Doug Johnson tagged me with the Simply Successful Secrets meme today.

Doug has been known to speak with tongue planted firmly in cheek, but I’ll graciously take this one at face value. Thanks for the tag, Doug.

The meme in full:

"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."

As Doug says, it presupposes that one actually feels successful. Daily habits? What we do each day may be a gradual accumulation that eventually compresses, glacier-style, into a solid sense of who we are. But that’s an intimidating metaphor, and one I’m happy to shy away from. Besides, my daily rounds are probably too random and unsystematic to fit the bill. Let’s stick with the somewhat hazier notion of habits of mind.

  1. Pay attention. Spend more time listening to what others are saying, less time composing your own piece. It’s called wait-time for a reason.
  2. Question authority, but trust people. Be skeptical, but not cynical. I know. . . it’s a fine line. Assume the people around you are doing the best they can. They usually are. And if they aren’t, at least you’ve erred on the side of kindness.
  3. Err on the side of kindness.
  4. Embrace mystery. Take an intentional wrong turn and get lost. The best discoveries are often the ones you stumble upon.
  5. Make mistakes freely and with abandon.
  6. Expect the unexpected. People are infinitely surprising and resist being pigeon-holed, so why bother trying? Just when you think you have them pegged, they’ll reveal a miraculous hidden talent, passion, collection, affinity, etc. It’s a good lesson in humility.
  7. Turf is fleeting—let it go. Our best-laid plans are usually the first thing to go out the window. It’s the internal turf that bears tending, anyway.
  8. Be subversive. Twist the assignment you’re given to make it your own, or to make it something surprising (see #4-6 above). Plus. . . it’s funnier and more fun.
  9. Exercise your heart. Care about something. Love somebody.
  10. Exercise your  body.  Go for a run. Walk the dog.
  11. Exercise your mind. Read. Write. Read some more. Play an instrument. Read before bed.

I see that, in keeping with Nigel Tufnel’s timeless advice, I’ve gone beyond my allotted ten and right up to eleven.

Hmmm. Who to tag?

Clay Burell (Clay, I know you’re trying to get your spring break started, so no obligation. Even your silence would be illuminating. I imagine you hitting the beach with good books and unstructured time, and how much more successful can you get than that?) 
Carolyn Foote
Cara Hagen