THE INC. LIFE

11 Great Habits You Need to Learn to Be More Successful

Learning these fantastic habits is just half the equation. Actually doing them will get you to the promised land.

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BY Marcel Schwantes - 20 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Succeeding in business and in life obviously requires mastering a set of skills that will produce extraordinary results, so says conventional wisdom.

None of them, unfortunately, come from reading books or articles such as this one, but it's certainly a good start.

The real success factor comes from the "doing" part--making the things you learn habitual enough on day-to-day level so new neural pathways are created in the brain. That's when things will stick.

So lets get the ball rolling. While far from a comprehensive list, learning and "doing" these daily habits may be crucial to being more productive, having more meaningful work relationships, and leading yourself and others at a higher level.

 

Habit No.1: Make More Decisions with Your Heart

Do you think too much before pulling the trigger on a decision? Sure, a few hours or couple days is normal. But three months? If this sounds familiar, you have "analysis paralysis." If you're thinking too much, you're probably stuck in your head and intellectualizing things too much. The most important decisions you'll ever encounter will always be based on your feelings -- it's a heart thing, not a head thing. Not sure if you can rely on your heart just yet? OK, do this: Document every decision you make over the next three months. Look over which decisions were spot on because you chose to rely on that "inner voice." The better the outcome on those decisions, the more accurate your intuition is becoming--going with your heart. Learning to go with your heart is a much more effective way to make decisions than to get stuck in analysis paralysis. It's empowering, and your peers and close friends and family will look at you in a whole new way.

 

Habit No.2: Do a Five-minute Favor for Someone

Five-minute favors are selfless giving acts you do for someone without asking for anything in return from the person that you help. Examples of five-minute favors include: sharing knowledge, making an introduction, serving as a reference for a person, product, or service, or recommending someone on LinkedIn. As Adam Grant, author of Give and Take points out, by paying it forward, you are more successful without expecting a quid pro quo. And you aren't just helping others in five focused minutes of giving. You are supporting the emotional spread of this practice--it becomes contagious.

 

Habit No.3: Practice the Skill of Accepting Feedback

In Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, authors Don Frick and James Sipe describe these helpful approaches when receiving feedback:

• Open. Listen without interruption, objections, or defensiveness.

• Responsive. Be willing to hear the speaker out without turning the table. Ask questions for clarification.

• Thoughtful. Seek to understand the effects and consequences of your behavior.

• Explicit. Make it clear what kind of feedback you are seeking and why it is important to you. Offer a structure for the feedback--questions, rating scales, stories.

• Quiet. Refrain from making or preparing to make a response. Do not be distracted by the need to explain, defend, or fix.

• Clear with your commitment. Describe how you have benefited from the feedback and what specific steps you will take toward improvement.

• Clarifying. Make sure you are clear about what the speakers are seeing, saying, and recommending.

 

Habit No.4: Put Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

People are drawn to empathy, it's an attractive quality to have in building successful relationships at work. Sound too soft or idealistic? Think again. DDI research makes the business case for empathy by calling it the No.1 driver of overall organizational performance.

 

Habit No.5: Listen to Advice

Imagine going about your business thinking that "this is the right way," but realizing later you were miserably wrong. I see this in clients all the time--a tendency to plow ahead like lone rangers, convinced they have all the answers. Show me a person who does not solicit the sound advice and wisdom of others, I'll show you an ignorant fool.

 

Habit No.6: Communicate Clear Expectations

Leaders have to take responsibility for making the mistaken assumption that a team fully recognizes their roles and responsibilities. To avoid something like a missed deadline, get back to the basics: Spend some one-on-one time with each person to talk through the steps involved in a project after you give out work assignments. Go a step further and communicate the time requirement for each step so that team members know exactly how the work will be broken down into manageable pieces.

 

Habit No.7: Avoid Drama

In emotional intelligence, self-control (or "self-management") is a personal competence developed in every good leader. The question behind self-control is: Can I manage my emotions to a positive outcome? Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author, Daniel Goleman, says this about leaders with self-control:

“Reasonable people--the ones who maintain control over their emotions--are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.”

 

Habit No.8: Set Three Personal Goals for the Day

I'm not talking about writing daily tasks on your work to-do list. The most successful people start the day by putting their mental focus on something that will make them better. Before the rat race starts, write these questions down first thing in the morning:

  1. What will grow me personally or professionally, and improve me as a human being today?
  2. What will excite me and give me more energy today?
  3. What will set the stage for an epic-productive day?

Make sure you write down your answers before leaving the house, and more importantly, have them visible as reminders during the day. Staying on track to accomplishing these energizing goals will keep your mind elevated to a positive state throughout the day.

 

Habit No.9: Overcome Your Fear by "Hacking Your System"

Darren Hardy, best-selling author of The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, says that the real reason 66 percent of all entrepreneurs fail is due to fear. To overcome it, he says you need to "hack your system"-- literally habituate your brain to fear. By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, it loses its power and control over you. The one thing that was your greatest detriment now becomes your greatest strength. In fact, get this: Hardy recommends submerging yourself in your fear for 90-days. In other words, have relentless contact with the activity or activities that you fear, and by the end of 90-days, you'll no longer fear it.

 

Habit No.10: Change Your Environment

It goes without saying, if you're stuck and can't see a way forward, something needs to change. Sometimes it's the very environment you live or work in. I say this because your environment may manipulate your decision-making more than you think. Example: If you're looking to lose weight and your office is next to a row of snack machines, are you repeatedly tempted? Ask to relocate it to another part of the building. Changing your environment will help re-train your brain to make other choices.

 

Habit No.11: Speak in the Positive

Take clues from your colleagues known for being positive and happy. Have you paid attention to how they speak? Most of them, you'll note, refrain from negative words, speech, or conversational topics that are divisive (think politics or religion) because they know the stressful effects it has on their (and others') emotional well-being. They stay away from unnecessary drama, malicious gossip, and psychological warfare. Helpful tip: When you're present and "in the positive," offer the other person helpful feedback that empowers and lifts up. Doing so will inspire build trust and generate happiness in your own life.