Top 5…Top 10…Top 20 things you can do to change your life, live your dreams or make millions while you sleep.
If you hate these lists it’s likely because you think most of them are 99.9999% crap.…
It’s also likely that you’ve tried some of these lists and you just didn’t get the promised results.
It’s even more likely that you tried a couple of steps, got distracted or just plain lazy and gave up.
If you’re stuck––really stuck––you need a different list. I promise you, this list is different.
Now I don’t care if you’re reading this to start the year, you’re in the middle of the year and not making any progress or at the end of another unsatisfying year. I don’t even care what year it is!
Before you even think of taking on any Top X list to improve your life, start with this one.
Here we go…
That’s right. Before you do ANYTHING else––just stop.
First, stop whatever you’re doing that is keeping you from getting ahead. I guarantee you’re holding on to something that’s holding you back––we all are. The problem is that we can get comfortable with negative or destructive habits, situations, relationships and mindset. And even more dangerous is that we sometimes don’t know what they are.
Which leads us to the next application: Stop and reflect. Take some serious time out to think about your life and your career. Ask yourself the tough questions:
What’s working? What’s not?
What can you let go of? What should you throw away? (Or who!)
Who are you right now? Are you satisfied? Who do you want to be?
What do YOU want to change?
Stop and say Thank You. Practice gratitude.
This isn’t some new-age “attitude of gratitude” platitude. When you acknowledge your blessings, however small, you are taking an inventory. You are accounting for your material, emotional and spiritual assets. And if you’re still above ground, you’ve got some. Probably more than you think––or think about anyway.
Stop worrying about what you don’t have and start focusing on what you do have. Everything you’re going to do starts now, and it starts with exactly what you have, right here and right now.
Too often people say they just don’t have time to stop, look and listen. This is not a luxury. You just can’t skip this step and expect to accomplish any other.
#2 Look in the mirror!
Too many people waste valuable time lamenting the past and obsessing about the future.
The past is gone. Done.
The future is nothing but a dream.
The only thing that lasts forever is the present moment––and that’s right now.
So you’ve got to look in the mirror. This expands on the first step. You’ve got to stop and take some time to reflect––to look in the mirror.
I’m no new-age guru and this isn’t some pop-culture exercise. I sincerely mean you need to take some time and physically––actually––look in a mirror and have a talk with yourself. Take a hard and realistic look at yourself physically as well as metaphorically. There are some serious psychological processes that are triggered when you do this.
No matter what you have or haven’t done yesterday, and no matter what goals or ambitions you have for tomorrow, it all starts with what’s right in front of you today. And most of what’s in front of you is…
Even if you can legitimately lay even part of the blame for your present situation at someone else’s feet, well, that’s what you’d best do. Lay it there and leave it there. Look up––look in the mirror and move on.
You have to own whatever situation you’re in today. Ultimately, the only person who can change your past and create your future is the same person staring back at you when you brush your teeth.
#3 Get comfortable with uncertainty. Embrace Change.
From Heraclitus and Lao Tzu to Stephen Covey, philosophers have been preaching this simple truth:
“The only certainty in life is change.”
If you actually do the first step on this list, you’ll stop and ask yourself what you want to change. But above and beyond that, change is happening all around you and within you whether you want it to or not––whether you’re aware of it or not.
People who are stuck are often, and I’d say usually fixated on some surety of outcome. You may be working hard and feel that you deserve certain rewards for your efforts. You may be striving to be a good and generous person and expect love and kindness in return.
You cannot use certainty in a particular outcome as the foundation of your happiness, confidence or sense of self-worth. Unless you really want to be disappointed most of the time!
Your confidence must be based on the knowledge that you’re doing the best you can to learn, grow and prepare to play the game––whatever your game is. That’s how you maintain genuine confidence––win, lose or draw.
Your sense of self-worth must be rooted in a true belief that you are doing something meaningful, both for yourself and others. And you best find happiness in the journey as well as the destination unless you want to be miserable along the way.
You deal with uncertainty by embracing change. You should never be satisfied with the status quo––at least not for long. As I said, whether you know it or not everything is in constant state of change––and everyone.
You become more confident when you can let go of absolute certainty. That’s the only way to avoid becoming a slave to the outcome. Absolute certainty is seldom an expression of true confidence anyway. Most of the time, it’s just plain arrogance!
Erich Fromm wrote: “The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.”
Be inspired by uncertainty. Embrace change. That’s the key to creating a different future––and a new and improved you.
#4 Celebrate Adversity
“Celebrate adversity. It’s your opportunity to become the person you might never have imagined without it!” ~THE SENSEI LEADER
I can’t stand that iconic belief that people always tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Average people maybe––not the exceptional.
Study any genuinely successful or remarkable person. These aren’t people who avoid the pain––they run right toward it! They welcome challenges, hardship and adversity as an opportunity to better themselves—to discover and cultivate new talents, skills abilities and insights. Adversity is the oven that fires imagination and tempers experience into wisdom.
Facing the tough challenge builds courage and confidence––and hardens you against failure.
And those are the ingredients of genuine success.
Remember this well: Successful people fail. A lot.
They fail because they’re in the ring taking the punches. You simply cannot achieve anything meaningful or lasting by avoiding trouble.
Too many people are ostriches. They stick their head in the sand to avoid adversity, pain and discomfort. But just like the ostrich, their hind parts are hanging high ready for a good kicking…
And they never even see it coming.
It’s all about mindset. And once again, not in a shallow pop-philosophy sense. You just cannot create success with a mindset of fear and avoidance.
When you celebrate adversity, you develop a mindset of openness. You welcome the challenges and opportunities that produce the greatest rewards. As William Shakespeare said––
“Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head…”
#5 Become a Leader
The most immediate and impactful way to change your life for the better is simply this: Become a leader.
Leaders make a difference.
Leaders change lives––theirs and others.
Leaders shape the world.
Leaders determine the future.
This has nothing to do with fame or fortune. It has nothing to do with a rank, title, degree or position of authority.
Becoming a leader simply means you accept the responsibility and practice leadership––at any level, in any role and at any opportunity.
To put in readily accessible terms…
Leaders have more freedom and autonomy.
Leaders make things happen, for themselves and others.
Leaders rise to positions of responsibility, authority and respect.
And to really bring it to base terms…
Leaders make more money––if they want to.
The plain fact is that leaders have more opportunities to rise above the pack and earn greater rewards––whatever that looks like in your life and career.
If you truly want to make a change in your life. Become a leader.
If you’re already a leader––become a better one. If you don’t think you need to improve, then STOP! You are not a genuine leader. Go back to Step 1.
Opportunity always expands in response to demand and right now, what the world needs most is genuine, effective leaders.
Having said that, the opportunity is there for you to go as far as you’re truly willing to go. Still, too many people shrink from this opportunity. One of the major reasons is that they just don’t think they can make it to the top.
As I said, this isn’t about titles, ranks and positions. We need leaders at all levels. We need leaders in business large and small. We need leaders on a global and national level––and we need leaders in our communities, in our neighborhoods and in our families.
Believe me when I say this…
There is plenty of room at the top!
It’s the middle and the bottom that are always crowded!
And there is a top, middle and bottom whether we’re talking about leading a family, a corner store, a big corporation or a nation.
The good news is that if you start with these steps, you’ll go a long way toward becoming a genuine and effective leader. These are only the first steps, there are plenty more, but be sure to circle back to these on a regular basis. These are the fundamental disciplines that will determine your potential to lead a meaningful and productive life as a leader.
Now you can move on to some other Top X lists. You’re now better prepared to get more out of them. I’ll simply leave you with Best Thoughts for Happiness and Success––and my hope that you will embrace leadership as a powerful transformational opportunity to create the life and career you truly desire.