Every year leaders around the world make an honest effort to become exceptional leaders through the creation of New Year’s Resolutions – most of which are never achieved.

Consequently, they fall-back into the same rut from the previous year.

I hereby resolve to make no resolutions for the coming year, or ever again for that matter.

I resolve to be an exceptional leader by living each year to the utmost of my abilities, attempting to turn my personal vision into a reality, thereby making a profound difference in the lives of those with whom I interact personally, professionally and through Vanguard Organizational Leadership.

I believe you too can follow this plan to a richer and fuller life.

Here are 8 daily practices which will bring out the exceptional leader in you:

1. Purpose

Discovering one’s purpose in life is foundational to success and personal, intrinsic satisfaction.

This takes soul-searching and research, failures in efforts, and determining what brings one the most joy. Rick Warren and many others have written books on the subject, which can help in the search.

There are also several websites whose purpose is to help people determine their life’s purpose.

Until this is discovered, finding that intrinsic worth obtained through work will be most difficult.

2. Vision

King Solomon said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Steven Covey says Vision is crucial to success. Henry and Richard Blackaby in their book Spiritual Leadership state it helps one “see” where they are going and serves as the “North Star” for the organization.

The same is true for individuals as it provides a bearing (direction) for what you “see” yourself doing or accomplishing in your future.

3. Mission

A personal mission tells what you are currently doing or intend to do to turn your vision into a reality. The mission is an action statement of how you are accomplishing your vision and meeting your purpose in life.

A mission statement is not a list of goals, which are separate and distinct from a mission statement.

4. Goals

Leadership pundits profess that goals are a necessity in completing the various tasks one determines are needed to meet a mission and vision, which in turn provides the fulfillment of one’s purpose. The best goals are SMART Goals.

SMART Goals

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time Limits

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As individual goals are accomplished, new goals are written to continue to process and to work the mission statement.

If the mission is revised or changed, goals must be revised and changed accordingly.

5. Perseverance

This is what I call, “Keep the Quest Alive.” This requires endurance – mental as well as physical. Statements like, “Never Give Up!” and “Onward” apply as motivations to keep going. The only way any of the first three practices change is by making a determination that a different direction is preferred.

If that happens, then one must complete a make-over of Practices 1. through 4.

6. Self-Discipline

No distractions that cause one to falter in working the mission. This is keeping focused on the Vision and Mission as it pertains to one’s purpose in life.

Maintaining perseverance and focus are crucial to accomplishing goals and completing the mission.

Each person decides the process and amount of discipline required in their case to fulfill their Purpose and turn their Vision into a reality.

7. Conscious Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a major element of one’s Emotional Intelligence (EQ), which also requires a lot of self-discipline to consciously be aware of one’s effectiveness in working the goals and completing the mission.

Maintaining awareness of outside factors that can cause distractions and disruptions keeps one disciplined in the overall process.

8. Physical Well-Being

Study after study shows that physical well-being and fitness help maintain energy at a high level.

Proper nutrition, the right balance of vegetables and other carbohydrates, with limited beef protein, greatly enhances one’s energy level as well.

This also includes limited alcohol intake.

No More Resolutions Required

My experience indicates that following this plan is instrumental in Keeping The Quest Alive, keeping laser-focused on one’s vision, working the mission with sound goals and self-discipline, preventing distractions from outside influences, and the fulfillment of one’s Purpose in Life.

Fulfilling your life purpose provides the most satisfying intrinsic, long-term rewards.

What Makes Exceptional Leaders?

What thoughts do you have on the process? Share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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David McCuistion
David is a retired Naval Officer with extensive leadership and management experience including Officer-in-Charge of a major communication facility, in secondary education teaching leadership, and over five years public speaking on Servant Leadership and organizational development topics.
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