Successful leaders do five simple activities every day to help build a foundation for that success. John Maxwell calls this the “Rule of Five”, and he defines it this way:

“The Rule of 5 is simply a series of activities you do every day that are fundamental to your success.” 

Every day, John does these things: read, file, think, ask questions, write. These five actions help John add value to himself every day, which opens up opportunities and increases his capacity to add value to others. My personal Rule of 5 begins with knowing my why … and that provides the motivation I need to invest every day with my 5:

1 – Show up

If you’re not there to embrace opportunity, you won’t even know when it passes you by. For me, “showing up” is about more than being physically present. It’s about being in the moment. Putting aside my opinions, judgements and assessments, turning off the inner dialogue and filters. When I’m present, I am able to listen to what’s being said, who people are being. When I’m not fully present, it’s easy to be distracted, and I miss many of the opportunities around me.

2 – Listen

This is about truly hearing others, not just waiting your turn to talk. The act of listening is something we do for someone, not to them. There is no greater feeling than knowing someone else really “gets” you. I love it when people have that feeling when I’m around them, so I intentionally work at being present when I’m with people. When we listen for someone instead of listening to them, this encourages both people in the conversation to ask questions, which allows them to engage with themselves and each other on a deeper level. Effective listening happens when both the listener and the person speaking are present.

3 – Ask questions

Good questions can take both people on a journey of discovery together. When we show up to a conversation without judgement, opinions or assessments, it’s easier for both people to truly listen, to hear what’s being said and what’s not being said. When we listen to what’s being said, free of opinions, judgements and assessments, we create a space for the person speaking to share in a much more authentic way. When I give the gift of listening, the other person will cause the questions I ask, which creates awareness in both of us and draws out the questions they already have inside them.  

4 – Follow through

This is about managing intention and expectation, getting complete on anything out there that’s incomplete. If I don’t complete something I have committed to or follow through on what I say I will do in the timeframe I committed to, that’s an integrity issue, not necessarily a time management problem. When I leave something incomplete, I leave that part of my life, of who I am, incomplete. In that moment, I am not being my best version of myself, because I did not follow through on my intention.

5 – Celebrate victories

When I celebrate victories every day, it gives me energy, really breathes life into my day. It’s even more rewarding to look for other people’s victories and celebrate with them. My thoughts, the words I choose, and my attitudes are at the heart of my actions. My language and my attitude will set up my next experience, so I look for reasons to celebrate every day.

Show up. Listen. Ask questions. Follow through. Celebrate victories

That’s my Rule of 5, what I do every day to live in my gift zone, be my best and do what I love. Your rule of 5 might have some of John Maxwell’s daily habits and some of mine mixed in – or maybe five entirely different choices – and that’s ok. The important thing is to find your 5 and begin to put them into practice everyday. They may not come to you all at once, and you might find yourself tweaking or changing them as you start practicing. That’s okay too.

How can you develop your own Rule of 5? First, determine what truly brings you joy. What are you passionate about, and what are you really good at? If you can figure out a way to do that while adding value to other people, that’s the first step to creating your Rule of 5. From there, think about five things you can do — every day — that will enable you to become better at being the best version of you.

So, what’s your Rule of 5?




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