The start & end of success

“The road to success is not straight. There is a curb called Failure, a loop called Confusion, speed bumps called Friends, red lights called Enemies, caution lights called Family and you will have flats called jobs. However, if you have a spare called Determination, an engine called Perseverance, insurance called Faith, and a driver called Jesus, you will make it to a place called Success!” - Unknown

 While having one-on-one's with various of my team members and coachees, several kind of challenges, past mistakes and lessons learned came up to my mind. Just to help you a bit I have worked out some lessons and advice, based on a couple of things I've learned over the past years about starting and finishing successfully.  

The Australian V8 Supercar drivers know the importance of starting in the right place. Before a race even begins, they compete with one another in the hopes of earning the best starting position. At qualifying runs, held the day prior to the official race, each driver speeds around the racetrack in a timed performance. The driver with the fastest time earns pole position - or the right to begin the race in front of the other cars. A driver in pole position doesn't have to be concerned about passing anyone in order to win the race. All he or she must do is hold their position in order to win.

Conversely, a driver who does poorly in the trial run must begin the race in the worst possible position - at the very back of the pack. Stuck behind the other slower race cars, the disadvantaged driver has virtually no chance of winning. To finish first, he or she would have to pass every other car on the track during the course of the race. Even if you're the best driver and have the best engineering team behind you, that would be an almost impossible task for fulfil.

In addition to starting strong, a V8 Supercar driver understands that his or her performance depends on finishing well. In a 50 round race, leading for 49 rounds is meaningless if a driver isn't in front at the chequered flag. Regardless of a driver's skill manoeuvring the car early in the race, if he or she crashes or loses focus toward the end, the driver will forfeit the lead and lose the race. Nobody wins points for their position in the middle of the race; rather, each driver is assigned a place based on how he or she finishes.

The start & end of success

Great leaders understand the two bookends of success: starting and finishing. We generally think about them in terms of doing a task or project. However, what's true in our approach to projects is also true in our approach to each day. How we spend our mornings and evenings has a tremendous bearing on the course of our leadership!

For example: I use my morning to set up a game plan for the day. During this (meditation) time (usually while standing or sitting under the shower), I allow no interruptions and I isolate myself from distractions. I do not permit myself to strategise years down the road or to project my thoughts months into the future. Rather, I narrow my focus to the upcoming 24 hours and I ask myself: "Just for today, how can I be a success?, What will be my key challenges today?" Viewing life in 24-hour increments, I place a premium on each day. I try to make each one a masterpiece and will make sure it's all based on action, pleasure and fun!

When I was racing go-carts and race cars in Europe, I always raced the race in my mind during my morning mediation. This allowed me to develop my ideal race strategy, and to imagine driving over the race track to decide the perfect line, where to break and what the risky parts of the track were. I always finished with winning the race in my mind.....

During the evening, I reflect on my day. By reflecting, I translate my day's experiences into learning opportunities. This process solidifies in my mind the lessons I've discovered or bits of knowledge I've uncovered. Reflecting also gives me the space to assess my progress on the goals I made during the morning.

Relaxation is another important part of my evening routine. I make a point to put my leisure time into activities that replenish me by refuelling my energy. For me, such activities include spending quality time with friends and family, reading a good book, working out in the gym, cooking, writing stories or painting while listening to great music. Relaxation puts me in a good emotional state, lifts my spirits, gives me new energy and reminds me of the joys of life.

When I neglect to carve out time in the morning to plan my day, I notice adverse effects. First, I don't live my day on purpose. Instead of choosing where to invest my time, I cede control of my schedule to whatever circumstances happen to arise. Second, I squander my energy. Since I don't outline clear goals for my day, I float from one activity to another without getting anything done. Finally, when I skip my morning planning time, I feel overwhelmed. Since I'm very ambitious and high on energy, I have a propensity to bite off more than I can chew (sounds familiar?). If I don't focus my attention, the weight of my numerous involvements begins to drag me down.

When I am not intentional about setting aside evening time for relaxation, I encounter negative symptoms, too. First, I get a bit uptight. My times of reflection and relaxation act like valves that release stress from my life. If I don't guard those times, I get tense, my thoughts are more negative, and my health suffers (e.g. waking up at night thinking of all kind of to-do's…..). Second, I lose passion. My leisure times fuel me. If I am not intentional about putting time into my favourite activities, then life loses some of its lustre. Third, I miss chances to grow. When I don't reflect on the meaningful moments from each day, I rob myself of the benefits of experience!

Summary

Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow is out of reach. That's why today matters. Leaders who value each day know the importance of starting well and finishing strong. In the mornings, they focus their energies on key tasks, and in the evenings, they replenish themselves. By mastering the bookends of success, leaders position themselves to make an impact every day.

“The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” - Unknown

Make this a Positive & Fruitful day….unless you have other plans!

Best regards and success with creating more success,

Patrick Driessen