One Day at a Time

4 Tips for achieving success one day at a time

One Day at a Time

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” — Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth. Almost every overnight success story is really a story of persistence, overcoming doubt, and hard work. It took over two decades for Steve Jobs to be the overnight success that produced the iPhone. J.K. Rowling worked on her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for six years and was rejected twelve times by various publishing houses before being published.

In reality, overnight success is a long story of goals and incremental execution. Success is driven by planning and then moving in the direction of the goal with small, persistent, determined activity. Each day we move forward and try to do better than the day before. We move forward in small amounts, making adjustments and keep going, building our accomplishment by combining the progress of the past with the incremental progress of today.

Our goals are important and provide a direction for our efforts; however, we execute our goals one day at a time. When we plan on achieving our goals in small amounts over a long period of time it yields an amazing result. We not only move in the direction of achieving our goal, but we get better at what we are doing with each iteration of the activity. Steve Jobs improved his ability bring consumer electronics products to market with each new idea. J.K. Rowling was a much better writer at the end of her six year journey to publication than she was at the start.

Sometimes our goals are so lofty that they feel unachievable. As an example, looking at a goal to lose 40 pounds in a year seems like an impossible task, though we know it is achievable (or we would not have set it as a SMART goal). When we consider that in order to achieve the goal we only need to lose less than one pound per week, it does not seem as impossible. In addition, as a byproduct we will also learn how to better control our diet and build our self-control.

Writing a book in a year is a reasonable goal, but also a huge undertaking. Looking at the goal in total makes it seem so impossible; it can be hard to even get started. However, when we view the activity through a smaller lens of writing just five pages per week, it becomes a less daunting task. Through repetition, we will also become a more efficient and better writer.

Consider if we focused on achieving just two percent of our total goal every week. In less than a year we would have achieved our goal and through persistent repetition improved our ability to perform that activity as well. By setting smaller repetitive activities around our larger goal we are able to accomplish a much larger goal without being overwhelmed with the immensity of the challenge. By breaking the goal down into a series of repetitive activities with a measured outcome at the end of each task, we incrementally work our way to achieving our goal and improve our efficiency along the way.

As I point out in my book EXCELLENCE: You CAN Get There From Here!”, our journey to Excellence requires a persistence and drive to keep moving forward to achieve our goals. Our goals are important because they move us toward greater success and satisfaction. Taking an incremental approach to achieving our goals helps the impossible become possible. As the age old expression goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Here are 4 tips for achieving success one day at a time:

Have you ever been in the middle of a response to a crisis that turned out to not be a crisis after all? Have you ever had to go to extraordinary efforts to pull together information or provide a defense for a situation that did not really happen? Did it feel like a full emotion response to a false alarm?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Full Emotion False Alarm” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

Full Emotion False Alarm

4 Tips for managing full emotion false alarms

Full Emotion False Alarm

Have you ever been in the middle of a response to a crisis that turned out to not be a crisis after all? Have you ever had to go to extraordinary efforts to pull together information or provide a defense for a situation that did not really happen? Did it feel like a full emotion response to a false alarm?

The news is full of stories of people overreacting to events that prove to be false alarms. Recently it was reported that about 50 people scrambled from a terminal at LAX airport when someone yelled at the top of their lungs to run, and they did. Certainly in our current atmosphere of heightened sensitivity to threats and terrible actions from around the world, it is understandable that people, fearing the worst, ran for their lives. It is part of our DNA to instinctively flee from danger. But the kicker? It was a false alarm. It turns out someone screamed “Run!” when they saw that authorities had stopped a person in a Zorro outfit with a plastic sword. There was no real threat, just an emotional reaction to a perceived danger.

Running from danger is a good and reasonable response to a real threat. There is no question of that. When in danger, flee. No questions asked. However, in this case there was no real danger, just an emotional reaction to an unusual situation. Without all of the facts, someone assumed the worst, overreacted and triggered an emotional panic response from all of those around them.

We face these false alarm challenges on a regular basis. We encounter situations that from the first report seem to have dire consequences for our role, department, business, profession or some aspect of our professional lives. The initial reports may be fragmented, inaccurate or even exaggerated. Military commanders in the field often refer to this phenomenon as the “fog of war,” a period of time where the information is incomplete and unreliable.

First and foremost, we need to keep our perspective and realize the improbable is improbable. Things are not likely to be as bad as initially reported. Certainly they will be different than initially reported. We will need to seek additional information from several sources to piece together a more complete view of the situation. In most cases, once we have the complete picture, or at least enough of the picture to gain an informed perspective, the situation will not be as dire as initially reported.

Many times I have received dire reports from the field that if true as reported are seriously troubling. In many of these situations, once the full perspective is understood, the situation is far less troubling than initially reported. It usually stems from a misunderstanding or miscommunication that leads to an impulsive reaction. I was certainly glad I did not overreact in those times and add weight to a single perspective of the situation to only make matters worse.

As leaders people will look to us to react to the situation and will respond according to our actions and instructions. We can either keep our perspective and fully examine the issue and organize a response or react emotionally without sufficient assessment of the situation and cause a panic response. As hard as it may be to keep our emotions in-check, it is essential that we do so. We can very easily end up adding to the confusion or doing additional damage to critical relationships by acting before we have a well-rounded perspective on the issue. Keeping our cool and gathering the facts will always play to our advantage. Once we have the facts, by all means react.

As smart leaders we know that people look to us for our first reaction to see if they are in danger. Our initial reaction and our next steps will determine if everyone keeps their heads and gathers the facts or runs for the doors. Keep the emotions in-check, gather the facts and react accordingly will work for us every time.

Here are 4 tips for managing full emotion false alarms:

Making a Difference

Do you ever wonder if the fruit of your efforts make a difference? Have you ever felt that you were shouting something of great importance, but nobody was listening? Have you ever been discouraged because you know the solution, but nobody seems to recognize you as an authority? I know I have and I still encounter that feeling on a regular basis.

Many years ago, I was exposed to a simple story that to this day helps me put my expectations in perspective and reminds me why I need to keep going. It helps me keep my perspective even when it seems nobody is listening or I question if what I am doing makes a difference.

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Making a Difference” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

Make a Difference

4 Tips for making a difference

Make A Difference

“If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business. It’s that simple.” – Richard Branson

Do you ever wonder if the fruit of your efforts make a difference? Have you ever felt that you were shouting something of great importance, but nobody was listening? Have you ever been discouraged because you know the solution, but nobody seems to recognize you as an authority? I know I have and I still encounter that feeling on a regular basis.

Many years ago, I was exposed to a simple story that to this day helps me put my expectations in perspective and reminds me why I need to keep going. It helps me keep my perspective even when it seems nobody is listening or I question if what I am doing makes a difference.

The Starfish Story

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.

“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.” 

Adapted from the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

There is a great lesson available to us from this story. We may not be able to save the world. We may not even have the opportunity to convey our message to a large audience, though we know that others would greatly benefit from the knowledge and experience we could share. Our best opportunity to make a difference is to focus on those that are open to receiving our message and willing to accept our help. These are the people who are ready to listen and internalize our message.

There are many who would benefit from what we have learned through our successes and failures. Whether in our professional or personal lives we have a lot to offer others around us. In many ways as a leader we have a responsibility to develop those around us to allow them to better utilize their skills and ultimately help our team deliver success.

We are most effective when we concentrate on serving each person individually. If we concentrate on serving those who are receptive to our message, we may find that it leads to an opportunity to serve more people in the long run. Just as in the story, while we may not be able to reach the larger population, it may really make a difference to those we are able to reach. Taken one individual at a time over a long period of time, we will find we have made a difference to a large number of people.

I think about this story often. There is an enormous effort that goes into writing books, providing meaningful content in the blog, making videos, maintaining the website and corresponding with our community. There are times when it feels like I am shouting into the wind. Book sales come in one or two books at a time and the number of subscribers increases at a slow steady pace. Large audiences are not formed overnight or even sometimes at all. All of the hard work and long hours that go into writing the books does not automatically put the book in a wide circulation or place it on the Amazon or New York Times best seller list. I am reminded that overnight successes are years in the making.

It is the same when we consider the opportunities to mentor people and change the world around us. There are times when we will feel undervalued and it will be tempting to lose our enthusiasm. As leaders that is just the point where we need to apply our character and drive forward. One person at a time, one project at a time, one obstacle at a time. Over time our success will be measured by the individual successes we have along the way. In the end, we will know we have made a difference.

Here are 4 Tips for making a difference:

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

Available at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle!

As leaders we are faced with many challenges, not the least of which are staying motivated and moving forward. The steady drumbeat of everyday activity tends to rob us of our optimism and causes us to question our capability. Occasionally, we need to regain our perspective by taking a step back to refresh and reexamine our thoughts and approaches.

As smart leaders we know it is essential that we continue to learn. We know we benefit when we take the opportunity to evaluate our surroundings and incorporate the new learnings into our knowledgebase. We have come to understand the value of taking time to review the key principles and experiences that have led to our current success.

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

New Book Release!

Now available from Amazon!

Kindle and Paperback

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success

 

Thoughts on Change, Leadership and Personal Development for Smart Leaders

 

Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success provides meaningful reminders and new insight into the core topics of interest for all smart leaders. The topics are short enough for convenient consumption in our busy days, but deep enough to stimulate real learning and reflection. The topics span areas of interest and importance in leveraging change, building our teams, pursuing our goals and achieving success through Excellence.

Change: A simple but effective formula for planning and managing change and reminding ourselves to be an agent of change.

Excellence: Reminder of the key ingredients of pursuing Excellence.

Leadership: Topics include Being Transparent, Focusing on Solutions, Providing Positive Reinforcement and Being a Servant-Leader

Personal Development: Reminds us to Create a Bigger Vision, Embrace Who we Are, Manage our Self-talk, Rise above the Issues and to Stay Positive and other engaging topics

These along with many other important facets to achieving stronger more capable leadership qualities are included in the compendium of thoughts in Keep Thinking: Thoughts for Success.

A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Healthy Perspective” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.

A Healthy Perspective

4 Tips for maintaining a healthy perspective

A Healthy Perspective

When are we at our best, when we are tired, irritable, sluggish or well rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves? The answer is obvious, when we are rested, energized and feeling good about ourselves. So how can we best take care of ourselves to ensure our peak performance?

We are constantly under the stress of trying to solve problems, dealing with conflict and making critical decisions without enough information. The everyday stress in our lives takes a hard toll on our mind and body over time. If we do not protect ourselves from being consumed by this constant attack, it will eventually reduce our efficiency and ability to be effective in our role as leaders. If left unmanaged it will ultimately lead to serious relationship and health issues that will severely undermine our ability to succeed.

Poor nutrition, inadequate sleep, the lack of exercise and constant conflict will inevitably take its toll on our mind and body. Typically it sneaks up on us as part of a busy life with many demands on our time.  It may start with not getting adequate sleep as we pack too much into our limited days. That may lead to having to grab some fast food on our way to our next appointment whether that be the after school soccer game, heading to the next meeting or running through the airport. We rationalize that just this time I will compromise on my rest and nutrition, but tomorrow I will do better.

Of course our busyness encroaches on our time to exercise as well as our time to calm down our thinking and process our thoughts. As a result our body responds by storing the extra calories as fat and our mind stores the unprocessed thoughts and emotions as stress and anxiety. Both of these things serve to reduce our ability to perform at our peak capacity. As we become more out of shape we become tired more easily and without time to process we become less able to deal with our emotions and fully apply our thinking. These things accumulate, reducing our ability to perform, and increasing our stress.

As we can see, these challenges build on each other and if not managed only serve to do us harm. So what are the key ingredients to maintaining our mind and body at peak performance?

Sleep:

More sleep tends to lead to better performance. We are more alert and have more energy when we start with a proper foundation of sleep. Studies consistently suggest that as adults we require seven to nine hours of sleep. Even though this is the most foundational part of our performance and stamina, it is the part most often compromised. A recent Gallup poll suggested that 40 % of us get less than six hours of sleep per night. Other studies have found that not getting a full cycle of sleep for even a single night can reduce the effectiveness of our decision-making by a noticeable percentage over those with a full night’s sleep.

It is important that we plan our sleep, just like we do any other part of our busy day. Without sleep as our foundation, we cannot build the structure that supports our activity and provides our success.

Nutrition:

Food fuels our body and without proper nutrition our body becomes unable to support our activity. There are numerous programs available to us to support adopting a healthy nutritional approach to fueling our body. The most important aspect is to purposely adopt a program that works for us and then give it the proper priority. Our performance is directly impacted by the ability of our body to sustain our activity and provide the stamina we need to maintain our peak efficiency across the entirety of our scheduled day. Providing the proper nutrition in the proper amounts at the proper time needs to be scheduled into our daily routine and should receive a higher priority than any other activity as it serves to support our ability to lead.

Exercise:

Exercise is essential for keeping our body healthy and helping to manage stress. Exercise allows our body to maintain and build our strength and stamina as well as circulate blood to better process food and remove toxins. It allows us to increase our endurance and condition our bodies to deliver a consistent level of energy over a longer period of activity, enhancing our ability to remain fully engaged throughout the long work days. Studies have proven that those who exercise on a daily basis rated significantly higher on overall leadership effectiveness than those who do not exercise. Just like the other aspects of maintaining our physical and mental capabilities, this must be scheduled in our day and set as a priority.

Meditation:

Time to think and process are essential to managing our emotional state. Whether through activities like Yoga or meditations such as quiet time or prayer, time to process our thoughts allows our mind to unload and regain our perspective. Studies of leaders considered top in their area across the corporate world universally find that these leaders set aside time to process. These studies find that the benefits include achieving lower stress levels, improved cognitive functioning, creative thinking, greater productivity and even improved physical health. These are all benefits that serve our ability to lead and as such should be considered as part of our daily routine.

Considering that these are all foundational elements to supporting our ability to operate at peak performance, it only makes sense to give these the highest priority in scheduling our daily activities. Not compromising on these activities will in fact support our ability to operate at peak levels of energy and thinking and provide more effective leadership. Compromising on our foundation only serves to diminish our capability.

Here are 4 tips for maintaining a healthy perspective:

Pay Attention

4 Tips for enhancing team engagement:

Pay Attention

“The secret to engaging our people is to pay attention.” — Skip Gilbert

Is our team truly engaged in their work? Do they see their efforts producing success in our organization or are they just putting in their time? Are they contributing with all of their creativity and energy or just doing what they are told? Do they believe we are headed in the right direction? Do they feel appreciated for their contributions? Do they have confidence in their leader? The success of our organization and leadership may be defined by how the members of our teams answer these questions.

In this video I will do a 2 minute summary of the blog post “Pay Attention” on SkipGilbert.com. Join me as we take time to review a few pointers on becoming a more effective leader.