Every now and then I have a “gut check” with myself, making sure I still have the right tools in life’s toolbox.
This week was one of those times, helped by being held captive on transcon planes from NYC to LA and from LA to NYC, both within 24 hours of each other (don’t you love business trips like that?).
With an opportunity for some quiet reflection, I wanted to make sure the factors that had propelled me to this point in my life were still there in the forefront. Was I still being true to myself, in all my actions, deeds, and words? Was my foundation still intact?
My internal checklist has 10 items on it – I had refined them via a couple of blog posts in 2006 (and some great feedback from my readers). Here’s what I wrote about them back then:
Common Sense – The definition says it all: “Sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge”. It’s an innate logic barometer that guides me from situation to situation and counsels me from decision to decision.
Intellectual Curiosity – I’ve always had a huge appetite for learning, since I started reading encyclopedias when I was 3 (at least that’s what my mom tells me!). This curiosity has pushed me forward in opening up my world to new ideas and experiences. It also keeps me humble in a sense that there’s so much I DON’T know.
Passion - The best way to figure out the importance of this one is to recall a time in one’s life or career where it didn’t exist – that happened to me, and it’s like draining all the oil out of an engine and still trying to go 100 miles an hour. It’s not pretty, all the grinding and gnashing. Passion is the “oil” that keeps me going at peak performance.
Relentless Optimism – Yes, my glass is half full – I’ve also defined half-fullism as “dealing with the literal world in a favorable way”, and that really speaks to my viewpoint – I’m always trying to make lemonade out of lemons (without rose colored glasses).
Influential Mentor and/or Parent – The influence of my parents and a couple of key mentors have been invaluable to my personal and career development – my parents taught me the value of trust, and my two mentors taught me about business, leadership and optimism in two totally different ways, but both utterly valuable.
Love – When I think of love I can’t help but also think of those lines by Ewan McGregor in “Moulin Rouge” (one of my favorite musical movies)-“Love is a many splendored thing, Love lifts us up where we belong, All you need is Love!” In some respects it is indeed the only thing – while passion is the oil, love is the gas.
Good Moral Grounding – For me, the ability to make personal distinctions between right and wrong couldn’t happen without being properly grounded in moral principles – I was fortunate to get that from my family, and from the parochial education I received all the way through college.
Luck - I know one can “create” luck, or put oneself in a position to take advantage of luck, but it’s still luck. I had several instances where luck, fate, karma, or some similar phenomenon intervened and changed my life, mostly for the better (but sometimes not).
Integrity – The net result of the moral grounding, I always try to keep my my promises and fulfill my commitments- being trusted by others is one of the gifts I treasure the most.
Belief in Yourself – This is the foundation of all successes – a deep seeded confidence that someway, somehow you can get to where you want to go. For me, I always wanted to be a leader, and I kept at it knowing that if I was given that responsibility, I could do it and do it well. Fortunately I have been given that opportunity, and it’s been a great ride.
Am I still applying these “secrets” today? Generally, yes. Room for improvement? Always. Do I probably need to revisit this list more often? Absolutely, yes.
Not a bad way to spend downtime on an airplane!
How about you? What are your 10 secrets to success? Have you ever written them down? Believe me, it’s a great exercise.
Have a great weekend!