I’m always on the look out for what successful and productive people do to be and become successful and productive. I seek out these habits – like arising early – as a means to drink from the marrow of life and get as much from my short time on earth, both for myself and for the Kingdom of God, as possible. Here are 5 tips I’ve found helpful hopefully, they’ll be helpful to you too.
- Turn off the T.V. Successful people don’t plop down in the easy chair every night and let cable T.V. wash over them. They are engaged from the moment they arise until they go to sleep. Whether at work, with friends, with their children or spouse, just about anywhere, successful people want to live a life, not watch one. Television is a black hole. Here’s what I suggest: Pick out a few shows – 2 or 3 – per week that you like. Set your DVR or TIVO to record them and plan a time to sit down and watch. You can even save up episodes for a marathon viewing or perhaps when you’re sick or need a “mental health” day. Beginning on Sunday, I don’t sit down to watch a T.V. show until Thursday night. I watch The Office and 30 Rock. On Friday night, Rochelle put the girls to bed, hop into our PJ’s and watch DVR’d episodes of Glee. That’s all we watch, except the occasional football game, which is also DVR’d – which saves me at least 30-45 minutes of commercials. Time in front of the tube can be spent with other people, studying, working on cause you care about, or reading something to keep yourself educated, up to speed, and growing.
- Never lie to yourself. Don’t lie about where you are (health, financial, education, with God, business, etc…). If you know your organization, personhood, spiritual life or family is in an unsustainable situation, lying won’t help. In order to be successful a leader must be brutally honest about his or her failings, as well as those of their organization. Unfortunately, the higher you are on the organizational chart, the less likely it is that you will hear the most useful criticism. As a Senior Minister, I hear feedback about nearly everything in the organization…except myself. I have to look past my ego and get real with what I’m doing. Make a commitment to be honest and instill this commitment as a value throughout your organization.
- Listen To The Criticism that You Do Get. Instead of rehashing my thoughts on criticism, I’ll refer you these 2 previous post.
- Become a Lifetime Learner. As the saying goes, “leaders are readers.” I am consistently reading 3 books. One having to do with spiritual/theological life, one about leadership and organizations, and one for fun. This is in addition to what I’m reading for preaching/teaching and anything I’m writing. Ideas actually don’t fall from the sky; they are sparked – typically by reading and intellectual engagement. I’ve learned from the men and women I’ve considered successful that a lifetime of learning is the key to success.
- Plan, plan, and plan. Many people never accomplish their goals because they never planned to. I use a personalized form of Michael Hyatt’s Master Task List to set my agenda for the month before a to-do list for each week. Every day I review and make more plans. You can’t do anything well that you do in a hurry or at the last minute. Maybe my life is over-planned. But most days, I feel as though I’ve served God, my congregation, my wife and family and my dreams well.
There you have it, a few keys to success that I’ve learned for people who are actually successful. But I don’t want to leave you without this bonus note. Success comes to those who do it! Don’t be jealous of other authors if you’ve never sat down and forced yourself to write. Don’t envy the minister with a growing congregation if you don’t have the guts to make the necessary decisions. Don’t poke fun at the physically affectionate family if you’ve never put the kind of time and energy into your family life that produces closeness and trust. If you want to do something, DO IT! Many of the people you and I know to be “successful” are considered successful because they stepped out and did it, while everyone else waited to see.