Simply Successful Secrets

I was tagged by Thea Westra, the popular Austrailian leadership and life coach, to participate in a meme called “Simply Successful Secrets”. The purpose of this meme is to:

” List the top 5 to 10 things that you do almost every day that help you to be successful. They can be anything at all, but they have to be things that you do at least 4 or 5 times every week. Anything less than that may be a hobby that helps you out, but we are after the real day in and day out habits that help you to be successful.”

I believe this is an important meme for educators to consider, especially as we seek to transform education. Why? When we seek to change the culture of our schools, we are seeking to change the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the educators, students, and the community.

So what do our daily practices have to do with leading cultural change? In order to change cultures, beliefs, values, and behaviors; we need to involve our “whole selves”, our hearts and bodies, as well as our minds in the effort. We already use our minds, but our hearts will give courage and inspire others, and our bodies will be our vessels of action.

Here are my daily practices to open the mind, the body, and the heart.

Opening My Heart, Quieting My Mind, Listening to the Teacher Within:
I spend the first 25-30 minutes of my day in specific meditations to open my heart and quiet my mind. When I complete my meditation, my purpose and my intentions for the day come forth quietly as if they were shy animals stepping out their burrows. I listen for them and note them, for these will be my anchors amidst a busy day of work.

Building the Body of a Leader:
I pay attention to my body by doing anywhere from 20-40 minutes of deliberate breathing and yoga poses that awaken each energy center in my body and widen my range of movement and flexibility. It is important for a leader to be fully awake, flexible, and able to act when needed.

Putting the Body and the Heart into Action
I use Aikido, a Japanese martial art, as a physical and spiritual practice. Aikido helps me practice staying centered and present in the midst of quick action and conflict. It helps me practice blending with others, especially those that are challenging. Aikido also allows me to practice letting go of fear, for it requires that I trust myself. If I think too much, try to anticipate what is coming, or tighten in fear, I increase my chances of getting hurt. Aikido requires the full presence that comes with meditation and the physical awareness of yoga; but does so in the midst of engaging action. For me, it is a metaphor for the challenges I face as a leader.

Every effective leader is a learner and student. I have a “teacher” that works with me to help me see my behavior more clearly. In our weekly calls I uncover beliefs and behaviors that are sometimes difficult for me to see for myself. My “teacher” lights my path by walking ahead of me.

Mid-Day Reflections:
I spend 10-15 minutes at lunch in meditation and reflection. I observe how my day is unfolding. Am I aligned with the purpose and intentions I created in the morning? How present and centered am I? Reflecting gives me an opportunity to be more deliberate about what I do in the afternoon.

Manifesting My Gifts:
One of my gifts is writing. Each day I spend time using that gift. Whether I write for my blog, or fiction, or poetry; each evening I practice putting my gifts into action.

These are the practices that help me grow as a leader and as a person. It is my hope that my efforts and those of many, many others; will help create a better future for our children.

I would like to know what “Simply Successful Secrets” the following have:

Sylvia Martinez

Scott McLeod

Doug Johnson


In appreciation,



12 thoughts on “Simply Successful Secrets

  1. Pete,

    I have read through many, many entries in the Simply Successful Secrets project, and there were several that mentioned mediation, quiet time, etc.

    However, yours is the most “centered” list that I have seen as far as consciously creating each day based on both your physical and mental cues and observations.

    Great stuff – I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for participating!

  2. A well thought out post.
    Thank you for this information, and I think I will need to apply some of these. I do use a mantra – “I really like 12 year olds” daily!

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