Leadership is how you get the best from people. Personal leadership is how you get the best from yourself. What’s that phrase? If you can’t lead you, please don’t try and lead me.

Any act of improvement is an act of personal leadership. High achievers work on themselves continuously.

Here’s the background to one of the most powerful tools you can use to identify what habits really make a difference.

Several years ago on a balmy Spring afternoon, two of the wealthiest business people on the planet, Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, and Warren Buffet, Chairman of investment house Berkshire Hathaway, ran a seminar for 350 business school students at the University of Washington.

It is rare for seminar leaders to have a combined worth of $84 million, never mind the $84 billion of these two, so the audience was riveted in anticipation.

‘How did you do it?’, someone asked.

‘It’s not IQ, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear,’ said Buffet. ‘The big thing is output. IQ and talent represent the horsepower of the motor. Many people have a 400 horsepower motor, but only get 100 horsepower of output. It’s way better to have a 200 horsepower motor and get all 200 horsepower of output.

People do things which interfere with the output they should get. It’s about habits and character and temperament. Everyone can make it, some of you will and some of you won’t. For the ones who won’t, it will be because you get in your own way, not because the world won’t allow you.’

He then described one of the most useful self-improvement tools we have ever encountered.

Warren Buffet’s personal leadership tool.

‘I have one little suggestion for you. Pick out the person or persons you admire most, and then write down why you admire them. Don’t include yourself in this!

Then pick out the person that frankly you can stand the least and write down the qualities that turn you off in that person.

Look at what you admire and decide right now to make those traits your own habits, and look at what you find really reprehensible in others and decide right now that those are things you are not going to do. If you do that you’ll find that you convert all of your horsepower into output.’

Whatever your job description you will accelerate your career with this simple yet powerful way of identifying good habits.

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