1. Choose to like people first – Most people meet someone and wait to determine whether or not they like them. For me, in business it has been a more successful route to choose to like them before I meet them, and then decide as I spend time with them what it is I like most about them. They can feel it, and will like you back.
2. Choose to engage – Sit in the front row of life, ask questions, make comments, participate in discussions. Write, videotape, blog, post up, tweet….something. Engage. The most interesting and successful people I know engage wherever they are.
3. Choose to be valuable – There are valuable things you can do for other people every day. Make a connection, give direction, provide a favor. It is a choice to keep score item by item in life- trying to get every chit of expenditure paid for or paid off in real time. Don’t. Don’t work for immediate parity. The universe is benevolent. Put more into it than you expect to get every day and don’t keep score. It’ll work out.
4. Choose your teachers – Bosses, professors, pastors and mentors are all teachers. You have to choose to whom you listen. Many people in the role have neither the heart nor brain for it. Be careful whose counsel you seek or listen too. The world is full of the unqualified, but well-intentioned. Just because they have the title or role does not mean they have the merit.
5. Choose with whom you spend time – A mentor of mine, Dr. Tom Hill, once said to me, “Tell me who the 6 people are you spend the most time with outside of your family and I will tell you your future.” We all norm to our surroundings. If you are with ambitious people, you will be more ambitious. If you are with generous people, you will become more generous. If you are with dullards, slackers and “volunteering victims”….well, do the math.
6. Choose to invest in yourself – Don’t wait for the system, the school, your parents, company or others to invest in you. Put down your own money and time all of the time to develop your mind, body and skills. It is the one investment over which you have control and it will yield better than any stock, bond or security.
7. Choose with whom to compare yourself – You are going to benchmark your life. We all do it. When you do, look at the whole picture. Don’t look at a man’s car with envy if you don’t envy who he is as a person or what he has to do to get the car. Most of the people in the world’s lives do not give insight into how you can improve yourself or life. Emulate the 360 degree winners. The people winning in their marriage, their faith, their money, their children, their work and community contribution – these you should learn from. This whole life is out of balance so forget that fantasy of a life in balance. However, the real winners do find harmony and that is worth emulating.