Ah, for the days of my youth, where I had a near photographic memory, seemingly unlimited time to accomplish my dreams and (to REALLY date myself) cell phones were just becoming a ‘thing’ and so I wasn’t actually plugged in to the whole wide world to nearly the extent workers are today. Even before I had so much as a sphere to influence I knew I wanted to live a life of significance (which can be very frustrating when the desire greatly exceeds the ability to do so). Ironically, we live in world of instant gratification while being told that good things come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue but time waits for no [wo]man. Sloooowly, but surely, I matured, achieved some victories and more importantly suffered some big defeats (I seem to learn more that way unfortunately) and was blessed with some amazing mentors along the way. So, realizing this list may seem counter-intuitive to the ‘get ‘er done, and get ‘er done NOW’ culture we find ourselves in I can’t recommend these practices highly enough if you want to maximize your personal and professional impact, effectiveness and ultimately fulfillment.
1) Get Quiet
This is, in my opinion, the most important foundation to attaining of life of peace and significance. It is also really, really difficult! By getting quiet, I mean reserving time every day (10-30 minutes) to not doing anything. Simply sit, in silence, turn off your thoughts and listen to what’s really going on for you. Yes, I understand this may sound silly but if you’ve never done it I will wager you can’t even go 5 minutes before you start looping your to-do list. It’s important to get out of the noise of the urgent to get in touch with the truly important. Somewhere inside you, your calling is calling you but if you’re too busy scheduling meetings you might miss it. Getting quiet every day gets you in touch with your intuition or something deeper and you will be amazed at how by implementing this simple practice how much MORE time you will somehow have throughout the day and how much easier making decisions will start to become. If you feel like you’re on a treadmill and don’t really know what your ‘purpose’ is I would suggest starting here.
2) Get Fit
You don’t have to run marathons (unless you want to) but it is pretty difficult to enjoy a life of sustainable impact and fulfillment dragging around a bloated, out of breath body suffering from needless aches and pains. Regular physical exercise circulates oxygen to your brain (which gets you thinking more clearly), eliminates toxins, crushes stress and helps out the ol’ confidence factor to boot.
3) Get Coached (or mentored)
Look, I’m sure you’re awesome and all, but even the best of us can impose limits on ourselves without even knowing we’re doing it. As a coach and entrepreneur I know my effectiveness is exponentially greater when I’m working with a professional coach. The reality is our best thinking gets us to pretty much where we’re at right now. If we want to go beyond, we need to reframe perspectives, try new things and embrace accountability. A good coach is indispensable to these aims. A mentor (different from a coach) can also be crucial by providing wisdom, experience and career-appropriate advice.
4) Get Educated
I don’t necessarily mean stay in school collecting degrees until you are hopelessly entrenched in debt that will take you 7 generations to escape. Life has millions of sources of education and for every style of learning there is a teacher out there. I’m a reader myself, and I made a promise to myself years ago that if someone I professionally or personally respects recommends a book to me that they found important, I will read it, and I have. Now, this has not proven enlightening 100% of the time, but probably 95% of the time I have been extremely grateful. I learn a new concept, tool, or application that has helped me be better at what I do. If you learn differently, you may listen to a lecture, or maybe try a new experience. The point is, consider yourself a constant student and you will constantly be growing and gaining in your potential to create impact.
5) Get Altruistic
I don’t know if that’s quite the right word, because you will find that you are actually reaping a lot more than you feel like you’re sowing, but giving back is a critical component to a life of impact. There are so many ways to do this. I find that whenever I’m feeling a little barren in this capacity, a mentee will enter my life and that’s a sign that I’m supposed to be investing in someone else in this way. Whether you give time, money, advice, support or anything else, I have found it to be irrevocable true that you can’t keep what you don’t give away.
6) Get Grateful
It’s impossible to be grateful and entitled at the same time – did you know that? And if you’ve been in any position of leadership you know how difficult it is to teach an entitled person anything and frankly they’re obnoxious to be around. I guaran-darn-tee you that you WILL enjoy your life immensely more and have exponentially greater impact in all aspects of life if you practice the discipline of gratitude on a daily basis. Opportunities will arise almost magically. If you are dragging your feet try this exercise: Imagine tomorrow morning you ONLY had in your life the things you were grateful for today. Oooohhh.
So there you have it…aside and apart from the obvious work hard, don’t be a jerk, have integrity, these are practices that can take your life from ordinary to extraordinary. And the good news is, you can implement these now – today – no matter where you are in your journey and things can only get better!