By Anna Jester
There’s an awful lot of noise out there these days about how to be better – more successful, more efficient, more influential, etc. Whether it’s daily hacks of the world’s leading CEOs or five things the most successful entrepreneurs in the world do (most of which are before 5.30am), the pursuit of ‘better’ is never more than a click (or page turn) away.
The thing is, I don’t really want to be one of the world’s leading CEOs (or live by some of their weird daily hacks to be honest) and I’m fairly sure I’ll never be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world (as nice as it would be). However, what I am really interested in is how to be the best version of good ole me.
I’ve been really privileged to work with some insanely brilliant people in my career so far – from fighter pilots, to CEOs and I’ve picked up some amazing stuff along the way. But you know, some of the best advice in my career has come from everyday people, going about their work but nailing the art that is loving what they do (most of the time), doing it brilliantly (therefore being super successful), and being happy at the same time (this is the holy grail isn’t it?).
So, if you’re like me and world domination isn’t the goal but a fulfilled, successful, happy life is – here’s my top ten tips to be a high performer (and still live a normal life):
In our demand rich, time poor life, this is often the first thing to go but it’s the thing our body needs the most. Get enough sleep and everything will happen faster, better, easier tomorrow. We all love box sets but getting eight hours rather than catching up on the latest Peaky Blinders, is always the right choice.
You don’t have to get to the gym four times a week to get exercise into your life (to be frank, this is often unrealistic for so many of us). Walk to the station instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the lift, have a five minute stroll at lunchtime, have a walking meeting with your colleagues. 20 minutes exercise a day? Sorted – and you’ll feel it.
Look at it when you need to use it, as opposed to 200 times a day (this is now the average). Plan when you’re going to catch up on messages and emails rather than being distracted and responding to every ‘ping’ as it comes in. Go offline to focus on stuff – just let people know if you need to. Talk to people more. This one is life changing.
When we don’t do enough of the things we love, we are no good to anyone (well, nowhere near as good as we could be!). Whether it’s what you do for a living, a hobby that you love, a mate you crave to beat at squash or a talent you’ve always wanted to pursue – whatever it is that makes your heart sing, if it’s not in your life, it’s holding you back.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Namaste on you (although yoga is great). I’m just talking about taking deeper breaths, more often. If stress is building, stop and take three deep breaths. It’s amazing what happens after that. Having a meeting – get all attendees to do the same before it starts – centred, focused, ready to rock.
When we’re thirsty, our mental capacity (and therefore) productivity drops by up to 40 per cent. Need I say more? Turn ‘drink while you think’ on its head and notice how much more switched on you feel when the water is flowing. It’s addictive!
It’s amazing how much of our lives are spent on autopilot. Sit in a different chair, invite different people to a meeting, walk a new route home – a fresh perspective can solve even the greatest of conundrums.
One bite at a time. The sense that something is too large is the biggest reason we fail to do it. To finish, you have to get started and to get started, all you need is a first step. Become a master of the first step (for yourself and those around you).
Mindfulness is a continued challenge for me and something I find very hard. But when I flip it and focus on truly being present for the people I am with (be it my children or my colleagues), I seem to be more successful. And they feel great.
The modern world seems to continue to overshadow the very essence of human nature. Ask how people are (and actually be interested in the answer), say thank you (in a meaningful way) and smile at people more (even if you don’t know them). It feels amazing and open up doors you never imagined. Human first, everything else second.