The pursuit of excellence means the pursuit of effectiveness in all areas of life. One must therefore adopt habits which will promote health in the physical, mental and emotional spheres of life. Excellence demands constant work on personal growth and the adoption of habits which continuously contribute to success in all areas of life. Below are ten of the most significant habits.
1. Healthy balanced diet.
You can bet Ferrari puts only the best fuel in their Formula one cars. If you expect excellence like Ferrari does of its Formula one team, you should only ingest the best fuel. There are countless resources online to guide you towards a healthy diet, so I won’t elaborate too much. I will just encourage you to eat a balanced diet of organic, sustainably farmed food. If you don’t already love to cook, get into it! It is the most wonderful and rewarding hobby you can adopt. Find healthy organic ingredients and good recipes and have fun with it, improvise. Fail until it tastes great! Invite family and friends to enjoy your creations, and reap the multiple benefits of healthy communal eating. Know that most restaurants use a lot of butter and salt to make their food super tasty. Even if you can afford to eat out every day, don’t! Strive to enjoy home cooked dinners with family and friends on most nights.
2. Balanced exercise
You know you should, and hopefully you already exercise several times a week. If you don’t, find a way to make it a habit. If you do, make sure you are engaging in exercise which does not hurt your body. Be mindful of your body’s balance and signals of health. Try to have a few different exercise activities in your repertoire.
It’s is so good for you in so many ways. If you are resisting this, don’t resist it anymore, the benefits are too great to ignore! If you find that it is too difficult, it really isn’t! It’s going to feel strange at first, but keep at it! It might take several days of trying before you start to “get it”. There are many great resources online or books you can purchase, or even phone apps which will help you down the path to meditation. At some point in the near future I will post my own simple guide to start meditation.
This is a frame of mind which is promoted by several habits (Ok, so this list actually contains more than 10 habits) The field of positive psychology has really gained traction in recent years with guys like Martin Seligman and Shawn Achor writing books and doing TED talks. It basically boils down to having a positive outlook on life, making positive statements of encouragement, affirmation and gratitude. It also focuses on flipping the success/ happiness paradigm, by establishing that happiness is essentially an outlook on life which can be obtained under greatly varied circumstances; success is the result of such an outlook, not the other way around. One of my favorite positive habits I like to promote is smiling, with your whole face as much as possible. It’s positive energy at it’s core.
Develop the discipline to listen to other people, be it in a casual conversation, a lecture or work meeting. There is always useful information being conveyed. It is not enough to simply allow others to speak while you look at them, you must be mindful in the conversation to perceive both the literal and subtextual meaning of what is being said. Practice reacting with nods and smiles and making small statements to indicate that you understand, or ask follow up questions. Be mindful of the speakers situation and intentions. This will allow you to quickly perceive the need of the situation and respond to it appropriately, whether it is a personal or business situation. You more you practice this, the closer you come to anticipation as opposed to reaction.
Reading is still the best way of learning anything. It keeps your language and communication skills sharp. The ability to get your meaning across through appropriate and concise language is critical for success. It is not enough to read emails at work and news coverage on the internet. Reading non-fiction with the goal of learning something new, is the type of reading we should all try to incorporate into our lifestyles. Reading builds knowledge, and repeated attempts at applying that knowledge builds skill. Knowledge and skill is raw energy in both the physical and mental spheres.
Failing is a result of trying, as is success. So one could say that the habit which is critical for success is trying without fear of failure, but I like to take it a step further and focus on failure as a result of earnest effort, with subsequent analyses. Failure is an almost certain predecessor to success, and excellent people understand that the only way they can find the path to success in any given venture, is to try, fail and learn, sometimes repeatedly.
8. Collaboration/ Community
We can’t do it all alone, and as a team we can be greater than our parts. Collaboration is much improved if you already have habits of positivity and listening, but you must seek out collaborations to improve your chances for success. Being a part of a community be it a family, a sports team, or an interest group, is good for your wellbeing and provides a natural environment for collaboration. Excellent people nourish their communities, and cherishes opportunities for collaboration. The most critical hurdle in turning a great idea into successful business is convincing one person you trust that it is a good idea, and inspire them to want to work with you. Just as you must embrace community for the sake of achieving your own goals, excellence demands that you keep your community in mind at all times. Think, speak and act in ways that consider your fellow humans. Give back to your communities, do what you can to preserve a healthy environment, locally and globally. If you have children or at least younger relatives, think about the lessons you give them, and the environment you are leaving them with your attitude and actions.
Continuance in your course of action is critical to achieving goals. If you have analyzed your goals and come up with actions needed to reach them, you obviously need to persist through difficulty and opposition in order to be successful, or at the very least learn that different actions are needed. Persistence can be very difficult with all the time constraints of a modern life. The best way to be persistent in your actions is to try to make habits of the needed actions. Start with the actions which are not time demanding, but merely changes in behavior throughout your weekly routine. Then you can look at time demanding habits and negotiate time for them in your routine. A key to persistence is to respect the actions or habits you have decided are needed. Do not drop them, unless you have decided that they are no longer on your to do list or part of your current habit portfolio.
10. Self direction (responsibility, initiative, purpose)
Last but certainly not least, self direction. The ability to get up and go, to take initiative and responsibility, to risk. Self direction is greatly improved by other things on this list such as exercise, positivity and collaboration, but often comes down to self discipline and purpose. If you are driven by a strong desire for life and success, you will be more likely to find a way to get things done, and go.