We’ve all seen powerful people in action and wondered how they managed to reach the summit of their game. Were they simply born lucky with the ability to point and direct the silver spoon from the nursery or did they have to work for it? Powerful people at all levels, whether it’s the local town mayor, the CEO of a fortune 500 or any head of state all have certain things in common. Naturally, some have workaholic syndrome but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out, 24/7 work isn’t the most common denominator.
NEVER STOP LEARNING
Success comes from knowledge and knowledge comes from continual learning. Power isn’t about a sheet of paper or handshake from the Dean. True power comes from a hunger that is never satisfied and is constantly being fed. While there’s every reason to be proud of that framed piece of paper, that should not indicate the end of your educational career. Powerful people find education in everything they do, especially reading; from trade magazines, journals, biographies, fiction and non-fiction, never stop reading. After all, 10-15 years out of school, and those details you once knew so well aren’t quite as sharp in your head as they once were.
Truly influential and prosperous people are very curious. They ask a lot of questions and show interest in people and events outside themselves. They don’t waste time posing and pretending to know something they don’t. Posing is boorish and foolish behavior and anyone with brains can see through it in a heartbeat. If you don’t know something, and you should, admit it and learn from it. Show humility, honesty and appreciation. You’ll be shocked at the relationships you can build, the reputation you will gain and the respect you will earn from your peers.
HAVE A HOBBY
Reading may double as a hobby but seriously – get out there and do something that thoroughly entertains you. Whether it’s coin collections, surfing, golfing or gardening, do something that isn’t about work. You know how in College they make you take those core subjects so you’re a ‘well rounded’ person? Well, continue with this thought process throughout life…they may have been on to something after all. Hobbies calm us and give our work brains a break and allow us to start fresh when the next work day hits.
Have you ever heard your boss say, “I don’t have time to be sick” or “I never get sick.” That’s because they’re more likely to take care of themselves by exercising and eating right. Whether at the gym on a treadmill or in the neighborhood, you can see them walking or possibly jogging to stay fit. They don’t necessarily pump iron 10 hours a week but they do actively move more than the average person. After all, you don’t reach the pinnacle of success without moving. (pun intended)
DON’T WASTE TIME
The most efficacious people don’t waste time, it’s that simple. Whether in work or play, they are usually the ones tapping on the watch to the rest of the group. Some are born this way (and don’t we hate them!) and others have to work at it to stay as efficient as possible – but they do it, because it has to be done. If it doesn’t come natural, get a mentor or using training programs like Lynda.com. This is an essential talent (yes, it’s a talent) to have and one of the most common traits of our most impressive leaders today.
ENJOY THEIR FAMILIES
Of supreme importance to almost all successful and powerful people, is family. Ironically this stereotype of the ‘big bosses’ is often exploited and exaggerated on TV with families shows like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos where the ‘family first’ mentality puts on a gangster-like mentality. In reality though, family is of the utmost importance. In theory, they were there long before and they’ll (hopefully) be there long after. So call your Mom, throw the ball with your son and take your spouse out for that special dinner you’ve been promising. Everything else can wait, I assure you.
If you think for one second, that industry leaders are grim and serious all the time, you’d be wrong. The saying “Laughter is the best medicine” is understood by even the most powerful of them all. Top achievers know how to laugh and enjoy laughter. This doesn’t necessarily mean visiting a comedy club daily but simply to relax and not take yourself so seriously all the time. Be able to laugh at circumstances, yourselves, your pets and life in general. In other words, they don’t take themselves too seriously, you shouldn’t either.
So, if you’re dreaming of power, whether it’s becoming mayor of a small town or CEO of a fortune 500 company, you’ll improve your chances by imitating the habits of the already successful.