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25 Daily Practices that Executives Credit for Continuous Self-Growth In the quest for continuous self-growth in a professional setting, we've gathered insights from CEOs, founders, and other top executives, distilling their daily practices into twenty-five transformative habits.
From the power of podcasting to cultivate skills to staying ahead of the curve with an hour of learning, these leaders reveal the routines they credit for their personal and professional development.
Cultivate Skills Through Podcasting
As a certified DEI trainer, the practice I credit most for my ongoing professional growth is podcasting and live streaming. Every time I interview a guest speaker from anywhere in the world, it's an opportunity for me to cultivate a wide range of skills.
It's like running a personal masterclass in emotional intelligence as I tune into the emotions and perspectives of my guests. Active listening is crucial to ensure I'm truly capturing their insights.
Each episode is a lesson in continuous learning, opening me up to new ideas and concepts. The networking aspect is invaluable, connecting me with thought leaders and potential collaborators.
My public speaking abilities are honed with every conversation, and curating these sessions helps build my personal brand. In essence, podcasting and live streaming have accelerated my professional development, creating a platform for constant self-improvement.
Find Clarity with Daily Meditation
The most impactful daily practice in my professional life, going from a failing solo entrepreneur to the Head of Marketing at one of the fastest-growing startups in the US, has been daily prayer, silence, and meditation.
Starting my morning off like this has allowed me to step back from the day-to-day task list, give myself some creative time, lower my stress, and allow God to guide my daily life. Focusing on what's most important for my life and our business at a higher level first thing in the morning, instead of on execution, has become a crucial part of my self-growth and professional development.
Seek Advice from Mentors Regularly
Consistently reaching out to mentors, coaches, and business friends to ask for their advice, challenge me on my assumptions, and share their encouragement has been game-changing for my professional life and the growth of my businesses. Nearly every day, I reach out to someone in my network to tap their wisdom, seek their advice, or debrief a failure.
This regular practice has led to incredible benefits. Of course, in reaching out, I learn new concepts and strategies that I can employ immediately. In several cases, these conversations have led me to develop new service lines or systems. Entrepreneurship is often a lonely endeavor. The support and encouragement of friends and colleagues is so helpful in pressing through frustrating and stressful times.
Finally, regularly asking others for their advice creates loyalty toward you because they become invested in you. For me, that loyalty has translated into warm lead referrals, influencer introductions, and new talent connections.
Most people I reach out to are honored that I would ask. People love being helpful and are often highly generous with their time and their counsel. The key is to reach out and ask for help.
Journal for Deeper Self-Understanding
Every day, I dedicate time to journaling, and it's been a key factor in my growth. It goes beyond just noting down what happened; instead, I try to understand the deeper "whys" behind my actions and feelings. It's about bringing understanding and actively learning from my own experiences.
For instance, if I face a challenge, I look at how I reacted, what triggered me, and how I could handle it better next time. This process has helped sharpen my self-awareness, making me more empathetic and effective in my coaching. It's like having an open and honest conversation with myself, constantly adapting my approach to both my personal life and work, while keeping me grounded and growth-oriented.
Advance with Continuous Language Learning
Continuous language learning and engagement. As an immigrant twice over, working with various multinational companies, I can very safely say that nothing keeps you progressing in your career like picking up new language proficiencies that you can then apply in the business world and while networking.
Beyond that, it gives you a very different perspective than if you stayed monolingual because you learn the underlying assumptions and bits of culture that aren't immediately obvious when working with someone else in an international environment by learning at least a little of their language.
Picking up Duolingo is a good start, but it can sometimes feel like bashing your head against a wall, so I would recommend actually trying out popular media in your target language after learning at least some of the basics.
Commit to Lifelong Learning
I attribute my continuous self-growth in my professional life to my commitment to lifelong learning. Learning is an essential element not only to excel in my career but also to better serve my clients. To me, it is not enough to have earned a law degree, passed the bar, and practiced for years. It is imperative to remain up-to-date with my legal education, industry updates, case law, and more.
One of the daily practices that I credit the most for my growth is reading. I firmly believe that reading is an incredibly impactful practice that has helped me sharpen my legal skills, enhance my critical thinking, and expand my knowledge base. Not only do I read legal journals and publications, but I also read books outside of the legal world. I find that this helps me broaden my perspective, makes me a better communicator, and improves my advocacy skills.
Progress with Consistent Nightly Reading
Every night before sleeping, I have a habit of reading a book. It can be one page, two pages, or even ten pages, depending on how I feel at that time. This has been my practice for years and it keeps reminding me that it doesn't matter what kind of day it is or how busy I am; taking out time for it is important. Even if it's not a lot of time, at least I'm moving forward in the book instead of thinking I'll read double the next day, as that never happens.
It has kept me motivated, as every time I feel low, I think of all the books I have completed, even by taking small steps like reading a few pages. For me, it's more of a sign that taking consistent steps is important; even if the steps are small, it's okay as long as you're moving.
Reboot Brain with Micro-Mindfulness
My secret weapon for continuous self-growth? The 60-second mindfulness break. As a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years in the game, I've seen firsthand how easily we slip into reactionary modes amidst the relentless pace. Yet, in my own experience, I've discovered the transformative power of micro-mindfulness moments.
Around a dozen times per day, I take 60 seconds to tune into my breath, ground myself in the present, and clear my crowded mind. Before major meetings, in the heat of stressful situations, or when big decisions loom, these mindfulness breaks reboot my brain, opening space for focus, wisdom, and inspiration.
Initially, building this muscle felt foreign. But the more I practiced, the more second nature it became. Now, it's an indispensable support for me, keeping me centered in choppy conditions. The research bears out why—mindful pauses lower cortisol, blood pressure, and sharpen emotional intelligence.
The impacts ripple out powerfully in my life. My communication is more thoughtful, composed, and empathetic. My resilience against exhaustion grows. And the creative juices really start flowing! By continually fine-tuning my internal compass, I stay strategically on course towards my entrepreneurial goals.
Grow by Mentoring and Helping Others
The one practice I will give most credit for my continuous self-growth is going out and trying to help someone who needs help or mentoring. Though there are other important ones, like continuous learning and challenging myself, I have felt more content and filled with purpose when my insights or help has had an impact on someone's life and professional career and growth.
Whether it's simply mentoring college students, sharing my expertise as part of an advisory board member for universities, or simply helping/guiding the intern I hired on my team, speaking at conferences, and sharing my experience via various research papers and books, the continuous effort of giving back has had the most profound impact on my self-growth in my professional life.
Boost Productivity with Afternoon Naps
Taking a nap every day after lunch has become a habit of mine. This habit began when I started tracking my mood, focus, and productivity using RescueTime. After three months, I noticed a pattern: my productivity dipped by 38% between 1 PM and 3 PM every day. This led me to research the topic. It turns out there are numerous studies, including one from MIT, that prove the link between taking naps and higher personal efficiency. Also, famous figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Winston Churchill were known for their napping habits, too.
I experimented with a 40-minute nap from 1 PM to 2 PM. The change was immediate; I felt more alert and refreshed. More importantly, my app showed a marked improvement in my post-nap productivity. I recommend this practice to anyone, but it's crucial to track its impact on your productivity to ensure it truly works for you.
Build Self-Relationship Through Doing Nothing
You're building relationships with colleagues, partners, and friends, but what about the relationship with the person you were born with and will die with—you? I dedicate 60 minutes every day to doing nothing, inspired by Naval Ravikant's simple meditation technique. It focuses on internal dialogue, not on deep breathing or spiritual practices.
The process is straightforward: I sit for an hour each morning, letting my mind do whatever it wants. If it wants to wander, argue, be quiet, or focus on breathing, I just let it. That's it. No forced mantras or special positions. After practicing this for six months, my Habitica stats show I'm 45% less stressed than before. This reduction in stress is my master metric, positively affecting my business, friendships, health, and goals.
So, I recommend giving it a try. It's free and requires no equipment or even willpower—just commitment. It's about taking the time to build a relationship with yourself. Just sit, let your mind wander, and see where it takes you.
Visualize Success with Future-Activating
My own coach introduced me to a daily practice that's made a huge impact. She calls it "future-activating."
Every morning, before I even get out of bed, I mentally go through all my meetings and other plans for the day, one by one. I look back on each one as though it had already happened, and reflect on what came out of it, how I'm feeling about it, how it went, in the most positive terms. I don't get specific on outcomes—because why stop at what we can imagine? What if something even better were to happen? I just get into a place of gratitude, excitement, optimism, or whatever might be appropriate for that event or activity.
This work fundamentally changes your perspective. Think about a meeting you've been dreading. What might happen if you could let go of any preconceptions and "see" it going amazingly well? How might that affect your expression and body language when you enter the room? The way you greet the other attendee(s)? Your focus? How might they then respond to you? How could those things affect the way the meeting goes?
To increase the impact of the practice, every evening I reflect on (and write down) everything that happened during the day that turned out even better than expected, or that I couldn't have planned or imagined. Where your attention goes, energy flows. I've seen a big difference in my life since I started future-activating.
Foster Innovation by Unlearning Norms
Instead of striving to learn something new every day, I try to unlearn something or question established norms or techniques in digital marketing. We are often told to follow trendy campaigns and flow with the tides, but what about unlearning the normal?
Unlearning and asking questions about routine techniques ensures I don't limit myself to working within the existing methods. Instead, it helps me uncover hidden potential and opens up possibilities for innovation. For example, when everyone is chasing trends, e.g., influencer partnerships, I am actively exploring anti-influencer campaigns to come up with an effective campaign for Promodo that is rooted in authenticity.
Inverse thinking keeps me curious, and it helps me unlock potential beyond the ordinary. It is the daily practice that has helped me grow and develop strategies that give Promodo an edge in our digital marketing efforts.
Enhance Strategies with Red Teaming
Participating in Red Teaming regularly has been essential to my career development. This technique, which takes its cues from military strategy, entails questioning my business tactics, asking colleagues to review proposals, and proactively seeking out opposing views. I can identify my blind spots, improve my methods, and make better decisions by creating an atmosphere that welcomes constructive skepticism.
This ongoing evaluation ensures that my company's plans are flexible, resilient, and prepared to handle unforeseen obstacles. Accepting disagreement as a useful tool rather than a barrier has strengthened my leadership and fostered an innovative culture in my team. The skill of self-challenge is a potent stimulant for ongoing development and strategic agility in today's fast-paced business environment.
Reconnect with Passion Through Walking
I committed to taking a walk around the lake near my house every day for a year back in 2019. This daily practice is the one I credit most for my continuous self-growth in my professional life.
It proved transformative, offering me a space to gather my thoughts and reconnect with my core passion for writing. It's the discipline of this daily routine, combined with the mental clarity and reduced stress it brought, that reignited my creative spirit.
This walk around the lake became more than just physical exercise; it evolved into a mental and emotional journey, paving the way for self-discovery and professional development as a writer. I walked around this lake in thunderstorms and blizzards just to get a picture for a coffee-table book I wanted to write.
By committing to this daily practice, I not only rediscovered my love for writing but also opened doors to new opportunities, proving the profound impact of small, consistent actions on personal and professional growth.
I quit the job that was draining my energy in 2020 and have had a successful career as a writer, editor, and now entrepreneur ever since.
Expand Horizons with Daily Conversation
As a media agency owner with anxiety, being part of an organization for like-minded entrepreneurs has been pivotal. The daily interactions and idea exchanges with peers provide invaluable insights and support.
This network not only inspires innovative strategies but also offers a sense of community, which is crucial for my mental well-being and professional growth. We meet monthly to discuss everything that is weighing on our minds and hear how others were able to overcome something similar.
Align Actions with Intuitive Body Scans
Every day, and several times throughout, I prioritize frequent body scans, which have been crucial for my personal and professional growth. Think of it as a quick internal check-in to gauge how I respond to the day's demands, whether a new request, a conversation, or my ongoing to-do list. This practice strengthens my connection to intuition, helping me easily recognize when I feel a "full-body yes" about something.
On the other hand, if I notice physical signs of tension, like tightness in my chest or changes in my breathing, it's a clear indicator of resistance. This signals me to delve deeper, asking myself whether it's fear, doubt, a misalignment with my values, or perhaps just an overwhelming workload. These body scans are key to staying authentic, ensuring that my actions align with my true self, and managing my energy effectively.
Broaden Perspectives with Diverse Content
There's one daily practice that has reaped me so many benefits in my professional life, and that is consuming content outside of my regular interests. We all feel comfortable watching content that interests us, relates to our lives, or features our favorite hero. Still, you'll notice that expanding your interests and watching something unorthodox actually makes you an interesting person.
As a law firm owner, I used to watch a lot of legal documentaries and crime series so that I could contribute to the conversations happening during the court's lunch breaks or tea breaks. But I sounded more intelligent and knowledgeable as soon as I started reading about finances and money laundering and linked it with how money can be a deciding factor if you're looking for success for your law firm.
I didn't take a finance course, nor did someone in my firm go for a finance degree, but just consuming a wide variety of content can make you look more knowledgeable, and at least you'll have something to speak on every topic, rather than boring everyone with the same legal stuff you know.
Increase Creativity by Setting Boundaries
I believe setting boundaries has been incredibly impactful. As an entrepreneur, and as someone who does not work in a traditional office space, there is no such thing as "9 to 5" where I begin work at 9 and leave at 5.
Before, I found myself constantly working. I would work from 9am to 5pm, and then, because I felt like I needed to utilize spare time, I continued to work until 8 p.m. I did this for a long time until I started to feel weird—a feeling I later realized was severe burnout.
Now, I have given myself work boundaries of working from 9 to 6, and only giving myself three big tasks to do in a day, and limiting myself to 1-2 meetings a day. I prioritize my breaks.
With all of these changes, I found myself being well-rested and more energized to work better and come up with innovative ideas.
Strengthen Connections with Daily Networking
I network daily! Every day, I dedicate at least an hour to engaging on LinkedIn and various professional groups to keep up with and strengthen my connections. I believe this habit has been incredibly influential in my entrepreneurial journey, as it's through this networking that I've encountered mentors, business partners, collaborators, and individuals who share similar professional visions and goals.
Networking regularly has opened numerous doors for opportunities that I might not have found otherwise. It's through these connections that I've gained invaluable insights into different industries, learned new strategies, and stayed abreast of the latest trends. Engaging with a diverse set of professionals has broadened my perspective, allowing me to think more creatively and approach challenges in innovative ways.
Of course, continuous interaction with a wide network has also enhanced my communication skills and bolstered my confidence in professional settings.
Nurture Resilience with Daily Yoga
Personally, I attribute a significant portion of my continuous self-growth in my professional life to my daily practice of yoga. It's a major part of my day and it plays a big part in my ongoing growth and development as a person and professional.
Engaging in yoga every day provides me with a profound sense of peace that I haven't found through any other means. The practice serves as a sanctuary where I can clear my mind, fostering a tranquil mental space essential for addressing the challenges that come with running a business.
Yoga is, without a doubt, the most humbling aspect of my routine, as it constantly reminds me of the importance of balance, patience, and mindfulness. This practice not only enhances my physical well-being but also cultivates a mindset that is resilient and adaptable, crucial qualities for navigating the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship.
Hone Communication with Emotional Labeling
In the world of business, the ability to communicate effectively is non-negotiable. I often see entrepreneurs who read tens of books about communication, but most of them are bad at it. So, I set myself a goal to make communication my strength. But how? There's no definitive guidebook; business communication is a dynamic, fast-paced arena requiring flexibility, intelligence, and creativity. For the past three years, I've practiced communication labeling—identifying emotions and behaviors during interactions. Are they frustrated? Trying to manipulate? Genuinely in need of a discount?
This has helped us secure major deals with suppliers, partners, and clients, proving instrumental to our business success. Communication and emotional intelligence can't be taught or bought; it's a skill honed over the years. It becomes a compass, guiding us toward profitable deals. While new technologies and AI will continue to evolve, understanding human behavior remains a timeless asset. Trust me, this skill is invaluable.
Optimize Efficiency with Smart Work
Adopting a "Work Smarter, Not Harder" approach has really changed the game for me. It's more than just doing tasks—it's about smart use of technology, sharing work with others, and knowing when to say no. This way, I save time and cut down on stress, giving me space to think creatively.
I've learned that it's not just about being busy; it's about making each day meaningful. For anyone looking to grow professionally, this approach is pure gold. It helps you balance work and life, and that's something we all need.
Maintain Empathy with a Beginner's Mindset
For veteran practitioners of any skill, it's important to remember that beginners they are teaching can become so practiced that they forget the basics. Try learning to surf from a pro surfer. You will make it out paddling toward the waves, waiting for an oncoming swell, only to be told to "stand up" once the wave reaches you. It's easier said than done, and it's the same for any practice.
Taking a beginner's mindset every day helps experts remember the learning curve and daily fundamentals of what they do. This is crucial for training new experts and talent and understanding customers' perspectives, for example, when onboarding them into your brand or product. Expertise is critical, but not more important than accessibility. Taking the beginner's mindset regularly humbles us, keeps us empathetic, and, ultimately, is what makes us efficient.
Stay Ahead with an Hour of Learning
One practice that has been pivotal for my professional growth is dedicating the first hour of my day to learning something new related to my field. This could be reading industry-related news, exploring emerging technologies, or even studying a new business strategy. For instance, when we were scaling, I spent these early hours learning about advanced digital marketing techniques, which significantly improved our outreach strategies.
This habit ensures I'm continuously expanding my knowledge base, keeping me ahead of industry trends and opening up new avenues for innovation and problem-solving in my work. It's impactful because it not only keeps my skills sharp but also fuels creative thinking and adaptability, which are crucial in the ever-evolving landscape of startup management.