1. Develop a winning attitude. Expect to succeed. Believe in yourself. See challenges in your professional career as opportunities for success. Be at your best when your best is needed. Keep all things in proper perspective. See the glass as half full rather than half empty.
2. Focus on the important factors in life. Know what’s important to you and what you want - both professionally and personally. Systematically expend your time and energy in a targeted manner. Do not allow yourself to be distracted or dissuaded from your priorities. In other words, always keep your eyes on the "prize."
3. Make success a habit. Be a creature of positive habits (e.g., exercise regularly and attend professional conferences and meetings). Be a "can-do" rather than a "make-do" person. Don’t procrastinate. Be trustworthy. Be adaptable to your circumstances as they exist (not as you’d like them to be). Don’t be satisfied with the status quo; continue to strive for improvement.
4. Commit to lifelong learning. Have a desire to learn. Be someone who is teachable. Never be content about how much you know. Exhibit a thirst for relevant knowledge concerning health/fitness. Try to maintain a competitive edge with regard to knowledge. Accept the fact that learning is an ongoing process. When in doubt, read, read, and then read some more.
5. Develop your memory. Never underestimate the exceptional value of a good memory. Do whatever is necessary to improve your memory. Keep in mind that your memory can assist you in a number of ways, including helping you navigate the daily deluge of information, enhancing your ability to learn, making the most of your efforts to influence the actions and behaviors of others, and helping make the best use of your time.
6. Think outside the box. Be an independent thinker. Reach decisions and make objective judgments based on your own experiences and observations rather than simply relying on the statements or opinions of others. Have confidence in your ability to think critically and act appropriately.
7. Have a plan to succeed. Identify and then address the various steps that need to be undertaken to enhance your level of professional success. Prioritize the steps and allocate the resources/ time to accomplish each step. Start executing your plan as soon as the necessary resources (if any) are in place. In this regard, adhere to the following basic rule of thumb, "do it right and do it now."
8. Be persistent. Stay the course. Exhibit a high level of industriousness. Be an overachiever. See every task you undertake through to its completion. Avoid the "law of least effort" (i.e., trying to get things the easiest way you can).
9. Accept responsibility. Have the courage to be answerable and accountable for your actions, obligations, and duties. Don’t blame others when things go wrong. Search for a solution, not an excuse. Don’t try to just get by; be motivated by excellence in everything you do.
10. Have a balance in your life. Always remember that life requires that you pay attention to every part of it. Don’t be a workaholic. Set aside time to work, exercise, and play. Make time for friends and family. As the traditional axiom states: plan your work and work your plan.
James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, is a freelance writer and consultant in sports medicine. From 1990 until 1995, Dr. Peterson was director of sports medicine with StairMaster. Until that time, he was professor of physical education at the United States Military Academy.
Copyright 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.