THE BLOG

The Link Between Personal Development and Professional Success

03/04/2015 03:28 pm ET | Updated May 04, 2015
Erik Isakson via Getty Images

The legendary entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it best: Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development. And yet, as hard-charging business owners, we often sacrifice our personal needs in favor of working one more hour or one more weekend.

It's no wonder many of us aren't fully satisfied with where we're at professionally. We keep ignoring that crucial personal component that helps drive great results.

Hal Elrod's mission is to change all that and help entrepreneurs reach the next level in their businesses and in their lives. A successful sales rep and business coach who has authored two bestselling books (Taking Life Head On and The Miracle Morning), Elrod researched the most effective, proven personal development practices used by top entrepreneurs.

They included techniques like meditation and visualization -- strategies so well-known and obvious that Elrod nearly dismissed them due to their familiarity. "We all want the latest and greatest thinking or the newest app to solve our problems, but I had to admit to myself that these fundamental, well-established ideas were what the most successful people out there swear by."

Six steps to personal development

Elrod decided the best route to success was not to try one or two of these strategies, but to commit to all of them. To that end, he created his Life S.A.V.E.R.S. system -- a model that frames six key components of development in digestible pieces that help entrepreneurs get, and stay, on track:

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1. Silence. This can include meditation, prayer or both -- any method to quiet the mind and regain calmness and focus.

2. Affirmations. Often misunderstood, affirmations are effective when you think positively about the thing you want to be or the goal you want to achieve and about the action steps that you need to take to get there.

3. Visualization. Simply visualizing your ideal outcome can trick your brain into thinking you're already there -- and reduce your drive to do the work needed to achieve it. The key, says Elrod, is to bring your end goal back to the present day and envision yourself doing the necessary work in the moment to ensure that your long-term vision actually comes into being.

4. Exercise. Increasing blood and oxygen flow to your brain boosts your cognitive function as well as your mental and emotional capacity so that you can have the clarity needed to, as Elrod puts it, "crush every single day." Apps like the 7 Minute Workout are great for busy entrepreneurs.

5. Reading. Elrod emphasizes the importance of self-help books and articles to stay focused on continually improving yourself. Consistency is the key here. Often entrepreneurs stop reading when things are going well. But if you read just 10 pages per day, which might take 15 minutes, you can get through approximately 18 200-page self-help books in a year. Think of what all that insight could mean for your development!

6. Scribing. Keeping a journal can also boost your personal growth, especially if you keep a daily gratitude journal in which you write down three things during the previous 24 hours for which you are grateful.

The early bird

That said, Elrod has a big caveat about these practices: "If you can't get out of bed in the morning, none of this will work for you."

To combat counterproductive procrastination, Elrod strongly encourages entrepreneurs to wake up early and dive right into their routine:

"These strategies will give you the edge to do superior work throughout your day, so waiting to fit them into your schedule doesn't really make sense. Meditation is proven to help you focus better. Exercise brings oxygen to the brain and helps you be a better thinker. If you do these things later on in your day, you won't harness the benefits when you need to make important business decisions."

Can't fathom the thought of waking up earlier than you already do? Elrod offers the following tips -- so easy a child could follow them, he says -- to get up and go:

1. Set your intentions before you go to bed. Our first thought in the morning is almost always the same as the last thought we had before bed. So it's when you go to bed that you get to determine how good or bad you will feel when you wake.

2. Put your alarm clock across the room. If you have to get out of bed and walk across the room to shut off your alarm, you're instantly three to four times more awake than if you shut it off from the comfort of your pillow. This is another example of how something really obvious can be extremely powerful. "A CEO recently told a group of people at a conference that the most important thing he learned from me is to move his alarm clock far from the bed," laughs Elrod.

3. Start your day with a full glass of water. After five to eight hours of sleep, our bodies are dehydrated. Yet most of us reach for a cup of coffee or tea right away, which only further dehydrates us. Instead, make sure there's a full glass of water on your bathroom sink each morning and drink it all as soon as you wake up. This primes your body to take action.

You can take these steps while you're half asleep. By the time you're done, you'll find that you're awake -- and ready to make great things happen.

Check out AES Nation every day for bold insights and actionable advice from elite entrepreneurs who have achieved huge success.