Day-by-Day Greatness

A leading life coach offers tips on making every day extraordinary.

Each one of us is called to greatness. It is not the exclusive domain of the famous or those in positions of power. If you choose, no matter what your current situation, you can have an extraordinary impact on the world. You can craft an extraordinary life, and make a real difference in the lives of those around you. Here are some powerful ways to embrace your highest potential and awaken your best self.

Drink Tea With Gandhi

Reading is one of the best disciplines I know of to stay “on your game” and at your highest. Reading from a great book is really all about having a conversation with the author. And we become our conversations. Just think, tonight — by reading Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, over a cup of tea — you can get behind this great man’s eyeballs and learn what made him tick. Do you admire Jack Welch, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates, Salvador Dali or the Dalai Lama? Reading a book by someone you respect allows some of their brilliance to rub off on you.

Get Some Skin in the Game

Failure is the price of greatness. Failure is an essential ingredient for high achievement. As innovation guru David Kelley wrote: “Fail faster, succeed sooner.” You can’t win without leaving your safety zone and taking some calculated risks.

If you keep doing what you are doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. True joy comes when you put some skin in the game and take some chances. Yes, you will start to experience more failure. But guess what? Success also starts to pay more visits.

Be a Happier Human

If you want to be happier, do more of the things that make you happy. I know that seems like an obvious point — but it’s not. As we leave the wonder years of childhood, most of us stop doing the things that make our hearts sing.

Here’s your to-do: Make a list of your 10 greatest passions — 10 activities that fill your heart with joy and remind you of how good life can be. And then, over the coming 10 weeks, inject one of those pursuits into your weekly schedule. Powerful thought: The things that get scheduled are the things that get done. Until you schedule something, it’s only a concept — and extraordinary people don’t build remarkable lives on concepts.

Listen Twice as Much as You Speak

Listening intently to someone is one of the best ways I know of to honor that person and forge a deep human connection. When you listen to someone it sends a message: “I value what you have to say, and I’m humble enough to listen to your words.” Most people’s idea of listening is waiting until the other person has finished speaking before answering. And the sad fact is that while one person is talking, most of us are rehearsing our replies. Your effectiveness as a businessperson, as a family member and as a human being will soar if you get this one right.

Align Your Schedule With Your Values

To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What you’re doing speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you are saying.” You can say that your primary value involves putting your family first, but if time with your family is not all over your schedule, the truth is that your family life isn’t your priority. Show me your schedule and I’ll discover the truth. Because your schedule doesn’t lie.
There can be no authentic success and lasting happiness if your daily schedule is misaligned with your deepest values. If there is a gap between what you do and who you are, you are out of integrity. Your schedule is the best barometer for what you truly value and believe to be important.

Be Wildly Enthusiastic

The people I love to be around are generally those who have a simple, heartfelt quality: They are enthusiastic. Wildly so. They are open to life. They are curious. They love to learn. They have a lot of fun. Today, show up at work with all the enthusiasm you can genuinely muster. Be energetic and alive. See the best in people. You can’t control what happens to you each day, but if you have an abundance of enthusiasm, I have no doubt that whatever the coming hours bring, you will handle them with grace, strength and a smile.

To Be More Productive, Kick Back

Spending all your time working will not make you more productive. In my experience, and I’ve been at this for more than 10 years, few people get their best ideas at work. I invite you to take a moment to think about that. Checking your email on your BlackBerry every 60 seconds will not make you more productive. Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t tap into your natural pool of creativity. Refusing to take vacations will not make you a star performer. I get my best ideas — the thoughts that have really elevated my business and revolutionized my life — when I’m relaxed and having fun. I often joke with people that I make most of my income on the ski hill. People smile, but they get my point. You need to make space for your genius to flow.

Get Big on Self-Care

Leadership begins within. Organizational leadership begins with personal leadership. You can’t be great at work until you feel great. You can’t be a source of positive energy if you have no energy. The doorway to success swings outward — not inward.

Make the time to care for yourself. Get into great shape. Plan and improve your skills. Work with a coach. Spend excellent time with your loved ones. Commune with nature. Enjoy life while you chase success. By caring for yourself, you will be able to give more to others. By ensuring that you are on your best game, your leadership effectiveness will be guaranteed. And by taking the time to enjoy life, you will be more enjoyable to be around.

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Robin Sharma is the CEO of Sharma Leadership International, a global training and coaching services firm. This article is excerpted from The Greatness Guide: Powerful Secrets for Getting to World Class. Copyright 2006 by Robin Sharma. Reprinted by arrangement with HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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