We each define success in our own way. However, there are some cornerstone habits of successful people that are universal. What I find especially fascinating about these cornerstones is that they make us feel more successful no matter how well we are executing against all of the other metrics we use to measure our success. That's really important, especially for entrepreneurs who are constantly bombarded by challenges that make them question their own success.
Each of these three cornerstones makes perfect sense when you stop to think about them. The challenge is in making each one a relentless discipline in your life, even when things are not going at all in the direction you had hoped or planned.
As you read through these think carefully about how you are incorporating each one into your life. Be honest with yourself. And then make a choice to commit yourself to each one for the first 60 days of 2020. How you do that is entirely up to you. Just make a plan and stick to it for 60 days.
If there's one thing that entrepreneurs are notoriously awful at it's taking care of themselves. There are myriad obvious reasons, such as the time commitment required to run a business, financial uncertainty, travel, lousy sleep habits, and the stress of balancing personal and professional life. But there's another more insidious reason; we think we are immune to the toll this takes on other mere mortals. That's precisely why you need to have a self-care plan. I've seen entrepreneur burnout all too often. To counteract it you need a routine that's religion. It may be working out, setting aside time to be with family or friends in a totally non-work related mode, or focusing on something entirely selfish periodically (point 3 below). Whatever it is, be as strategically committed to it as you are to your business. No matter what else is going on you will feel a sense of achievement and success in knowing that you value yourself enough to be good to yourself.
As a leader you are in the privileged position to give something back. You have accomplished much more than most people ever will. Whether you like it or not, you are noticed. Use that position to help others find their own self worth and confidence. It may be through volunteering or mentoring or simply being a voice in larger social conversations that need an authoritative voice. Notice that I'm not talking about giving money but rather donating of yourself. If you can do both, then by all means do. But few things create a greater sense of success than the knowledge that you have something of value to offer in who you are and what you know. In my own experience one of the most rewarding and fulfilling activities I've been involved in has been mentoring. It quite literally costs you nothing and yet has immense and profound impact on the person being mentored. Part of my own feeling of success has always been in seeing someone else who I've had the honor of mentoring grow and succeed in their own right.
How often do you get the question, "So, what do you do?" Does your answer begin and end with, "I'm a CEO/ founder/ entrepreneur?" Come on, there's much more to you than that. Outside of your work and the time you spend with your family what defines you? The late management guru Peter Drucker would often talk about how important it was for entrepreneurs to have something completely outside of their professional life. When I look at some of the most successful people I know one commonality is a hobby they are almost obsessively passionate about. It may be art, a sport, collecting, even research into a field completely different from their profession, such as history. The obvious reason for this is that you need to escape. The less obvious, but more important reason, is that you need to refresh and reboot. When I write a book I also simultaneously paint. Alternating between my right brain and left brain seem to make both the painting and the writing much more successful. Most importantly, if you have a hobby you have a place to retreat and recharge and feel successful even when the business may not be doing that for you.
With each of these three habits what's critical is to construct--and I use that term deliberately--a life that is always supporting a positive sense of self and which provides solid ground and certainty when the rest of your professional life may be doing anything but that. However you define it, nothing is as important to your success as feeling that you are.