Common sense isn’t all that common. Sometimes we overlook the basics and think life is way more complicated than it really is.  To be successful in leadership, in marriage, in parenting we often think we have to be exceptionally smart, charming and experienced. But really, I’ve found there are four simple habits that can make a crucial difference—often the difference between success and mediocrity or even failure.

4BuildingBlocksI recently read a blog post by a mentor from afar, Bob Buford—business leader and founder of both Halftime and Leadership Network. He was actually talking about his own New Year’s resolutions and something his friend Dan Sullivan calls the “Referability Habits” that should guide entrepreneurs. And as I reflected on those four simple habits, I soon realized that these four things pretty much are the core of my success in starting and building an organization. And the more I reflected, they are essential to turning good intentions into real behavior in every other area of life.

Here are the four simple things that Dan Sullivan tells every entrepreneur in his Strategic Coaching program. Sullivan says that these four crucial habits are the key to the world’s best marketing strategy—getting referrals from others who’ve experienced your product or customer service. And, they are the key to improve any relationship in your life.

Show Up On Time—I know seems almost absurd. It’s so simple. Yet, so hard for some to do consistently.  People start making assessments about you based on this little habit. Can’t he or she manage time? Can I trust them? Are they competent? Or, am I a priority or at the bottom of the important things to-do list? It’s simple. It’s basic. And it’s foundational.

Do What You Say—This is another yardstick by which you will be measured and evaluated and either respected or dismissed. In other words, your word is your word. Your handshake actually means something. Follow-through is a crucial habit that will determine whether you thrive or barely survive.

Finish What You Start—I admire the folks who have an incessant flow of fresh new ideas and visions of a preferred future. But I want to passionately follow the people who finish what they start. We soon get jaded by the leader, the spouse, the parent, or the politician who has oodles of ideas but rarely finishes what they start.

Say Please and Thank You—Back to a thought on an earlier blog, “You can tell an awful lot about someone’s character by how they return the shopping cart.” Kind of like saying please and thank you. Is there a sense of entitlement or an attitude of gratitude? I can usually predict which teens will become successful adults through observation of these basic manners.

There they are. As modest and simple as these four habits may be, they are the building blocks of human relationships. These habits shape our lives. They determine if we are just people of good intentions or people of intentionality. They are the tipping point of success.

QUESTION: What habit would you add to this short list? I’d love to hear it in the comment section.


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