Have you ever thought you needed just one more insight, one more leadership attribute, or one more idea to bring it all together? In chemistry, and in business, this is referred to as “The activator.” It’s the missing piece that makes everything else work better. It’s the baking soda in the cake, the yeast in the bread, the helium in the balloon.
If you were the U.S. inventor Charles Goodyear in the early 1830’s, the activator would have been the heat that turned his rubber into tires and created a whole new world of transportation. He had worked for years and ended up in debtor’s prison before he was released and happened to throw his Indian rubber mixture into a nearby stove in a fit of anger. Because he had put enough years into the process, he knew what he had when he fished it out and examined it. With extreme heat, his rubber mixture became flexible and strong, and the tire was born.
You have probably already thought about some goals, dreams, and ideas you want to set in motion or complete this year or next. So first recommendation – write them down. Only 3% of the population actually write down their goals and guess what, that 3% is making more money and feeling a greater sense of accomplishment than those who don’t. There is something profound about putting your future in print.
If you want to use our Leadership Action Planner, here you go. Click here to download a copy. You can track your areas of development; your daily, weekly, and 90-day action plans; and the habits you need to start, stop, and continue. It can be filled out monthly or quarterly, but the magic happens when you look at it every single day. The act of daily review turns your plan into an “activator” in your life.
Writing down your goals regularly and reviewing them daily is just one way to become unstoppable. Below are 10 more ideas that we know work. You don’t need to do them all, just pick 3 and focus on those.
It is a great feeling to wake up every day knowing you can make something happen and then look back before you go to sleep and see that you made progress. Here is to your best year ever – 2012!
10 Activators that Work
- Know your strengths. Acknowledge them and use them every day as often as you can. There are two ways to discover them. One way is through a well-constructed strengths assessment. It will pinpoint exactly where your natural gifts and talents are and give you a better understanding of how to apply them. The other way is to think about what makes time fly for you. When are you in the flow? What are you passionate about and what makes you feel good about yourself? Those unique abilities are your factory-installed talents, and with use and discipline those talents will create a great deal of success and happiness.
- Become more accurate. Get out the calculator and re-check those numbers. Re-read your emails before hitting send. Review your voice messages before hanging up. Check your work and know it is the best you can do. You will build not just your reputation, but also your character. There is nothing like looking back and knowing you did a great job. And there is nothing like looking forward and knowing you can do the job well.
- Become more action-oriented. If you want to make a huge leap, do what others won’t or can’t. Learn a software application. Take on a project that is languishing but needs to be done. Look for the key leverage points and address those. How many things did you talk about doing this year but never accomplished? Taking small, persistent steps toward those goals and dreams now will produce results in the coming weeks and months.
- Develop a great attitude. In everything. There’s a lot to complain about – long lines at the airport, working with negative co-workers, or reporting to a boss who never shows appreciation. But consider who we are attracted to. We like having people around us who make us smile. We look for people who have a light touch and can make issues and problems smaller, not bigger.
- Listen more. This is probably the number one area in which business people can improve. Time is money and everyone has a lot to do so we cut people off. We don’t listen because there never seems to be enough time to do the one-on-one relationship building. But trust is built by listening. Listening makes people know they are valued and respected while you, as the listener, become a more informed and collaborative leader.
- Take better care of yourself than you ever have before. This is the year to do it. Consider yourself unstoppable, full of good ideas and momentum. Consistently think good thoughts about yourself and your ability to improve.
- Do one thing that strikes fear in your heart. It is exhilarating. Jump out of an airplane. Apply for an industry award. Write an article or a book. Get a speech coach for your next presentation and then have the presentation videotaped. Reinvent your position so it adds more value. Step up in one area and go outside your comfort zone. You will gain experience and confidence.
- Intentionally develop relationships with people who challenge you to grow. Learn from the best. It is like playing tennis with someone who is better than you. If you hang in there and accept feedback and recommendations, your game will improve. By observation, conversation, and simple osmosis, you become a more astute professional.
- Go back to school. Turn your car into a university. Learn more about anything that interests you in the 1,000 hours that most of us are in transit. Thousands of books and hundreds of podcasts and TEDTalks are easily accessible. Take a course every month. Enroll in an on-line university. It is hard to know exactly how to prepare for an ever-changing business environment, but one thing is certain: if we keep our brains active and agile, we can learn new information and adapt. With continuous learning, the future stops being scary and becomes a place where dreams and ambition take hold.
- Create a Compelling Future! – What will you start doing, what will you stop doing, what will you continue doing? It’s a new beginning and an empowering environment to commit to personal growth and change. I wish for you, your family, and your organization the very best!