Bob McTeer's Rules for Success

by: Bob McTeer

When I was president of the Dallas Fed (1991-2004), I frequently spoke to the graduates of our rank-and-file training programs. I just ran across the following summary outline someone made of my remarks on such an occasion in February 2002. Maybe you can use my suggestions on your kiddos. Commenters may want to add their own favorites to the list.

1. Plan your life on paper. Where would you like to be in your career in 5 years? 10 years?

2. Do a time line.

3. Write out your goals, objectives and ambitions. Be very specific and detailed.

4. Translate your goals into activities and schedule those activities on your calendar. Write your to-do lists with your goals in mind.

5. Watch people and take an inventory of those you admire. Check their attributes against your own. You can learn from people even if they aren’t perfect.

6. Talk good. An observation: The higher the level or rank of a person, the simpler their language. (The “good” was intended as a joke.)

7. Develop your brand.

8. Have an Australia—a plan B. (As in “I’m not dependent on this job. If it doesn’t work out, I can always go farm my little plot in Australia.”)

9. Beaver chip. Reduce large goals and objectives to bite size.

10. Focus like a laser. Don’t get distracted on unimportant tasks. (This is where “do as I say, not as I do” comes in.)

11. Keep a journal or a notebook.

12. Read.

13. Spend time outside your comfort zone.

14. Be alert for paradigm shifts.

15. Be alert for epiphanies.

16. Understand the difference between “playing the percentages” and trying to “beat the odds.” (Mothers call attempts to beat the odds “tempting fate.”)

17. Try to see familiar things from a new and different perspective.

18. Plan your life and career with the end in sight. Pretend you are writing the report on what you’ve accomplished.

19. Understand that you know more about the future than you might think. Some basic skills that will probably remain important include these:

Writing well

Speaking well

Comfort with technology

Pleasant to be with

Interesting to be with

Not a whiner

Pleasant to look at

20. Realize that leadership comes in many flavors.

21. Figure out why you will be successful. In other words, find the source of your self-confidence.

22. Realize that life is a journey, not a destination. (Sorry about that.)