For more than 60 years, I have had the pleasure of being a newspaper reporter, being a political campaign consultant for over 100 congressional and gubernatorial campaigns, owning several businesses, leading a national non-profit in the addiction recovery field, and serving in several DC government leadership positions.
Most of what I have learned has been from watching other people.
Top performers are surprises. They are not necessarily the smartest, best-educated people. But they have a common trait: They manage their time, their work, their contacts, their learning, and their boundaries. They are always learning. They never think they got it made.
By managing themselves, they are usually great leaders as others learn from them by example. By breaking down their interests and duties, they face one thing at a time, stay within healthy boundaries, do not let fears or intimidation dictate their results, and celebrate their successes while acknowledging and learning from the things that don’t seem to work out.
Here are some key points I have learned by watching these “winners”:
- Boundaries – Training our brains to address one thing at a time brings the maximum energy possible to a given issue or situation. Circumstances often make us shift priorities, often without notice. But recalibrating the order of work is better than meshing issues together.
Focusing our mental energy allows us to use all our knowledge, instincts, and resources on our current issue. These include our history and our observations as well as our dependence on spiritual guidance.
- Check-in – The best winners I have known are not solo fliers. They have developed networks over time. And the keep in touch. Before making major decisions, they connect with their dependable network. Sometimes for facts, sometimes just for reassurance and the joy of connection.
- Journaling – There is something about putting your thinking down on paper that makes the picture come alive. It is also useful to record your feelings, giving them a place to process.
I like the language used in many meditation practices about “keeping our buckets full.” As we trudge through the work of the hour or day, we also stay conscious of our personal buckets.
- Keep your nourishment bucket full. Feed your body, mind, and spirit. For me, at age 82, I find myself eating less, but it’s important that I space it three times a day – just smaller helpings or meal bars. And I have learned from others how meditating and attending my recovery meetings keep me connected and in balance. And peaceful sleep comes with your work and self-care in place.
- Keep your love bucket full. It is vital that we exercise our passions as well as our knowledge. Always remember that a full bucket of love starts with us loving others, loving our work, loving our lives, and loving our relationships. It’s funny how this love comes home to roost.
- Keep your gratitude bucket full. Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned from others over the years is that the true winners in life also seem to be the most grateful. And many keep daily gratitude lists.
So, review the sour things when necessary, but groove on the good things.