Conor’s Ultimate Guide to Positive Personal Habits

It is 43 years since I was born, 25 since I finished school and 12 since I graduated with my MBA as seen in this picture below.  I have written some notes on life every day since I was 14 years old.  This long post is a summary of ideas that came from a review of all those journals.


At my MBA graduation with two of my favourite Professors: Brian Leggett and Manel Baucells

158 Reflections to become The Best Version of Yourself

This is a collection of phrases that keep me focussed on what is important.  I wrote this list out one Sunday afternoon 5 years ago sat at my home dining table.

There are seven categories:

  1. Dealing with People
  2. Take Disciplined Action
  3. Accept Reality as it is
  4. Make Progress towards Results
  5. Stay Healthy
  6. Living with Purpose and
  7. Personal Growth.

I make no claim to originality and I leave you a list of thinkers who have inspired me and are far more responsible for any wisdom here than myself.

Dealing with People

  1. You will not change them. Let it go.
  2. Who will cry at your funeral?
  3. Never miss a moment to encourage someone.
  4. You will become who you spend most time with.
  5. Communication is measured by what is understood, not how well it is articulated.
  6. It takes two to fight.
  7. Confrontation may be necessary.
  8. Other people can handle more than you think. Be careful with white lies.
  9. Real listening is hard. It requires 100% attention.
  10. There is no such thing as a “self-made man”. Be grateful.
  11. Ask more questions.
  12. The one asking the questions is in control. Are you asking the questions?
  13. Remain curious. The 4th “why?” often gets the real reason.
  14. Learn to attract and use mentors and advisors.
  15. Build networks before you need them.
  16. Get really, really good at concisely presenting your ideas.
  17. Learn to sell.
  18. Aggression begets aggression.
  19. Surround yourself with people strong enough to change your mind.
  20. If you don’t “do politics” others will “do you”.
  21. Learn to differentiate sceptics (good for you) from cynics (bad for you).
  22. In the end people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
  23. Build lifelong friendships.
  24. Be kind to your mum.
  25. Hire well, manage little.
  26. Spend time with people who want you to succeed. Some “friends” don’t want you to grow or change.
  27. Nobody will ever tell you that you made them laugh too much.
  28. What is your label?

Take Disciplined Action

  1. Change is painful. Growth requires change. No pain, no gain.
  2. Everyday changes less. Change that.
  3. Incremental change always wins.
  4. Perfect is the enemy of good. Good is the enemy of great.
  5. The best indicator of mastery of big things is mastery of small things. Master the small things.
  6. Do not wish it were easier. Wish you were better.
  7. Get a coach.
  8. Learn to ask for advice and help.
  9. In the Olympics, nobody wins both marathon and 100m sprints. Focus.
  10. Routine sets you free.
  11. Get good at motivating yourself.
  12. Knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do.
  13. The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.
  14. “I will try” is never enough. Remove “try”.
  15. If you want to be a writer: write; A singer: sing; A teacher: teach.
  16. Kindness and hard work will take you further than intelligence.
  17. If you never act, you will never know for sure.
  18. Delayed gratification is necessary.
  19. We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret

Accept Reality as it is

  1. If a problem has no solution, it is not a problem. It is a fact.
  2. Bad things do sometimes happen to good people.
  3. Perfectionism messes you up.
  4. Make allowances for incompetence.
  5. Pain is guaranteed. Suffering is optional.
  6. Very, very little is truly under your control.
  7. The past is gone except in your head. Learn to forget.
  8. Ignore the little things.
  9. No one cares about it as you do.
  10. Stop any negative comments about people not in the room. You are not helping them and are likely positioning yourself in the victim role.
  11. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  12. If it rains, it rains. There is nothing you can do except put up an umbrella.

Making Progress towards Results

  1. There is no “they”.
  2. Love is discipline. Love is work.
  3. Laziness is the life killer. Laziness is the original sin.
  4. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  5. Commitment before success. Always.
  6. Stop justifying. Break the “yes, but…” habit.
  7. The most reliable predictor of what you will be doing 5 minutes from now is what you are doing now.
  8. Break inertia. Every hour ask “Is this giving me long term benefit or short term happiness?” If No, No then Stop.
  9. If you desire a specific effect in your life you must put in motion the cause of that effect.
  10. Success is a process, not a product. Work on your process and the product will come.
  11. Every time you blame someone, you give away your power to change things.
  12. Leadership doesn’t happen when things are easy. It is the final 1% that makes you world class.
  13. Don’t see the wall.
  14. A problem is only a problem if you choose to view it as a problem. It is an opportunity.
  15. A dream will remain a dream until it is converted into disciplined, daily action.
  16. If you see yourself as a victim, you will always be one.
  17. Stop being a victim. (Stop enjoying other’s pity).
  18. The circle of pity: The more you feel sorry for yourself, the worse your life will get.
  19. Excuses are a way of not facing up to reality, for pulling out when things get a bit difficult.
  20. One small step completed is a million times better than one big plan thought about.
  21. Act instead of talking about it.
  22. Next time you are about to complain, stop; explain what you are going to do about it.
  23. The world does not owe you a living.
  24. You have to pass the thorns to get to the roses.
  25. The grass is not greener on the other side.
  26. Refuse to use your past as an excuse.
  27. Stop saying “yes, but…”
  28. You don’t need permission. (For what it’s worth, you have mine.)
  29. The problem contains the solution.
  30. It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.
  31. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  32. Justification is much, much easier than the hard reality of accepting responsibility.
  33. Do it now.
  34. If you rest too long, the weeds take the garden. Activity finishes the miracle.

Stay Healthy

  1. You can’t be great if you don’t feel great.
  2. Keep fit.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Brush your teeth.
  5. Dream. Play like a Child.
  6. Don’t smoke.
  7. Daily exercise is an insurance policy against future illness. Best leaders are fittest leaders.

Living with Purpose

  1. Life is a gift.
  2. Does today’s schedule reflect your deepest values?
  3. Good students deliver what the teacher wants. Great students deliver what they know to be right.
  4. The best is yet to come.
  5. Imagination is the supreme uniqueness of humans. Use it.
  6. Do not ask: “why me?”; Ask: “What can I learn? What can I do? Who can I help?”
  7. Carpe diem. Memento mori. (Seize the day. Remember you shall die).
  8. Integrity is much more than intention to be honest. It is having a system in place to deliver on your promises.
  9. Say “No” more.
  10. Chains of gold are no less chains than chains of iron.
  11. Reason is the rudder. Passion is the sails. You need both.
  12. You are not your little voice.
  13. Success always starts with ambitious goals. Life gives what you ask of it.
  14. We are educated for busy-ness, not for listening to our own minds at work.
  15. Poverty is about much more than money.
  16. Being everything to everyone is really being nobody to no one.
  17. Success can only be measured from within.
  18. Smell the roses.
  19. Have fun. Every day.
  20. Fun makes life worth living.
  21. Everybody dies. Not everybody truly lives.
  22. The world is not out to get you.
  23. Life is not easy. Life is not fair. This is how it is.
  24. There are always good reasons to be angry, disappointed, let down. Ignore them.
  25. Listen to your angst. It is telling you something important. Don’t turn on the TV to avoid it. It will only get worse.
  26. It is a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t matter if you are ahead at the mid-point, it matters that you reach the finish.
  27. The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.
  28. The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. It is believing that merely existing is actually living.
  29. Remember where you are climbing to and don’t just stick to the ladder.
  30. The unexamined life is not worth living, but the over-examined life isn’t worth living either.
  31. Don’t compare your life to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  32. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  33. The reward for conformity is that everybody likes you except yourself.
  34. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  35. Be true to yourself. Lying feels good. Until you are found out.
  36. Take a walk with a turtle. Pause and see the journey.
  37. Know the difference between price and value. A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Personal Growth

  1. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest furnaces.
  2. Some answers can only come from inside.
  3. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in the presence of fear.
  4. Your unconscious is wise. Its messages are often difficult. You need to listen carefully.
  5. We are blind. Only other people can help us see clearly.
  6. Make your emotions work for you, not you for them.
  7. When you fall, focus on where you slipped, not where you fell.
  8. We are most blind when we know the most. Assumptions so deep we cannot see them anymore.
  9. Ask: “what did we learn today?” everyday.
  10. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
  11. Best way to learn to do it right is to first do it wrong.
  12. The more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand.
  13. Mastering a few things is much better than mediocrity in many; and it is the route to mastery of big things.
  14. Read daily.
  15. Excellence in one area is the beginning of excellence in every area.
  16. Incremental improvement always wins.
  17. Outlearn your competition.
  18. Every single person in the world could be a genius at something, if they practiced it daily for at least 10 years or 10,000 hours.
  19. The only source of good knowledge is bad experience.
  20. Make the best of the worst. It is easy to make the best of the easy times. It is hard to make the best of the hard times.
  21. Life is a contact sport.

Gratitude: The 18 Influencers of this Work

There are many people whose works have added flavour to this list.  This material has been compiled from a Sunday review of 15 years of daily journals.  Some of the phrases are my own, but many are direct and even exact copies of words that I have read in books, heard in speeches or seen in blog posts.  These are the top 13 people who have influenced the ideas expressed in this post.

  1. Tom Peters
  2. Seth Godin
  3. Jim Rohn
  4. Tony Robbins
  5. Marshall Goldsmith
  6. M. Scott Peck
  7. Aristotle
  8. Socrates
  9. Seneca
  10. Blair Singer
  11. Shimon Peres
  12. Kahlil Gibrain
  13. Malcolm Gladwell
  14. Bill Treasurer
  15. Verne Harnish
  16. Rita Mae Brown
  17. Mathieu Ricard
  18. John Bird

EMBA EMBAssadors Program 2017

Sustained High Performance over the Long term

Staying #1 for 15 years in Sport and in Business

Special Program for EMBA EMBAssador Program 2017

This intense short program will look in depth at three areas of sustaining high performance over the long term.

It is not enough to have one great day.  Success is about systematically repeating your good days.  In this program we will look at the three underlying ingredients that are necessary in a life of sustained high performance.  We will have a teacher, a CEO and a #1 world ranked sportsman jointly running this program for a select group of committed EMBA graduates on the EMBASSADOR program.

Program Faculty 

Fernando Berasteguin, “Bela”, is the World #1 in Padel.  He was the youngest player to achieve a #1 ranking, and he has maintained that world #1 ranking for the following 15 years.  He turned professional at the age of 15.  How has he maintained the inspiration to stay at the top of world padel for all this time?

They call him “el Messi de Padel”. The balls have changed, the rackets have changed, the courts have changed… and through all of these changes Bela has adapted faster and stayed world number 1.  Bela is the author of the book: FERNANDO BELASTEGUÍN: ESTA ES MI HISTORIA: 13 AÑOS CONSECUTIVOS SIENDO NÚMERO 1 DEL MUNDO

Xavier Escales is CEO of ASICS Iberia.  He, together with his close friend and co-CEO have grown ASICS from #8 to #1 in Spain, have reached €150M in turnover.  He is on a mission to reach €400M in 8 years time.  This growth in revenues, in client engagement and in market share has come because Xavier knows how to engage his people.  ASICS is a major sponsor of Bela and together they are developing a strong brand in the Padel market.

Xavier is intensely focussed on Employee Engagement in ASICS and has deliberately created a deeply engaging and inspiring company culture.  You notice it the moment you enter their offices.  (Perfil en Expansion)

Conor Neill is Lecturer in Leadership Communication at IESE Business School, having taught over 20,000 participants over the last 14 years.  He is President of Vistage Spain.  Vistage is the world’s leading CEO development organisation with 21,000 CEO members.  (About Conor Neill)



Program Structure

 (Dates – To Be Agreed with Xavier & Bela)

Thursday 11 May – 15:00 to 18:00

  •  Framework: Individual High Performance and Team High Performance (Reading: Chapters of Good to Great by Jim Collins)
  •  Introductions
  •  The Professional’s approach to Practice and Preparation
  •  Case: Fernando Berasteguin and ASICS
  •  Individual High Performance Project

Thursday 1 June – 15:00 to 18:00

  •  Understanding the Emotional Rollercoaster of High Performance
  •  Handling Uncomfortable Emotional States
  •  Individual Presentations of High Performance Project
  •  Finding your Purpose, connecting daily to your purpose
  •  Staying Resilient in the tough times
  •  Staying Wise in euphoric times

How to Deal with a Hostile Audience

“How to get somebody to change their mind”

This tip might also be called “how to get somebody to change their mind”.  It looks at how you must approach an audience that has already taken a decision that is contradictory to your position.

Let me know how you will use this tip in the comments below.  Where do you have an audience that you need to change their previous decision?  Can you see how to use this communication strategy?

Making Improvements – The Path to Mastery

<h1>The Path to Mastery</h1>
The path to mastery is steady, small, incremental improvements repeated over and over again. There is no shortcut to mastery. There is a mode of operating that allows mastery. This mode is the 1% improvement mode.


Do you focus on the 1% improvements? What small change will you make today?

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think…

The 6 People Decisions You Must Make as a New Leader

Leading Teams: The 6 People Decisions you Must Make as a New Leader.

When you take on the role leading a team, you must make decisions about the team members. There are 6 decisions you can make.

Jim Collins says the number one responsibility of a leader is “get the right people on the bus; and get the wrong people off the bus”.

How do you take these decisions?

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think…

Making Life Changes, Building Good Habits

What habits are made easy because of the layout of your home, your office, the friends you hang out with?

Our surroundings affect us more than our intention and our discipline.

Making Changes that Stick, Building Good Habits

How might you change the structure of your life in order to make certain positive habits more likely to happen?

So the question is: are you aware of the structure of your life?  Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think…

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