Most successful individuals establish basic tenants for their lives, rules they use to hold themselves accountable for their own actions.
Some base their decisions on “what others might think if they see what I am doing,” while others say, “It doesn’t matter what others think, my actions should be based on what I know is right regardless of who else might see them or what others might think of me.”
While everyone lives by some set of values and code of ethics — considerations that keep them from doing things they might wish they had not done or allowing them to live with the consequences of their actions — some of the guiding principles that provide the “highest return on investment” would include the following:
It is OK to dislike parts of your job, life, relationships or stature. It is not OK to avoid, refuse to do, or ignore the parts you dislike — or to discuss openly your dissatisfaction with others not having a need to know your opinion. It is not OK to cause others pain because of your own suffering, to share your dissatisfaction by bringing others down to your lows rather than raising all involved to new highs.
It is OK to make a mistake, to admit to the mistake and to accept the consequences as you seek to correct the indiscretion. It is not OK to continue repeating the same mistake without taking action to correct it. It is OK to make a wrong decision. Any well-thought-out decision is better than no decision, but we must learn from our errors, using them as springboards propelling us forward toward the accomplishment of our goals.
People will usually work with you — or accept you as you are — as long as you show measurable progress or growth. If you are actively working to change yourself for the better by resolving or eliminating your shortcomings, most will help you to grow. They will abandon you, however, if they are able to detect you have “quit” on yourself.
Identify (and focus your efforts on) those things you can control while setting aside those obstacles that are outside your sphere of influence. Setting aside issues does not mean ignoring them; it simply means you should not waste talent, time or abilities trying to “right” those things you do not (cannot or will never) influence. Actively seek to eliminate the hurdles these ancillary issues place before you by giving them up to someone who has the ability to influence them — or by working on “the easy stuff.”
Lying, cheating or stealing is intolerable. If you are the best performer or individual with the highest results, but those results came through dishonest acts or at someone else’s expense, you will become ineffective (and most likely unemployed) due to a loss of respect and credibility from your co-workers, peers, management and yourself. You may think yourself to be the best friend someone could ever have, but if you cannot be trusted (believed in or counted upon), your friendship is dust carried away by the wind.
Results are critical; effort is merely a means to the end. One should not expect to receive praise for working hard. Recognition comes to those who fulfill their potential and accomplish anticipated results — those who achieve their expectations rather than simply identifying them as goals or dreams.
While some solutions may not be cost-effective, or are simply impractical or beyond our ability to implement, “I can’t,” “It’s not possible” and other self-defeating attitudes are never acceptable.
Nothing is impossible; some things just take a bit longer to accomplish than others. Well thought-out potential solutions to issues you may encounter in life are not reasons for celebration; they are simply expectations of the way you should continually apply your abilities as you march relentlessly toward resolution.
While all must live within this world, some lead while others are destined to follow. Some actively contribute to a solution while others choose to passively perform to avoid both the recognition for success and the blame for failure. Some build others up while others prefer to tear others down. Some seek what is positive and good while others find value in themselves by discrediting others.
We all eventually reach a point that forever changes who we are, what we have done and where we are going. At this juncture we should redirect our efforts toward the accomplishment of what has yet to be done so we can move on to what has not yet been imagined.
We all (either intentionally or inadvertently) establish the rules we choose to live by but must keep them in front of us as guiding principles of our actions if we are to believe we can achieve.
The decisions you make (and the life that you lead) will not only add value to your organization (your friends and your relationships) but help to improve your own self concept, making you not only more essential but adding more value to those around you.
David Smith is president and CEO of The Employers’ Association in Grand Rapids.