What sort of a year will 2016 be for you?
Today is 15 December 2015. Exactly one year from now – i.e. on the 15th of December, 2016, what sort of a year will 2016 wind up to be for you and your family or the team that you lead? When you look back over 2016 would you be proud of how the year went by? Will you be full of regrets, unanswered questions and doubts or will you be happy, fulfilled and excited about even the remaining days of the year?
Will you be celebrating your successes and looking forward to 2017? Will people that crossed your path during the year be smiling and grateful that they met you whenever your name comes up in their minds? Would they be inspired to have a positive impact on others in 2017 and beyond because of you?
Over the years, one of the best things that I have learned about life is that you can change the result your life produces. If you don’t like the results your life is producing then change the formula you are using to generate those results! Very simple but profound! If you need a new result, implement a new formula. If you are currently happy with the direction your life is facing as well as the results you are producing and you don’t see any need to improve and be more outstanding then stop reading this article right now. Seriously.
However, if you see a possibility that you can be better, more effective and wield more positive influence on humanity then these seven keys to designing a future you can be proud of are yours for free. I have used them and they work and I am using them again this year. This is why I have never had a better last year. As I conclude every year and look back, things have always been more glorious than the previous year. My secret keys are the ones I am sharing openly for the first time! Fortunately they are just seven. Read along with me.
1. Perform lessons learned activity on year 2015. Based on the result, map out your goals and visions for 2016.
Why do I say this? I use the GPS a lot especially Google maps. When I don’t know how to get to where I want to go, I activate my GPS. When I am on my way somewhere and I happen to miss my way or start getting confused, I activate the GPS. When I get stuck in traffic and I am looking for alternate routes, I use the GPS. I don’t ever leave anywhere without it because it is a life saver! Through it all, I have learnt one great wisdom in the way it works – you have to assess where you are in order to know how best to get to where you want to go. Simple but profound! When you insert your destination address, then the GPS gives you two options – either you indicate where you are or it uses satellite positioning technology to discover your location. Once it knows where you are then it uses all sort of algorithms to generate available routes from your destination address to where you are! This is awesome!
This is the way I see lessons learned! Lessons learned is one of the best tools I have used over my career as a project leader. It is a quality improvement tool that I use in my projects and it works wonders so why not use it in your own life too? While the popular use is at the end of a project, I always advise to use it after crossing every major milestone or project phase. This helps in utilizing the lessons learned from the last milestone in the improvement of the next one. In this case, we are talking about our lives. Although we are talking about it at the end of the year but for 2016, do it at least at the end of every month! It helps you to be better prepared for the upcoming month. How does lessons learned work?
I would often ask participants to reflect on a maximum of 5 memorable events that occurred within a project timeline. Guiding participants, we then create a project time line map usually on a white or smart board. I would normally ask participants to note down the summary of such events on colored post-it note pads that I provide based on four color codes:
- Green post-it: To contain events that worked well and which should be repeated in future projects.
- Yellow post-it: To contain events that worked but which needed some improvements
- Red post-it: To contain events that did not work and which should not be repeated in future projects.
- Blue post-it: To contain events that surprised the project team.
Below is a sample of how lessons learned maps turn out to be. It is not important to go to this level of detail, it is not even required to do lessons learned on yourself, your family or team every day, week, month or quarter but what is important is for you to do it and develop that habit at a level of consistency that is suitable for the level of excellence and success you want to achieve. Talk to me if you need help using this and other kinds of effective tools.
The destination address that I enter into my GPS when I am headed somewhere is my goal. We all need to set goals based on the vision we have. I won’t go into the details of goal setting here because there is an excellent online resource by one of my mentors, Sam Adeyemi that you can consult. However, regardless of what principles or methods you use in setting your goals, you must document and track them! Even my favorite book says, “write the vision and make it plain on tablets that he may run who reads it”.
One other thing I have seen as a strong secret of success is intelligent teamwork. Therefore, while drawing up your plans and setting new goals, you need to team up with superior wisdom. It is always a great idea teaming up with someone that is greater, better, richer, more experienced, wiser than you! I am an advocate of relying on someone or something that transcends your being, that transcends your mortal vulnerabilities and limitations. While planning your future, you need the help of someone greater than you to see beyond your mortal comprehension. For me, that someone is God. Everyone has to decide who that person is – it’s an individual decision but whatever you do, make that decision and team up with that superior intelligence. I love what Steve Jobs said to graduating students of Stanford on June 12, 2005, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.“
2. Pursue simplicity then focus. When I started my blog, dapobankole.com, I had created several categories that I wanted to write about. After a while, I reduced it to eight. While preparing for 2016, I decided to simplify and focus. So now I have just five categories. In fact, Jim Collins, the author of ‘Good to Great’ even takes it further. Hear him, “If you have more than three priorities, then you don’t have any.” How cool is that? Having just three things to focus on? Simplicity declutters. It gives you peace of mind. It reduces your stress level thus helping you to live longer. Its twin brother, ‘focus’ multiplies your decision making effectiveness. It makes much power available to you. One of the first practical science experiments I practiced in high School was to start a fire using a magnifying lens. Do you remember that fun experiment? If you didn’t have that opportunity or you’ve forgotten, pick up a hand held magnifying glass on a sunny day. Hold the lens at such an angle as to focus the sun’s light into a small area (the smaller the better) of a piece of paper. If you hold that out consistently for a while, the paper will soon burst into flames. Profound. I tried that several times as a little boy. If you think more about it, this could account for forest fires where glass thrown into the woods could cause a dangerous fire if it lands at the right angle. I am even told that given the right conditions, you could equally use this method to start fire from ice. True or false, the principle remains true. The principle is simple – focus! When you focus, you ignite a fire in your world – and fire both purifies and attracts the world. Therefore, simplicity and focus are the best ways to catch fire so the world can come around to watch you burn. In 2016, learn to say ‘No’. It may hurt others but hey, you’re about results not activity. You’ve focused on activities and people pleasing all these while, why don’t you change your method by focusing on results? Try it. In your closet, stand in front of the mirror and say ‘No’ several times until you get comfortable saying it then go out and practice it in the real world.
While coming up with this piece, I came across some mind blowing research that highlights the danger in multitasking. Unfortunately, employers of labor would rather pass you by if you have an issue with multitasking. A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment 10 points. That is the equivalent of not sleeping for 36 hours—more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana. What?! Another 2001 study at the University of Michigan clearly states that Multitasking is counter productive. Period. Excerpts, “People in a work setting,” says Meyer, “who are banging away on word processors at the same time they have to answer phones and talk to their co-workers or bosses — they’re doing switches all the time. Not being able to concentrate for, say, tens of minutes at a time, may mean it’s costing a company as much as 20 to 40 percent” in terms of potential efficiency lost, or the “time cost” of switching, as these researchers call it. “In effect,” says Meyer, “you’ve got writer’s block briefly as you go from one task to another. You’ve got to (a) want to switch tasks, you’ve got to (b) make the switch and then you’ve got to (c) get warmed back up on what you’re doing.”
I know we sometimes feel vulnerable and helpless when we seem to have little to do. I know. I have been there. I go astray myself by getting my hands into so many things. Like me, I know you can hardly help it when you have so much passion and energy. But like Mark Zuckerberg said, “The trick isn’t adding stuff, its taking away.” So in 2016, you have to help yourself to be more effective. Continually reminding myself about simplicity and focus is on my radar for 2016. What three to five things will consume your passion in 2016? Just five that will guide your everyday living? Decide on these things!
3. Pursue your passion. 2016 is that year to cash in on your passion! At almost 40 years of age, I have seen that in life nothing beats passion! Passion gives you life, gives you energy, drive and creates the very essence of living. It gives your life a meaning. Without it, you are as good as a zombie! You feel drained, you feel inconsequential in life. You feel you have no value. Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it (your passion) yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” Discovering and pursing your passion is the only way to live while you are alive. All other roads ultimately lead to a dead and unfulfilling end. Why travel for so long only to end up unhappy? No matter where you are, this is the best time to start your journey to fulfillment. This is one of the reasons I joined Brian Tracy and a select group of experts and professionals to co-write the forthcoming book titled, Ignite Your Life: The World’s Leading Entrepreneurs and Professionals Reveal Their Secrets to Ignite Your Health, Wealth, and Success. In the book scheduled for release in early 2016, one of the things you will discover is the secret to living while alive. Can I request you to do something? Ok, thanks for the trust ;). In 2016, make your job part time and your passion a full time venture! If you try that and your sense of fulfillment in life does not increase, email me, dapo [at] dapobankole.com is my email address. As we proceed to the fourth key, remember the words of Gary Vaynerchuk; “skills are cheap, passion is priceless.”
4. Commit to self development. Don’t wait to be sponsored to training or class. Go to School, buy that book, take that course. If no one else can sponsor you, sponsor yourself, spend your money. The world’s most successful investor, 85 year old Warren Buffett known as the “Oracle of Omaha” is a world acclaimed authority when it comes to investments. As at the 10th of December 2015 his net worth was $61.9 billion but despite that he says “…investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you. They can run up huge deficits and the dollar can become worth far less. You can have all kinds of things happen. But if you’ve got talent yourself,…you’ve got a tremendous asset that can return ten-fold.” In simpler words, you are the most important asset you can ever invest in. Think about that for a minute. And when you make that commitment to invest in training your mind, you are on your way to being the best at what you do. Earl Nightingale, the world’s best in personal development said, “One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.” How far do you want to go?
5. Get mentored by the best in your chosen areas. It has nothing to do with age but everything to do with practical, tested and winning wisdom. Look for anyone you admire who has succeeded in the very area of life where you want to succeed and submit yourself to the person’s superior wisdom. Bury your pride. It’s ok to say “I don’t know”. It’s ok to be mentored by someone 10, 20 years younger than you. You’ll save yourself unnecessary heart ache, you’ll become intentional rather than experimental and you’ll be able to leverage the power of your mentor’s relationship to get ahead. Learn some tips on how to be a good mentee here. According to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, “you are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read“. Read, don’t be a dinosaur. Someone once jokingly said that dinosaurs would not have gotten extinct if they had read :). If you are the best in your team or group, change team. Mix with those who are better than you. Bring the best hands on board your team if you have that responsibility. If you are a leader and you don’t have the right talent on your team, I have a question for you; are you developing yourself so you can attract, recruit and have the best talents work with you in your team? It takes more than just wishing for the best people to join and stay with you. You have to become the person that attracts sound followership. Ask me how. Lets move on to the last two keys.
6. Act, don’t fear! Nothing else matters more. You will never be 100% ready, you will never be completely right and regardless of your chosen course of action, someone out there will still believe you are either taking a wrong step or taking a right step at the wrong time. Hear what Ralph Waldo Emerson, the man who delivered a life changing speech considered to be America’s “Intellectual Declaration of Independence” said, “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Two weeks ago, Barry Smith, one of my leaders at the John Maxwell team ended a team call with a life changing quote from Marianne Williamson; “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Having read this, my question to you is this; why don’t you just act anyway? What is that thing that you want to give the reign of your life to in 2016? Fear? Analysis paralysis? Perfectionism? Drop it!
7. Give back. Give your time, money, knowledge, a smile, anything and everything. It doesn’t have to be much but give back consistently. Serve others. How else can you impact humanity and be a true leader without giving back? Without serving? I am not sure I have an alternative to this. Life is measured by donation not by accumulation. Note that “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Simple.
My last words on this piece – I have taken time to document my secrets for year 2016 here in the hope that at least one more person apart from myself and family can get some help. This article is for me as much as it is for you but despite all, if you don’t act on these things nothing will change. Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” By reading this blog post to the end, you have started. By detailing complex performance secrets into simple-to-understand bits, I have helped remove the mystery out of peak performance. Now, you go ACT on the first key you read about here!
To your best year so far!
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