Six Things Successful People Are Obsessive About
Consider your role model(s); those that are the definition of "successful" in your mind ... your business mentor, your favorite athlete or musician, or even that friend that always excels in everything they attempt.
You may believe that they have natural abilities (and you don’t) and that is why they are successful. However, if you study their actions, interview them, read their biographies, or listen to a podcast about their habits, you will find that these successful people are all willing to do things that others simply do not do.
Not only are they willing, they are obsessively disciplined and in the habit of doing these things. These are usually not hard things to do, they simply take dedication, discipline and a willingness to put goal achievement ahead of impulses. Here are six things that successful people are obsessive about:
1. Making Time to Plan – Every day
Every successful person takes time to plan. Annual goals, weekly plans and daily priorities are the critical elements to keep you out of the whirlwind and moving forward. James W. Botkin in his book “Smart Business” recommends following the 15:4 rule. Every 15 minutes you spend thinking/planning about what you are going to do before you start will save you 4 hours of wasted time later. If you think through your workday, set priorities and have an action list, you will accomplish far more than those who react throughout the day. I am a fan of identifying and writing down the three things you must get done no matter what each and keeping them in your line of sight all day.
Successful people never stop connecting with people who can help them improve. Whether it’s attending a seminar, benchmarking best-in-class companies outside your industry, or reaching out to help a colleague. It can help you innovate, solve challenges and adopt proven methods of success. Most executives and organizations are willing to share their strategies and ideas with other executives; and more often than not, they will pick up a nugget or two from you. No matter how busy you get, take the time to network and learn from others and you will increase your ability to execute in your organization. Set a goal to connect once a week outside your company.
This is the area that everyone - and I mean everyone - really knows is the key to success, yet so few people truly consistently practice their craft. The rule of 10,000 hours applies. Deliberate Practice is necessary. For example, Jeannie Bastos, our Vice President of Operations also is a professional oboist and performs in local symphonies. It is a passion of hers and in addition to the ridiculous number of hours she puts in at Butler Street, she is in the habit of practicing the basics of her oboe every single day. She knows that if she skips just one practice, it puts her skill level back 2 days. The practice sessions aren’t just playing the pieces she’ll perform, most of the time is spent on the basics (scales and long tones) – over and over and over again. Think about that in your business. Do you deliberately practice your writing, coaching, speaking, and negotiating? Every day?
4. Knowing the difference between work and real work
The whirlwind can move you through your day pretty fast and leave you feeling like you did a lot. For example, you answered 100 emails, attended 3 meetings and worked on your budget. Successful people put the real work first (see number 1) and ensure that they are accomplishing that.
Answering or sending emails is usually not real work. Time can be spent internally focused or externally focused. If you spend your time focused on meeting the needs and wants of your clients (no matter what role you hold in your organization), you will deliver faster results and be successful. Do you focus first on the real work?
Successful people experience constructive discontent. What this means is they are never 100% content with where they are. Complacency comes from being 100% content. Success isn’t a destination; it is current state. To remain successful, they are always pushing to be a little better and they love learning. Operate in a steady state of uneasiness and spend time “investing” in your education.
Successful people have balance. Their outside interests give them the ability to relate to others beyond business. It makes them happy, and happy people are much more likely to persevere through the planning and practice necessary to master their craft.
Mary Ann McLaughlin serves as a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to Butler Street, she served in executive roles for 13 years including chief operating officer, president and managing director. A Six Sigma Champion certified executive, McLaughlin leverages her robust process background with 32 years of sales and operational experience.
A recreational triathlete, McLaughlin has completed three marathons (Chicago 2x, Marine Corps) and numerous triathlons. She holds a B.S. in Marketing from Bradley University.