Faced with ever more unpredictable markets and the ever-increasing pace of digital transformation it can sometimes feel challenging to break free from the day to day grind and get ahead.
Not surprisingly the topic of how to have a sustained and positive impact on our clients, colleagues and communities came up recently when I was privileged to participate in a Senior Leader Panel as part of a client’s annual Sales Kick Off. The highlight for me was the stunned silence when one of the other Execs on the panel, when asked about the secret of her success, replied “siestas. I take a siesta every day at noon”.
It certainly got me thinking about what was it that successful individuals do that allows them to consistently be at their best? What can we learn from them about sustained high performance, particularly when, by contrast one recent report highlights that up to 40% of employees are so overwhelmed and stressed that it is materially affecting their productivity, their health and the stability of their relationships outside work.
The answer is of course that there isn’t a single silver bullet. As human beings, we are all (thankfully!) uniquely different and the work environments, communities and families that we live in are as varied and diverse as we are.
And yet there are some patterns worth considering. From what I’ve seen and heard in my work with successful leaders around the world, I offer three simple suggestions that we can all put into practice right away.
Be clear about your personal ‘non-negotiables’.
What are the one or two things that have to happen for you to perform at your best? For some people, it’s a daily siesta. For others it’s taking the dog for a walk, or going for their run, or time with close friends to catch up and unwind. For me personally it’s that all important time with the kids to read them a bedtime story and say goodnight at least 3 times a week. What are your non-negotiables and how specific are they?
Appoint your Personal Board of Directors.
Sustained success is a team sport. So, whose support do you need and who do you need to appoint to your Personal Board of Directors?
Common sense is not common practice.
As with many things, understanding something is not the same as doing it. As Aristotle famously quoted, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”. What then are the critical 2-3 daily disciplines or habits that will turn your non-negotiables from common sense to common practice?
I caught up with my fellow panel member after the event and, not surprisingly, we ended up talking about her siesta ‘revelation’. It turns out that each day, at noon, she does indeed have a 10-15 min siesta, something that she, and her assistant, are fiercely protective of no matter what.
And do you know what? It’s working for her. She swears that this investment of time is at the heart of her success as it allows her to clear her head and re-engage with the rest of the day refreshed and recharged. As importantly, it’s also working for her employer. She’s been promoted twice in 3 years on the back of a track record of over performance, outstanding employee feedback and delighted customers & partners.