10 Core Principles Leaders Live (and Die) By: The Ken Kommandments

Ken Larson

Throughout my professional career, I’ve realized that the best results are derived from a razor-sharp focus on process, not the end result.

Through years of executive leadership coaching, observing the journeys of other champions, and addressing unique client situations, I’ve had the unique privilege of witnessing these leaders overcome their most challenging obstacles first-hand.

Because of that, I decided to boil down my leadership teachings and experiences into ten digestible, core principles that future business champions could reflect on, absorb, and put into action.

I’ve referred to these principles frequently in my executive coaching sessions ever since.


I call them The Ken Kommandments.

Tomorrow’s success comes from creating an actionable mental calendar today. Let’s start now.


1.) Know Your Week

Understand your time frame

Keep focused on what you can accomplish now. Right now.

By default, we tend to only think long term about our biggest goals (i.e. 10, 5, 3 years down the road). This positions you perfectly for feeling overwhelmed.

But when you flip that thinking on its head and break down your biggest goals on a weekly basis, they become actionable. To keep progressing, hone in on your week. There are 52 in a year, 13 in each quarter, and every weekend offers a break to reset.

Which week are you in right now? Seriously — know the number of the week you’re in for the quarter as well as the year, every week!

By understanding your time constraints, you can determine which parts of your project are important right now and which ones should be shelved for later. Prioritize your professional life with the 4 D’s of Discipline today.


Which project or area of focus is most important right now?


2.) Think Big, Act Small

Focus on Goal Alignment

Here’s the thing. You’re probably not going to reach your business goals before 5:00pm today. But you can get closer if you align your process with those goals.

Nothing stagnates business growth like wasting time and energy on projects that don’t matter.

Make sure every single action you take is in line with your growth path, not perpendicular.

Develop an understanding where you need to be, and then become mindful of the small actions you can take to eventually get there.


How have you defined your growth path? How well are you following it?


3.) None of Us Are as Smart as All of Us

Teamwork is Crucial

When ego kicks into gear, many leaders think they can do it all.

We get caught up in the daily grind and become resistant to asking for help. But realistically, our success depends on regularly working with others.

Regardless of where you’re seeking an additional perspective, it just takes one shift in perception to create more clarity than an individual can realize on their own.

Also, you’ll notice that projects get completed quickly and more efficiently when you get your high-performing team involved.

If you devote time to the hiring process and trust to your employees, your team will most likely be capable of cranking out respectable work more quickly than you can alone.

Quality teamwork can prevent employee burnout and positive, constructive criticism will almost always inspire people to work harder.


How well are you tapping into the team’s collective wisdom?


4.) What Gets Measured Gets Done

Utilize Metrics & Understand Accountability

There must be an objective measure in place. If not, your efforts are being wasted.

Measurement leads to goal achievement because:
1) the desire to win is heightened when the pressures of time and rivalry coincide, whether you’re competing against others or yourself.

2) it provides a level of accountability (i.e. measuring your weight to achieve weight loss, measuring revenue monthly to ensure you’re bringing in money). We must be able to hold ourselves (or others) accountable for the resulting successes or failures. When the entire project team understands exactly who is accountable for each task, projects get completed at a higher rate


How are you distributing your “thank you’s”?


5.) Remember Curly!

Find Your “One Thing”.

Remember the movie City Slickers? Remember Curly, the wise, old, cigarette-smoking cowboy?

There’s one specific scene that has defined how I look at business and life in general:

He says, “Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that, and everything else don’t mean shit.”

If you try to focus on six big things in one week, the likelihood of failing is high. When you chase two chickens in a cage, you’ll catch none.

To gain traction, you must focus on one thing.
It’s the snowball effect. You set aside time to complete one thing that catapults you toward your biggest goal this week. Once you knock that out, you’ll move onto the next ‘one thing’, taking you one step closer to the goal.


What’s your “one thing”?


6.) Be Brief, Be Bold, Be Gone

Prepare For Your Meetings

Harvard Business Review surveyed nearly 200 senior executives from a variety of industries. Only 17% of these leaders stated that their meetings are a productive use of time. They reported having too many meetings with no clear purpose, no desired outcomes, and loss of focus due to irrelevant or unclear conversations.
Nothing is a bigger time-waster than a meeting that yields no clarification and doesn’t identify your next steps.

Daily meetings shouldn’t last more than 15-20 minutes, a weekly meeting shouldn’t last more than 45, and a monthly meeting shouldn’t last more than 2 hours.
Be brief and purposeful about what you’re presenting, know your desired outcomes in advance, be bold in stating what truly matters, then be gone.


What are the ground rules, formats, and guidelines for your meetings?


7.) See. Feel. Believe.

You can achieve anything.

You can envision your biggest goal, but do you feel it in your gut?

Not a metaphorical feeling. A true physical sensation in your body that ties emotion to mentality. If you can physically feel the goal, then you’re in position to believe and achieve.

If the feeling isn’t there, I would reevaluate what you’re doing. Perhaps what you’re doing isn’t the right thing for you. If working towards your current goal isn’t inspiring you or giving you life, you may be heading down the wrong path.


What is your gut telling you about a specific goal? Be honest with yourself.


8.) Eliminate ALL Other Options

Practice REAL Commitment

In 1519, Captain Hernan Cortés and six hundred of his men sailed to an unknown land. Cortés was determined to settle this land and immediately upon arriving, he ordered his men to burn the ships. Two years later, he succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire. This is an example of true commitment and how withdrawal is all too easy when you give yourself the option.

Planning an exit strategy should only be a safety net.
Cortés was on a mission and he knew the only way to keep himself or his men from quitting was to take the option off the table. Often, leaders revert back to what they know because it’s easier.

To be successful, you need to fully commit to taking challenges head-on (eliminating deadweight, embracing new processes, etc.).

Change won’t work if you’ve already mapped out the off-ramp.
In business, you have a choice of either doing what you’ve committed to or not.


What are your ships?

Have you burned them yet?

What are you afraid to let go of?


9.) Communicate and Connect

You are not alone!

We get stuck in silos of texts and emails and float through daily life with our headphones on. We neglect to get in a room and talk with one another.  

What if you took the time to really connect with someone?
What if you ventured beyond just saying hi in the hallway?

You never know the value you could be giving (or getting) by simply connecting. We must communicate to gain empathy. We need to converse in-person to truly understand each other.

Once a connection is solidified, calls, emails, and texts can be utilized more often. But face-to-face interaction is imperative to building a strong element of trust and rapport.

Think of someone you’d like to build a stronger relationship with. Now, ask them to lunch or to have coffee. If time is an issue, think about ways that might help you connect with them next time you run into each other.


Who will you reach out to today? And how will you truly connect?


10.) Be Infectious

Showcase your energy!

It’s the law of attraction: if you give off negative energy, you will attract negative energy. The same thing is true for positive energy.

Being passionate about what you do, finding ways to pump others up, and showing gratitude, will yield a preferable, positive outcome.
What many don’t realize is that it’s a conscious choice.
If you can live by this principle, it has a multiplicative effect on others. You can’t help but feel good being around positive people. It positions you to do what you need to serve your employees and clients best.


What type of energy are you radiating?


Next Steps

These guidelines will help you create an actionable mental blueprint for success. If you have the discipline to follow them, you will see results and you’ll be on the path to get others rallied around your vision, too.

If you need any further help strengthening your leadership skills, let’s talk!

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