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Is There a Secret to Success? 22 Ways Productive People Reach the Top

Is There a Secret to Success? 22 Ways Productive People Reach the Top

Whether you are an entrepreneur, business owner or work for someone else, staying productive to reach the top of your game does not have to be a constant challenge. The secret to success is not so much a secret after all.

When you grow a strong grip on what inspires and motivates you as well as what throws you off course, your honed ability to harness your productivity can only set you on the path for success.

Increasing your productivity like the Elon Musks and Richard Bransons of the world can be surprisingly simple. Here are 22 of the ways they do it:

1. Be emotionally connected to clear goals

Clarity is a must-have ingredient to being productive. Leading marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author Simon Sinek explains in his book Start With Why that in deciding between manipulation or inspiration as stronger influences of human behavior, inspiration is more powerful and sustainable.

When you have an emotional connection to your goals, you become better at searching for the means to achieve them.

2. Revisit goals daily

Dedicate time each morning before your day starts to review your goals. Stop, think and ask yourself:

“Regardless of whether or not my days are great or challenging, do I still feel emotionally connected to this?”

Look for an underlying, resounding ‘yes’ and a physical, positive shift of excitement. If you feel this, then your productivity will be greater than if you are forcing yourself to work for a purpose that does not give you a mental nor emotional return on investment.

3. Use visualization to reach targets sooner

Thomas Edison envisioned the concept of the light globe and eventually turned his imagined idea into reality. Much research has shown that physical performance is greatly improved when the time is taken to engage in carefully constructed imagery and visualization that ignites the human senses.

Functional MRIs now showing our brains don’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. This helps us realize that using visualization techniques can accelerate the efficiency and quality of our work in more focused ways without the same amount of physical effort.

Instead of just imagine what you might have for lunch, direct your daydreaming toward what you want to achieve, experience and feel from your efforts!

4. Re-prioritize throughout your day

In the best-selling book The One Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan advise that by asking yourself constantly:

“What is the one thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Your activity will be focused and aligned to meeting your goals. You will spend far less time losing energy to distractions which take you off course.

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5. Create a daily today list, not a to-do list

Being busy does not necessarily mean you are productive. Having a long to-do list can sometimes be quite de-motivating.

Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, advises starting each day with one key task and ensuring that completing it (or making good progress on it) moves you toward achieving your goals.

Should the first task be complete early on in your day, move on to the second and third activity. However, if you still don’t complete that one task, start the next day with completing it. Only move on to the next task when you have completed the present one.

6. Get up early

We don’t all have time or capacity to do a 5km run at 5am, however, research shows the morning is the best time to set your framework for a productive day. Our minds are freshest at this time of day.

Before anything else, dedicate time to review your goals, your key priorities for the day, exercise and nourishing your body.

Top performers allocate their first few hours to projects relevant to their top priorities and delay meetings and appointments until later. The satisfaction alone of seeing what you have accomplished before 10am alone helps you sustain a greater level of productivity throughout the day even though your energy levels may start to wane.

7. Fuel your body according to your activity

Your body is your engine room, so it makes sense to fuel it for the performance you want it to achieve.

Twenty-three time’s Olympic gold-medal winner Michael Phelps does not eat the same carbohydrate-rich diet in offseason as when he’s competing.

Whilst you may not be an elite athlete, applying this mindset approach might mean increasing your intake of nutrient-dense, low glycaemic food at planned intervals according to your day’s schedule.

8. Treat your mind like an asset

Top performers know their mindset and mental health are the cornerstones that dictate their productivity. They guard their exposure to energy-draining circumstances, people and media, and carefully choose activities and events which are soul-enriching, energizing and relevant to their goals and purpose.

Because they have a strong sense of purpose, they choose reading material, networking and personal growth opportunities that help them grow through the challenges they are facing at those points.

9. Surround yourself with productive people

Identify and surround yourself with people who talk less and do more. Even if those people fail and make mistakes more but still make progress, they are improving and are much more likely to get the results they seek.

This goes beyond simply reading about what top performers do and socializing with those you identify as top performers.

Find programs that incorporate highly productive practices and join mastermind groups where the members are long-term communities that continually reap the results they seek.

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Proactively choose to try and spend more time with those people in their activity phases.

Not only will your productivity go through the roof, your learning curve will be exponential.

10. Nourish your mind strategically for your growth and development

Top performers are avid readers. They take charge of their journey by committing to continually learning.

But it’s important to recognize that whilst others have found certain literature to be extremely helpful for themselves, this does not mean it is directly relevant to you or maybe it is….just not right now.

Pick and choose considerately and steadily what is relevant to you right now and put aside the other content for later. You can always come back to it.

11. Choose mentors wisely

Even if you don’t work in an industry that requires you to commit to professional development and gaining supervision from an expert, it is wise to seek out mentors.

Personal or professional mentors should not have any invested agenda in helping you in order for you to get the best objective advice and wisdom.

Seek out and ask for opportunities that allow you to learn experientially or shadow them in action. Also, seek a couple of different mentors. The more variety, the better and faster quality of learning you will have.

12. Always seek detailed and constructive feedback

No top performer is satisfied with general or wishy-washy feedback. If you get no feedback – positive or negative – ask for it.

Being told to simply do a better job next time does not help you to improve. Invite and tease out instructions for change. Gaining this will help you to accept failings and mistakes as well as give you clear plan to already start moving forward.

Licking your wounds of disappointment will be short-lived and any memories of receiving negative feedback will quickly become yesterday’s news.

13. Plan your day the night before

Closing your previous day recognizing what you have achieved and planning what your next day will entail does for reducing anxiety and experiencing better quality sleep.

Your plan does not have to be too detailed but putting pen to paper and reflecting this back to yourself gives your mind a sense of closure on the day. It also acknowledges unfinished items that will take priority the next day.

14. Perfect practice makes perfect

World renowned Grand Prix dressage trainer Maria Gunther would teach her students that it wasn’t just practice that makes perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.

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It’s ok to make mistakes but even in practice, we are always aiming to achieve our personal best.

Improving any technique or skill involves constant refining and tweaking. It can also involve feeling discomfort which is often a misunderstood sign of stretching and growing.

Top performers know and have a healthy acceptance that there is no such thing as perfection but use their practice opportunities as wisely as if they were in a once in a lifetime situation.

15. Efficiency and effectiveness are not mutually exclusive

The best outcomes are achieved when the right processes and techniques are executed to the finest detail.

When the steps that need to be taken are clear, your focus on executing each of those steps well can only lead to better results.

Ensure you’re not under pressure when choosing a course of action to undertake and honor your own decision-making process. Then concentrate on doing each step well.

“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” ~ Peter Drucker

16. Use the Four Ds for effective prioritization

Having meetings and sorting emails at the expense of finalizing and sending a new business proposal is clearly non-productive. The four Ds are an extremely quick way to identify time-wasting activities and enrich your focus to things that truly matter:

  • Do – do it straight away
  • Delay – schedule a time to come back to it later
  • Delegate – allocate the activity to someone with better capacity to complete it
  • Dump – discard it permanently

Whenever you have difficulty deciding what needs to happen, make it a rule to apply one of the four Ds and you will make decisions more quickly, easily and effectively.

17. Invest in developing resilience skills

Top performers have excellent emotional regulation skills and have become skillful in observing and mastering regulating those of others.

Through learning coping and stress management techniques such as meditation and mindfulness, top performers strengthen self-awareness, which helps them to quickly identify what they need to do to heal, recover and bounce back better and stronger.

Top performers invest in personal development, knowing that they need to become and behave like the person who produces great results before they start to see those results.

18. Monitor and manage your energy

The amount of time we spend sitting each day is a far cry from the 12 miles an average human used to walk daily. Research quantifying the effects of physical inactivity has found that reducing inactivity by even 10% could avert 533,000 deaths globally.[1]

In reviewing such research, Silicon Valley-based author and speaker Nilofer Merchant has resorted to having ‘walk and talk’ meetings.[2] Merchant reports not only does she feels the physical benefits of walking 20-30 miles a week, she says she has become a better listener as the activity forces her to concentrate on what is being discussed.

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The next time you take a break, consider having a walking meeting or undertake five minutes of yoga poses or mobility stretching.

19. Develop and strengthen your mindset

When we are faced with tough challenges and feel stuck, Carol Dweck , Psychology Professor at Stanford University advocates the practice of regularly asking ourselves if there are other perspectives and possibilities we cannot see yet.[3]

By asking ourselves this question, we stop thought rumination and downward thought-spiraling, and start activating a part of our brain that helps us claw our way back toward finding solutions.

20. Work with performance psychologists and coaches

Highly productive performers seek the support and help of a team but not just employees and work associates. Collaborating with a coach to develop your future goals and action plans increases your accountability.

The added advantage of working with a performance psychologist means you can understand and uncover unexplained blockages, resistance and behavior that have kept you stuck.

You can develop emotionally intelligent goals as well as mental fitness techniques and strategies to skyrocket your productivity, performance and results.

21. Have less and shorter meetings

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recommends having a meeting of a small number of people, a succinct agenda and closing a one-hour meeting early if the key agenda items are covered in the first 15 minutes.

CEO and Chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance Carlos Ghosn recommends giving people less time than they request for a meeting, saying it drives them to be more effective, punctual and direct with the agenda.

Free up valuable time if you don’t really need the full hour that was scheduled.

22. Become masterful at saying no

When success starts to mound, people take notice and new requests come knocking at your door. As flattering and validating as this is, invitations, requests for help and support can quickly derail you.

Developing several responses which respectfully appreciate but generally explain why you cannot honor those requests will help you maintain good relationships whilst protecting your time, energy and resources. You’ll actually feel good about saying no and keeping your productivity wheels turning.

Focus on one small thing first

After examining the 22 ways productive people reach the top, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.

The secret to success here is to simply pick one area to focus on at a given time until it has become your second nature.

For example, you might start going to bed an hour early to rise an hour early to do some kind of physical workout activities. Once you have mastered this, you might move on to working on to surrounding yourself with positive productive individuals.

The point here is it takes continuous practice to reach the top.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Malachi Thompson

Executive Leadership and Performance Consultant

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

Quotes about Goal Setting

Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

    “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


    “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


    “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


    “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

    Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

    Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

    “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


    “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

    Desire is the key to motivation

      “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


      “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


      “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

      Quotes about Determination and Persistence

      Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

      “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


      “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


      “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

      quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

        “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

        Quotes about Leadership

        Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

        “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


        “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

        Leadership is not magnetic personality

          “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


          “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


          “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

          Quotes for Success

          Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

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          “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


          “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

          Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

            “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


            “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


            “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


            “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


            “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

            Sports Quotes for Athletes

            You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

            “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


            “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

            Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

              “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


              “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


              “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


              “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


              “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

              Quotes to Motivate Learning

              Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

              “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

              quote-William-Arthur-Ward-if-you-can-imagine-it-you-can-36189

                “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                  “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                  “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                  “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                  Final Thoughts

                  To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                  Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                  If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

                  More Inspiring Quotes

                  Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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