The third instalment of the 30-Day Excellence series focused on facing fears and cultivating discipline to achieve excellence was granular, instructive and engaging.
Excellence requires self-leadership, so this is a good place to start. It is important to identify our goals, articulate the vision, and then start to work towards it, marshalling our beliefs and attitudes to achieve the life we want.
This intentionality behind regulating your thoughts and transforming limiting beliefs into empowering reflections is a powerful step towards achieving goals because changing the way you think about a circumstance is often the key to unlocking the process for overcoming it. This does not mean being in denial or lying about the facts of the situation. Empowering beliefs are about changing the way you feel about the situation and the steps you can put in place to triumph over the situation.
For instance, it is a fact that education requires funding, particularly as you go higher to acquire more specialist knowledge. Insufficient funds will certainly affect your ability to apply to certain institutions, and this realisation may trigger limiting thoughts along the lines of abandoning the course altogether as a result of a lack of funds. Replacing these with more empowering thoughts will inform your attitude towards the challenge, spur you to action and you start to investigate alternative sources of funds such as grants, scholarships, student loans or less expensive colleges.
Limiting beliefs are closely linked to fear, and this session’s guest, Omilola Oshikoya has spent a great part of her coaching career teaching on thriving even in the presence of fear and cultivating the discipline to forge ahead in spite of the fear.
The wealth management expert and author emphasised the importance of doing it afraid: bracing up to the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, and the fear of societal disapproval, and forging ahead with the plans you have for your life.
According to Oshikoya, fear is part of the package. Courage is doing something in spite of the fear, not in the absence of the fear. If 2020 showed us anything, it is that nothing can be known for certain, and there is always the potential for disruption, so it is impossible to delay action till there is an absolute absence of fear or uncertainty. The smart thing to do is to carry out intensive research, perform a risk assessment, and then mitigate against visible risks – understanding that even these steps cannot be exhaustive against external pressures and changes, but a positive attitude helps combat any mishaps that may arise.
Three practical ways of working towards excellence are acquiring knowledge about your goals, getting disciplined, and managing time effectively.
Knowledge is an important contributor to success. The more you know, the better your chances of working through challenges and maximising your resources. Digital technology has put learning at our fingertips and there is an abundance of free information on most topics. Whether you would like to enhance your professional skills and apply for a promotion, or work on weight loss, or start a new business, information on schooling options, professional certificates, how-to guides and ready-made business plan templates are easily accessible. Arming yourself with information gives you clarity around your vision and allows you to make S.M.A.R.T goals.
Discipline is a form of self-love and a virtue possessed by the most successful people. It is one of the biggest success factors in managing our time and energy and getting the results that we want, because it means we make the sacrifices, cut out the distractions, and focus on the actions that will take us to our goals.
There are strategies that help build discipline and keep you in line with your goals. These include: exercising regularly, keeping your goals top of mind at all times, stimulating your mind with content that helps you grow as a person, seizing the day with a regular sleep pattern that ensures you are rested and energised, breaking down large goals into smaller, more manageable to-do lists in order to track your progress, dealing with the more important tasks first, and changing your perception about your capabilities. These may take some time to master, but with discipline comes better habits, thereby forming a better version of yourself and taking you ever closer to excellence.
Time management is also a critical element for success, and is really about priority management. We all have the same amount of time every day. What makes a difference is what we do in the time that we have – setting priorities, eliminating distractions or time wasters, and ensuring we’re spending time on things that are aligned with our goals. Tips such as scheduling your time, taking advantage of technology tools to keep you on top of tasks, managing distractions from your real and electronic life to maximise concentration on essential tasks, and learning to say “No” to non-essential tasks when you have pressing deadlines are all vital for success.
The seventy-five-minute session was a masterclass in strategies for excellence, and the conversation raised questions and engagement, with many of the attendees starting to create action plans. The 30-Day Excellence Series is halfway through its course, and the feedback suggests that it is already changing lives.
Free Tickets are available at: bit.ly/excellence30.
Ehimuan is the founder of the Beyond Limits Initiative, and director, Google West Africa. She focuses on innovation, transformation & leadership