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Elevating your leadership | “I don’t care that they stole my idea…I care that they don’t have any of their own.” – Nikola Tesla

How to plan your day, week, month, year (no more “to do” lists)

Planning our future and our goals is something we all do across both our personal and professional lives. Planning is good, but it is utterly useless without accompanying action. Lack of commitment to continuously making progress is the single largest cause of why most of us don’t reach majority of our major goals and keep postponing them year after year (at times until it is too late to act on some of them).

Furthermore, the way most of us do this historically is via “to do” lists which rarely (if ever) work. When it comes to these lists, all we end up doing is carrying them around in our phones, tablets, computers, pockets, books…with little to no action on any of the major items. Instead try using your calendar and actually block off time to act on making progress towards your goals. Even if this progress is small initially it is still a step in the right direction. Think about it. Let’s say that you need to write a book and you begin with a page a day. A year later, you will have 365 pages and your book will be done for the most part. Small steps are OK as long as you keep taking them.

How to pitch your project, product or service

Pitching your project, product or service is a necessary step in entering a new market or a segment. It is a necessary skill in getting the word out, in attracting investors and in staying in business in general.

Furthermore, during your presentations you should be prepared for all the questions that might and will come your way. You must do your due diligence, your research on your markets, competitors, your products and services as well as on those you will be pitching to. You have to know it all and be prepared BEFORE you step up to that opportunity as that one event could have a significant impact on the overall success of your product, services, perhaps business as a whole. Do your homework, know your audience, it will make all the difference.

You are only as good as your team

Your team matters a lot, even more than some of you might think. They matter as much as you do (if not more in some instances) as their actions, values and contributions speak volumes about you, their leader.

Your job is to select (attract and retain) the best people you can, provide them needed resources then get out of their way. In this process you must allow, enable even expect in a sense a failure or two…they should be allowed to experiment, grow, learn, advance and even make mistakes along the way without fear of repercussions (this obviously doesn’t apply in EVERY situation). Treat people the way you want to be treated and remarkable things lay ahead, trust me.

Success requires both talent & hard work

Hard work is a prerequisite for nearly everything of value in life. However, while we all know this to be true, in practice we often behave differently. For some reason way too many of us over estimate our talents and under estimate the work it will take to reach our goals. Furthermore, we often attempt to go through business and life relying on talents alone and that is rarely enough for anything above mediocrity, slightly above average at best.

Of all the people I’ve ever met, across dozens of countries on multiple continents, I am yet to meet ONE person who has been very successful (business, life, career…whatever) without putting in the hours, days, months, years of hard work. Talents are important, but please realize that they are not enough to reach your full potential or to even come close. With this in mind, we get to the remaining ingredients of passion and quality. In order to be valuable to others and therefore successful, do your best to work in the crossroads of passion, quality, talents and hard work…go all in and success is unavoidable.

One life, make it count

ONE LIFE, MAKE IT COUNT! As far as we all know, we each get one chance at life and as such we should value it a lot more, respect those of others and do everything that we can to make it better, more enjoyable and fulfilling. Your past is exactly that, your past, it is gone, it is behind you and it can’t be changed, corrected or altered in any way.

However, what you can do and influence is today, tomorrow and each subsequent day you get to enjoy and live, live to the fullest. Audit your life, your career and assess your current place and where you want to be. If there’s a mismatch, you have work to do and that work needs to be focused and begin today. It needs to start today as you don’t want to regret wasting your life on frivolous and unimportant things, things that didn’t matter in the end. Regret is a heavy burden to carry years and decades from now, so get moving, NOW!

Does your CEO know who you are?

Do you know your CEO? More importantly, do they know you? I ask this as I know that you are a high achieving and high performing individual and as such have aspirations to grow, advance and make progress. If my assumption is correct, it is important to do what you can (where possible and practical) to be more visible at the highest level. This visibility should obviously be focused on your positive attitude, great knowledge and skills as well as contributions that go well beyond your current responsibilities.

Remember, you demonstrate your qualities and capabilities first, then look for an opportunity to leverage them for the greater benefit of all those you work with. Along that path, your personal reward, recognition and advancement will come as well.

Presidents won’t solve your problems

As we all strive for progress and greater accomplishments, it is important to understand that each of us are creators of our own destiny. Presidents or anyone else for that matter are not the ones who will solve your problems. Spending more time with family and friends; attaining a better job; earning more money; buying a vacation home, cars, boats, watches…it all comes down to you and your work, your effort, your contributions and your quality.

Own your responsibilities and your contributions and get in front of it all as the one who has the greatest influence and impact of your life. Stop looking towards others to do things for you and provide them without effort on a silver platter as that is not how life works. Take charge of your life, decide what matters to you and don’t stop until you get it…you deserve it, now go earn it.

Passionate people are indicators of your progress

Passion makes the world go round. Without passion, we won’t be as committed, as focused, or as determined to see our projects and responsibilities all the way through. We won’t care to put in 100% of our efforts and skills, but will rather only contribute as much as it is necessary to get a passing grade.

As leaders, we must be in tune with the frequency and presence of passion within people who provide great, quality results as that is a great indicator of how well you are doing and more importantly, how they are feeling and thinking about your organization and your leadership. Once your most passionate people lose that fire, you have lost them mentally and pretty soon you will lose them physically as well. Once the passion is gone from those who are normally passionate folks they have probably given up on progress and future within your organization and are actively looking for their next endeavor. Passion matters a lot, so don’t lose it.

This is very evident across organizations and the following quote sums it up well:

“The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.”*

* if you know who said the above quote please let me know to reference them properly. Thanks!

Your future is bigger than your past

Your future is bigger and much greater than your past. It simply has to be and here’s why. Your past, while important, is simply a foundation for present and future growth and advancement. Otherwise, all that was done in the past was for nothing if you have come this far to stop and quit. This obviously doesn’t apply to those who are the pinnacle of their personal happiness and success and are exactly where they want to be (how many of us are there today?), for everyone else, there’s always room to continue growing and contributing at greater levels.

I measure success by how many people I can help (directly or indirectly) and want to continue increasing that number. What is your definition of success?

Keep your eyes on the prize

Do you know what you want? This is a simple, yet very serious and influential question everyone should ask themselves on a regular basis. Are you currently working and living how and where you want to be and if not, why not? What is it that you haven’t been doing in order to reach what you have defined as success? Yes, start from yourself and things you have influence over, don’t waste your time on looking for excuses and justifications outside your control as they are exactly that, outside your control.

During this reflective process, always keep your eyes on the prize and what you want, yet be prepared to be flexible, nimble and agile in your approach. At times, your path will change, but your major life goals should always stay within sight.