business? I keep my goals realistic. I really take time to think through what resources and time I have and I focus on making progress instead of achieving a list. I would rather make significant progress on three goals than very little progress on ten goals. I have learned how much I am capable of taking on and create my goals accordingly. This creates freedom. Rather than being  chained to a list, I work on making incremental progress.

Lesson 2: Measure each day

I find small steps lead to bigger progress for me. I switched from setting weekly goals to setting daily goals. I take the ideal life I envisioned and think about ways I can close the gap. I focus on making an impact in this day. Focusing on today takes the overwhelm and judgment away and gives me permission to make choices that feel good now. Inevitably, I end up succeeding with more of my goals when I focus on today. At the end of the year, if I can look back and see progress from the year before, to me that is success. The compound effect is very powerful.

Lesson 3: Focus on the being, not the doing

I am a doer. I love lists and crossing things off. I love the feeling of accomplishment. And when I focus on checking things off, I often lose the intention of my goal. For example, for years I have wanted to incorporate meditation into my ritual. I read books on meditation and tried to meditate, and my mind was racing. I was trying too hard to “do” meditation correctly. I often found myself wanting to check it off my list rather than get the full experience and benefits. And that’s just pointless. This past year, I focused instead on the “being”. The purpose of meditation is to clear and quiet your mind. So, I sat quietly with music, closed my eyes and kept quiet. I am not great at it, but I get benefit from it, and I am improving over time.

What has worked for you when setting goals?

Wishing you an awesome year!

Habits of the “Super Achiever”

One of my personal goals each year is to improve my habits over the previous year. Whether it’s being more productive, spending more time planning and prioritizing, exercising more, or focusing on cultivating personal relationships, keeping my focus on getting better and better helps me to get greater results over time. Small incremental improvements yield better results than a list of lofty resolutions or goals.  

This year, one of my small improvements is implementing a “Half Hour of Power. ” I learned of this idea from famed coach Tony Robbins, who suggests an “Hour of Power” each day. I determined a half hour would be manageable for my schedule, and have been working to implement this improvement into my day. Each day, I spend a half hour writing what I am thankful for in my journal, envisioning future successes, reviewing my annual, monthly, and weekly goals, setting my two top priorities for the day, and getting centered to be able to work at maximum productivity. This small change has helped me to stay on top of my key result areas, be highly productive, and stay centered and focused.

I’ve worked with many leaders through coaching and leadership programs, and I’ve noticed the highly successful leaders share many of the same daily habits or traits. They focus each day on improving and don’t make excuses. The most successful leaders make time for the important areas, they don’t complain about how much time they don’t have. They take control and responsibility.   Here are the most common habits and traits of highly successful leaders, or what I call “Super Achievers”:  

Planning and Focus. They develop plans and goals, and then execute those plans. They take time each day to make sure they are working on their top priorities. They are proactive and purposeful, and their day reflects it.

Passion for learning and improvement. They have a desire to constantly learn and grow. They tend to be relentless readers of leadership books and articles, and they invest in their growth and education. They make time to develop and improve themselves as leaders.

Keep commitments. They keep their commitments and don’t make excuses. They rarely miss schedule events and meetings, and are always well prepared and focused. They take time to do the work needed to make each encounter meaningful. They bring their ‘A’ game to meetings and are prepared.

Focus on people. They always make time for their employees and the important people in their life. They understand the value of cultivating relationships, and regularly interact and meet with their employees in a meaningful way. They understand the importance of communication and learning, and foster an environment of truth and feedback. They take the time to communicate vision, plans and goals, and ask questions.

100% effort. They always give all their effort to everything they take on. They are deliberate about their choices and focus on a few initiatives to do really, really well rather on a bunch of things half-heartedly. They don’t settle for mediocre; they aim to work at peak performance.