The Habits of Extra-Ordinary Leaders
The routines of the super-successful are well documented. From waking up earlier and taking on the most difficult challenge of the day first. To having a long term plan combined with absolute certainty about what you want and the focus that turns ordinary people with average talent into remarkable achievers.
Copying the habits of the highly successful is an exercise in futility without first being willing to undergo the transformation that makes such people stand out from the crowd.
Tips, tactics and strategies have their place, they form an essential part of the whole package, but if that’s all you’ve got then it doesn’t matter how proficient or how deep your intellectual understanding is if when it comes to being tested you collapse under the bar instead of leaping over it.
We live in a society that is obsessed by appearances, in style over substance. Where the name on the back of the shirt now matters more than the badge on the front of it. Where we vote for personalities rather than the substance of character. Where what you do counts more than who you are. Yet, when we look at greatness, what we find is a quality of being, an unstoppable desire in people like Mary Shakun who used her daughters suicide to inspire her to live a life without limits. With Muhammed Ali, who gave up his belts to stand and fight for a cause he believed in.
So why is it that we get caught up on the details of getting out of bed an hour earlier or only answering emails in time blocks throughout the day?
Because developing character, honing that spark of genius and the leadership skills that can take you to the top of the game means having the capacity to overcome adversity. Sometimes it takes losing something that matters, a relationship, a career opportunity, a person who you love, to draw out the desire and dedication from inside you and the courage and dedication to raise your bar and dream the impossible dreams that you had before the conditioning of the world pushed you down into accepting mediocre instead of mastery.
Self-Mastery is who we are naturally and yet it’s overly simplistic to say that we should just be natural. We are deeply ingrained with social programming that many of our given norms are based on untruths. Achieving self-mastery is not a matter of developing new habits. It’s a question of unlearning, undoing who we think we are and becoming who we were born to be.
Was it Nelson Mandela’s morning routine that enables him to find forgiveness and the strength to lead South Africa into a post-apartheid era? Or is it Elon Musk is a lifelong learner that he’s able to keep delivering on a vision for Tesla and Space X that defied the odds, the doubters and all expectations of what was thought possible?
The most successful sporting superstars are often also the hardest working. That doesn’t mean that working hard is the key to success. According to Dr Stan Beecham a leading Sports Psychologist and Leadership Consultant in his book Elite Minds. One of the greatest challenges with high achievers is enabling them to trust themselves and their trained abilities. Often we believe that “perfect” is the only route to success, when it’s attempting to be perfect that is a guarantee of inhibiting the capacity to perform at your ability.
One of the breakthroughs in achieving optimal performance is to reduce the amount of effort being out into a task. We are led to believe that there’s something praiseworthy and honourable about needless struggle and sacrifice. Outhustling and working harder and grinding more than anyone else doesn’t mean that you’ll free up the creating and mental energy needed to have the insights that when applied create big impacts.
We’ll fail to succeed if we only blindly follow the habits of other people without writing our own definitions of what it means to succeed.
“One doesn’t accumulate but eliminate. It’s not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always run to simplicity.” Bruce Lee
Most of being a leader and being successful comes from the inside. Apart from a mysterious feeling that comes from being in the presence of such people all we have to go on are labels. We can observe the extra-ordinary focus that rises from having the mental and creative energy reserves to make excellent decisions. We can sense the capacity give attention to the places that generate exceptional results. We hear their certainty about knowing what they want, why they want it and the presence to respectfully draw the best from the people around them. We see they have bodies filled with strength and vitality and witness the enthusiasm and drive that singles them out as someone remarkable.
Extra-ordinary people are extra-ordinary because they embody their values and principles, because they live into a purpose that is greater than them as individuals. It’s how they show up, it’s in the essence that can’t be defined that defines them
Study success, learn from mentors and those with the results that you want, look for the depth, the character traits, listen to their stories of failure and what they learned from it. Hear how they have overcome adversity and used it to grow as people and to contribute more. Through this you will know who you are, know what you stand for and what you are willing to die for. Then you might discover that your habits start taking care of themselves.