90. The four inviolate rules of success.

Many years ago I read a book by one of the great thinkers of our time. So much time has passed since then that I can remember neither the name of the author nor the title of the book but I vividly recall the lessons contained within the pages of that book.

The author spoke at length about achieving greatness and reaching pillars of success that eluded the masses.

He spoke of the need for planning and the importance of persistence. He wrote about the power of attitude, the magic of resilience, the gift of determination and the necessity of passion.

And then he spoke of the four rules. He explained that these rules form the non-negotiable, non-transferable and non-tradable foundation upon which all success must be built if it is to be sustained and from which all failure emanates when these rules are short-circuited.

On the surface they appear to be the essence of simplicity and yet upon deeper examination their role in acquiring greatness becomes indisputable.

The four rules are:
Be on time.
Be polite.
Finish what you start.
Keep your word.

The author spent a great deal of time explaining the importance of each of these rules and as I recall it was abundantly clear why they are all equally important, necessary and essential if one truly wants to reach the full greatness of one’s potential

1.Be on time:
The first rule on the pathway to success lies with the unmistakable and yet unconscious message that honouring the value of punctuality brings to those with whom we interact on our journey to greatness.

When we are on time we convey a message that tells others how important they are to us. It confirms that despite all the other events and circumstances in our lives vying our time, we have pushed aside everything in order to be on time and that we respect their time by not keeping them waiting.

Being on time is character revealing. It tells the world that we are respectful of others and when we agree to be at a certain place at a certain time we make sure this happens because we have far too much respect for others to believe it is okay to not honour our commitment to being on time.

It was not too long ago that a friend told me of a financial planner who had made an appointment to meet with him. The salesperson arrived 35 minutes after the appointed time and without even acknowledging or apologizing for his tardiness, went straight into his sales pitch.

My friend interrupted him and told him that if he – my friend – was not important enough for the salesperson to be on time to meet then clearly he was not important enough to be a client and therefore there was no point in the salesperson continuing his presentation.

Being on time is not suggested, it is not optional, it’s the only way to be.

2.Be polite:
Politeness; you know, saying please, thank you, holding the door open for another person, being respectful speaks volumes about you just as powerfully as does impoliteness.

The author expounded at length on the value and importance of politeness. In order to achieve greatness we will need the help of others and that help will more forthcoming from those to whom we have displayed great politeness and shown much respect.

This rule is called the rapport builder. Politeness suggests caring and trustworthiness and sends a strong message that we care.

It is interesting to consider how expensive rudeness can be when compared to the returns earned by politeness which costs absolutely nothing to deliver.

The four rules mentioned above are the prerequisites for The Habit of the Four Rules of Greatness and according to those practitioners of this habit, without The Habit of the Four Rules of Greatness , greatness itself remains an elusive ideal.

Over the next week focus as much of your available energy as you can on these first two rules and as you do so you will quickly realize the immense value of adopting The Habit of the Four Rules of Greatness.

The Habit of the Four Rules of Greatness will begin to work for you right away and as it does, imagine how much more it will do so once we have fully discussed Habits three and four which we will do one week from today.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.


89. Father knows best.

Brittany told me that her dad instilled The Habit of Plus 10% in her and her siblings at a very young age. Britney is the youngest of three and shortly after her ninth birthday her dad was involved in a car accident that left him hospitalized for many months with “every bone in his body broken.”

His recovery was slow and, obviously painful as attested to by all family members who watched him persevere day after day to regain what a drunk driver had attempted to take away. Her dad underwent vigor and rigorous daily physiotherapy and it was during this time that he discovered the compounding effect on The habit of +10%.

Whatever his physiotherapist asked of him he completed and then with a smile on his face would look up and say, “Let’s do another10%.”

It didn’t take long before her dad was improving at a rate that left his caregivers incredulous.

Shortly after he returned home he told his family that he had read of the benefit of always doing 10% more in an article someone had left by his bedside and that he intended to make The Habit of Plus 10% a part of everything he did from that day forward.

He also encouraged his family to do the same and it was soon included in the amount of time dedicated to study, practice time on the piano, sports training and everything they did as a family.

Her dad became a regular volunteer at the hospital where he had been treated and used his time there to encourage people going through similar recoveries to adopt his philosophy of doing 10% more of everything asked of them.

Invariably, many of these initially expressed resistance as much of that what they were doing was extremely painful and yet those who heeded his advice and added 10% to the routines all recovered at a rate far faster than those who didn’t.

Brittany explained that this habit helped move her into the A student range, contributed to her getting into university of her choosing and has stood her in good stead throughout her life.

The Habit of Plus 10%: It doesn’t seem like much. In fact, it seems like rather a small thing. Whatever we’re doing, working on, or trying to improve, if we simply applied a little extra – 10% more effort – we will rapidly get to where we want to be in far less time than we could possibly have imagined.

In the past two weeks, in addition to hearing from Brittany, I have also been contacted by numerous people who called to simply voice their agreement that paying a tiny additional price, – a 10% to all effort – pays enormous dividends and that the return on time spent and energy expended can becomes measured in the stratospheric terms.

Perhaps all of our lives would be enriched – by far more than 10% – if we committed right here, right now to make The Habit of Plus 10% part of everything we do.

Please let me know how this works for you, I can’t wait to hear the exciting stories of newfound success.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

88. 10% more = 50% less.

The Habit of Plus 10% is one that Clive takes very seriously. I don’t know Clive so when he called this week I was anxious to hear his story of how The Habit of Plus 10% turned him into becoming 48% of the man he once was.

Clive’s story began many years ago when he injured his back playing soccer. The constant pain caused him to change from being an active, athletic and highly energetic person to one who sought solace in food while sitting on his couch, heating-pad plugged in, watching TV.

While being sedentary certainly helped in managing his pain in the short term, he realized this change in lifestyle would only contribute to him becoming more and more unhealthy and also prolong the pain that he had come to dread.

Approximately 7 years ago, having almost doubled his body weight in the 19 years since his injury he decided it was time to recapture the energy and vitality of his youth. He knew going into this endeavor that progress would be slow but he also believed that success is measured in millimeters and not miles.

He made two commitments to himself: the first was to walk for at least 15 minutes each day and while this may seem like an easy and unchallenging task for most of us when you tip the scales at just under 400 pounds that 15 minute walk can be quite a struggle. The other commitment was to shave 25% off his daily caloric intake.

As he reviewed his progress at the end of his first week he added one more commitment to the mix. He decided that week after week he would increase his daily walk walking time by 10% while reducing his daily calorie intake by 5%.

At the end of six months he was walking a little more than two hours each day while taking in a maximum of 1800 calories.

After one year he was running a couple of miles each day during his two hour walk and his weight was down by more than 100 pounds.

At the end of two years he weighed exactly the same as he had the day of his injury at age 20.

As Clive was progressing through this remarkable transformation he began applying The Habit of Plus 10% to many other areas of his life.

He found by putting in a little extra time, perhaps an extra hour each day at work, his career began moving in an upward direction.

And by simply spending a little time with his wife and family he developed a closeness that had eluded him for years.

He began committing a steadily increasing amount of time to his own personal self-development each day and he has achieved the highest and most desired emotion possible – contented happiness.

Clive explains that his transformation was not made possible by some 15 minute daily walk and his reduction in calories, The greatest impact on his transformation came from pushing himself to do 10% (or more) in every facet of his life and by experiencing for himself that “the harder you push yourself, the more you amaze yourself.”

The benefit of that extra 10% is a many times multiple of the effort it requires.

And, as Clive says, “the proof of the pudding, is in not eating it.”

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

87. Just 10% more.

A recent magazine article caught my attention. The writer was sharing results she had gleaned from independent research into the characteristics that contribute to greatness in human performance.

According to her the researchers separated performance into two categories: good to great and great to exceptional, and she looked at what it took to move from one category to the next.

This study covered results in fields ranging from sports superstardom to immense business success to academic brilliance. Surprisingly they discovered that, while there are many characteristics deployed by those who moved through the levels to achieve exceptional results, there was one that stood out more than all the others.

I am going to call it the The Habit of Plus 10%.

Certainly in the field of sports, natural talent, genetics, access to high-quality facilities and equipment and superior coaching played a substantial role in the progress and development of superstar athletes.

In the field of academe, parental influence, access to high-quality tuition and interaction with other bright students all played a role, and in the world of business education, opportunity and mentorship contributed enormously to outstanding success.

Determination, drive and commitment were undoubtedly of great assistance in attaining huge outcomes.

In addition to all of those contributors there was one that stood out as being particularly significant in aiding all of those overachievers in not only climbing the ladder of success but in reaching new heights for others to aspire to.

When interviewed about their success almost all of those chosen referred, in one way or another, to The Habit of Plus 10%.

Repeatedly the researchers heard the story of how these folks, regardless of the expectations placed upon them by their teachers, mentors and coaches in terms of expected activity (practice, training, studying, working etc.) routinely added another 10% to their effort.

Those who excelled academically told of how they always added extra time to their studies, beyond what they had planned and typically that extra time averaged around 10% more than their original intention.

Those who excelled athletically did the same thing. They trained 10% longer and 10% harder than their teammates and competitors and on each game day were never satisfied with their own performance unless it reached 110% or more.

And those who built empires claimed to have done so by applying 10% more effort than their competitors. They spoke of setting out to complete 10 sales calls and making 11, working 10 hour days and staying an extra hour, and of increasing their effort by that magical 10% in each and all of their other endeavors.

I have not seen the research to which this writer was referring but I certainly agree with its premise.

Imagine if we simply increased our effort by 10%? Instead of doing three, do four; instead of reading two chapters of a book, read three; instead of approaching eight potential new customers approach nine.

The math may not compute and will not always equal 10%, but the results will astound.

Whenever I am faced with a tough decision I have learned to ask myself a simple question “What’s the downside of X?” If there is no obvious and harsh downside the decision becomes an easy one.

As I examine The Habit of Plus 10% the only disadvantage I can foresee is the sad downside of doing better.

And that’s a downside I can learn to live with.

The Habit of Plus 10% – a small effort that will produce monumental results.

Why not?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this