I wrote a blog last November titled ‘It’s as simple as ABC’ which got me thinking about the rest of the alphabet.
When I think about where I was versus where I am today, I have come up with an ‘A to Z’ which continues to serve me well and keep me on point and moving forward.
I hope it helps you too. This is also written for me as a reminder.
Firstly, I’ll list what each letter stands for then I’ll explain about each one.
A = Acceptance
B = Behaviours
C = Confidence
D = Discipline
E = Emotions
F = Focus
G = Gratitude
H = Help
I = Integrity
J = Journaling
K = Knowledge
L = Love
M = Measure
N = No
O = Open-minded
P = People
Q = Quiet
R = Resilience
S = Sweat
T = Time Mastery
U = Understanding
V = Vision
W = Well-being
X = Xenia
Y = You
Z = Zest
A = Appreciation. Appreciate and accept your journey so far. It’s what has got you here and is part of what will get you there. Appreciate all you are and all you have overcome. Appreciate all that you have achieved. Appreciate that life will throw curveballs at you and these are your chance to test your strength and resilience to overcome them and grow as a person. Appreciate the simple things, the stuff money can’t buy. It’s okay to appreciate the other material stuff too but don’t let it define you or let chasing cars, clothes and a big house turn into your ‘drug’ that sacrifices all the actual important stuff like love, laughter and learning. Just appreciate life and don’t waste it. You won’t get to the end and say “I wish I’d worked more hours” or “I wish I’d lived in the past more” or “I wish I’d worried more”.
B = Behaviours. Your behaviours, supported by your beliefs, create your outcome. The results you get are a direct result of your thinking and responding. Your routines, habits and rituals create your life today and tomorrow. Think about your daily thoughts and actions. Are they building or destroying your future? It’s the little things, over time, which result in huge progress or huge decline. It’s the compound effect; Einstein called it the Eighth Wonder of the world. Build solid foundations one brick at a time, then build your successful life one brick at a time. There’s no quick fix or magic pill, it’s just simple things done consistently, even when you don’t want to. Simple, but often not easy, fun or sexy. Stay calm and think about your responses and the consequences. You are either building or destroying.
C = Confidence. Your confidence is key to doing the things you need to do. It is key to how you feel and behave. Look after yourself to feel confident. Take care of your body and mind. Wear clothes you feel good in. Be confident in how you talk and walk. Confidence is built. Doing and gaining the experience in something builds your confidence. So fear not, or just fear less, be fearless and just do the thing you’ve been putting off, be courageous to build your confidence.
D= Discipline. Do the things you need to do to move forward and make progress. With discipline and commitment, you do the right thing at the right time. You are productive not just busy. We can all easily fill our days being busy with low-value trivial nonsense. The important high priority stuff often isn’t fun or sexy but you just do it even when you don’t feel like doing it. No excuses. You’re either making progress or making excuses. Discipline yourself to make progress. Ask yourself daily, “Is this activity moving me forward, is it building a better me and a better future, is it going to get me what I want?” If yes, carry on. If no, either stop doing it, or delegate it or do it as quickly as possible as long as it’s at a time when something far more important doesn’t need doing instead.
E = Emotions. You control how you manage and respond to your emotions and feelings. Emotions can be good and bad or positive and negative. And it’s okay and natural to feel them all. It’s okay to feel angry, upset and hurt but it’s up to you how deeply this affects you, how long for and what lessons you will learn. Don’t allow yourself to have the emotional intelligence of a toddler or a dog. With practice, you can learn to be in control, to be calm. Calm is contagious. React with reason and logic. With chaos all around you, you will be the calm. People who get angry have lost control. Not you.
F = Focus. Focus on what you want not what you don’t want. Set your focus on your goals. Don’t focus on the negative, you will attract more of the same. I liken it to when you’re learning to ride a motorbike, you look to where you want the bike to go, not where you don’t want to go. On a bike when doing a U-turn, if you look at the kerb, you’ll likely hit the kerb so look to where you want to be. And focus on the task at hand. Give it your full attention until it’s done. Set your intention to give something or someone your full attention. Single task your way to success, whether it’s spending time with a colleague or a loved one or getting a job done. Multi-tasking is a fools game. Allowing yourself to be distracted is your fault. Focus has aim to hit a target. No focus is aimless and hits nothing.
G = Gratitude. Be thankful and appreciate what you have and who you are. Be grateful for your past but don’t live in it, that’s called being depressed. Be grateful for your now, your present. Be grateful for your future that you’re creating, but don’t live in the future or worry about the future, that’s called being anxious. Be grateful for all the wonderful things around you that life has given you. In our modern ever-changing world, there is a lot to be grateful for. For example, be grateful for social media but be grateful for the real Twitter, as in hearing birds in the morning. Be grateful for being you, your current health, wealth, spouse, kids, parents, friends, your car, house, garden, clothes, bed, running water, electricity, gas, phones, TV, the local doctor and hospital care, air to breathe, grass, flowers, trees, the local park, nature, the seasons, your sight, your hearing, your limbs, your touch, your taste, your smell, your heart, your mind, your strength, mobility, your job, your colleagues, your clients, your kids’ school and teachers, your smile, your teeth, your holidays, weekends, the internet, the smell of coffee, the taste of coffee, a cup of tea, sunshine, clouds, rain, the sound of rain on your conservatory roof or car roof, snow, the moon, the stars, films, music, your favourite song, how you feel after exercising, your best friend, a joke, laughing, crying, dancing or playing with your kids, hot bath or shower, morning kisses from your family, a smile from a stranger, food, the weekend, a night of romance & passion. You can even be grateful for your mistakes. Think and you’ll find so much to be grateful for.
H = Help. Help others by giving them something they need. Give it to them before they’ve even asked for it. Try a random act of kindness. This makes you feel good. You are putting positive energy out there which will serve you well. Also, don’t forget yourself: help yourself by seeking help if you need it. You won’t ever know everything so don’t be afraid of asking for help.
I = Integrity. Be a man or woman of integrity. Do what you said you’d do. Deliver on promises made. Be honourable, respectful, trustworthy and live to your core values, beliefs and principles. Don’t break promises with loved ones, friends, colleagues or clients. Do the right thing. Be consistent in every environment. You are YOU, be it at work, home or at play. You are consistent with your thoughts, words and actions. You recognise the impact you have on others with your words and behaviours. If you allow your emotions to drive you out of integrity then you stop, reflect, apologise, learn and correct yourself. You inspire others to live with integrity.
J = Journaling. The power of pen and paper is immense. Get your thoughts and ideas out of your head. Plan your day, write affirmations and write about what would make today great. Then Review your day, reflect on how you responded and behaved, what were your wins, what didn’t go so well, what did you learn, write down things you’re grateful for, remind yourself what your goals are, get creative and brainstorm current challenges or new ideas. Or just write the rambling thoughts of a madman – it’s better out than in!
K = Knowledge. You don’t know everything. You know what you know. You know what you don’t know. But mostly, you don’t know what you don’t know. So find out what you don’t know. You must always be learning. What got you here won’t get you there. Work out what you want and the actions needed to get it. Learn the knowledge then apply it. You MUST apply knowledge otherwise it’s pointless learning. Where are you now, where do you want to be, then acquire the knowledge needed to bridge the gap.
L = Love. Soppy is it? No it’s not. Firstly you must love yourself, not in vain egotistical way but in a way that is about self-care, self-respect and being comfortable and confident in your own skin. Accept who you are, stop comparing, you are not broken. Just aim to be better every day. Only when you truly love yourself can you fully allow someone else to love you and you to give love to them. As Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself.” Love is what connects people and forms beautiful relationships. Surround yourself with people you love. Get rid of the haters, the cynics, the critics, the whingers, the blamers and complainers. And loving what you do will keep you doing it. Loving the results you get when you do something you don’t enjoy will keep you doing it; you’ll end up loving the process and the results.
M = Measure. What you measure you can manage. You can influence results. You track performance, you track your progress and you refine your actions to keep moving forward. Measure your business numbers, know your numbers to Influence them: sell more, convert more, reduce costs, increase productivity and profits. Know your body numbers to gain muscle, lose body fat, get faster or stronger. Measure the performance of your team to improve them. Measure the number of date nights you have with your spouse to make sure you get them done. Just track and measure all the stuff you value. But remember, not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that can be measured matters!
N = No. Learn to say ‘No’. Consider all your obligations and commitments; are they all for your benefit, are they serving you and moving you forward, towards your goals? Or have you over-committed yourself based on other people’s wants and needs? Guard your time, it is the most precious tool you have. Spend it wisely. Don’t waste it. Protect it. Don’t let others steal it. Say ‘No’ more to achieve more.
O = Open-minded. Being open-minded is key to growth and happiness. It is key to learning new things and trying new things to get new results. Be open to new ways of thinking, acting, behaving and creating. If you are closed minded or have a fixed mindset then you will remain the same. So open your mind. In the words of Einstein (or Frank Zappa!) “the mind is like a parachute, it only works if we keep it open”.
P = People. The people we allow in our lives is important to consider as they are influential. For example, if you spend a lot of time with people who have achieved great things, more than you have, and also people who are on a similar journey as you are, then you will be inspired to keep going and have a good support network around you. If you get close to high achievers and model their behaviours then you will get results you want. If however you spend your time with an army of negative, cynical, critical blamers and complainers, then guess what you’re very likely to become too. Your team you build is your choice, get it right. Remove people who are of no help. Remove the drama queens. If it’s family then just limit the time you spend with them.
Q = Quiet. Spend some time every day with some peace and quiet. This could be just sitting reading a book, or a walk, or meditation. This time is critical for thoughts, reflection and calming the mind. This could be part of your morning routine in relaxing and priming yourself for a great day ahead. Or your evening routine in reflecting on your day or just having a bath. Or it could be a moment you grab for a few minutes fresh air or a walk in the woods or dating yourself (eg take yourself for a coffee). Spend some time with yourself.
R = Resilience. Life happens and life throws curveballs at us. And you will make mistakes and you will fail. You will have ‘bad stuff’ to deal with which is painful, traumatic, frustrating, disappointing, sad and hurtful. But you will get back up and keep going. You will never quit on what you want your life to be like. You will never accept average or mediocre. You will win and you will learn. Each failure is just a reminder that you need to try something else. It’s just a lesson in disguise. Keep moving forward even if you’ve had to take a step back. The highs will get higher and the lows less deep.
S = Sweat. Move. Everyday. Do something to improve any or all of these: your strength, mobility, flexibility, endurance, energy levels. You must be on point; you must look after your best asset; you. No excuses. You do have time. So join a gym, a yoga class, a boot camp, or start running, cycling or rowing, hiking, try boxing or karate, wall-climbing, mountain climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing or just buy some kettlebells and Davina’s DVD. Value your health, keep your vehicle (your body) in shape so it can get you to where you want to be. Also, this epic habit builds your discipline, your confidence and helps you have a better day rather than just dragging your lazy arse out of bed and getting through the day with constant low energy levels, surviving on coffee, red bull and junk food.
T = Time Mastery. How you spend your time is an indicator what you value, what is important to you and what your priorities are. It also determines your future. Spend some time thinking about this and the results you currently have. The most successful people in the world have the same amount of time as you. The difference; they know how to schedule their priorities and have the commitment to complete them. Those who value their health, they schedule exercise. Own your schedule. Don’t let the day own you. Don’t let your bad habits steal your time. When working on a task, ask yourself, is this moving me forward? Or is this just low-value trivial stuff which makes me busy but not productive? Or is it something I can delegate? The things that make progress are often not the things we want to do but are the things we need to do. So which list is the task on; the WANT to do or the NEED to do? The Want list is the more fun and easy stuff; the Need list is where the progress is. So stop choosing the easy and convenient stuff; do the real stuff which makes you the progress you need.
U = Understanding. We must understand what we need to do, why, how and when. Our understanding or knowledge or learning must never cease. To deepen your level of understanding of the things that matter is critical to your success. By that I mean you should not just be good or great at your chosen vocation, you shouldn’t even just be excellent, you should aim to be a master craftsman. This is the top of your game. This takes constant deliberate practice of honing skills, learning and improving. Understand where and how you can get better. Understand what might be holding you back. Understand how your communications affect others. Understand that your chosen words, tone, volume and body language will have an effect. Understand that if the other person doesn’t understand then that is down to you. Understanding is also showing kindness, compassion and empathy to others. Good people have good intentions. Seek first to listen then understand then respond. To quote Aristotle “Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach”. Understand yourself. The more you understand what you have control over, the more freedom you will create.
V = Vision. Have a vision of what you want your life to be like and who you want to become. Those who stumble through life on autopilot just reacting to circumstances will never find fulfilment in life. People who aim for nothing, get nothing. So have a vision of what you want. And then take steps to create it, one little step at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Think about your impact on your community too. How are you making it a better place? What will people say about you when you’re gone. Do something worthwhile. Where’s the richest source of dreams, visions and potential? In the cemetery; from all the people who did nothing with their vision and potential.
W = Well-being. You are your best asset so you must look after yourself both physically and mentally. Each day, exercise is a priority but you must also balance this with plenty sleep (7-8hrs), hydration (min 2litres), clean whole foods (cut out processed crap), zero smoking, zero drugs, I would say zero alcohol, that is my choice since December 2009 and it keeps me on-point but it’s obviously your choice; just think about how productive you are and the choices you make when you’re full of booze and then hungover the day after. Your mental and emotional well-being need to be on-point too. You need to be confident and comfortable being you, have a good attitude to life, have good social skills and act with reason and logic.
X = Xenia. Not many words beginning with X. This one was the only one I had to Google to be honest. I was thinking you need the ‘X-factor’ but that’s just lame. So what is Xenia? It is the Ancient Greek concept of hospitality, or a tolerance of strangers, or foreigners and in today’s world, I think this is very appropriate. It touches on what I talk about in Understanding. Yes, we are all different, we are totally unique but we are all human beings. We are all just being human. The majority of us are good at it. The media would have you believe the world is full of chancers, charlatans, criminals and terrorists. We are a smorgasbord of different people with their own values and beliefs. We must be more tolerant of each other. Beliefs and how we perceive the world are very strong emotions. Beliefs have the power to put people at war with each other. But what if we just accepted we all have a different viewpoint and then got on with being a good human. Help others. Do a random act of kindness. Give compliments. Buy a Big Issue. Give our time and money to help others. Talk to strangers. Learn a new language. Travel to new exotic places. Experience other cultures. There’s far more out there than the soap opera life the media would have the rest of the world think we live here in the U.K. and that you allow yourself to live if you’re not careful.
Y = You. Just be you! You are good enough. You are unique and also complex. Some days you’ll be happier and more energetic than others. Some days you may feel the clouds above you and not want to get out of bed. This is totally okay and natural. On the darker days, you can reflect and recharge. Know your own character and personality and how to dial it up or down. You already have everything you need to achieve the things you want. You just need a little help to support you through change and growth. Don’t try to be anyone other than you. Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Simple really but some people start thinking and doing things because of what others expect; or what they think others expect of them. Be your totally unique self. There is no one like you; there never will be. Don’t waste being you. Don’t be a people pleaser. Don’t try to be liked by everyone; this is impossible and you will fail. Find your audience and they will like you then love you and you’ll attract more folk like this. Remember, some people will love you, some will hate you and the rest won’t care about you. Let the haters hate, let them criticise, be jealous and be cynical while you just carry on being you. The best form of revenge is massive success. The haters only hate because they haven’t got what it takes to do what you’re doing so they try and bring you down. Like a bucket of crabs; when one tries to escape, the others don’t help, they pull it back in. So value being you. Look after yourself and be kind to yourself. Love & respect yourself.
Z = Zest. A zest for life. You’re here, you’re alive and breathing, you have this life to live today. Don’t waste it. Don’t worry about what’s next; who knows where the next life is and who or what you’ll be: does your soul move on into another body, another life or world or are you just dust, the end. Who knows, you’ll find out one day though. In the meantime, just value this one and live this one. Today. Be present. Live in the present. The past doesn’t define you. Nor does the unknown future. But today’s thoughts, beliefs, habits, rituals, behaviours, reactions and responses will create your now. And now is the only time that exists.