I recently read an article posted in the online version of the Reader’s Digest. Those of you old enough will remember the small magazine version which was required reading material in most households a generation ago.

The article was titled “Things Rich People Rarely Do” and was written in a “thou shalt not” tense. I have turned it around to look at a positive approach that successful people, not only those who are rich, should do on a regular basis. Let’s see how do you stack up?

Set Goals

This sets up all the rest of the topics. If you do not “know your lane” then you will likely be disappointed with the path that you have chosen. An executive recruiter once told me “don’t feel bad about not getting the job that you really didn’t want.” Have you been guilty of this over the course of your career? I have taken a few wrong turns and recovered but I could have made the pivot much earlier.

Go to the gym.

Okay, I do exercises for a lower back problem, and my wife and I walk outside almost daily now that the weather is warming up. But the YMCA has stopped calling asking how I am doing and inquiring when I will return! Even without the pandemic, most of us did not take regular advantage of a strenuous workout. This would be a great way to start each day, even if you need to get out of bed a few minutes early.

Be a lifelong learner.

What books have you read lately that you would recommend? A CEO asks me that question every time that we meet or talk on the phone. Listen to podcasts or books on tape during your commute. Subscribe to blogs and listen to Ted talks. In other words, learn about a variety of topics outside of formal classroom education. Broaden your horizons and gain new perspectives that are beyond your area of expertise.  Do not be one dimensional.

Have a to do list.

This is something every management training course and time management seminar preaches. The important thing about this list is to prioritize what is most important. What items will help you achieve your company or personal goals? What “moves the needle?”  If you do not prioritize, you have a “punch list” that makes you feel like you have accomplished something, but they would be things that really do not matter that much.

Build strong relationships.

This is foundational to everything that an executive does in his or her career. In addition to your business and personal contacts, it is important to expand your personal network. Volunteering on a not-for-profit board is a good way to meet other successful business executives, and to learn about how other businesses are run. Strength Finders has an attribute named Winning Over Others (W.O.O.) which aptly describes this personality trait. “Strangers are friends that I have not met yet.” How can they help you and how can you help them?

Have a mentor or mentors.

Each week the Wall Street Journal profiles a CEO and highlights mentors that have helped them achieve success.  I have not seen any profiles that mention less than four people who each describes as their “personal board of directors.” Who can you name that would fit this role?

Take risks and not be ruled by fear + Focus on doing what you love not on the money that you make.

This is probably easier for those who have more than adequate financial means, but I believe it applies to everyone. Have you known someone who is miserable in their job because it does not fit their personality, they dislike the work or their boss? The phrase “life is too short” applies here. Try not to make life changing decisions on what might go wrong or based on the W-2 amount. Have you labored in a position because of the payday vs. what gives you joy?

How do you stack up to these criteria? If you are doing everything, you are likely in the minority of business executives.  I cannot say that I am doing every one of these on a regular basis but having a goal to get better at all of them would be a positive step.  Maybe you need an accountability partner to keep you on track to achieve something greater than you ever thought you could accomplish. That does not have a lot to do with monetary gain, but everything to do with being a successful person.  

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