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8 Things No One Should Overlook When Becoming Successful

8 Things No One Should Overlook When Becoming Successful

Excellence is something we are all taught to pursue to our utmost. Many media platforms have categorized levels of success for modern society — e.g. Forbes 30 under 30, Time’s most powerful/influential person, richest man in (insert industry). And while these are all notable and worthy reasons to pursue success, it is very easy to get wrapped up in the end goal and neglect the things that matter most.

The new age philosophy is to be obsessed and insane about becoming successful. Today success is measured more by financial gain than anything else. Many Fortune 500 company CEO’s are self- proclaimed workaholics and YAHOO! CEO Marissa Mayer claims to work over 90 hours a week on 3-4 hours of sleep. Mayer’s success as a female engineer is notable and every bit worth aspiring to. Below are eight things we should never neglect when doing so.

1. Your Health

This cannot be overstated enough. A famous saying goes, “we spend the first half of our lives using our health to acquire wealth and last half using our wealth to maintain health.”

Whether you want to be on the cover of Times magazine or run your own successful business you need to be able to do so. Neglecting your health while in the pursuit of success or the next promotion at work is only detrimental to your own life. Adopting a lifestyle where you work on 2-3 hours of sleep, eat take-away and drink energy drinks is a medium paced path to stroke, heart attacks and future health problems.

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    Organizing our lives and trying to find better ways to treat our bodies should be a priority for all.

    2. Your Origins

    Too often people tend to forget where they came from in search of where they are going. No matter how badly you want to forget your childhood or past experiences/failures and mistakes, understanding where you have come from and how that has contributed directly or indirectly to the person that you have become today is crucial.

    Past failures, mistakes and bad judgement are not things to be ashamed of nor overly regretted. If you can take the time and understand the lessons that life is teaching you, perception changes and it brings light to events that occur. Not all perceived bad things are actually bad; they may take us out of our comfort zone but they are also a blessing in disguise. Think of where you are today and try to imagine where you’d be if not for the struggles that made you stronger.

    3. Your self- worth

    They say there has never been a generation more self-absorbed and vain as Gen-Y and words like selfie have become one of the most used in the English language. Maybe we are more self-serving than the people before us, but do we really value who we are?

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    self worth

      It’s very common to idolize someone successful and aspire to be like them. The media makes a point to remind us daily who we should aspire to be more like, but the problem with putting someone on a pedestal is that we automatically compromise ourselves. We belittle our abilities and wonder if we can ever be as good as the next person. Maybe it’s the top salesman in your office or Oprah Winfrey, but too often in the midst of the greats we tend to hold back for fear of being laughed at, public failure or due to a lack of trust in our capacity to perform certain tasks.

      It’s common to feel inferior among people more qualified, smarter or even better looking. But life requires one thing from you: to always strive for the best with whatever cards you have been dealt. You were not called here on earth to put people on pedestals, any more than you were called to belittle others. Remember what makes you who you are.

      4. Your appearance

      This is not just physical appearance (but that helps too). It’s more about the type of person you portray yourself to be. What perception do people have of you? I never preach being a people pleaser because we all know you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Now naturally some people will simply just hate. That’s their personal life mission and it’s who they are. The chances of being struck by lighting twice are higher than the chances of them changing, and that’s okay.

      We’ve all got jobs to do. The moral isn’t to be liked but to be pleasant. Sometimes, overachievers and intelligent people tend to have the least bit of patience when it comes to other people because they perceive them as slow and lazy.

      You may fall into one of two categories. Are you the person no one comes to for help because they’re scared that you will point them as idiots, or are you the type of person no one trusts with tasks because you always under deliver and produce mediocre work?

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      Sometimes, the perception people have of you is wrong, but where there is smoke there is possibly fire. Try not to be a person of drama and scandals. Be pleasant to people, even those who you do not always agree with. That’s what true class acts are made of. The more pleasant you are, the more pleasant people and situations become.

      5. Your self-assurance

      Self- assurance, as defined by Merriam Webster: great faith in oneself or one’s abilities. Often confused with this word.

      confidence

        There is this misconception that confident people are people who are miracle workers and possess innate abilities beyond human comprehension. In reality, confidence comes from trust in your abilities no matter who in the room is more qualified. Some of the world’s most memorable leaders were in no way exceptional. They just managed to keep a sense of equanimity in the midst of crisis and bring the people to the promise land, leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Nehemiah, Joshua and Martin Luther King to name a few.

        6. Your values

        These are the things you believe in and they have made you who you are. Have you ever wondered about the fact that one man will steal because he lacks and that another will pursue an honest living despite being under similar circumstances? It’s our core values that shape us. Do you think someone who stays up all night for work is being committed or could they use better time management?

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        Opinions we form of others and decisions we make are due to our values. Don’t compromise yourself or betray your beliefs in order to get ahead. Success isn’t so much about how much wealth you can accumulate, but more to do with becoming a person of character in spite of your achievements and material wealth. Growth and development are an essential part of life, but that process is only as meaningful as the foundations they are built on.

        7. Your family

        Family is so important. It cannot be overstated. As cliché and overrated as it may sound, they are important.

        family

          Think of all the choices you have in life, where to live, where to work, where to study, what food to eat, who to marry, to have kids or not, to apply for that promotion or not, what insurance company to go with. But you did not choose your family. Now you’re stuck with that annoying sibling who grates your cheese every chance they get or maybe your best friend is your brother/sister. Either way, if ever someone tells you they do not believe in fate, tell them family is fate. So do not neglect them in the pursuit of accumulating worldly wealth and status.

          8. Don’t be too hard on yourself

          Maybe you are not where you planned on being at 25 or 30 or 40 or even 50. So what if you didn’t do everything on your bucket list? There is this amazing God-given gift called life, and it goes on and on; so until you drop dead, you are not finished.

          When you embark on a journey to be successful and achieve your wildest dreams, it can be the scariest and sometimes loneliest journey. Learn to drown out all the noise and focus on why you are doing what you are doing. Remember to never doubt yourself and have the utmost faith that Heaven is on your side.

          Featured photo credit: Businessman in Silhouette Walking in a dark tunnel. With room for your Text via shutterstock.com

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          Kayiba Mpoyi

          Writer by birth

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          Last Updated on October 21, 2019

          How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

          How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

          U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

          Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

          Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

          But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

          To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

          What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

          You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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          You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

          If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

          1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

          Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

          Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

          While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

          2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

          It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

          “While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

          In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

          Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

          3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

          Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

          For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

          4. Good leaders are students.

          In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

          I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

          Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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          As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

          5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

          It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

          “As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

          This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

          6. Good leaders understand themselves.

          I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

          Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

          Final Thoughts

          Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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          Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

          After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

          Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

          If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

          More About Effective Leadership

          Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
          [2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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