Throughout human history, reaching one’s potential has been the grand objective of life. It’s an honour to share the following principles, an extract from my book Leadership Lessons from the Summit which will be published in 2013. May these inspire you to live life not only to the fullest, but to push forward in making 2013 a remarkably successful year.

Experience things fully, vividly, selflessly. Throw yourself into the experience of something; concentrate on it fully and let it totally absorb you. One of the major reasons why we fail to find happiness or to create a unique lifestyle is because we have not yet mastered the art of being. We go through the day rather than getting something from the day. We are everywhere at any given moment in time, except living in that moment in time. Living in the moment is developing a unique focus on the current moment, wherever you are. It’s about taking time to watch the sunset or listening to silence. Living in the moment is not something we do; it is something we experience and until we learn to be there, we will never master the art of living well.

Action: Identify three ways you can eliminate distractions, both mental and physical, so you can more fully engage in each of your activities.

Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety and risk. Make this growth choice a dozen times a day. So how can you take that risk at least a dozen times a day? Asserting yourself in a group meeting, introducing yourself to a stranger standing in line with you, asking for a discount on a purchase and saying no to an unproductive request of your time.

Action: Write down as many ways as you can think of to make the growth choice each day.

Let the self emerge. Try to shut out the external clues as to what you should think, feel, say etc and let your experience enable you to say what you truly feel. Stop living other people’s lives and start living yours!

Action: Write down three things you might be doing in life that you really don’t like but you are doing because other people want you to. Then stop doing them!

When in doubt, be honest. If you look into yourself and are honest, you will also take responsibility. Taking responsibility is self-actualizing. This is one of the hardest for people to grasp. They might think they are being responsible, but ultimately they blame circumstances and other people for why things happen in their life.

Action: Learn to become responsible for your own life, today!

Listen to your own tastes and be prepared to be unpopular. One of the greatest strengths, especially of leadership, is the willingness to do what is unpopular. Don’t follow the herd. Don’t do what’s fashionable, trendy or popular. What’s popular is what’s common. Do what’s common and you will get common results (aka mediocrity). You are looking for uncommon outcomes and extraordinary achievements. Use your own vocabulary not other’s excuses. Never use other’s methods of drift and neglect. What I’m trying to say is that you need to walk away from the 97% of ordinary out there and join the 3% of extraordinary. Take charge of your own life and don’t let others lead your life for you.

Action: What three obligations, activities or behaviours will you stop doing to walk away from the herd, the crowd, conformity and the norm? Pick actions that might make you unpopular, but make you more productive, happy and peaceful.

Use your intelligence and do the things you do exceptionally well, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Strive for excellence in everything you do, particularly in those things that matter the most. Make every act a statement of your world-class brand.

Action: Name three important functions or tasks where you could push yourself further for excellence. Do the things you want to do (or don’t want to do) even if they seem insignificant – doing them with excellence ignites the best within you.

Make peak experiencing more likely. Get rid of illusions and false notions. Learn what you are good at and what your potentialities are not. Remember if anything you need to do falls outside the strength you bring in your career, no matter how alluring the opportunity might be, don’t take that on. Focus on what you are good at and leave the rest to those who excel in these specific areas. Stick to what is in your circle, your strength zone.

Action: Write down a half dozen things you are great at. If we lined you up shoulder to shoulder with 20 people, what do you think you do better than any of them based on your experience, education, background, developed skill, intuitiveness or innate ability? Once you know what your unique skills and competencies are, go for mastery.

Find out who you are, what you are, what you like and don’t like, what is good and what is bad for you. Know where you are going and what your mission is. Opening up to yourself in this way means identifying defences and then finding the courage to give them up.

Action: Knowing your mission and your core values will set you on the path towards your greater destiny, take time to pin these down!

Look to the future… your summit awaits!”

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Suezette Smit is the Founder and Managing Director of Performance Development Interactive, an International Skills Development Company, formed in 2002, with its Head Office in Cape Town, South Africa. Suezette Smit has become well known as an ... (Read More)

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