8 Great Habits for Both Work and Life

Not too long ago, I spent a summer working in business to business marketing. I basically worked for a consulting company that did direct marketing for an international telecommunications company. I went door to door talking to various businesses to obtain new clients or keep current ones satisfied. During that time, I learned a lot in the business world. 

In order to do my job, I needed to learn logistics quickly, have mental toughness, and pay attention to details. Every day I had to be flexible. Since I met new people daily, every day was an unpredictable adventure. Luckily, the person who mentored me, Carl, was really good at all this. 

One of the things he taught me during my training was the "8 Great Work Habits." They're habits that helped him achieve his massive success (he's currently the president of a successful organization) and that he has instilled in those who work under him. Take a look:

1. HAVE A GREAT ATTITUDE

Attitude affects everything. Your attitude affected your actions and how the world reacts to you. It helps you connect with people. People gravitate towards people who have a positive attitude. They want to be around people who emit a positive aura. 

Having a great attitude keeps you optimistic during the day and gives you a better chance at overcoming challenges. Whatever lies ahead during the day, having a great attitude helps a lot more than not having one.

2. MAINTAIN A GREAT ATTITUDE

It's not enough to just start with a great attitude, keeping it is just as important.  It's just like if you're in a race; it's important to be in first place, but more important to maintain that position until the end of the race.  

I'm not saying that you should always be positive or happy 24/7.  There are times when you receive bad news or may be wronged.  When that happens, having a great attitude means reacting appropriately.

3. BE ON TIME

My parents always made sure they were punctual people.  Whenever we went somewhere new, we left extra early just in case there was traffic or we got lost.  We were almost always early, but always on time.  It's a habit that I can't help but have now (thanks Mom and Dad). 

Being on time shows that you have time management and can use your time wisely.  It also shows that you value not just your time, but other people's time too.  If others can see that you value their time, they're more likely to value yours.

4. BE PREPARED

It's the Boy Scout motto.  Being prepared for any task optimizes your chances of not just getting it done, but more effectively and more efficiently.  

I had a professor in college (hi Dr. Reese!) who often said during class that "battles are won even before the battle begins."  He argued that the better prepared army would be the winner.  It was a metaphor to provoke us to prepare ourselves before our exams. 

In kitchens, chefs setup their stations and arrange their ingredients before they start cutting and cooking.  That way, when an order is placed, all they have to do is cook.  Their preparation saves them time and effort.  The same is true in sports, business, and everything else in life.

5. MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME

This habit is sometimes referred to as "work a full day" or "work a full 8 hours." While that may not apply to everyone's situation, the concept behind it does: maximize your time.  

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, no more or no less.  What we do in that time makes all the difference.  

Maximizing your time takes place in many forms. It could be effectively planning your day beforehand.  It could be spending more time taking action and less time procrastinating.  It looks like more procrastinating and less scrambling.  It's about working smarter and harder (but not to the point of physical exhaustion). 

6. WORK YOUR TERRITORY CORRECTLY

Growing up, I was always taught to be aware of my surroundings.  My surrounding environment could be an advantage or disadvantage based on what I was able to recognize and what I was able to do with it.

In consulting and in sales, I was assigned a certain area. Within that, I had to connect with every business and discuss their telecommunications services.  I was taught "keep it tight to the right," meaning that I would contact a business, and the next one I'd contact was the one to the right of it, and so on.  That was how I maximized the potential of my surroundings.  It ensured that every business in that area was included and no one was excluded.

Now working in education, the same concept applies.  It's all about using my surroundings to my advantage.  I use the resources and technology available to me to effectively prepare my lessons, execute them, grade, contact parents, and finish others tasks throughout the day.

If I'm shopping for stuff at home, I use my knowledge of sales, coupons, and other discounts to find the best deal.  Often I use my smartphone to look up prices among different retailers.  I know what retail stores are in my area.  I can figure out if something is cheaper online.  I use all of my available resources to help me provide for my family.

7. UNDERSTAND YOUR OPPORTUNITY

Opportunity is often misunderstood.  It's everywhere, but the same opportunity isn't always available everywhere.  It's like dating relationships; sometimes timing makes all the difference.  An opportunity that is here now may not be there tomorrow (or even tonight). 

There are three skills that I believe everyone should have: recognizing opportunity, seizing opportunity, and creating opportunity. Being able to see opportunity that is available, especially to you, opens doors.  Actually taking action and seizing an opportunity puts you ahead of people who also see an opportunity, but either don't take action, or do, but don't execute as well as you do. And most importantly, being able to create opportunity gives you a door of possibility wherever you are.  Whatever economic climate or geographic location, being able to find a job (especially in competitive markets) or start your own business is yourself giving yourself opportunity.

8. TAKE CONTROL

Up until recently, this was the habit that I struggled with the most.  Every day I had to practice taking control of a situation and make it work for me.  If I was in a conversation with someone who was sucking up most of my time, my inclination was to politely let her/him talk.  Now I'm better at politely ending the conversation and offering to continue it at another time. 

Taking control isn't about being aggressive, it's about proactively leading your situation. 

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Even though I had this job years ago, these habits still stick in me. Granted, these habits weren't  all-new to me, but the practice of consciously applying them to my daily work routine benefited me. I grew more as a professional. These habits aren't just great to have at work, but they also are great at helping me have a successful and fulfilled life. 


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