Your “Life Well Lived” Check-Up From the Neck-Up

Ivy Ledbetter Lee, born in 1877, was once paid a King’s Ransom for the ‘most profitable advice’ that Charles M. Schwab (not to be confused with Charles R. Schwab, the financial industry titan) ever received. Schwab, then President of Bethlehem Steel (owned by Andrew Carnegie) sought to improve the personal productivity of both his managing team and himself.

At the advice of John R. Rockefeller, Sr., Schwab eschewed his disdain for consultants and reluctantly met with Lee for fifteen minutes. What Lee delivered to Schwab is almost common knowledge today, but it is hardly common practice.

This is a timeless lesson that we must all revisit.

Lee instructed Schwab to write down the six biggest priority items that Schwab needed to do each day to grow Bethlehem Steel into the industry leader. Lee then told Schwab that he was to address the priorities starting with the most important and working down the list, checking off each item as it was completed. At the end of each day, Schwab was to return to his desk and create a new priority item list to attack first thing the next morning.

Lee concluded by saying, “Try this out and send me a check for what you think this advice is worth to you.” Several weeks later, after experiencing tremendous improvements in personal and company productivity, Schwab sent Lee the aforementioned King’s Ransom, a check for $25,000, the equivalent of $609,000 today. Considering the meeting lasted only fifteen minutes, you could say that Lee’s hourly rate was $2.4 million, an astounding figure matched only by major league baseball players today, I believe.

With this advice, Schwab went on to build Bethlehem Steel into the most powerful steel company in the United States of America, and Lee became a corporate consulting legend, going on to work for Walter Chrysler, the Red Cross, and Charles Lindbergh.

If this advice was good enough for a team of American Titans, then certainly it is good enough for us as well.

But the priority to-do list should not be news to you. Perhaps you even know that story, so we certainly won’t be charging you a King’s ransom for it. That said, this daily checklist must be part of your routine, just as the weekly “Check-Up From the Neck-Up” that you’re about to discover should also be part of your weekly to-do list.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The first wealth is health.” If you’ve ever had a major health scare, as I did with my anxiety attacks back in 2006, then you’ll know that no amount of money can replace the feeling of having good health.

That’s why at ETR we spend so much time showing you how to eat
for energy and exercise in short bursts for maximum results. Not only do
we know this will make you more productive (hmm, I wonder how much money Schwab would have paid me for showing him how to workout in just 4 minutes?), but eating right and exercising will eliminate a great deal of stress from your life. But being rich and slim does not guarantee a legendary legacy that will leave you satisfied with your life.

There is still more to “wealth” than that. I’m currently reading the NY Times bestseller, How Will You Measure Your Life, by Harvard-professor, Clayton Christensen. The title says it all. You and I both know that at the end of our time here on earth, should we have the chance to reflect on our life well lived, we won’t be bragging about our bank accounts or belt sizes. We will be thinking of our family, our friends, and the people we helped, as bosses, managers, and within our communities. That’s why your weekly “Check-Up” addresses all of these issues.

This weekly task will take you ten to twenty minutes, but it could be the second most important thing you do all week (after your Ivy Lee Priority Checklist).

Fill out the list below and email it to yourself for your record keeping, or preferably to an Accountability Partner. I have each one of my 7-Figure Executive Coaching Clients fill this out on Saturday morning. I review their replies Saturday afternoon and send them guidance on how to make adjustments to their priorities. I also make a note of major issues to discuss on our next call. It requires you to be brutally honest, but it is an essential component to ensuring you are building a balanced bank account of wealth in all areas that matter in life. It will document your personal growth. In fact, I guarantee it will change your life!

I look forward to hearing how the Saturday Summary helps you. (Checks for this advice, should you choose to be like Charles Schwab, can be sent to Early To Rise, in my name, ha!)

Feel free to customize your Saturday Summary to emphasize work, family, fitness, faith, or finances. Make sure it covers all areas of true wealth in your life.

Take this seriously. Personal reflection and introspection is a key to breaking through your upper limits and barriers for all areas of wealth building.

Use this road map, combined with sustained focus on the priorities in life, and you’ll achieve all that you want, including that enduring legacy for your life.

Looking forward to your feedback,

P.S. – I’d love to know how the Saturday Summary checklist works for you. Send an email with your thoughts to

The Saturday Summary

Note: The scale is correct for all questions. Some are 1-10 and others 1-100.

1. Rate your past week overall on a scale of 1-100: _______
2a. Rate your past week’s relationship with significant other on a scale of 1-10: _______
2b. Rate your past week’s relationship your with kid(s) on a scale of 1-10: _______
2c. Rate your past week’s relationship with key employee(s) on a scale of 1-10: _______ (Add lines as needed for other people in your life).
3a. Rate your past week’s ability to keep to your work schedule on a scale of 1-100: _______
3b. Rate your past week’s work stress on a scale of 1-100: _______

4. What is next week’s #1 Big Priority for your family life:

5. On a scale of 1-10, rate past week’s progress for following objectives:

Your family: _______
Your health: _______
Your spiritual time: _______
Your wealth building efforts: e Your career: _______
Other:  _______

6. What is the #1 Big Priority with your business or career next week: ____________________________________________________________________

7. Rate past week’s diet QUALITY on a scale of 1-10: _______

8. Rate past week’s sleep on a scale of 1-10: _______

9. Rate past week’s workout routine on a scale of 1-10: _______

10. What is the #1 habit (work/personal) you want to improve this week?

Other notes: __________________________________________________________

[Ed Note: Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise (Join him on Facebook here) and the author of Financial Independence Monthly, a complete blueprint to helping you take control of your financial future with research of proven methods in your career, in your business and in your personal life. He has created a unique system to show gratitude and appreciation to stay on track for these goals each and every day. Click here to follow the exact 5-minute system you can use to improve your life.]