One of the main reasons I took a job totally unrelated to my college major and field of study is that I was totally drawn to the leaders in this particular company. I was blown away by their ability to lead others, their presence, their discipline, and I felt that if I spent some time around these folks, good things would come of it. I'll never forget being a couple of months into my new job, I noticed that the two leaders in my office were doing something really strange. I noticed that several times throughout the day, they would escape out of their offices, through the back door, and into the stairwell. If we happened to get to the office at the same time in the morning, I felt odd as I was getting onto the elevator up to our 5th floor and they would wave and disappear into the stairwell. I wanted to be more like these two men; so I decided that I would start emulating their stair-taking. Every morning I started taking the stairs, even if I was running a few minutes late and thought it would be easier to take the elevator. After a long day of work, I took the stairs even when I felt like it would be easier to ride down to the main level. Several months later, I was gaining traction. I was getting recognized for my performance. I had more energy. I got a promotion. Nothing had changed- except that I started trying to emulate something really small that the leaders were doing and the others were not. Look around...how can you emulate those that you aspire to be more like?
2. The power of compound interest
In my role of training new advisors, I had the opportunity to watch everyone come in with the same slate. They went through the same training. They listened to the same speakers. They worked with the same mentors and got the same coaching. So why did some of these advisors make it and why didn't others? The ones who made it took advantage of the wonder of compound interest. Jim Rohn says the things that lead to success are easy to do, but also easy not to do. The advisors who made it were the ones who did the things they were supposed to do even on days that they didn't feel like doing them. None of these tasks in the short-term amounted to much. But compounded over time, they were the difference.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff
I'll never forget the first time I was put in charge of running our monthly agency meeting. It was held across the street at the downtown hotel conference room, and I was in charge of making sure everything was set-up, the materials were ready for the speakers, and that the day ran smoothly. A few minutes before getting ready to head across the street, I printed off the handouts that one of the speakers wanted to use for his presentation. I made enough copies for everyone who would be in attendance and headed to the mail room to grab the handouts off the printer. When I got to the printer, my heart immediately sank. I realized the printer was running off over 500 pages of paper. The handouts that I thought was just a page long was actually 7 pages long and now I was going to have to sort through several hundred pages of paper and staple the packets. I didn't have enough time. My heart was racing and immediately started thinking worst-case scenario: "I'm going to get fired. They will never trust me with this kind of responsibility ever again. This is my fault. The day is ruined. The speaker is going to be furious." The stapler wasn't working. I immediately got on the phone and demanded the speaker's assistant come down to the mail room and help me. If I watched video footage of how I acted towards this person now I would be utterly embarrassed. Everything turned out OK. I got to the meeting on time, everything still got set up, and the speaker made a passing comment that the handouts weren't even that important for his presentation. A barometer that I like to use is: "will this matter in 5 years? Will I even remember this in a few months?" Don't lose perspective and get zoomed in on stuff that doesn't matter.
4. Treat every opportunity like it's your dream opportunity
Early on, I treated every consultation I had like it was the most important consultation I would ever have. I prepared. I had a meeting agenda. I took notes. I sent a follow-up e-mail that bulleted what we had covered. I remember several advisors e-mailing my boss saying it was the best consultation meeting they ever had. As I got comfortable in my job, and busier with the additional responsibilities that I took on, I got away from the very things that initially allowed me to gain traction. My mentor Joshua says that the day everything changed for him in his life was the day he realized that until he started treating the people he was working with like his dream clients, he would never get to work with those people. Until you are faithful with the opportunities you have now, you'll never get the opportunities you want later.
5. Get the most important out of the way early
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned was the power of getting your biggest priority knocked out of the way before the day takes over. Fires always arise as the day moves on. Maybe you want to get in better shape, but don't have the energy to make it to the gym after a long day of taking care of the kids. Maybe you want to work on that project, but after checking your email for an hour your to-do list has already tripled. Maybe you want to start writing your book, but it never gets done because you are always cleaning up the house. As the day gets longer, the less likely you are to get those significant tasks done as the urgent overtakes the important.