I once met a man who was wildly successful in everything he chose to do. Mr. Kim was a fine businessman who made gobs of money, had a great family life, and was a pillar of his community. I approached him once and asked him for his secret. He told me something that seemed to come straight out of a self-help book and then proceeded to explain what he meant.
At first, what Mr. Kim shared with me seemed somewhat corny and simplistic. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. What Mr. Kim told me was that at the end of each day, as he lay in bed, he asked himself a simple question: What did I accomplish today? He would then let his thoughts dance around his head as he composed an answer. As Mr. Kim explained it, this nightly ritual took only five minutes and was done in complete silence.
During one evening, his thoughts might center on a major purchase like a new commercial property. This accomplishment represented a sound investment that would add more dollars to his net worth. Beyond the material benefits, however, for Mr. Kim money represented the ability to help others. He was a large donor to his church and also enjoyed having the freedom to help his kids realize their own dreams through his financial assistance.
On other nights, the accomplishments reflected upon could be relatively minor. Mr. Kim might ruminate on something as simple as having greeted an angry looking stranger on the street with a smile. You may ask, “Where is the accomplishment in that?” As Mr. Kim made clear, these little moments are what you make of them. In his mind, the little things were often more rewarding than the grandiose. Smiling at a stranger was confirmation that Mr. Kim was in control of his surroundings and not the other way around. He controlled his environment.
The smile was also a gift, an olive branch to his fellow man, a person he did not know. One gesture in itself might not make a difference, but Mr. Kim reasoned that doing things like this would have the same effect as drops of water on a giant boulder: Each drop by itself does not make a dent, but, cumulatively, the droplets carve and shape even the toughest of stones over time.
As he drifted off to sleep, Mr. Kim would review his answer and think about what he did right and what could be improved upon. He would resolve to do better next time and to learn something new each day. He would not see dramatic changes, at first, but before he knew it, almost by magic, he found himself becoming wealthier in terms of his personal development and fulfillment, material wealth, healthy and satisfying relationships with his family and friends, and an overall calm and controlled demeanor.
I was impressed by Mr. Kim’s simple yet powerful words. I realized that we can all benefit from this mental exercise of self reflection. Each of us can spare a meager five minutes each day to review our actions and strive for improvement. Personally, this little ritual has made an impact in my life. Almost without fail, each night as I lay down, I ask myself what I accomplished during the previous twenty-four hours. Sometimes, I struggle to find meaning in my day. Other times, I revel in something wonderful I was able to see to completion. No matter my conclusion, though, I resolve to do better the next day and that has made all the difference.