“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.”
The last two weeks have been interesting! On Wednesday, 1 May at 11:42 am, I became a father for the first time, as my wife gave birth to our beautiful girl, Sophie Geraldine Whittaker.
While it still feels surreal, it got me thinking—as I’m sure it does for all new parents—about what type of world our little girl will grow up in, and what we (as parents, leaders, and carers) can do to raise a child with love, respect, compassion, and willpower; someone comfortable in their own skin, who inspires others through their actions; a leader, never afraid to take the reins and do what is right.
One of the tenets of success is that every great leader was once a great follower. Through carefully modelling the habits of high performers—none more important than consistent self-discipline—in their own way, ordinary people are elevated to the elite of every profession, from athletes and entrepreneurs, to soldiers and entertainers. These one-percenters set high standards for their team, but reserve the highest standards for themselves, clearly evident in their commitment to winning the day, every day.
In Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, British financial adviser Derek Mills noted that the biggest turning point in his life occurred after he started setting simple daily standards for himself and abiding by them at all costs. Incredibly, this small shift in accountability and action had a dramatic impact on his life, increasing his income tenfold, all while working in the same office, and allowing him to spend more time with his young family.
That’s the power of daily standards.
We’re ALL leaders in some capacity—a product of influence and action. Being a father has made me more aware than ever of how my actions, good or bad, will impact another. After all, not every leader is a positive one: leading someone astray is still leadership. Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” It’s easy to dictate how others should act—especially when we’re in a position of power, such as parents-to-children, coaches-to-players, or bosses-to-employees, but living it ourselves—whether it’s family, friendship, or business—is the most important way to inspire change.
One of my coaching clients once vented to me that her boss was constantly late to meetings, used vape cigarettes in the boardrooms, and built an enormously lavish office for himself while penny-pinching resources for his team. What a horrible standard to set for the culture, and unsurprisingly it was a revolving door of both staff and clients. My advice to her was to start looking for a new job immediately. Within three months, she had a new job that paid her 40% more, at a company with strong leadership, a clear vision, and high standards for its entire staff but most demonstrable by the management team.
In June last year, I was in Sydney as a guest on Kerwin Rae’s show, Unstoppable. On a tour of the K-Man’s office, I saw a huge mural on the wall outlining the company’s vision (below), a custom-made gym that offered free functional fitness classes throughout the week, and a leader who set the standard—day in, day out. I could feel the energy coming from the team, and they continue to crush it in all aspects. What a difference from the aforementioned example.
Think about the most chaotic parts of your own life. Are you:
If so, set standards to get back on track.
Read through the list of attributes that separates good vs bad leaders in the following table. Reflect on those attributes while perusing your Success Plan. That will give you a clear idea of what standards you need to set for yourself to achieve everything you most desire.
|Good Leaders||Bad Leaders|
|Confidently define the mission and courageously execute it.||Uncertain of mission and avoid purposeful action.|
|Prioritize what is most important.||Fall victim to destructive vices, procrastination, and distraction.|
|Go the extra mile with everything they do.||Only do the minimum of what is required.|
|Passion for lifelong learning.||Focus on ego and think they already know it all.|
|Positive mental attitude.||Negative mental attitude.|
|Strong empathy for other people.||Make fun of others and refuse to learn more about them.|
|Supreme accountability for all areas of their life.||Blame other people for everything wrong in their life.|
|Ability to coordinate and empower other high performers.||Constantly in conflict with other people. Bring others down to their level.|
|Lead by example, building a high performing team but reserving the highest standards for themselves.||Strong opinions on what others should do but does not live to those same standards.|
Then, write out those daily or weekly standards—as vividly and with as much color as possible—and place them somewhere you will see them frequently. Follow Derek Mills’ lead and hand a copy to your spouse, children, and boss so they know how committed you are to your own success and growth.
The final step? Live by those standards, every day.
You have an obligation to all those in your life—whether your children, parents, siblings, teammates, colleagues, or friends—to lead by example. Don’t wait until you’re in a position of authority to become a great leader.
Inspire change through your actions. Be proud to live by the highest of standards each day, regardless of the noise and negativity around you. Your example will be a perpetual gift of inspiration to the most important people in your life, leading to unprecedented happiness, freedom, and success.
As Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said: “Waste no more time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one.” Whether it’s the battlefield or the boardroom, the best leaders demand excellence from those around them, but hold themselves to the highest standard.
After all, how you do anything is how you do everything.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it:
‘Failure: The Essential Ingredient’
“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others.”
As the modern world increasingly exposes us to the criticism of others, it’s more important than ever to protect your energy and stay focused on your own actions.
Here are 10 tips for dealing with the haters.
Our mental state has an enormous correlation with the meaning we assign to a given situation. To help create a positive outcome, ask yourself: What else could this mean? An errant comment mightn’t always be as harsh as it appears. For example, perhaps:
To change your state of mind, get moving. Change your posture, breathing and thinking to align with happiness, love and gratitude—after all, positive motion leads to positive emotion. Avoid or limit your exposure to things that sap your energy.
Napoleon Hill once said, “One of the unappreciated benefits of adversity is that it accelerates the process of identifying your true friends.” If people do not reciprocate your positive energy, take comfort knowing that the quicker they’re out of your life the better.
The world is a big place, yet so many of us cling to friendships that no longer serve us. Channel your energy into supporting those who bring out the best in you, and you in them.
One thing the world will never be short of is opinions. However, criticism and judgement are generally based on the sender’s own insecurities and ego, and it says much more about their character than it does yours. Interestingly, people who support the critics will eventually find out the hard way that those who talk trash on someone will happily do it to everyone.
If someone in your life allows their mind to be possessed with jealousy, envy and resentment, wish them the best and run like the wind.
The most successful people on the planet actively seek out feedback to help them improve. Tech visionary Elon Musk famously said: “Pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. Hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.”
A “congratulations” won’t help you, but a specific tip might. Action what you can then willingly discard the rest.
Think about the athlete, entrepreneur, musician or politician you look up to the most. Are they immune from criticism? Absolutely not. In fact, those who make the decision to stand for what they believe in attract a whole swarm of haters. On the naysayers, UFC President Dana White said: “No matter how successful you become, one thing never goes away: negativity. Let it fuel you to get up and fight every day.”
If you’re willing to surrender to the critics, you’re not ready for success.
Today, almost every post comes with a like, share and comment button. This has given every single person, no matter how ill-informed (e.g. internet trolls), a platform to vent their feelings. Instead, revisit your Success Plan—why do you want to achieve everything you’ve got listed? The clearer and more emotionally invested you are on what you want, the more resilient you’ll be.
Opinions comes with the territory, but as you’ve heard me say before: never EVER let those people who have given up on their dreams talk you out of yours.
Too many people go through life wanting to balance the ledger. Yet, all you’re doing is robbing yourself of happiness in the present. As my mum (who continues to prove she’s wise beyond her years) once said after I had been wronged by someone I regarded as a close friend, “It’s not your job to dish out the karma.” She was right.
Stay resolute and focused on your success, and let the universe take care of the rest.
Here’s the hard truth: it’s not everyone else’s job to support you, believe in you, or give you a pat on the back when you feel like you deserve it. For new entrepreneurs, especially, it can be a tough realization that—after investing all your time and money in a venture—the overwhelming support you thought you would receive from your social circle disappears as soon as your product/service is available. In fact, most people would rather buy from a celebrity who they don’t know in favor of supporting their friends.
Rather than let it frustrate you, continue to focus on creating more value and you will quickly attract a large audience of people excited in you.
One of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to help those less fortunate—when you see their faces light up, it will give you gratitude and an instant attitude adjustment. I used to do a lot of work mentoring high school students, and I spoke to one of them last week who is now a successful professional in his early 20s. Of course, I’m immensely proud of the life he’s made for himself, but what made me happiest was hearing that he now volunteers at his old high school to help others.
Pay kindness forward, while the haters hold themselves back.
People are typically jealous of short-term success. The best way to prove them wrong is to continually work on your own version of excellence every single day.
Over time, even the most ardent critic can come to appreciate the sustained effort you took to make your mark on the world.
My challenge to you is to be you. Not a discount version, but your best self. Use your actions to win the day, every day. While others gossip, your results will say more than words ever could.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it: ‘How to Overcome Bad Days’
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard Baruch
“People will always have an answer for the question they won’t have to answer themselves.” – Conor McGregor
“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” – Will Smith
“One of my greatest weaknesses is also one of my greatest strengths: being underestimated.” – Sara Blakely
“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.” – Jim Rohn
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard
“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don’t worry about darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest.” – Napoleon Hill
“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey
“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.” – Marcus Aurelius
“When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy, and other manifestations of insecurity. You cannot spend your life worrying about the petty feelings of others.” – Robert Greene
“Most haters are stuck in a poisonous mental prison of jealousy and self-doubt that blinds them to their own potentiality.” – Steve Maraboli
“Never take constructive criticism from people who haven’t constructed anything.” – John Shin
“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.” – Leonard Bernstein
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie
“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.” – Marcus Aurelius
“The time you spend hating on someone robs you of your own time. You are literally hating on yourself and you don’t even realize it.” – Joe Rogan
“He who has a why can bear almost any how.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” – Napoleon Hill
“Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, and accepted by idiots.” – Nishan Panwar
“There will always be haters. And the more you grow the more they hate; the more they hate the more you grow.” – Anthony Liccione
“The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.” – Jordan Peterson
“Never EVER let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of yours.” – James Whittaker
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston S. Churchill
“Put your foot on the neck of criticism by reaching a decision not to worry about what other people think, do or say.” – Napoleon Hill
“There will be haters, there will be doubters, there will be non-believers, and then there will be you proving them wrong.” – Jennifer Van Allen
“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” – Jordan Peterson
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius
“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.” – Booker T. Washington
“The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you.” – Tim Ferriss
“Action is the real measure of intelligence.” – Napoleon Hill
“A critic is a legless man who teaches other people to run.” – Channing Pollock
“I don’t worry about the haters. They are just angry because the truth I speak contradicts the lie they live.” – Steve Maraboli
“It’s easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It’s a lot more difficult to perform one.” – Chuck Palahniuk
“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges, wish for more wisdom.” – Jim Rohn
“Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.” – Jordan Peterson
“Haters are all failures. It’s 100% across the board. No one who is truly brilliant at anything is a hater.” – Joe Rogan
“Learn to use the criticism as fuel and you will never run out of energy.” – Orrin Woodward
“When you are able to maintain your own highest standards of integrity—regardless of what others may do—you are destined for greatness.” – Napoleon Hill
“People work better when they know what the goal is and why.” – Elon Musk
“I was born to make mistakes, not to fake perfection.” – Drake
“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” – Henry Ford
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey
“I don’t have time, energy, or interest in hating the haters; I’m too busy loving the lovers.” – Steve Maraboli
“No matter how successful you become, one thing never goes away: negativity. Let it fuel you to get up and fight every day.” – Dana White
“The only thing more frustrating than slanderers is those foolish enough to listen to them.” – Chris Jammi
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Don’t believe me? Just watch.” – Bruno Mars
“Haters don’t really hate you, they hate themselves; because you’re a reflection of what they wish to be.” – Yaira N. Juan
“We must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.” – Jim Rohn
“The more successful you become, the more haters you get.” – Daymond John
New Facebook Group:
Join our brand new Facebook Group ‘Win the Day‘ and surround yourself with positive energy!
“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.”
From the moment our eyes flicker awake each morning, it’s on. The day’s first fork in the road.
Get up or stay in bed?
The path we choose from this, and the hundreds of other daily decisions we face, determines our month, our year … our life.
As the day progresses, everyone hears the same voices. You know the ones:
“Just a bit more sleep.”
“I’ll do it later.”
“Let’s put it on the credit card.”
High performers quickly ward off these negative voices with positive and purposeful action:
Experience has taught me that when my own mental and physical health sputters, the rest of my life unravels too. When I wake up feeling good, I will include some form of physical exercise into the day, usually a gym workout but occasionally a surf or yoga session. On those days, because I want the best result, I make a point of eating extra healthy.
Then, with a successful day in the books, I sleep well. The next day, I wake up a little happier for progress and feel confident knowing that I can push a bit harder.
But what happens when life sends one of its faith-testers along?
Whether it’s ill health, relationship problems, or even something simple like work travel, these variables can add up. Excellence is not a single act, but a habit—and so is failure.
Before you know it, when wrong decisions are compounded, plans derail, and you lament having to start from square one … again.
Seven years ago, on Thanksgiving Day in Vermont, I was invited for a social game (and my first ever attempt) of American football. Growing up in Australia, I played every sport I could, and loved any opportunity to get on the field, so looked forward to this new challenge.
Half an hour into the game, I let ego creep in and dove well beyond my limits for a catch. I’ll never forget the feeling—it was a bone-chilling crush, like an NBA player stomping on an empty Coke can. The pain was all-consuming.
The result? A grade three shoulder separation.
Over the next few weeks, I swallowed the powerful prescription pills that swapped pain for haze. Doctors were overcautious and said I needed to rest, eliminating any hope I had to stay active. I struggled through course work (it occurred while I was studying an MBA program in Boston), and I was eating for convenience rather than nourishment.
I wanted to dispose of the painkillers, but they seemed to be the only way I could sleep. Besides, I had about three months’ worth in my possession—why would the doctor give me that much if I shouldn’t take it? When friends invited me out drinking, I obliged, staying out late and feeling miserable the next day.
It was ‘Win the day’ in reverse, and at 28 years old it ultimately led to the most depressed I’d ever felt.
This is the dichotomy of life: unless we decide each day to live in the light, darkness will take over. Our exposure to this darkness is evident in how our career, health, finances and relationships are progressing. After all, without a clear purpose in each area, we’re easily lured to short-term gratification.
When a tragic event outside of our control happens—like my football injury—it’s even easier to absolve ourselves from making the decision to win. Today, I’m grateful for that period because it taught me so much about consistently applying positive action, trusting your instinct (and avoiding unnecessary medication), and being kind to yourself.
The most successful people on the planet are experts at making the decision to win and ensuring their actions align with their dreams.
Think about SEAL Team Six, one of the world’s preeminent special forces units. When they received confirmation that Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted person, had been positively ID’d in Pakistan, they built a life-size replica of the house and repeatedly simulated the raid. This allowed them to play out every possible scenario and get increasingly comfortable with the unknown.
It only took nine minutes for the team to find and neutralize their target. A near flawless mission.
While people on their couches criticize high achievers for “being lucky” or “having it easy”, Usain Bolt works on shaving one-tenth of a second off his time and Tom Brady combs through mundane game footage looking for any advantage. Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk give no energy to all those who say it can’t be done, instead choosing to act bolder than ever before, possessed by their own self-will.
The results speak for themselves.
Instead of picking apart those who achieved great success, we should be piecing together their habits and modelling them in our own lives.
Make the decision to win or you’ve automatically made the decision to lose.
Onwards and upwards always,
In case you missed it: ‘10 Questions to Transform Your Life’