4 Things Successful People Do?

Some of the most important things in life are accomplished when we have a sense of urgency. And some of the greatest stresses we endure are experienced when we are bombarded and ambushed by the emergencies of life. What’s the difference? It’s the locus of control. Are the stresses coming from the outside—an external locus of control—or are they coming from within—an internal locus of control.

One individual experiences all the urgent issues of life caving in on them. They are ambushed from without. They panic, become anxious, lose sleep, and worry. They rush to put the fire out, only to discover there is another fire beginning at the place they just vacated. They fail to accomplish what’s important to them as they face all the fires that need dousing. This is what Stephen Covey referred to a few years ago as the tyranny of the urgent, spending too much time on what is urgent, and not enough on what is important.

Successful folks are more centered. They have an internal locus of control. They know what’s important to them and what they need to accomplish. They are able to motivate themselves, which is one of the keys to emotional intelligence.  They don’t react to urgencies. Instead they create a sense of urgency within themselves. It’s based on their core values, and has a direct tie-in to what they see as important. They are not a victim of circumstances, running around putting out fires. They have some sense of control as a direct result of creating their own fire. They motivate themselves, making sure they are accomplishing what is important to them personally, their organization, or their business. In a true sense they are creating urgencies instead of responding to emergencies.

John Kotter suggests that too many workers —including executives—do not have a sense of urgency about their work. This is seen up and down the corporate ladder. This does not mean that workers should be running around with their hair on fire. It does mean that the workers are focused on what’s important. They have defined reality and they understand the need for change so that their focus is in alignment with reality. They celebrate their victories, but are never complacent. They understand that they live in a world where change is continuous and not episodic. They know that the company cannot rest on its laurels. This cannot happen without creating a sense of urgency.

Google creates a sense of urgency in their culture even though they have $30 billion in the bank. They continually create fires. They don’t react to external fires. They create fires based on realities they see. Their internal message is, “We are not perfect. Don’t get comfortable.” Nothing is ever totally done, and their mantra is “We are not good enough yet.”

Dell Computer, on the other hand, was ranked #1 in computer manufacturers a few years ago. They started reading their own press clippings, became complacent and lost that sense of urgency. They found themselves taking a nosedive in the rankings. They fired the CEO, brought Michael Dell back in, and the sense of urgency returned in incremental stages. At the end of the week and over the weekend his ten direct reports would make a list of things that weren’t right. Then on Monday the ten direct reports would meet with Michael Dell in what has come to be known as The Hour of Horror. They would pick one or two items on the lists and work on them. The message was, “We are not perfect. Don’t get comfortable.”

This message also parallels our daily lives. Following are 4 things successful people do.

1. Successful people create a sense of urgency in themselves. They get up each day with that urgent feeling in their gut.  Each day this urgency is created. They don’t create anxiety, but they do create urgency.

2. Successful people don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. They understand that busyness can numb us to complacency – allowing one day to flow into the next with no real desired outcomes. It’s ready-aim-fire, instead of ready-fire-aim.

3. Successful people don’t let emergencies derail them. Their success is fueled by the urgency of the day, – not the emergency de jour. When those inevitable emergencies arrive, it doesn’t derail them.  They handle them as best they can and continue down the track. Outward circumstances are less compelling and “urgent”.  An outer locus of control makes us a victim of a plethora of issues.  We don’t need to find them.  They find us.  The urgencies they face are the ones they create. This leads to success instead of stress.

4. Successful people know what’s important. Knowing what’s important to you creates clarity.  That in turn reduces stress.  This helps rid them of needless clutter that will slow them down.  They understand that everything is not an option, so they focus on the “priority” thing.

Practicing these simple habits assist you in avoiding the hazards of life.  They will help you both recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that are there.

There is never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the important thing. [Re-tweet this].