Sure, you’re doing well — but could you do better?

Absolutely you could. We all can. There’s always a new summit to climb, a goal to set our sights on, a new adventure just ahead. We all want to be prepared for that next great opportunity, but what do we do and how do we get ready? What does it take for me, my team, my company to take our game to the next level?

To many, the “what” and “how” of success remains a mystery and thus we continue to do more, work harder, and continue our relentless search for the silver bullet. While this is a common strategy, it’s often useless.

We only find ourselves exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated. We wonder “why” we can’t figure it out given we are intelligent human beings. As I tell my C-Suite leaders and their executive teams that I’ve worked with, it doesn’t have to be a difficult experience to learn the what and how in Igniting your Success if you know the recurring practices to begin and let go of those that derail you.

“Unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will automatically unfold.” ~ Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to coach and consult with hundreds of high achieving professionals: men and women doing what others consider “the impossible;” those who have repetitive years of success. Mastering success is possible. It is a powerful, yet a delicate design process that takes commitment, discipline, and rigor. Retraining the mind, body, and spirit to create new habits is exactly what the high-powered group of leaders that I’ve worked with do so well. In fact, when I reflect on this group of leaders, I realize they all possess a similar set of characteristics, practices, and routines that inform their thinking, their mood, and ultimately their future.

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.” ~Tony Dungy, NFL Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1996-2001; Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts 2002-2008 and Super Bowl XLI Champions

Habit #1: Possess a relentless craving to succeed.

I’ve always maintained that you can work smart, have discipline, and be knowledgeable, but if you don’t possess a burning desire to succeed, you’ll never make it to the top. This craving is the key to Igniting your Success. Find something you get excited about, dig deep, and then make a commitment not to settle for second place. If you do, you’ll be one giant step closer to being more successful than you ever dreamed possible.

Habit #2: Follow your care.

The surest way to ensure your success is to couple your craving to succeed with a written statement that speaks to your care or purpose in the world. The expression of your care will move you to define a compelling vision for your future and further shape how you will spend your time and energy. This is more than just words on paper. You have to live and breathe your care and use it to illuminate your path, inspire your actions, and Ignite your Success. Begin and end each day by reflecting on your care. Notice how it expands and informs your thoughts and conversations.

Habit #3: Set well-defined goals to take care of your care.

Clear goals allow you to stay focused on your care, measure your progress, and remain inspired during challenging times. How you engage with your goals and your related actions will frame the choices you see in front of you. High-powered leaders notice when they get caught in the story of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” and let it go; they regroup, modify milestones, and get back into the practice of living habits that lead to success.

Habit #4: Manage to promised-based commitments.

Keeping promises and commitments must take top priority in your life if you want develop the habit that produces success. You cannot allow yourself to get caught up in managing time—something that can’t actually be done anyway—and instead focus on managing your capacity to fulfill the promises you make that allow you to take care what is most important to you. Maintaining an accurate calendar of your commitments for conversations and meetings allows you to prepare and improve your ability to coordinate actions that lead to desired outcomes; and when necessary renegotiate commitments. Make sure to schedule quiet time for contemplation and personal reflection.

Habit #5: Maintain self-care.

Being a high achieving professional requires energy and stamina. Regular exercise and a healthy diet will make you feel good, improve your confidence, and give you the fuel to keep going when everyone else is starting to tire. This can take the form of yoga, running, martial arts, swimming, hiking, etc. Engage in any physical movement that brings joy and relaxation.

Habit #6: Communicate with ease and clarity.

Becoming a master communicator and a skilled storyteller is an artful expression that deepens connection with others almost instantaneously. Connecting with others is essential as it allows and encourages a deeper listening for context and content and will inspire others to follow your lead. Top achieving leaders do not make it to the top by themselves. Winning requires a strong team; and strong teams are made up of individuals who work toward a shared care. An environment where others feel inspired and motivated enables them to reach their fullest potential and allows high-powered leaders to achieve their own goals.

Habit #7: Practice the fundamentals.

Whether you’re talking about business, sports, or any other endeavor, you must master the fundamentals to Ignite Success. In football, for example, you’d never expect to win games without mastering blocking and tackling. In business, you won’t reach the top unless you’ve mastered the fundamentals of coaching, value creation, advice, service, marketing, and financial management, for example. By staying focused on the basics, you can position yourself for major breakthroughs.

Habit #8: Seek wisdom.

There’s an old story about Socrates, whom the Oracle of Delphi proclaimed the wisest man in Athens. Socrates, disbelieving the Oracle’s assertion, started questioning others about what was truly worthwhile in life.

His logic: The individual who could answer that question would certainly be wiser than he was. But while everyone gave Socrates an answer, none of the answers were satisfactory to him. He felt that the people he asked were pretending to know what, in fact, they did not know. At that point, Socrates realized that he truly was the wisest man in Athens, because he recognized that he didn’t know it all, and hence he would always be searching for knowledge. Those who Ignite Success in themselves and others are like Socrates, they constantly seek knowledge and find new paths to success.

A framework for #ignitingsuccess in your professional, civic and personal life is just that — a framework — unless you put it into practice. You are on a master’s journey. Practice these 8 habits with dedication and rigor and you’ll quickly find a breakthrough to higher levels of achievement, prosperity, and most importantly create a life that is absolutely worth living.

About Angela Cusack

A nationally recognized Master Certified Coach, Angela Cusack heads Igniting-Success, Inc., a leadership excellence organization partnering with executive leaders to empower them beyond the typical installation of key initiatives ~ such as strategic planning, change management, team and leadership development, business and sales management process enhancement ~ and move towards fully realizing the impact of their efforts.

Angela is skilled in working with multi-cultural leadership teams and global organizations; in-fact, Angela serves as a coach to the TEDFellows program that helps world-changing innovators from around the globe amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities (www.TED.com). She also works with the Unreasonable Institute where she coaches high-impact entrepreneurs across the world, offering them a broad foundation from which to create sustainable and powerful outcomes. (www.unreasonableinstitute.org).

Angela leverages her 25-years of corporate experience along with her Masters degree in Human and Organizational Learning from George Washington University to collaborate with nonprofit executive directors and their boards of directors to fundamentally redesign their approach to leading by refocusing on the value of “doing good to do well”.

In addition to her own business, Angela recently joined 3north, a design and architectural firm, as the lead Principal responsible for organizational development, culture, and strategic alignment.


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