Attributes of Leadership – Cooperation

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Successful leaders must understand and apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce followers to do the same. Leadership calls for power, and power calls for cooperation Napoleon Hill

Cooperation[This is the eleventh and last in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Nature tells us that cooperation is necessary. For example, baboons and impalas work together on the African plains to form an early warning system. The impalas’ heightened sense of smell complements the baboons’ keen eyesight, making undetected approach by predators difficult at best. Also consider a colony of ants, arguably the most predominant example of organization. These animals instinctively know what Napoleon Hill states above. In their case, cooperation is essential to survival! (See “The Role of Cooperation in Nature.” Awake! September 8, 2005, p. 3)

Note that Mr. Hill lists cooperation as an essential element of power. Although we’ve all heard of those who “seize power,” in reality it’s given to us by others. They choose to follow us (let us lead) because they find in us qualities they admire. Present any example of the exercise of power (whether positive and negative), and in all you’ll see how those in power receive it from their followers. Therefore, if you want success, you need to engender a spirit of cooperation in others. As John Maxwell said, “One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

How do we promote a spirit of cooperation in others? What changes will we have to make personally, and are there things we must guard against as we develop this attribute? Let’s find out.

Promoting Cooperation

People cooperate when they have a common goal or belief. Additionally, they must also agree about the methodology and leadership. Thus, as a leader, you must first have a worthy goal, one that inspires others. For an organization, their vision statement embodies this goal. It shows what the organization wants to accomplish and the effect it will have once they achieve that goal. Drew McLellan says a vision statement describes “what the future will be like because you deliver on [your company’s] mission so brilliantly every day.” For example, The Future Project embodies its vision by stating, “At The Future Project, we see the problem simply: Our students aren’t pursuing their dreams. We’re out to turn high schools into Future Schools, where students develop the skills to do just that.” Simply and succinctly, they let us know they hope to transform the school system (what they hope to accomplish) and produce students equipped to pursue their dreams (the effect accomplishing their goal produces). It is an inspiring vision, and they’ve already drawn many people through this compelling vision.

Following the vision is the methodology and the management. In order to have people cooperate, they must feel confident that the manner in which you plan to bring your vision to life is both worthwhile and sound. You can often find this in an organization’s mission statement, a description of “what you do best every day,” according to Mr. McLellan. Yet, even with the best of plans helping to accomplish the noblest of goals, you’ll find cooperation a challenge without a person or persons behind whom others are willing to walk. I realize that’s a bit of a paradox. Here we’re discussing cooperation as an attribute of leadership, and I’ve just said you can’t have true cooperation without an effective leader. Still, if you manage to master the other 10 leadership attributes, you will foster a cooperative spirit among those who follow, provided you have a compelling vision and a worthwhile, sound methodology (mission) by which they accomplish that vision.

Cooperation May Require Change

One key element in promoting cooperation is communication. You may have the most compelling vision ever conceived by man, yet if you can’t clearly relate it to others it’s of no use to you (or anyone else). An article by the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE) discusses the various dynamics of teams and the cooperative challenges they present. To overcome these challenges, CMOE suggests, “To promote teamwork, you must address several critical issues. For starters, you should open the lines of communication within the team” (italics added). If your vision is clearly understood but you don’t clearly tell others what you expect them to do on a daily basis, you’ll promote frustration, not cooperation. If you’re challenged in this area, address the problem. Does it stem from an old school ideal, a “my way or the highway” attitude? Do you avoid confrontation? Perhaps you feel that adults are able to work out their challenges, so all you have to do is give them the basic outline and they’ll manage the details? These attitudes likely are at the root of your problems. While I don’t advocate micro-management, it’s unrealistic that everyone on a team fully understands the needs of a particular project without frank, open discussions.

Identifying the problem is the first step. What are some things you can do to improve your communication skills? Here are some suggestions (read the full article here):

  • Think before you speak. Have the points you want to communicate clearly in mind. This keeps what you say focused, leading to greater clarity.
  • Be an active listener. Don’t underestimate the power of listening! You can hear what others say, and what they don’t say. A principle I always enjoy is found at James 1:19, which says in part, “be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” Sage advice for us all.
  • Make good eye contact. This may not communicate concepts, but it definitely communicates confidence. If you can’t look others in the eyes, you appear untrustworthy. That defeats your ultimate goal of fostering cooperation.
  • Take it slow. Speaking too fast often leads to slurred, unintelligible speech. Slow down so can enunciate well and properly pronounce words.
  • Use appropriate volume and tone. This varies depending on the circumstances. In general, you want to communicate feeling. Varying your pace, pitch, and power makes what you say more pleasant, and emphasizes key ideas.
  • Practice. If you want to communicate better, make effective speech part of your everyday life. The more you do so, the better you communicate.

Cooperation is important, and as leaders you must develop your ability to promote a cooperative spirit in others. Yet it’s not something you can rush. The caveat here is expecting too much too soon. Developing cooperation takes time and effort, but the rewards far outweigh the work. If you have a compelling vision, a worthy and effective mission, and develop your communication skills, you’ll inspire the spirit of cooperation in others.

This brings our “Attributes of Leadership” series to an end, and I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’ll miss knowing the topic of my next article weeks in advance. However, I’m also looking forward to branching out and tackling topics pertinent to small and medium-sized businesses. In any event, let me know what you thought of the series. Also, let me know the topics you want covered. Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility

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Successful leaders must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and shortcomings of their followers. If they try to shift this responsibility, they will not remain leaders. If followers make mistakes and become incompetent, it is the leader who has failed – Napoleon Hill

[This is the tenth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Accept Full Responsibility“He did it!” “That’s not my fault!” “If you would have only…” These are some of the most clichéd, and unfortunately popular phrases in society today. Here are a few other popular (and closely related) expressions: Shifting blame, passing the buck, dodging the bullet. They all express the same desire, that of avoiding responsibility.

Assuming responsibility is hard enough when you know you’re at fault. It’s especially hard if you believe someone else caused the problem. Yet a leader knows that responsibility is always and completely his or her own when it comes to any undertaking he or she shoulders. It’s also cliché, but a great leader embraces the phrase “the buck stops here.” How do we get past the natural ruffling of our proverbial feathers resulting from accepting responsibility for things gone wrong? How can our assuming full responsibility lead to better results for us personally and those we lead?

The Challenge of Accepting Responsibility

It starts in youth. We knock over a cookie jar trying to get what’s inside, and our mother walks in. We’re standing, cookie in hand and shards of pottery mixed with cookie crumbs strewn at our feet, and sheepishly declare, “But mom, it’s not my fault!” Thus begins a cycle of shifting blame. This doesn’t apply only to children. Adults are just as guilty. Take the case of 20-year-old David Martinez of Bethlehem, PA, accused of raping 14 and 17-year-old girls. What was his reason for committing this crime? His hormones were out of control and he couldn’t help himself.

We see a rise in groups dedicated to people with addictions, whether it is overeating, heavy drinking, sex, gambling, being a workaholic, being too messy, and the like. I’m not here commenting on whether or not these are real issues, the efficacy of support groups, or discussing the relative severity and impact of the actions here mentioned. What is significant is that labeling something an addiction potentially removes responsibility from the person. They are now defined by their addiction. It controls them. It’s the addiction’s fault; you’re not to blame. As one psychologist puts it, “Creating a world of addictive diseases may mean creating a world in which anything is excusable” (“‘It’s Not My Fault!’ – The Age of Excuses.” Awake, January 22, 1991, p. 8).

If that’s true, you’re in a really terrible situation. Why? If the addiction (or whatever it is we choose to blame) is at fault, then it is also responsible for the solution. I’ve never heard of an addiction or any other intangible stepping up to the plate and correcting itself. On the other hand, if you accept responsibility for your actions, then you also accept responsibility for the solution. You are now in control. That’s why a successful leader assumes full responsibility. It allows him or her to seize control of the outcome rather than leave it in the hands of uncontrollable and often unquantifiable sources.

Advantages to Ourselves and Others

I already mentioned one personal advantage above: You take back control for fixing the things that aren’t working well in your life. Jennifer Wilson lists six other benefits:

  1. You stand out as someone different. Most people try to pass the buck. When you accept full responsibility for everything you promise to deliver, people immediately know you’re unique.
  2. You mark yourself as “coachable.” The best mentors want to work with the willing, that is, those who can admit mistakes and accept direction. Admitting you’re at fault and seeking advice on how to improve shows everyone you’re willing to learn. You’ll attract the attention of the best and brightest in upper management and/or your industry.
  3. You are trusted. Taking personal responsibility gives people a good feeling about you. People see your honesty, and that helps to develop trust. Additionally, those on your team learn that you won’t throw them “under the bus,” so to speak. That develops a level of confidence in your integrity. Those qualities are the earmarks of a great leader.
  4. You show that you’re growing and changing. Owning your mistake is a great start. Figuring out how you can fix it allows you to improve and grow. That growth leads to positive change. Granted, you may not always know how to fix things right away. Yet knowing the power to change lies with you motivates a desire to research the matter and to seek out constructive criticism.
  5. You become more powerful. How can accepting responsibility make you more powerful? First, it allows you to stop expending energy in denial. Figuring out who and what to blame is tiring! It’s emotionally draining. Additionally, as I noted above, accepting responsibility gives you the power to effect changes, instead of waiting for someone else to “do their part.”
  6. You are followed. You’re setting the example of what’s expected in your organization when you accept responsibility. Others see what you do and, just as importantly, see that you didn’t implode. Your career is intact. They’ll learn to do the same. This leads to a team with high integrity, and a desire to not pass the buck but find solutions. That’s a great result for assuming full responsibility!

The only person you can control is yourself. Things will happen, and people will let you down. That’s okay. Since you can’t control those factors, stop worrying about them. Focus on what you can do. When you get results that are less than expected, figure out what you can do differently next time to get the right results. Playing the “blame game” may make you feel better short-term, but will not allow you to achieve great things. So stop playing that losing game, and start accepting full responsibility.

Do you accept responsibility for the results of your endeavors? If not, what do you think are some ways you can improve? (Note: You’ll find some great suggestions and a worksheet here) Leave your comments below (and don’t forget to “Like” us).

Attributes of Leadership – Mastery of Detail

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Successful leadership calls for mastery of details of the leader’s position – Napoleon Hill

Master of Details?[This is the ninth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Details, details, details! They say “God [or the Devil] is in the details.” However you say it, details matter. Often the success of and the speed with which you complete something rests on how well you manage related details. Therefore mastery of detail is an important attribute to develop as a leader. Yet, is it really essential to success? After all, there are some successful people who appear, well – scatterbrained. If it is essential, then we must also ask: How do we develop this attribute, and is it possible to go overboard and get caught up in minutiae?

How Important are Details?

One business consultant and coach to Fortune 500 executives, Gary Ryan Blair, says all details are very important. In an article entitled “Pay Attention to Details,” he cites numerous professions where seemingly small details make a big difference (crime scene investigators, healthcare professionals, first-responders, architects and engineers, and more). His point: Small acts make up our lives, and the quality with which we complete these acts determines the success we enjoy in our lives. To use words quoted in his article, “The magic behind every outstanding performance is always found in the smallest of details.”

Brandon W. Jones used an interesting analogy to underscore the importance of details in his article “Paying Close Attention to Detail.” Think of a hinge on a large gate. While the gate opens and closes, the ends move significantly. However the hinge hardly moves at all. Yet without it, the entire operation fails. That hinge beautifully illustrates the details of any project we take on in life. It may seem like “small stuff” to us, but it can have a huge impact on the outcome!

You get the point. When it comes to details, there is no “small stuff.” It all matters, and the better we become at handling those details, the greater the quality of our work, the better the outcome of our efforts. We can sum it up with a quote from Gary Ryan Blair taken from the above referenced article: “If you long to accomplish great and noble tasks, you first must learn to approach every task as though it were great and noble. Even the biggest project depends on the success of the smallest components.”

Becoming a Detail-Oriented Person

Some of us have an affinity for handling details. For others, we’d rather have root-canal surgery than deal with all the different aspects a project entails. Even if we’re not a manager, business owner or entrepreneur, we must still be detail-oriented in our approach to work and life. This is particularly true if we ever hope to accomplish more than we do at present, and especially if we hope to accomplish something significant. So how do we go from distracted to a detail managing machine?

In an ehow.com article, Oubria Tronshaw tackled this challenge. She came up with a 10 step program for going from a distracted zero to a bonafide detail hero. They are:

  1. Plan your day in advance. Ms. Tronshaw recommends planning your following day before you leave work. That sounds so simple, but yields incredible results. David Byrd discusses this as part of his Next Step Achievement System®. Ms. Tronshaw highlights the time-saving aspect of having a plan when you walk into work. Mr. Byrd goes further. If we plan the day/night before, our subconscious mind receives a mental image of what we hope to accomplish. Since it never sleeps, it’s working on ways to do what you planned, even while your conscious mind is at rest. That leads to greater effectiveness during the following day.
  2. Complete your least favorite task first. By getting the things you like least done first, you can better enjoy the rest of your day. Having this mindset helps avoid procrastination, leading to greater productivity.
  3. Group similar tasks together. I can personally attest to this as a huge time-saver, and definite productivity boost. Setting aside time to do things like review and respond to email and blogs, make calls, set appointments, and print materials frees up the rest of your time for other (often big pay-off) activities.
  4. Keep email and other extraneous online applications closed while you’re engaged in task completion. Since you’re setting aside time for email and the like (see the previous point), keep those applications closed while you’re working on other things. If people need to reach you for emergencies or some other important matter, give them a specific way to contact you. This way, you only give attention to one outside source while completing other tasks, reducing distraction.
  5. Give yourself treats along the way. Few things motivate as much as the promise of a reward. Giving yourself personal incentives for completing key tasks keeps you engaged and focused. Whether it’s a coffee break, time to read an article, or a trip to a new restaurant for lunch, the reward keeps you moving forward. Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success magazine, also recommends attaching a take-away for not completing the task. Doing so can really motivate you to succeed!
  6. Store water and snacks at your workstation. This reduces the need to get up. I’m reminded of Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness, where he accomplished more than his peers partly because of eliminating the breaks others took. It seems like a little thing, but it pays off in big dividends.
  7. Take scheduled breaks periodically throughout the day to avoid burnout. I know this seems to contradict the point above. Not so! While you want to reduce unnecessary breaks, working continuously is a grind. So give your mind and body time to unwind. You’ll find you are more productive when you do.
  8. Schedule socializing and personal calls. Making and taking personal calls throughout the workday is a big productivity killer. This is especially true if you work for yourself, since your income relates to what you accomplish, not a paycheck. The challenge is twofold. First, you like the flexibility self-employment grants, and want to use that to do more for family and friends. Secondly, those family members and friends may not appreciate that you have a schedule, particularly if you work from home. Resist the urge to use time scheduled for work to accomplish personal matters. Operate from a schedule, making sure to schedule time for social/personal affairs.
  9. Switch your tasks every hour to keep your focus sharp. Monotony is the bane of productivity. Yet we all have mundane, repetitive tasks to complete. Switch them up, so you aren’t doing the same thing for long periods of time. This will boost your productivity, as well as your satisfaction with the work you do.
  10. Show up early. The wee hours are great times to get things done! For example, I completed the majority of this post during a writing session that began around 4:30AM. There are fewer distractions (who will call you that early in the day?!), and my mind seems sharper in the early hours. Everyone is different, but if you can squeeze even half an hour extra each morning to get things done, you’ll surprise yourself with how much you accomplish. John Grisham was busy as a lawyer when he decided to write. He wrote two of his books, A Time to Kill and The Firm, between 1984 and 1989. He did so by getting up at 5:00AM, going to the office early, and writing until about 7:30AM. It was grueling and exhausting, but it paid off! Now, he receives ridiculous advances for his books, and major studios vie for the rights to turn his books into films (or at least that used to happen). That’s a powerful testimony to showing up early! (Read more about his sacrifices and motivations here)

That sounds like a lot to do – and you’re right. You likely won’t master all the steps above right away. That’s okay. The key here is being aware of the steps, and then making a conscious effort to implement them. “But you said above that details matter! So how can I relax when I don’t have a handle on all of the 10 steps?!” Okay, first – breathe. Success, indeed life, is not just about learning and doing. It’s about embracing the process. Don’t expect perfection, and certainly don’t expect overnight mastery. Just get started, and keep moving forward. Eventually, you’ll master the necessary skills.

In the meantime, remember those “scatterbrained” successful people mentioned at the outset? How do they manage to accomplish so much when it seems clear they aren’t the most detail-oriented? They do it by surrounding themselves with people who are. You can do the same. Thus, get help to fill in the areas where you lack the necessary skills while working to develop a mastery of detail.

How would you rate yourself when it comes to handling details? What can you do to improve in this area? Leave your comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – Sympathy and Understanding

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Successful leaders must be in sympathy with their followers. Moreover, they must understand them and their problems – Napoleon Hill

Sympathy and understanding[This is the eighth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Sympathy is a powerful emotion. It allows us to feel for another. Most often, we use it when a person experiences hardships. The entire nation felt sympathy for New York City after the attacks of 9/11, as well as for Aurora, CO when the cinema shootings occurred. More recently, our hearts reached out to Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, and their families for the ordeal they endured for the past decade (that thankfully ended this week). On the other hand, all across the country felt joy and a sense of accomplishment, along with somber reflection, as workers installed the steel spire atop 1 World Trade center yesterday (May 10, 2013). The tallest building in the country (and the western hemisphere) is now a monument to the lives lost that fateful day in 2001, and is a symbol of rebirth.

Sympathy, when combined with understanding, allows you to effectively lead. What are these two qualities, and how do they combine in a leader with positive effect? How can you more fully develop these qualities? Finally, are there pitfalls to avoid as you seek to display these qualities in your life?

Sympathy and Understanding Defined

Dictionary.com has the following as primary definitions of the word sympathy:

  1. harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.
  2. the harmony of feeling naturally existing between persons of like tastes or opinion or of congenial dispositions.
  3. the fact or power of sharing the feelings of another, especially in sorrow or trouble; fellow feeling, compassion, or commiseration.

Sympathy allows you to feel for others. We may not relate to what they’re experiencing, but we share emotions with them, whether of joy or sorrow.

Understanding, at least in the context of this discussion, involves both knowledge of the facts and an appreciation of their significance. As it relates to leadership, it allows one to stand with those they lead in the sense of relating to their challenges, not simply having knowledge those challenges exist.

Taken together, you could rightly say they allow a leader to feel empathy. When combined, you not only feel for the person, but you understand their experience, allowing you to feel what they’re going through along with them.

Acquiring Sympathy and Understanding

Sympathy and understanding can (and should) move us to action that is beneficial and uplifting. Granted, it’s not always possible to directly affect those whose experiences tug at our hearts. In the examples above, you may not know someone directly affected by 9/11, or the women victimized by the kidnappings and abuse in Ohio. Yet even in those cases, we can take action that indirectly promotes the greater good. For most leaders, however, you have plenty of opportunity to show sympathy and understanding “at home,” so to speak, with those you have contact with regularly. How can you make the most of those opportunities?

The first step starts with developing compassion, described as “sympathy in action.” Sadly, compassion is lacking in this world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people don’t acknowledge injustice, and feel a measure of indignation. When we watch the evening news, the average person shakes his or her head and wonders why people are so cruel, insensitive, unethical, etc. We feel bad about what we see. Yet how often does it motivate us to do something?

That’s probably not a fair example. After all, as I’ve noted above, we don’t personally know most of the people reported on in the news. So, let’s make this personal. Think about the people at work, at school, where you worship, or on your children’s’ teams. How many of them are facing challenges? Do you know? If not, then that’s the first step in developing sympathy and understanding, leading to demonstrating compassion. Take time to learn about those with whom you work, play, and regularly associate. This is especially important if they look to you as a leader. Have short, meaningful conversations with them. Open ended discussions born of genuine interest in others reveal amazing results. You’ll learn things about the people around you that will often surprise you. This knowledge leads to sympathetic feelings. Further, it helps you relate to the experiences of your associates, allowing you to feel with them. It’s this fellow-feeling that inspires action (1 Peter 3:8).

Pitfalls to Avoid

Pitfalls

Avoid these pitfalls while developing sympathy & understanding

Developing sympathy coupled with understanding is vital to leadership. As noted above, when we combine these two qualities, we’re said to develop empathy. While empathy is important, you must avoid commiserating in a negative sense. When people experience challenges, it’s easy for them to see only the negative, and to have feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. Those are emotions with which you should never connect. Yes, the challenges exist, and yes, they create difficulties. But your goal is to render comfort and aid, not make them feel as though their world is crashing down around their ears. So, while you express sympathy in a spirit of understanding, never allow your expressions to devolve into a pity party. That does no one any good.

Another caution is against developing the Comforter style of leadership. What do I mean? While good leadership provides true comforter, the leadership style defined as “the Comforter” tries to appease others without ever addressing the issues at hand. The Comforter leader coddles others instead of promoting the development of leadership skills. No, I’m not saying it’s wrong to provide aid and comfort in extreme circumstances. I am saying that deflecting an issue in an attempt to make someone “feel better” is misguided at best, and often has far-reaching negative consequences. David Byrd discusses this in his blog post, Effective Leaders Use the Most Effective Style of Leadership. He notes that according to research conducted by Jay Hall, PhD., the Comforter style of leadership is only 5% effective. That’s right, just 5%! The most effective style of leadership, the Developer, is 92% effective. The numbers speak for themselves.

Sympathy and understanding are qualities vital to leaders. Thankfully, although these qualities are on the decline in our world, we can cultivate them. By taking time to learn about those around us, allowing that knowledge to fuel our compassion, and by avoiding the traps of negative commiseration and providing false comfort, we can become more effective and successful leaders.

What’s your greatest challenge in displaying the qualities of sympathy and empathy? What one thing can you do to demonstrate them more fully? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – A Pleasing Personality

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No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for respect. Followers will not respect leaders who do not score highly on all factors of a pleasing personality – Napoleon Hill

Do you have a pleasing personality?[This is the seventh in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Some people are just a joy to be around. It’s not that they’re necessarily smiling all the time, or that they’re bubbly and giddy (although you probably know a few that are). Rather, they have a way of making us feel better by how they carry themselves, how they handle situations, and by their consistently positive viewpoint. These people have a pleasing personality, one of the traits necessary to a successful leader. What is a pleasing personality? Is it something a select few have? Most importantly, can I develop one? Let’s find out.

What is a Pleasing Personality?

The first definition for personality on dictionary.com is, “the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others: He has a pleasing personality.” Primarily, it focuses on what people perceive about us. This is in keeping with what Mr. Hill mentions regarding this attribute. He speaks of a “slovenly, careless” person lacking the necessary personality to lead others. Yet, there is more than just what one sees. The website also offers modern psychology’s definition, which is “the sum total of the physical, mental, emotional, and social characteristics of an individual.” Therefore, our personality is both what people see and what lies beneath the surface. The latter is just as important, because it motivates or influences what others see, and therefore helps determine their perception of us. Granted, the values others have

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Attributes of Leadership – The Habit of Doing More Than Paid

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One of the penalties of leadership is the necessity of willingness, upon the part of leaders, to do more than they require of their followers – Napoleon Hill

Go the EXTRA mile

Are you willing to do more than paid?

[This is the sixth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Going the extra mile (Matthew 5:41). Give more than you get. Under-promise and over-deliver. These are all maxims that embrace the philosophy found in this leadership attribute, the habit of doing more than paid. A leader gives more in value than he or she ever receives in compensation? Yet, ask the average person about their attitude towards “going the extra mile” and you’ll likely find an ingrained reluctance. ‘That’s not in my job description,’ ‘I just do what I need to get by,’ or ‘I do what they pay me for, that’s it’ are common responses. Yet Napoleon Hill found this a necessary quality for success. Therefore, why is there such resistance towards this attribute of leadership? And, perhaps more importantly, how can we develop this quality?

Do You Love What You Do?

How many people love what they do? I don’t mean they just like it, or think it’s interesting. I mean they truly love it and think it’s what they’re called to do in life? If you’re one of those people, then you deserve applause! After all, those who don’t love their work represent a large group. Alyson Shontell referenced Deloitte’s Shift Index when stating that 80% find dissatisfaction with their jobs. That’s a problem. If you don’t love what you do, why in the world will you do more than expected?

The problem goes deeper. If we assume you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep, you then have 16 waking hours in your day. Work typically consumes half of those hours, not counting travel time. Therefore, you are spending at least half of your waking hours – doing something you don’t enjoy! Is it any wonder why many are seething below the surface? They’re like pressure cookers set on high, with pressure building, and no release valve. When they explode, it can get ugly! It also explains why they don’t “get you” enjoying your job, and why you can’t wrap your head around their attitudes towards work. You’re seeing things from opposite ends of the spectrum, and that makes it hard to have a meeting of the minds.

If you’re part of the 80% dissatisfied with work (whether it’s a job or a business you’ve started that’s become a job you own), what can you do to find more joy and join the ranks of the satisfied 20% of the workforce?

How to Find More Joy in What You Do

Everything starts with us, and our attitude. Jim Rohn gave some incredible advice in this regard. He said, “Somebody said you have to love what you do, but that’s not necessarily true. What is true is that you have to love the opportunity. The opportunity to build life, future, health, success and fortune. Knocking on someone’s door or making that extra call may not be something you love to do, but you love the opportunity of what might be behind that door or call.” So, if you don’t love your job or what you’re doing, learn to love the opportunity it affords you. Maybe it allows you to pay your bills while building a business for yourself. Learn to love that. Maybe you’re building a business and hit brick walls, and they hurt as you rush headlong into them. However, you know you’re on the road to having the lifestyle and the freedom you desire. Learn to love that. A change in attitude can work wonders towards finding more enjoyment in life! What else can you do?

Loralea Prentis wrote a wonderful article entitled “People Who Love What They Do.” In it she cites an unreferenced study which found four common factors among job lovers: competence, variety, independence, and challenge. How can you embrace (or develop) these factors?

  • Competence. This is perhaps the easiest of the four, because it really depends on you. Take pride in your work, and always strive to improve. King Solomon of Israel under inspiration stated, “Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself; he will not station himself before commonplace men” (Proverbs 22:19). Therefore, the more competent you become, the more people held in high regard notice you, and that leads to greater opportunities to change your circumstances.
  • Variety. Some jobs are chock full of variety. Others, not so much. If the work you do is among the former, then embrace that and get busy enjoying the fullness of the experience. What, though, if you fall into the latter group? Then get creative. Perhaps there are opportunities to expand within different divisions of your company. Or maybe you need to take matters into your own hands and invest in your professional education outside of work. Alternatively, you may find that getting involved in activities not related to work at all makes being at work more bearable (like volunteer community service). Whatever the case, you can find variety in life that helps make work more enjoyable!
  • Independence. Most of us enjoy a measure of autonomy. It is so disconcerting when someone is looking over your shoulder! I personally find that distracting, and I often have to say something to the person doing it. I find in many cases they think it will make me work faster. When I let them know it’s having the opposite effect, they tend to move off. Lurkers aside, independence gives you freedom to creatively handle situations. It also indicates your superiors have a measure of trust in your abilities, and that alone moves you to work harder and be more innovative, thus increasing your joy.
  • Challenge. Drudgery. The opposite of challenge. Just the sound of that word is depressing! No one likes monotony. Again, some jobs and professions are rife with challenge, and that keeps those fortunate enough to work in those sectors engaged. Yet, what if your job is simply repetitive, real drudgery? An article published on GeekInterview.com mentions the following three steps to overcoming monotony: seek meaning, seek education, and seek training & opportunities – all things we’ve discussed. So, in short, do the stuff mentioned above!

Doing more than paid may not sound like a profitable habit, yet it yields incredible rewards. By going the extra mile now, you’ll put yourself in a position to earn far more than your efforts alone can generate in the future. So cultivate the habit now!

How do you go the extra mile? What ways do you plan to do more than paid in the future? Let us know in the Comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – Definiteness of Plans

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The successful leader must plan the work and work the plan. A leader who moves by guesswork without practical, definite plans is comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later, it will land on the rocks.  – Napoleon Hill

Make Definite Plans[This is the fifth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

You’ve heard the sayings: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” or “the plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want” – (attributed to) Ben Franklin, and King Solomon of Israel (Proverbs 21:5), respectively. We could cover the page in quotations. Intelligent, successful people throughout the ages understand the need for plans. More importantly, they realize as did Napoleon Hill that we need definite plans to which we commit if we ever want to accomplish anything significant. Therefore, let’s dissect this attribute to learn what it is, what it does, and how it’s developed so you can put it to better use in your life.

What’s a Plan (and what about the “Definiteness” Part)?

That sounds like such a silly question. After all, anyone will tell you ‘a plan is – well, a plan!’ It’s such a commonplace idea that we use the term as its own definition. Yet it’s important to clearly identify our starting point. Dictionary.com defines plan as: “1. a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance, 3. a specific project or definite purpose.” – italics added. The site also defines definite as something “positive; certain; sure.” Therefore, a plan is the methodology we propose to accomplish a specific purpose. What makes the plan definite is partly how clearly we define the steps, and perhaps more importantly our commitment to carrying out those steps.

Interestingly, the quality of the plans isn’t the most important factor. That doesn’t mean we should try to formulate bad (or poorly thought out) plans. Yet, as noted in Think and Grow Rich, “organized plans, even though they may be weak or entirely impractical, encourage persistence.” The plan is the starting point. It gets you moving. Your conviction to carry out your plan depends on how strongly you believe in your definite major purpose. When that belief is so strong you won’t allow anything to stop you, when your commitment to acting on the plans formulated to accomplish your beliefs is as resolute as your desire to breathe, then you will succeed.

Why is Definiteness of Plans so Important?

We need definite plans to direct our actions and keep us focused on reaching our goal. All great things begin as an idea. In their infancy, describing ideas as fragile is an understatement. Napoleon Hill states “most ideas are stillborn and need the breath of life injected into them by definite plans of immediate action.” So many people give up on their ideas before they’re even fully formed. I’d ask you to think about your last good idea that you let fall by the wayside, but you probably can’t call it to mind. As soon as we let ideas die, they’re not only buried but in most cases erased from memory. Instead, think of a time you wanted to pursue something big – maybe a career, or a big trip, or perhaps a business you thought about starting. Now, think about why you didn’t act on the idea. Were you talked out of it by your family, your friends, or even yourself? Now, here’s the big question – did you make definite plans to take that idea out of your head and give it life in the world? Chances are you didn’t. Without concrete plans, put down on paper so you can review, examine, and share them with those who support you (the Mastermind Group, as Napoleon Hill calls them), that idea had less chance than a wish!

How Do I Develop Definite Plans?

Thankfully, it’s relatively simple to develop definite plans. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Why not? Because we have to find an inborn tendency: Fear. “How in the world does fear come into this? No one is afraid to make plans. We do it all the time!” There’s some truth in that. You make plans to go to the gym, to buy groceries, to visit the hair salon/barber, and a ton of other stuff. So you do make plans. Yet, when it comes to planning our future, especially if those plans involve doing something bold and different, it’s more challenging. You may find yourself succumbing to fear of criticism. That fear has killed more dreams before they can give birth to concrete ideas and goals.

I know this from experience. I’ve started a number of different ventures. Some were successful. Others – well, let’s say they didn’t win me any awards for entrepreneur of the year. When you don’t succeed at a venture, it makes starting the next one a real challenge! Everyone around you knows you didn’t make the last business work. When I wanted to start my next venture, the doubts hit me: What will they say about this new idea? How will I answer if someone says, “Didn’t your last business fail? What makes you think you can make this one work?!” It would have been easy to talk myself out of business before I even opened my doors! Napoleon Hill describes this fear as the greatest enemy of persistence, because “it generally exists in the subconscious mind without being recognized.” That’s right, this fear is kicking around in your subconscious right now, just waiting to sabotage any idea that will help you succeed!

So what can help you overcome this fear and make definite plans? Try these steps:

  • Get the facts. You need to have enough information to start making plans. If you don’t have the information, then the first step in your plan is to figure out where to find the knowledge you need, and then make definite steps to acquire it. This doesn’t mean you need to transform yourself into a professional research department and spend years studying every minute detail. The last thing you need is to fall victim to paralysis by analysis! Get enough facts so you can make educated choices, and start from there.
  • Put it in writing. If it isn’t on paper (or in an electronic document that you can open and consult), it isn’t real. Every successful person can show you the plans they made. They wrote them down, and designed benchmarks that allow them to track their progress. This is what takes things from the wish stage to a real plan, one which you can put into action.
  • Get started. Continuous action is what leads to success. This is what brings your plans to life. Sure, you’ll have to make adjustments along the way. Unexpected situations – positive and negative – are sure to arise, and you’ll have to react accordingly. But none of that can happen until you get moving. Even a single step forward can make a world of difference.
  • Invoke your Mastermind. Share your plans with those people committed to your success. These may or may not be the people closest to you. Choose your Mastermind Group carefully. Select people with the qualities, skills, and experience you’ll need to accomplish your definite major purpose (your ultimate goal) and surround yourself with them. Their feedback is invaluable, and you’ll be happy they’re on your side.

Some guiding principles emphasizing the points above are found at Proverbs 15:22; 20:18; 21:5; and especially 19:21. It also goes without saying Think and Grow Rich is required reading.

What definite plans have you made to reach your goals? What can you do today to bring you closer to those goals? Post your answers in the Comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – Definiteness of Decision

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People who waver in decisions show that they are not sure of themselves. They cannot lead others successfully – Napoleon Hill

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions![This is the fourth in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

The Bing.com dictionary lists one definition of decision as “firmness in choosing something: the ability to choose or decide about things in a clear and definite way without too much hesitation or delay.” That fits well with what Napoleon Hill describes as the attribute of a leader. Is this quality really that important? What if you don’t have it? Can you develop the quality of making definite decisions, and if so, how? Read on!

What Is Decision-Making?

In a study conducted by Robin S. Gregory and Robert T. Clemen for Decision Research, they explored the nature and development of decision-making skills in students. They started off by debunking three myths.  Decision-making is not:

  • Simply choosing between alternatives. This simplifies the process. A decision isn’t just a choice between things. It’s a choice based on values. Thus, what constitutes a good decision varies from person to person based on their value system.
  • Simply having a good outcome. A good decision comes from an effective process, not simply the outcome. They used the example of planning a camping trip. You schedule it during the driest time of the year to minimize the possibility of rain. As things turn out, you arrive during one of the worst thunderstorms of the year? The outcome was less than desired, but the process was flawless. Therefore, it was a good decision.
  • Beyond the capacity of people based on age. Is there an age when one can start making good decisions? Are children too young to learn this skill? Gregory and Clemens say “no.” We make decisions constantly. The foundational principles behind good decisions start with understanding your objectives. Anyone can learn and practice these principles.

From the above, a few key points emerge. First, decision-making is a process. It begins with an appreciation of your core values and an awareness of your objectives. And, while you eventually see results as the cumulative effects of good decisions, you don’t base that evaluation on your immediate outcome. Additionally, we find all, even young people, can learn to make good decisions.

Why is Decision-Making so Important?

Napoleon Hill described decision as the opposite of procrastination. Successful people reach decisions quickly, and change their decisions slowly (if at all). Why? They base decisions on their definite major purpose, which harmonizes with a person’s core values. Thus they see the end result of their decisions clearly, even if it takes time for those results to materialize. This, then, brings the faculty of faith into play (which is a whole other discussion). A successful person willingly stands behind his or her decisions, even if people around him or her feel such decisions have no merit, and try to discourage that person to abandon his or her chosen course. Thus, decision-making is a key factor in success. This alone makes it a desirable skill, one we should all develop.

How Can I Develop Good Decision-Making Skills?

What Do I Do?

What can help you make better choices?

Indecision (procrastination) often finds its root in fear. If you constantly worry about what others will think, do, or say about your decisions, it encourages you to put off making any. Additionally, if you are afraid of failing, losing money, or having to live a more austere lifestyle until the results of your decisions materialize, you may waver in making those decisions until opportunity passes by and the decision is out of your hands.

I know from personal experience. Since I deal with businesses and business owners, I’m constantly contacting new people and arranging to meet with them. Most times that’s as natural as breathing. Yet there are days (and, let’s face it, sometimes particular people) where I pause. I wonder if it’s a good time to call them, if they’ll need what I’m offering, or if I’m the right person to bring value to such a person. The answer, of course, is “yes, yes, and yes!” I may not call at a convenient time, but it’s definitely a good time to call because it gets the cycle of contacts, relationship building, and mutual support started. I know they need what I’m offering; that’s why I offer my services in the first place. And I’m definitely the right person to make the offer. Sure, there are people who are more skilled and have more knowledge. Yet I definitely care about all the people I approach, whether or not they choose to use my services. So why do I ever question myself? In a word, fear. Therefore, the root of good decision-making is addressing the fear that makes us indecisive and prone to procrastination.

Napoleon Hill made a keen observation. He noted the majority of people who fail to accumulate enough of the things necessary to enjoy life are easily influenced by the opinions of others. This is classic fear of man. Such people so highly esteem the opinions of others, they fail to properly value their own decisions. Yet, if you make your decisions based on right principles, and if you factor in all the information available to you, then trust your decisions are good.

How can you counteract this fear? Try incorporating methods that have worked for centuries. A historical figure, King Solomon was widely respected as a ruler known as much for his wisdom as for his wealth. He offers counsel that can help us develop our decision-making ability. Here are some of his suggestions:

  • Consider the long-term consequences (Proverbs 22:3). There are short and long-term ramifications to many decisions. Try to think of the long-term effects to avoid being unduly swayed by short-term gains.
  • Take sufficient time (Proverbs 21:5). While it’s important to make decisions quickly, that doesn’t mean to make them hastily. Get sufficient information to make an informed choice without being bogged down with minute (and often insignificant) details.
  • Be open to counsel (Proverbs 15:22). Although no two situations are alike, we still benefit from the advice of those who have successfully faced similar situations. Find out what they did and how it turned out. Also ask what they think about that decision now, after time passed and they have more life experience. Weigh their responses, and then formulate your own plan for dealing with your situation. (Note: Choose such confidants carefully. Ask people who have values and vision similar to yours)
  • Heed a well-trained conscience (Proverbs 3:6). Assuming you base your values on right principles, your conscience can guide you to making the best decisions. That inner voice keeps you out of trouble, and often prevents you making decisions you later regret. Heed its advice (click here to read the article where the preceding information appears).

Good decision-making is not an inherent quality. We must develop it. In their study, Gregory and Clemen identified 8 themes essential to the decision-making process. Remember, their study involved secondary school students. So they developed methods for teaching those decision-making themes to teenagers. Rest assured you can learn to make good decisions or improve your skills.

How would you rate your ability to make decisions? Do you make definite decisions, and then stick to them? If not, what one thing can you do today to start developing your ability?

Attributes of Leadership – A Keen Sense of Justice

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Without a sense of fairness and justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of his or her followers – Napoleon Hill

Statue of Justice[This is the second in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

A sense of justice is not about law (although they certainly influence it), nor is it about sentiment (even though that factors in as well). Debra S. Emmelman, in reviewing Markus Dirk Dubber’s book The Sense of Justice: Empathy in Law and Punishment, defines it as “a sentiment, or perhaps better stated, a sensibility about, consciousness of, or empathy with our fellow human beings as human beings equal to ourselves. Moreover, and quite possibly most importantly, it is the capacity to assess whether one person has treated another as an equal as well.  It is, in other words, a specific moral form of empathic role-taking.”

Thus, you need a well-developed understanding of what is right and have an unfailing commitment towards holding yourself and those around you to that standard.

We’re all outraged at flagrant violations of justice. The recent bombings at the Boston Marathon and the triple homicide that took place just blocks from my home here in Brooklyn, NY sent ripples of shock, disbelief, and anger throughout the country in the former case and all around my community in the latter. That’s our sense of justice at work. The challenge comes, however, when dealing with “small” matters. For example, how do you deal with that co-worker or teammate that you aren’t “feeling”? You don’t hate them, but just don’t like being around them. So, when having to choose someone for a project, do you give them due consideration, or assign things based on whether or not you’ll spend time in this particular person’s company for extended periods? That leads to another question: Do you hold yourself to the same standards you apply to someone else? If the above scenario comes across your desk and you’re asked to mediate, what would you tell the person with the misgivings about their co-worker? Do you operate according to the same advice you hand out? The answers to those questions reveal a lot about our sense of justice.

Why is a Keen Sense of Justice Important?

Justice, and its related quality of fairness, is critical to being an effective leader. As Napoleon Hill stated above, no leader retains his or her followers unless he or she demonstrates the quality of justice. If you can’t deal with others in a consistent, ethical manner, then you’re not cut out for a leadership role.

Yet developing this quality is easier said than done. What are some principles that can help? Gerald Gillis discussed developing fairness in his article Leadership Traits – Fairness. In it, he outlined the following four points to developing the quality of fairness. They apply equally well to developing our sense of justice:

  • Avoid playing favorites. As in the example above, there are people we favor in life. That’s natural. However, if we allow such favoritism to govern our actions, then it works against us; and must hold it in check. A scriptural example is the apostle Peter. He helped open up the expansion of Christianity to Gentiles when he witnessed to and baptized the household of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion. Yet later, after many congregations formed with both Jewish and Gentile Christians, Peter chose to separate himself from his Gentile brothers when visitors from the congregation in Jerusalem (apparently Judaizers, who felt that salvation depended on adhering to the Mosaic covenant) arrived. He did so in a mistaken attempt to appease them instead of giving honor to both Jew and Gentile equally. The apostle Paul had to strongly correct Peter (Galatians 2:11-14). As leaders, it is imperative we avoid unfairly favoring one group or person over another.
  • Involve key stakeholders in major process changes. Growth involves change, and this often means revamping tried but outdated processes. A perfect example is communication. The day of using print media exclusively is gone. If you aren’t involved in social media, you’ll be left behind. While the need for change in this example is clear, involving key personnel and others affected by the change in the process is critical. This insures all buy into the changes, and avoid any being needlessly left out or blindsided when their responsibilities suddenly evolve.
  • Involve key stakeholders in the hiring process. Whether you’re discussing employees or subcontractors, personnel can make or break a business or operation. If the operation involves others, it’s imperative to include them in the hiring process. Since they ultimately work along with those hired/contracted, you want their input to insure those you bring on will fit well with your company’s culture in addition to having the needed skills to complete the task(s) at hand
  • Give credit liberally. People love recognition. It’s been said that babies cry for it and men die for it. Feeling unappreciated can lead to depression, loss of enthusiasm, and resentment among other things. Your organization does not function well if such feelings simmer just below the surface. An easy way to prevent such negativity from infecting your organization is being liberal in giving praise. A recent excerpt from delanceyplace.com commented on the connection between scientist that are Nobel laureates and their willingness to give credit to fellow researchers. Citing work by Harriet Zuckerman, a sociologist of science, it notes, “What she found was that Nobel laureates are first authors of numerous publications early in their careers, but quickly begin to give their junior colleagues first authorship. And this happens far before they receive the Nobel Prize.” The implication is clear; those recognized for great contributions in science often give credit freely. That’s a clue for all of us.

A keen sense of justice is essential for leaders. Though not necessarily innate, you can develop it. Doing so makes it easier for others to follow you, which lets you accomplish greater things than you could alone. So work on fine-tuning and consistently applying justice in a fair way and see your effectiveness improve.

Do you have challenges in demonstrating fairness? What are some ways you plan on addressing them? Leave your replies in the Comments below.

Attributes of Leadership – Self-Control

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People who cannot control themselves can never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s followers, which the more intelligent will emulate. – Napoleon Hill

[This is the second in a series exploring the attributes of leadership outlined by Napoleon Hill]

Self-control is an essential quality. By demonstrating it, you separate yourself from the majority of those around you. The Bible centuries ago described our time as “critical” and “hard to deal with.” Part of the reason is people in general are “without self-control” (2 Timothy 3:1-3). Whether you accept the source, the assessment is readily proven. In fact, modern science agrees that a lack of self-control can significantly affect your happiness, even among infants.

Andrew Reiner, writing in the Washington Post, cited a study known as the Marshmallow Study from the 1960’s. It presented 653 four-year olds with a choice: eat the marshmallow in front of you now, or wait until the researcher returns to the room and receive a second marshmallow. The study found that those able to resist the urge to eat until the researcher returned enjoyed higher SAT scores and, as they aged, remained thinner, less prone to divorce and drug addiction than their more impulsive counterparts. Is that ancient history? Not at all. The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study (Dunedin Study), an ongoing study for the past 40 years, published some astounding findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. The study followed 1,000 New Zealanders over 32 years, starting at birth. Researchers found that children as young as three who showed lower self-restraint were “much more likely to face future struggles with high cholesterol and blood pressure, periodontal disease, chronically empty savings accounts, debt and single parenthood. Those with less self-restraint had much higher incidences of drug and alcohol dependence. And ‘43% of least disciplined children had a criminal record by age 32, compared with just 13% of the most conscientious.’ If this isn’t disturbing enough, ‘one generation’s low self-control disadvantages the next generation,’ the researchers stated.”

Do media and ads affect self-control?What does all of this mean for you? Without self-control, you can’t hope to succeed. So, if we’ve known about the need for self-control for centuries, and studies have clearly documented the ill effects a lack of self-control brings, why is it so hard to master? Part of this stems from the fact that we’re imperfect. That makes us prone to do things that are not in our best interests. Add to that the many distractions we have in modern society, from social media, online gaming, and many other forms of entertainment. Let’s not forget mainstream media with its appeal to instant gratification. Taken all together, it’s not hard to understand why we exist in a society where “get it now!” is the norm. Thus, those of us hoping to accomplish anything significant have an uphill battle, like salmon swimming against the stream. I know; I constantly have to fight the urge to do the “easy things” which appeal to my desire for fun and enjoyment (like spending time surfing the web without definite purpose or engaging in online social interactions that don’t promote more major goals) rather than doing the things that help me accomplish my objectives. So, I hear ya; I feel your pain!

What Can Help Me Develop More Self-Control?

Self-control is one of several qualities that work in concert to help us become better people. When linked to faith, virtue, knowledge, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love, self-control helps us become a well-rounded, productive person (2 Peter 1:5-7). However, none of those qualities are wholly inborn. We have to work at cultivating them. Since we’re focused on self-control in this discussion, what are some things we can do to more effectively develop this quality?

  • Control your thoughts. The things we think about control our actions. If we’re focused on positive things, that will dominate our thinking. Thus, our decisions filter through the thoughts we put in our minds. The media is constantly bombarding us with the idea that instant gratification is the way to happiness. To counteract that, focus on books, magazines, and audio recordings that helps you see things the way they really are. Read about people who’ve accomplished the things you want to accomplish. See the sacrifices (aka ways they exercised self-control) they made and how it contributed to their success.
  • Control your associations. The company we keep has a powerful effect on us. The old wisdom holds true: Look at your five closest friends and chances are you’ll see yourself reflected in them. The thoughts, motivations, and activities of our friends exert influence on us, and sometimes it is not subtle. So, are you surrounded by people who show self-control, or by people who give in to every whim and emotion that hits them? If the former, fantastic! If the latter holds true, then remember this sage advice: “If you can’t change your friends, change your friends.” – Jim Rohn
  • Know yourself. We all come from various backgrounds. Some were more nurturing than others. If we had good guidance that helped develop in us a respect for and appreciation of the exercise of self-control, that’s wonderful! For some, though, this wasn’t the case. If that’s your situation, know you’ll have to work harder to develop this quality. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a life thing. In a classroom, some students may excel at math while others struggle. Yet nothing prevents the one struggling from putting in extra effort and achieving or even exceeding those with natural ability. Once you understand the point from where you start, you can map out a path to your goal.
  • Seek the help of others. We all need help, because none of us are perfect. Asking others to help us demonstrates appreciation of this fact. However, I’m not saying everyone is a good candidate to offer assistance. By encouraging you to seek the help of others, I mean seeking the help of those who understand what you want to accomplish and will support your efforts. As noted earlier, self-control is not so common anymore. Therefore choose your confidants wisely. As mentioned before, those who have accomplished the things you wish to accomplish and demonstrate a desire to help others (both qualities are necessary) make great choices.

Exercising self-control is a challenge. Thankfully, it is one you can successfully meet. By controlling your thoughts and associations, knowing yourself, and seeking the help of those qualified to assist you in developing this necessary quality, you can succeed. This will help you achieve your goals and live the fulfilling life you can and should enjoy.

What are some of the challenges you face when it comes to self-control? What steps will you take to overcome them? Let me know in the Comments below.