Chris Brady is the founder, CEO, and Creative Director of LIFE Leadership. He also serves as the Executive Publisher of Obstaclés Press and is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, humorist, and businessman. Chris has sold over a million copies of his books in 6 different languages.
My Definition Of Success | Success means utilizing all my God-given gifts to live the life I was built by Him to live. I like to say that our privileges are not for our pleasure, but for our purpose. And I believe that success is found in living out that purpose. It is as we are aligned with our highest calling that we will feel the most fulfilled.
This definition has certainly changed for me over the years, because the more I accomplished goals and dreams that had seemed important to me, the more I realized that they didn’t bring the fulfillment I had hoped. It was only in serving something larger than myself that I found true happiness.
I Am Driven By | I have often had people ask me this exact question, as I’ve been very driven my whole life.
First of all, it comes from a deep well of thankfulness. I was born free, in a great country, to loving parents, at peace-time, and I was given health and opportunity and abundance. None of this did I have to earn. Therefore, I have always felt as if I was born on third base and all I’ve got to do is get to home plate. The least I can do is run with all my might!
And I also feel the press of time. I’m not very good at “pass times” and activities that don’t seem to matter in the long run. The reason is I feel impatient; I sense the sands of that old hour glass running down, and I know that life is short. I want to shine brightly while I’m given the chance, and I don’t want to squander the gifts I’ve been given.
Finally, I am driven against regret. For me, one of the worst things would be to realize on my death bed that I had regrets, that I wished I had done more, contributed more, given more, etc. I fear that, and so I press toward the mark as one who wants to finish strong.
The Difference Between Good And Great | The difference is something I wrote about in my book, PAiLS. I call it the “Exponential Power of Exertion.” That means that there is an incredible difference in the results of someone who will push that little bit harder for that little bit longer as a matter of habit. Author Jeff Olson calls it “the slight edge.” The rare individuals who dare to exert more effort than average will, over time, accomplish much higher results than those who don’t. It’s that simple.
A Key Talent | The ability to learn. In my career I’ve gone from athlete to college student to engineer to entrepreneur to author to executive. Each of these categories, as I moved through them, demanded immense education and experience in order for success to be possible. And the more I try to do, the more this is true.
So step one for anyone is to foster the flames of your hunger to give you the drive to succeed (as covered above).
Step two is to become a nearly obsessive student of your craft. Study, learn, listen, ask questions, find mentors, gain personal experience, but also learn from the experience of others. Master the basics before you try to innovate by breaking the rules. And never, never, never stop reading.
Step three is to apply what you learn and have the courage to fail. And each time you do, don’t worry so much about looking like a fool. All high achievement requires that we look like fools along the way. What is important is that you get back up again and learn from that failure to give it a better shot the next time.
Step four then is to make adjustments and try again.
You may have realized as you read through this that I am espousing nothing other than the tried and true “Plan, Do, Check, Adjust” loop of productive advancement. The reason is that it works, it is reliable, and it is available. All you have to do is have the drive to rotate it for yourself.
Principles I Live By | The only way to BE happy is to GIVE happy. So many people waste their lives seeking pleasure and thinking it will bring happiness. It won’t. Only by finding someone else to serve, and finding a cause higher than your own little selfish gratifications can you truly become happy.
Mix this with the Bible verse, “To whom much is given, much is required” and you will be in pretty good shape in life.
How I Use My Mind | I try to think strategically about the main areas of my life. For instance, I break my life into categories, such as husband, father, businessman, writer, etc. Then, in each of those categories, I try to make an honest assessment of how I am doing. At the beginning of each year I make a list of accomplishments/improvements/advancements I would like to make in each area, then a simple list of action steps for each.
So first, determine the category. Second, determine what you’d like to accomplish in that category. Third, set up the actions required for each. But then, and most importantly, try to think systematically about how to achieve each objective.
One of the most important strategies is to solve problems by creating systems or machines to not only solve those problems, but to keep them solved. In our personal lives this means the formulation of new habits (replacing old, destructive ones), and in our professional lives (at least in mine) it means establishing procedures and operating practices that bring the desired result repeatedly time and time again.
Prioritization is also a key tactic. Knowing your main priority in a category allows you to bring all your resources to bear toward achieving it. I am often shocked at how poorly people (and organizations) prioritize their time, energy, and resources. Focus is the key, and it can’t be done properly without prioritization.
These are just some of the ways in which I organize my thinking.
Lessons I Have Learnt | Here are just a few that I pulled from my journal:
- God is real, all-powerful, in control, and saving souls through his son Jesus Christ
- leaders often have to carry an unfair load
- every individual matters
- problems are the price of success
- we all have blind spots
- being courageous is the short cut through a lot of pain and suffering
- most things aren’t worth worrying about
- you don’t know what you don’t know
- problems are best dealt with immediately and head-on
- nobody succeeds by himself or herself
- the brevity of life is one of its biggest surprises
- there is much about life that is unfair, and strangely, this is true for everybody.
Performing At My Peak | Productive routines are extremely helpful in maintaining peak performance. In a crowded, busy life, this is not always easy, but it is very effective. Can you go through the same steps each morning to get your day started correctly? Perhaps you can awake, read your Bible, exercise, and review your priority list for the day. Can you then also end your day with a bit of reading in your chosen field of endeavor and then put some thought into your “To Do” list for the next day? Again, you won’t always be able to rigidly stick to such a schedule, but routine can be very helpful in maintaining consistent high performance.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | As you may have guessed from my other answers, I am an avid reader. I love to surround myself with books, and I read multiple books from multiple genres at the same time. There is usually a stack of six or seven books beside my desk that I am working my way through. I also have an over twenty-year habit of listening to informative and educational audios. Finally, I try to surround myself with the right kind of people.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | The best advice I have ever received came in the form of a quote that is attributed to D.L. Moody. “Our greatest fear should not be that we won’t succeed, but that we will succeed at something that doesn’t matter.”