Create Success Routines To Win At Work (hat tip to President Obama)

Here’s a question for you:

Have you identified and created the success routines that will allow you to win at work yet?

Are you nodding your head, or are you a bit confused?

There was a lot to that previous question. Let me break it down.

Success routines are the actions you take on most days that set the stage for you to be maximally effective. They are “routines” because they are consistent actions done on most days. They are labeled “success” because success, any way you define it, can only be realized when it has the right environment set up in first place.

Plants need soil, nutrients, and light to grow. Take away that environment and the plant’s success at growth becomes limited. So it is with each of us. We each require the right environment to realize success in whatever endeavor we are engaged in.

The following is an example of a success routine.

I know I don’t do well on less than 7 hours of sleep. I feel great with a full 8 hours. Sleep, for me, is an important factor for showing up each day ready to make stuff happen. A success routine for me is getting between 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Other people can do just fine on 6 hours, but not me. The thing is, I know this about myself and I have stopped trying to fight what I require to set the stage for success.

I am bringing this up in light of this recent LinkedIn article. If you haven’t read it yet, please take 4 minutes to read it. Ryan Coonerty shows us 10 management secrets we can use to “work like Obama.” What he mentions in this article are some of President Obama’s success routines.

I like the idea of this article at face value – “here are some ways President Obama did his best work, maybe you can copy these to do your best work.”

As a professional coach, I tend to read things like this a bit differently.

The main point I got out of this article was not what President Obama did, but the self-awareness he had to create and then employ these success routines in the first place. If you read through the list in the article you will see that each is intentional. From morning exercise, to compartmentalization, to seeking advice, to making time for family, none of these things will organically take place in a regular day.

To most of us it probably feels like the world would much rather you didn’t participate in success routines. Would you agree that there are more emails now than ever before, more people wanting a few minutes or your time than ever before, more tasks to complete, more projects to initiate, and more things to track?

If this is a picture of your day and if you consistently caved in to these demands, you could be bouncing around all day every day in pure reaction mode.

The hope I see in this article is that if the President of the United States can create and employ these success routines, then this is something everybody could do. While we all know you’re busy, you aren’t more busy than the President.

So, all of us could choose to create these routines, but why should you?

The why has to be something personal to you for any of this to work. But part of the why is about personal effectiveness. Routines don’t exist for the sake of making you do more stuff. People do them because it helps them become more effective everyday. More effectiveness leads to more impact which is one path of many to a better quality of life.

The bottom line is this: nobody can be maximally effective at work or in life without success routines. It just can’t happen. You don’t need to have many, but you do need to have some.

So, where does this leave us?

If I were your coach, I would be curious what routines you have set up.

Here how I would get you thinking about success routines:

  1. What outcomes are you trying to create?
  2. What routines have you already put in place to support those outcomes?
  3. How would you evaluate the effectiveness of these routines in creating those outcomes?
  4. If you had to change them, how would you change them?
  5. What else needs to be done for these routines to work?

Level up your game by creating or improving upon your success routines. It just might change everything.

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.
Published on March 8, 2017

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