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A few years ago when I was in college, I learned a concept called the Pareto Principle. Have you heard of it? Essentially it states that 80 percent of our results come from the top 20 percent of our priorities. It matters because I discovered early on that there is never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important things.

Ok, for those of you who are a little slower with your math (like me), let me break it down for you…

  • 80 percent of the food at a picnic is consumed by 20 percent of the people.
  • 80 percent of the questions are answered by 20 percent of the students.
  • 80 percent of the clothes in your closet are worn 20 percent of the time.
  • 80 percent of the project is done by 20 percent of the team members.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? When I learned this concept in college, it changed the way I spent my time. I learned two things fairly quickly: I was doing too many things and I was doing the wrong things. I needed to work smarter, not harder, to get where I wanted to go.

As you develop your inner leadership and start increasing your influence with others, it’s imperative that you evaluate your priorities. If you’re managing your time and cramming your days with the wrong things, you’ll stalemate, my friend. You’ll get stuck on managing instead of leading yourself well. That’s why today I’m going to give you three R’s to determine the few priorities you need in your top 20 percent.

There is never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important things.

~John C. Maxwell

Use these three questions to determine your top 20 percent. These three R’s will help you evaluate your priorities so that you’re successful in leading yourself and avoiding a stalemate at all cost.

  1. What’s required of me? What must I do that only I can do?
  2. What’s my return? What areas of my life give me the most joy, fulfill my passion, and fuel me?
  3. What’s rewarding to me? What areas of my life are most satisfying?

I encourage you to answer these three questions. Make a list and determine your top 10 priorities. Then circle the top two. These are the two areas that deserve 80 percent of your energy.  Reflect on those top two. Are you stuck or are you succeeding? If you want to see change in your life and really develop the leader within you, then taking charge of your time and filling it with the things that matter most to you is a critical step.

[bctt tweet=”Remember, you don’t work for your to-do list. Make your list work for you.”]

If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that the toughest person to lead is ourselves.

~John C. Maxwell

1. Learn to follow before you try to lead.

Only a leader who has followed well knows how to lead others well. Good leadership requires an understanding of the world that followers live in. In contrast, leaders who have never followed well or submitted to authority tend to be prideful, unrealistic, rigid, and autocratic.

2. Develop self-discipline.

Each of us is the “king ” or “queen” of our own lives, meaning that we are ultimately responsible for our actions and decisions. To make good decisions consistently and refrainin from wrong ones, requires character and self-discipline.

3. Practice patience.

Most leaders I know struggle with impatience, including me! However, being able to look ahead doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right time to move ahead. Few worthwhile things in life come quickly. Remember that your growth is happening in a slow-cooker, not a microwave.

4. Seek accountability.

This is an important step because this is where our enemy (ourselves) really trips us up. Good leaders know they can’t trust themselves, they know their own fallibility, and they put measures in place to keep from stepping into danger. First, don’t rely on just yourself. Second, be accountable to someone worthy and reliable. Then, be willing to explain your actions and get advice from those holding you accountable, and I trust you’ll stay on track.

The WORST president in history…

According to a U.S. News & World Report article I read recently, Warren G. Harding ranks as one of the top ten worst U.S. Presidents of all time. So, naturally I looked into his life and how he led. I found some interesting red flags that contributed to this flop in leadership. I want to share them with you here because I’ve talked about the value of great mentors and how their character and their accomplishments should be worth modeling after.

[bctt tweet=”One way of knowing what to do is to look at what not to do.”]

So, here’s what I learned about President Harding. Use these as guidelines for what you should avoid as you scout out potential mentorship relationships, and as you assess your own life while seeking to mentor others.

A GOOD MENTOR IS NOT INSECURE.

Instead of selecting advisors on the basis of their competence, Harding surrounded himself with admirers to feed his need for personal affirmation. Among these followers were men who had been imprisoned, had accepted bribes, had been charged for corruption, were forced to resign, and one man who committed suicide in the wake an investigation for fraud. Putting his corrupt buddies in powerful government positions only caused him one headache after another.

Good mentors are confident in and of themselves. They know their value, and they surround themselves with others who seek to add value.

A GOOD MENTOR IS NOT A PEOPLE-PLEASER.

In aiming to please people rather than hold them accountable, Harding created a culture of suspicion. People were aware of misdealing in his administration, but they couldn’t count on him to confront the corruption of the people closest to him. When news of government corruption reached the public, the culture of suspicion expanded nationwide. Citizens were distrustful, and no amount of back-tracking could change the damage that Harding had treated passively for so long.

A good mentor speaks the truth. He or she behaves in the spotlight and in private with the utmost integrity.

THE TAKEAWAY

President Harding’s time in office got me thinking about role models—people we follow and look up to. It’s crucial to our success in life to have people ahead of us to follow, and it’s just as crucial for those leaders to have exceptional character. They must lead by example.

The people we follow must demonstrate character worthy of emulating. You see, we become like the people we admire. Jim Rohn says you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. The truth is, if you’re going to grow, you’re going to spend a lot of time with your role models and their teachings. They should be worthy examples to follow.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

I encourage you today to consider the five people with whom you spend the most time. Ask yourself what kind of example they provide for you. Do they inspire and teach you or deflate you?

Or, if you don’t have five, make a list of the specific strengths or skills you want to improve to reach your potential and the areas where you know you need ongoing guidance. Then consider a few people you know or would like to know who can help you in those areas, even if you just ask them one question at a time.

 

This post was originally shared by John C. Maxwell.