Embrace The Unknown

We all set out to “find” ourselves, with ambitious goals, only for an awfully high number of us to end up playing it safe and avoiding risks. The truth, however, is that it’s only in the unknown that we are able to find ourselves. We don’t plan on selling ourselves short, but the unknown is a very scary place. It’s worth remembering that humans are creatures of habit, and our habit is to seek the easy route to anything. We seek pleasure and instant gratification while avoiding pain and uncertainty. We like to be, as far as possible, in control of our lives.

Being comfortable and in control will never make you great. It leads to unfulfilled potential, dissatisfaction and disappointment. If you crave greatness, if you really want to learn what you are truly capable of, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Get up off the sofa, get out there in the big, wide world and set off on your own journey of discovery through the unknown. This can be terrifying, but you must be willing to take a chance and embark on this journey.

This is not something you can plan for and think through. You just have to experience it. Learn, adapt, grow, develop and never stop pushing the limits of what you are capable of. This is how you discover who you truly are, what you are capable of, where your strengths and talents lie and how you can make your mark on the world.

So, don’t be scared of the unknown. Be scared instead of becoming comfortable and complacent. Be fearful of mediocrity. If anything is to trouble you, it should be the thought of losing your curiosity and passion for learning. The unknown is a weird and wonderful place, where through hard work and persistence you can learn, become or achieve whatever you set your heart and mind to.

What Do You Believe In?

Shallow people believe in luck and in circumstance. Strong people believe in cause and effect

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the simplest, and most powerful, shift which you can make in your life – choosing to believe that everything that happens is a result of choices which you make. It really is a matter of choosing how you wish to view the world and your place in it. You can choose to believe in luck, that you have no control over what happens in life, and that life just happens TO you. OR you can choose to recognise that cause and effect exists. You can blame the world for your lack of success, while sitting back and waiting for something good to happen or you. Alternatively, you can make small choices and decisions every day which will take you closer towards your goals. Even when things happen which are beyond our control, we decide how we react to them. Do you choose to admit defeat and give up? Or do you choose to get back up, dust yourself off and try again?

It’s more than just a choice, though. It’s your responsibility. You owe it to your family and friends to become the best you can be, but most important of all, you owe it to yourself.

The choice is yours, and the life which you are currently leading is the result of the choices which you have made until this point. It’s a refection of what you have decided to do, or not to do. If you want to improve your quality of life, you have the power to make better choices which will lead to better results. Simply put… If you want to get better at something, you need to put in the time, effort and hard work necessary to achieve it. Nobody can do it for you. No amount of books and courses can do it for you either. You need to make the right choices and put the work in every single day. This means choosing between working on your business or going out. It means choosing between the gym and a night in front of the tv. Even on days when you don’t feel like it, you still need to be maintaining your discipline and making the right choices. Over time, these choices all add up to steer you in the right direction towards your idea of success.

Whether you lead a reactive life, responding to the world around you, or become proactive and actively carve out the life which you want for yourself, is completely up to you. It’s your choice alone, so choose wisely.

 

 

 

When The Going Gets Tough…

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps

Confucius

Once you decide that you want something so badly in your life that you turn it from a wish into an actual goal, don’t let anything stop you from reaching that goal. Keep going until you make it happen. This is what we are commonly told, but it can often be easier said than done though.

The reality is that you will encounter obstacles and setbacks as your strive towards your goals, and at some point it might even become clear that the path which you are currently on will not get you to your goal. At this stage, you will be tempted to admit defeat and give up, but you must fight this urge with every ounce of your being. Resist the temptation, too, to curse your luck or feel sorry for yourself. Instead, go back to the drawing board and plan a different path. Ask yourself;

  • What has worked well so far?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where are the gaps in my skills or knowledge? Is there somebody who could help me or a book I should read?
  • What is not working in the current approach?
  • Knowing what I now do, how can I adjust my approach so that I can still achieve my goal?

When you refuse to bend or be broken by obstacles and setbacks, but rather rise to the challenges, your life will change for the better. You become more resilient as your outlook on life becomes more positive. Instead of being frustrated by setbacks and obstacles, you begin to see them as challenges to be overcome. As you overcome more and more challenges, you grow and develop into a more positive and resilient person. You become the kind of person you need to be in order to achieve the goals which you set for yourself.

If you change your goal to make it easier to achieve every time things get tough, you will get used to playing it safe and taking the path of least resistance in life. In doing so, you will never realise your full potential, because it is in facing challenges and overcoming them that we discover who we really are and what we are capable of. Doing the hard things which make you feel uncomfortable is the best way to conquer self-doubt, and it’s self-doubt which causes people to adjust or abandon their goals when times get tough.

Believe that there is always a way to make the impossible possible. What seems beyond your reach today, could still be yours if only you change your approach. Believe that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, and that when times get hard, you just need to work harder and smarter. Believe that there is nothing wrong with your goals, you just need to find a better way to reach them.

Adjusting your approach is not an admission of failure, it’s part of the journey towards success. We try things, keeping what works and changing what doesn’t, and we do this this until we achieve what we have set out to. This is how we learn, develop and grow.

You’ve Had Your First Taste Of Success. Now What?!

We all taste success at some point, because when we want something deeply enough, we work tirelessly to get it. Consistent hard work brings positive results. While we all have the ability and opportunities to improve our circumstances, success is temporary for some people, whereas for others it’s a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I’ve always been interested as to why this happens, and whether there’s a difference in behaviour or mindset. What I have learned is that there is one threat, above all, which we need to be able to manage in order to keep winning and keep making progress.

One of the biggest threats to our continued success is not failure. Failure is an important part of success, because it’s one of life’s best teachers. Through failure, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We learn what feels right for us, and who we are. With each failure that we experience, we are given an opportunity to re-evaluate our goals and decide whether they are still relevant. So, if it’s not failure, what is this threat to success then?!

The biggest threat to success…is success. To be more precise, achieving success can leave us with a feeling of complacency, causing our egos to swell and encouraging us to relax our efforts. Some people find themselves unable, or unwilling, to push onwards when they are winning, and this leads to disappointment in the long term. Instead of capitalising on their win, and the opportunities which present themselves, they choose to drop everything and celebrate their achievements. While this may be a fun way to unwind after the grueling journey towards success, stopping to celebrate leads you to lose momentum and any advantage you might have gained so far. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be proud of our achievements and share them with others, but that we should practice moderation. Spend too much time congratulating yourself on your achievements so far, and you risk losing sight of your overall goals and the sense of urgency with which you started your pursuit of them.

This is what separates high achievers from the rest, because when this group achieve what they set out to, they take some time to celebrate but then get back to work. They reflect on what they have learned so far, how far they have come and how far they still have to go. Wherever necessary, they adjust their goals before getting back to work, focusing on the task at hand and not on past wins. The key factor that sets this group apart is a thirst for constant improvement in their lives, and a desire to positively impact the lives of others.

If you want success and achievement to be more than a one-off event, there are a few lessons you can learn from high achievers who make success a habit;

  • Moderation. Don’t get carried away in congratulations and celebrations. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your wins, and then get back to work.
  • Reflection. As with failures, wins are also valuable learning experiences. Once you have finished celebrating, reflect on what you have learned so far, and what you need to get yourself to the next level.
  • Action. Get back to work and go after your next win.
  • Constant Improvement. In all areas of your life, constantly ask yourself – Can I do this better? How? Am I making the full use of my skills and abilities? Am I pushing myself to constantly achieve bigger and better?

Successes and wins are not a reason to stop trying to improve yourself, but rather what happens when you adopt a philosophy of constant improvement in all areas of your life.

Have A Great Day. Every Day.

Each of us is allocated a certain amount of time on this Earth, which we forge into a life we are happy to lead. This time, as well as being limited, can’t be regained once it has passed so we should be making the most of it. Not everybody sees things the same way, however, and a shocking amount of people still lead lives with no direction or purpose, and blame bad luck and lack of opportunities for robing them of the life they want, and the happiness which they feel they deserve. Of course, people work very hard to change their circumstances, but then give up far too easily when times get tough.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither are the lives of our dreams. Our vision of the future is achieved in small steps, consistently over time. It involves having one great day after another, and this can be achieved in 4 steps that anybody can take.

Determine what 5 actions you can take today that will take you a step closer to your goals. We all know what it is that we truly want, and many of us know how we could get it, and when we could get it by. It’s in the execution that it tends to fall apart. When times go well, we get tempted to take our foot off the gas, and spend time celebrating our successes. When things go wrong, we get disheartened, lose confidence and find ourselves fighting the temptation to give up. This is why we need structure and accountability in our day. Every day. To ensure this, prepare a list of 5 things that you must do every day to get you closer to your goals. For example, your list could be;

  1. Read for at least an hour.
  2. Reach out and speak to at least one friend or family member
  3. Gym, walk or physical activity for an hour.
  4. Journal.
  5. Tackle at least one thing which I have been putting off.

Obviously, your list will vary according to your goals but it’s the accountability that matters. You have to complete the list in order for the day to be considered a success. While it keeps you moving in the right direction, this daily list also keeps you focused and helps you to better manage your time. I still have plenty of time to unwind or have fun, but only after my list has been completed for the day. Give it a go, and see how you get on.

Learn something new every day. One of my favourite sayings (“Every day is a school day”) is such an important life lesson. It sounds funny when you first hear it, but when you think about it, this is a call for you to become a life-long learner. Life is more than just a pursuit of your goals. Life is a journey of learning and development, self-discovery and becoming the best version of yourself while also lifting up those around you.

Learning can be done in many ways, but my two favourites are reading and conversations. The first one is self-explanatory. You identify an area of interest, or an area in which you lack knowledge and then seek out books, websites, journals or blogs to read and educate yourself. With advances in technology, everybody can access reading material in a suitable format.

Conversations are something which we need more of. I believe that everybody, no matter their job title or status, has something to teach us if we care enough to listen. We tend to seek people just like us, or those who have achieved what we want, for conversations but it’s about time we ditch our preconceptions and become more open minded. That homeless man you just gave a tea and a sandwich? What if he was once a CEO who made a few bad decisions and has paid the ultimate price? That security guard you ignore as you walk past? What if he was previously a teacher, but now doing this job to pay for the studies which he needs to get the necessary qualifications to change careers? That cleaner? What if he was a lawyer in his home country until he was forced to flee persecution, and is working whatever jobs he can find in order to support himself and his family? You get the idea. Judge less, talk and listen more, and the life-lessons which you get will be priceless. After all, we don’t just learn from books, but we also learn from the life experiences of others.

So, today, pick up a book or engage someone in conversation and see how much you learn. Obviously, if you’re like me and have reading on your list of actions for the day, do your learning in another way, whether it be a conversation, podcast or anything else.

Take time to express gratitude. Focus on the things which you are thankful for. Think about what you have right now, and what you are. This is all about perspective. With the rise of the Social Media Influencer, more than ever before, our attention is drawn to what others have. We begin to crave these things to the point where we lose sight of what is important in our own lives and the journey which we are on.

People only show you what they want you to see. Especially online. You don’t see the debt incurred by those who are “faking it till they make it”. All you see are the houses and cars, and equate this to massive success. What of those who are genuinely successful? Again, you only see the perks, but not the tireless effort and sacrifices which they had to make to achieve what they have today. They were prepared to keep going when times got tough, chose nights working on their business or education instead of going out and were disciplined enough to finish what they started.

Turn your attention to what you do have. Have you got a comfortable house to live in with heating and running water? Have you got a job which allows you to support yourself and your loved ones? Have you got a car so that you can travel in comfort? Have you got food? A television? Internet access? A smartphone….All of these things make you richer than countless millions of people in the world, for whom daily life is a fight for survival.

You have very many things to be grateful for in your life. You just need to stop looking at what other people have, in order to realise this. Write down 3 things every day which you appreciate, and enjoy the magic which it works on your mindset and attitude.

Enjoy something every day which money can’t buy. For me this is quality time spent with loved ones, or a walk in the forest with my dogs. Some of the most wonderful things in life don’t come with a price tag. Seek them out and enjoy them every day in order to enrich your life and keep stress at bay.

Daily life is all a matter of balance. As well as working tirelessly on your goals, it is important to also appreciate what you have, what you are and the journey which you have been on so far. Furthermore, by doing something every day which money can’t buy, it brings balance into your life and makes every day look and feel like a great day.

I wish you all a great day. Every single day.

 

 

Your Words, And How You Use Them

Achieving success, reaching our goals and realising our potential is so much more than just getting a better job or starting a business, so that you can lots of money to buy nice things. It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves, and the best that we can be in all areas of our lives. It’s about becoming well-rounded people who raise and inspire others while we constantly pursue personal and professional development.

So, what i’d like to ask you today, is that you be nice to other people. Treat others with kindness, compassion and respect. Even those you would rather just avoid. Put all judgement aside, and aim to be a good person. Those who you often think deserve it least, turn out to be those who need it the most.

This is easier said than done, though, as we all get tired, frustrated, angry or upset and in turn take this out on other people. We are very quick to brush this off as harmless stress-relief, and just expect those on the receiving end to understand and forgive us if we apologise later. But, once those words come out of your mouth, it’s already too late. You can’t take them back, and you can’t undo the damage which has been caused. Before you lash out at somebody else, just remember that they are a human being with feelings. They are somebody’s mum, dad, daughter, son, brother, sister… Ask yourself, would you treat your own loved ones so badly?

You have no idea what struggles other people face on a daily basis, and the potential damage that one rude comment can do to another’s confidence and self-esteem. By the same token, you also have no idea the extent to which one positive, encouraging or supporting comment can do them the world of good.

Your  words, actions and body language have tremendous power. So, think very carefully about how you will use them. You can either build someone up or tear them down, without even realising it.

In a world full of big egos and where a dog- eat- dog mentality prevails, be the exception. Success doesn’t have to be achieved by trampling on the hopes, dreams or self worth of others. It can be achieved by believing in, supporting and raising others. Rather than discourage people, or try to pretend that you are something special or that nobody else can achieve what you have, help others to believe in themselves. Support others in the pursuit of their own dreams. Who knows..one day they might become a major client of yours, or you might end up collecting their artwork, but that might never happen if you become just another negative voice pouring scorn and derision on them.

Your words and actions carry tremendous power, so please use them wisely.

Stop Counting Other Peoples’ Blessings

“How much money does he or she make?”

“How many cars do they own?”

Why do they look so much richer, accomplished, healthier, happier and more successful than I am? I try so hard, too. All day, every day. So, why can’t I have what they have? I mean..everything on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter is real, isn’t it?!”

Nope. Not at all. Social media and reality tv is as real as the tooth fairy, a unicorn or rocking- horse poo.

If you catch yourself indulging in thoughts like the above, it’s a warning sign that you have your focus and your priorities all wrong. Firstly, of all the goals you set, and things which you aim for, material goods should not be among them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my creature comforts and name brands as much as anyone else, I just believe they shouldn’t be the end goal. Instead, you should be aiming to become someone of substance, providing value to others. If you manage that, fame and fortune are likely to follow. Once that time comes, then you can treat yourself to a Lamborghini, Chanel bag or whatever else you desire. Nice things should be the accompaniment of success. In other words, once your consistent hard work and persistence leads to success, you could find that success now affords you ability to afford the lifestyle of your dreams, or of your idols.

Counting other peoples’ money is not fair on them, and certainly not fair on you. You don’t know how hard they have worked and how much they have sacrificed over many years, in order that they can now wear Rolex watches and drive a Maserati. By the same token, you don’t know whether all the trappings of success which these people flaunt on social media was actually earned and not handed to them by their parents. Maybe they don’t even own the houses and cars, but just rent or lease them. Whatever it is, it’s none of your business. You should be too busy focusing on yourself, after all. Yes, it’s natural to want nice things and crave the trappings of success, but envying other people rather than focusing on your own personal and professional development is almost guaranteed to damage your confidence and your motivation levels, slowly killing your ability to make something valuable of your own life.

If you want something to focus on, focus on the one thing which you can control and influence… yourself. Ask yourself.. Is your life heading in the right direction? Do you feel happy and fulfilled? What do you want more of in life? What changes can you make today to positively impact your life? What impact do you want to make on the world around you? How do you want to be remembered at the end of your days? What legacy do you want to leave?

Turn the answers to the above questions into a plan of action and go after it with everything you have. This should keep you busy enough that your focus is firmly on your own growth, and you stop caring about what others may or may not have. Once you start to see the progress which you are capable of and get an idea of the greatness which you have within you, the lives of social media celebrities will cease to interest you and your focus will remain exactly where it should be – on you.

 

Where Is Life’s Reset Button?!

Sorry to disappoint you, but…there is no reset button in life. You can’t take anything back, and you can’t undo anything. Why? Because that would involve time travel, which is only possible in science-fiction books and movies.

We simply can not undo that which has been said and done. All of our actions have consequences, though, and the things which we say and do today could very well have a lasting impact on the rest of our lives.

We all need to understand this, and be aware of it when making our decisions. You, and you alone, are responsible for your life and the course which it takes. Naturally, things will happen which are beyond our control, but we determine how we react in these situations. Didn’t get the job? Your girlfriend left you? You could bemoan your bad luck, and drown your sorrows with a little alcohol, give up on your dreams and settle for less than you are capable of…OR…you can take back control. Do your family and friends dictate how you should live your life? You choose whether to listen to them, and do as they say, or whether to live your own life on your own terms.

We can’t erase the past, but every morning that we wake up, we have a golden opportunity to start again. Once a moment has passed, it becomes history and that is where it should stay. Constantly reliving past mistakes does more harm than good. The past is simply a lesson. You can’t go back and change it. You can, however, learn and grow from it. Which is great news, because we all make mistakes and failures which can actually prove to be a blessing. If things go wrong, reflect on it, learn from it, make changes to your behaviour and move on wiser for the experience.

If you make a mistake today, don’t dwell on it. Learn from it, make amends for it and grow from it. Don’t, however, beat yourself up. Whatever it is, it happened. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Learn from it and move on. Life moves forward, and that where your focus should be – the future and the life which you have ahead of you.

Going All The Way..

If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?!

Joe Namath

As Sunday draws to a close, our batteries are recharged and we gear up for the week ahead, I wanted to share the above quote with you. Why? Because too many people still play it safe, and are denying the world all that they have to offer. You could have it within you to become a great artist or musician, teacher or doctor, but unless you actually do something about it, nothing will happen.

Playing it safe exposes you to less risk, requires less physical or mental energy expenditure and frees up time to focus on things which bring instant gratification. This could manifest itself in the form of a steady job which pays the bills, mortgage and holidays. Or that you willingly avoid relationships. Or perhaps spend your evenings and weekends socialising, watching tv or just doing whatever you regard as fun. Whatever it is, the result is almost always the same. While it could lead to more time for fun, and experiencing less stress now, there is a price to pay, and that is frustration and the feeling of unfulfilled potential later on.

The best way to avoid this is to change your mindset. Go from being satisfied with mediocrity, to constantly seeking improvement. Seek to make small improvements in your life every day, and watch those small steps lead to massive success if you keep going.

This really is as easy as it sounds. Identify what areas of your life you would like to see a change in. New job or career change? More money? Better health and fitness? Now, think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie in relation to your goals. What are you good at and could be doing more of to make quicker progress? What areas do you need to work on improving? Are there skills which you need to learn or gaps in knowledge which need to be addressed?

This is different for everyone, so you need to do the reflection yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all formula to do this because we are all unique and each of us has different wants, needs and reasons for wanting that which we crave. We all know that there are no shortcuts to success. It requires lots of hard work and perseverance. When it all comes together though, and success comes knocking, it feels all the sweeter because of the effort which it took to reach your goals.

There are 24 hours in the day, and this is the same for every one of us. No exceptions. The only difference between the most successful people and everyone else, is largely a matter of how they use their time. For example, they spend less time watching tv and more time reading. Furthermore, they are more selective in what they read. They read to gain knowledge and understanding, which could potentially help them.

Have a think about how you spend an average day. Outside of work, how much time do you spend on positive activities such as exercise, networking, reading, studying or listening to audiobooks or podcasts? How much time do you spend out with colleagues with friends or watching tv?

What changes can you make in how you spend your free time? Can you turn off the tv one hour earlier and read in bed instead? Can you use your morning commute to listen to podcasts or read? Can you give up one or two nights a month to attend networking events?

Small changes to your daily routine (we love routines!) can add up to massive progress over time if we are consistent. In this way, with baby steps and small daily sacrifices we can turn the potential which is within us into a reality.

Beware The Lure Of Internet Fame

Fear ye not. This is not a rant about the dangers of the internet, but rather a call for us to be more intentional in how we use it and take advantage of all it has to offer. If you’re under the age of 70, own a smartphone and have internet access, chances are that you have a social media account. Or several. I’m no different, with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts which I love. I honestly believe that my life is all the richer for the connections which i’ve made, the interactions which I have and the access to knowledge, help, advice, ideas and entertainment which is on offer. There is something for everyone.

The downsides of the internet, social media and smartphones have been well-documented. It’s addictive, with people regularly checking their accounts because the digital world is fast-moving and nobody wants to miss out or risk being regarded uninformed. So a Fear Of Missing Out takes hold, leading people to check their phones every 5 minutes. In turn, this affects concentrations spans and the ability to focus. Then there’s the distorted version of reality which is portrayed online.

The online world, and social media in particular, is no more real than the Loch Ness Monster or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Yet we follow online trends, buy the stuff and do whatever we can to get the lifestyles which we see and crave on Instagram in order to feel happy. Not only that, buy we buy into the myth that we can have all we want RIGHT NOW. Forget about the hard work and perseverance, there are plenty of internet marketers willing to share their secrets with you if you’ll only part with a few measly pounds. Better yet, they will help you to become a social media millionaire too, so that you can live the life of your dreams and free yourself from your tedious 9-5.

Stop. Just stop. Claims like the above should raise the alarm and send you running to the hills, because they are lies. Lies told with the aim of parting the foolish and desperate from their money. Fame and fortune is the happy byproduct of hard work and perseverance. It comes after you build something of value to others. It comes when you solve a pressing need or a gap in the market which you have identified. Those who have become rich quick have often done so through social media marketing, shamelessly promoting products and services for a modest fee and selling people courses which promise to make them rich too. If that was true, though, why isn’t everyone who has ever signed up to one of the programmes a millionaire?! Why do schools,colleges and universities still exist if all you have to do to become rich is pay for a 6 week online course from the latest social media superstar?!

Because it’s not real. Internet fame is as real as monopoly money. These superstar marketers get rich selling people an illusion. If that’s what you are drawn by…stop to ask yourself what it is that you are after. Is it easy money, or do you want to create value and make a real difference? What impact do you want to make? Do you want to be seen as just another social media influencer, or do you hope to create something good which will last?

Furthermore, stop and take a moment to ask yourself whether you are making the best use of the online resources available to you. Do you really need motivational speakers barking at you to get up off your backside and be fierce like a lion in pursuit of your goals? Or some other crap like that. And it is crap. I’ve listened to plenty of these posts over the years and most of it sounds good on a surface level and fires you up, but when you actually think about what you are hearing it makes no sense. For example, one famous motivational speaker will one minute tell you to be a lion in the world of gazelles. Basically meaning that you be aggressive and devour everyone and everything that gets in your way. Only, the next minute he preaches about treating everyone with kindness and compassion on your rise to the top. Polar opposites, yet people lap this up because of the way he presents his contradictory nonsense.

Stop wasting your time, and make the internet work for you. I have written before about content being king, and it really is. Make the most of your social media accounts. If you want to gain influence and reach more people, document your daily life and struggles on your journey towards your goals. Once you have decided what you want, and start taking action towards it, share it with the world. People love real life stories. This is why we are hooked on reality tv, because we find characters with whom we can relate and whose experiences we have at some time shared. If you are a struggling entrepreneur, let people share your journey. Your social media documentary could later serve as the story behind the product or service which you launch. If you struggle with depression, share your story in order to increase awareness and let other sufferers know that they are not alone.

As you document the journey you are on, and share it with the world, try not to get too carried away. Of course, it feels great to be liked and be able to reach more people with your message, ideas, business or service. However, all of this can be somewhat intoxicating and it becomes easy to lose perspective and forget what truly matters. Value. Using social media and the internet to positively impact others. That is what truly matters, and that is what truly lasts.

If you can bring value to the lives of your audience, then your influence and/ or business will grow. If all you’re after is money, you may very well succeed in the short-term only to be quickly replaced by the next big thing that comes along when the market gets saturated or trends and tastes change.

Everyone is unique, yet we all share many of the same challenges in our daily lives. So, share your daily life and your journey with others. Who knows where or what that will lead to?!

Perseverance Pays…

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time

Thomas Edison

How many social media posts have you read by “gurus” claiming to have the secret to success?! Yep. They’re everywhere. Everyone seems to be super-successful, and keen to share their secrets with you . All you have to do is just buy their book or join their programme. Thing is, the world of social media is no more real than a Disney movie. It’s entertaining, but it’s also make-believe.

To be fair, some of these people are expert storytellers, and their books make for great reading. BUT when you buy the book or the course, you are not looking to be entertained. People part with their hard-earned cash because they want help getting started on the journey towards their goals, or have reached a plateau and need some help to get to the next level.

Reality check time. There is no secret, magic potion, silver bullet, book, online course or any other shortcut to success. Anyone who claims otherwise is either deluded, a liar, a charlatan or a fraud.

Success is achieved when you decide what you really want, identify your strengths which you can take advantage of, and the weaknesses which you need to address before taking determined action. Small steps every day which take you closer to your goals, learning and growing all the time.

If, however, there was to be one key ingredient to success, I would argue that this must be perseverance. Given that absolutely anybody can decide what they want and take action, why aren’t more people massively successful?! The “P” word. Perseverance.

Perseverance is what separates the successful few from everyone else. Those who persevere are the ones who keep going when progress slows down. These are the people who take a positive view on failures and setbacks, treating them as opportunities to learn from what went wrong wrong, adapt their approach and then try again. Whether things are going good or bad, they keep going and are always learning, adapting and growing.

Most importantly, those who persevere and achieve their goals are the ones who don’t look to others for validation or permission from others. They understand that everybody has an opinion on everything, and you don’t have to give your time and attention to all of them. Some will doubt you and others will openly laugh at your dreams. This is perfectly normal, and not to be taken to heart. Believe me, all of your doubters will change their tune once you prove that it can be done. Don’t let their limitations derail your efforts.

In order to persevere and ultimately succeed in your endeavours, the only opinion you need to pay attention to is your own. You need to believe in yourself and your ability. You need to be confident that achieving your goals is a matter of “when” and not “if”. This will keep you going when times get tough. This is what separates the successful from the mediocre – they keep going and never give up. They keep going when nobody else believes in them or shares their vision. They keep going when times get tough. They keep going when they don’t feel like it. They just keep going until they achieve whatever it is that they desire. They persevere.

 

You Want Something To Change? Do Something About It Then!

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek

Barrack Obama

Whether it’s our finances, health and fitness or personal relationships, we all want to change something in our lives for the better. Most of us even know exactly what it is that we want and how we can achieve it. Yet, with all the information at our fingertips and opportunities available to those who seek them and put the work in, nothing seems to happen for an alarmingly high percentage of people.

The will is there. They know what they want and how to get it. They have the knowledge, skills and contacts to at least get started on their journey towards change for the better. So, why do they seem to be standing still instead of moving forward?!

Simple answer? A lack of self-belief. Too many people don’t have the confidence they need to take action towards their goals. So, they wait for the right circumstances. They wait for the right time, to lose a certain amount of weight, to save a certain amount of money…the list goes on, but it all boils down to one simple fact. With a lack of self-belief, people wait for conditions to be met before they take action to bring about change in their lives. This waiting does more harm than good, though, because it just wastes precious time.

The truth is that you don’t need to waste time and energy waiting around for the planets to align or anything else to happen. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, who you are and what you want from life. Decide what you want to change in your life, and turn this into a series of goals and a plan of how to achieve them. Then, get started. You have enough within you already to get started on your journey.

Once you do take those first steps, set yourself some regular check-in points at which you can reflect back on your progress so far. It could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Whatever works for you. Personally, I do my reflection on a Sunday and log it in my journal. This sets me up nicely for the week ahead. It gives me a clear idea of what has worked and what needs to be adjusted, and also gives me an opportunity to update my goals if I am close to achieving any of them.

As with opportunities and luck, change only presents itself after you decide what you truly want and take action. Put the work in, reflect on your progress and make adjustments as and when you feel necessary. This is the key to change. You don’t need to actually wait for anyone or anything. Once you know what you want to change, take action. That action might simply involve seeking advice, but you need to start somewhere. Just do something every day, no matter how small, and in time you will experience the change which you desire.

Stop waiting, and start creating the change in life which you so badly want. The power is in your hands, use it wisely.

Opportunity Knocks. Or Does It?!

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds

Francis Bacon

Opportunity knocks. How many times have we heard those 2 little words which promise so much?! Unlike most popular sayings which now seem to be plastered all over social media, there is actually some truth to this. BUT it does require some explanation and clarification.

If you do nothing other than sit back and wait for opportunity to come knocking and good things to happen, you will waste precious minutes, hours, days, weeks and months only for nothing to happen. All this leads to is pain and frustration. Unless, of course, you come from a wealthy family who can provide you with a comfortable lifestyle and finance your business ventures, or can provide the networking opportunities which will open the right doors for you. If you’re not this lucky, then there is always the chance that you might win the lottery, and end up with a huge amount of cash for which you haven’t had to do anything other than buy a ticket. If you already have the resources you need to succeed, or the will to wait for a lottery win, I wish you the very best of luck. However, if that was the case, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. My guess is that you are here because you are interested in challenging yourself to become the best you can be in whatever you desire.

Education. Knowledge. Strategies and plans. On their own, these are all useless. That is until you combine them with action, and the self belief to keep going when things get tough. If you can manage to do this, you will see a world of opportunities open up before you. The truth is that opportunity isn’t magic. It doesn’t present itself to a chosen few. It’s something open to anyone willing to work for it. Opportunity is actually the result of consistent hard work combined with action and optimism. Of this, action is the key ingredient, though. If you don’t use your knowledge and skills, you will find yourself stuck and going nowhere fast.

If you want to succeed in your chosen arena, you must be proactive. It really is that simple. Opportunity is rather like luck, because the harder you work, the more you seem to have of both. Simply put, luck and opportunity are created by our actions. So how do we go about getting lucky and creating opportunities?

The best way to create opportunities is to showcase your talents. This is the bit which stops a lot of people in their tracks, though, because the showcasing of your talents in the early days must be done for free. After all, before you can charge for your work, you must find an audience for it. So, if you are a musician, create music and share it on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and whatever other outlet you like. Same goes for dancers, painters or anybody else whose art is creative or aesthetic. If you are an aspiring writer, start your own blog and collaborate with others. A budding entrepreneur? Use LinkedIn to network and share ideas with like-minded individuals. Or, if you fall into none of these categories and are focused on a specific career such as a teacher, use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or a personal blog to share best practice with, and learn from, others in the same profession.

Share your talents while asking for nothing in return, and as your audience grows, engage with them. Over time, as you continue to provide value to others, opportunities will present themselves in the form of career progression, publishing deals or being contacted by parties interested in investing in your business idea. This list is far from exhaustive, but I hope you get the idea.

Work hard on your goals. Showcase your talents and engage with others. Do this consistently, and doors will open for you. Doors that lead to opportunities and Lady Luck herself.

Time Is Precious, So Spend It Wisely

Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Even with the best of intentions, we still waste certain things every day. We waste money on things which we don’t actually need, but we think that they will make us feel happy or accepted by others. We also waste energy, whether it’s mental energy by stressing and worrying about things which don’t actually matter, or might not actually happen, or doing things for others’ benefit which we really don’t want to. The damage here can, to a certain extent, be undone. We can work to develop a healthy relationship with money by doing things like tracking our spending and bills, but more importantly, as long as we have a job or an Ebay account, we can always earn more money. As for energy, that gets renewed automatically after a good night’s sleep. Obviously, if your energy is being drained because you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with depression, you can take action by speaking to a psychologist and tackling your demons. In this way, you can learn to better control your emotions and stop your mind from working against you. The result? Less stress, better quality of sleep and more energy. And if your energy is being wasted running around after others, learn to say no and prioritise yourself instead.

However, there is one thing that we waste on a daily basis only to regret it later on. Time. Once it’s gone, there is nothing that can be done about it. We can’t recoup lost time. Once it’s gone, it becomes history.

Time is precious and we do need to make the most of that allotted to us. BUT… this is not a rant about how you should stop watching tv and instead spend every waking moment working on your goals. You, and you alone get to decide what counts as wasted time in your life. Downtime, in my opinion, is crucial. Whatever you need to do to relax and unwind, whether it’s reading, going out with friends, watching a movie or anything in between..do it.  We are not machines, designed to keep going relentlessly. Our energy levels and attention spans are limited, so we have to take time to unwind and have some fun too. Do what makes you happy. Time is only truly wasted if you are spending it engaging in something which you don’t want to be doing, or later regret.

Every day, other people make demands on our time. Whether we give them our time, though, is our own decision. Spend your time working on yourself and your goals and doing what makes you happy. And if working on your goals is what truly makes you happy, that’s even better. But…whatever you do, just remember that it’s your life which you are living so your time should be spent on whatever you want.

It sounds selfish, but it’s necessary. Naturally, we want to help others, but that comes after we have helped ourselves. So, before you spend time helping others, make sure that you have first taken enough time for what you want and what you need. In order to be selfless, we must first be a little selfish. This is nothing to be ashamed of.

Time is limited and precious, so make sure you use it in a way which will make you happy.

 

Time is the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing they can’t afford to lose

Thomas Edison

Success and Making Mistakes

The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.

Dale Carnegie

It’s about time that we change our thinking on failures and mistakes. They should not discourage us or be a source of embarrassment, but rather we should view them both as valuable lessons. Yes, a failure is also a lesson. Mistakes and failures only become a problem if we don’t take the time to reflect on what happened, in order to learn anything from them, and give up instead. Whenever I hear the word failure, I think back to the below golden nugget of wisdom which I encountered years ago;

F = First

A = Attempt

I = In

L = Learning

A failure or a mistake is simply an opportunity to learn from the experience before trying again with a different approach. This is how people become successful – they try things, learn from what does and doesn’t work, adapt their approach and try again. They repeat this until they achieve what they set out to. Not only do they achieve success (whatever that may look like to them) but they learn an awful lot along the way, as well as becoming resilient enough to deal with whatever life throws at them.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better

Samuel Beckett

Overnight success is a myth, created and peddled by social media snake-oil salesmen and frauds marketers who just want to sell you a get-rich quick scheme. You can spot these individuals by taking a closer look at their profiles. They stand out because they haven’t actually built anything of their own, like a genuine bricks-and-mortar or online business, but just sell courses and programmes which promise to help you reach more people and make money quickly. Programmes neither backed by research or actual experience. Of course we all would love to have more money and nice things, but the simple truth is that it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and trial-and-error before you achieve success.

This is why only a small number of people achieve their big goals, because we are sold a myth about how quick and easy it all is. When it doesn’t happen and we hit a setback instead, the majority of people lose hope and give up. Those who truly succeed are the ones who keep learning, growing and trying. More than becoming accomplished in their chosen arena, the journey which they took to get there helps them to grow into the kind of people who will continue to learn, grow and experience further successes. All of this would never be achieved, if they were to give up after their first mistake or failure. So, if you are to take one lesson from those who have achieved greatness in the face of adversity, it’s that you should embrace your mistakes and learn from them before getting back up and trying again. And again. And again until you finally make it. Then you set bigger goals and start over.

 

I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work

Thomas Edison

Never Wrestle With Pigs…

Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it

George Bernard Shaw

Pigs and fools. Unfortunately, the world seems to be full of them. I’m not talking about the adorable creatures whose intelligence is said to be greater than that of dogs, or of medieval court jesters. Pigs and fools, in this instance, are bullies, trolls and the spiteful people who we encounter daily, and whose whole purpose in life seems to be to make life uncomfortable for others purely for their own amusement.

With the rise of the internet, these bullies and abusers seem to be breeding and multiplying. This is partly because of the ease with which they can target people through social media outlets, and also the anonymity with which they can operate. Hiding your identity, or setting up an online profile with a false name is far too easy. Of course, this is a known problem, and authorities and the social media outlets themselves are working hard to tackle cyberbullying and trolling. Chances are, however, that you will still encounter it yourself at some point.

It goes without saying, that this behaviour is not restricted to the online world, but this is where it is at its worst. In person, you have the chance to talk to these people and try to find out why they are treating you in this way. However slim, there is always a possibility that you can communicate and reason with your tormentor. It’s not unthinkable that you might be able to open their eyes to how they are affecting your life, and the fact that there is no real reason for this anger and hatred which they are directing towards you. It’s not only in the movies that bully and victim can actually become good friends through communication and understanding.

Online, however, is where this behaviour seems to be at its most spiteful and evil. In this instance, you feel powerless because you have no idea who is targeting you and why. The temptation is to either try and reason with them, defending yourself and your actions, or to respond to their abuse with some of your own. Please resist this temptation, because you will only end up feeding their ego and prolonging the abuse. These people thrive on peoples’ reactions, so do what they least expect and starve them of yours. It is the hardest thing to do, doing nothing, but sadly the only way to deal with a troll. Starve them of your attention and reactions, and they will get bored and move on. It may feel as though you are letting them win, but please understand that this is not the case. In the public arena (online), any reaction will not remain between between yourself and the bully, but will also be seen by family and friends as well as any clients or fans which you may have. By rising to the bait of the troll, you are risking your reputation just for the sake of saying that you get the better of an anonymous abuser. Ask yourself, is it really worth it? Any victory will be pyrrhic at best, won at too great a cost to be of any value to you. If you are to respond at all, respond with kindness. My favourite is “I’m sorry that you feel this way, but more sorry that you have so much pain inside you that you have to abuse people anonymously in order to feel any happiness. I will pray for you that your source of pain may leave you and that you might once again experience the joy and beauty of life”.  Works every time. Even if you don’t get an apology, you will be left alone. It’s a win-win situation which will see your reputation and relationships unharmed and unaffected.

While I strongly believe that we should be kind and respectful to each other at all times, whether in person or online, not everyone feels the same way. Some people will always choose to bully others anonymously in order to feel better about themselves, because this is far easier than dealing with the source of their unhappiness or pain. They would rather make others feel pain and anguish like they do, rather than do something to remove whatever it is that troubles them.

This is why we need to develop a thick skin if we are to navigate our way through life effectively. As much as it might hurt to be on the receiving end of someone else’s bile and nastiness, we need to be able to shrug it off. Understand that their attack is a reflection on them, and not you. Don’t start to question yourself or let this hurt your confidence. Instead, sympathise with your tormentor, because they are in pain but are either unable or unwilling to do anything about it. In this instance the saying “kill them with kindness” couldn’t be more appropriate. Especially if this is being played out over social media, in the public eye. Don’t be dragged into a war of words. If you must respond, do so with kindness and respect, because your response is a reflection of who you are.

Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference

Mark Twain

Mind Your Own Business

Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others

Confucius

 

Minding your own business is one of the keys to a successful, happy and fulfilled life. Of course, we all want to help others and contribute to our families, friends and communities, but..You must focus on yourself, before all else. When you manage this, then you can focus on serving others. Reflect on who you are and what you want, find your purpose, define your goals and take action. Simple, right?! No. Not quite. Unfortunately, life is rarely this straightforward.

Life has its downs as well as ups. In order to do the above, you need to be in a good place mentally. This is easier said than done because we all have our demons to face. These may be fears, or negative behaviours caused by trauma or loss. Or perhaps something that, left unchallenged, has worsened without you realising. Whatever the pain or trauma that you carry within you, you need to face it and deal with it, or else it will always rear its ugly head at random intervals to sabotage your progress.

The easy option is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that there is nothing wrong. Better yet, focus on the faults of others to deflect from what is going wrong in your life. Thing is…taking this route may make you feel better in the short term, but bottling up whatever is troubling you will only make it worse. At its worst, it could damage your relationships and send you on a downward spiral through depression.

Why wait till you hit rock bottom and lose everything before you tackle whatever it is that is hurting you?! Take action now. Just as you do when you set yourself fitness, career and personal development goals, identify the evil which ails you, and do whatever it takes to tackle this source of emotional trauma.

While you can set personal development, fitness or career goals mostly by yourself, when it comes to tackling whatever ails you, I would strongly advise seeking help. I found myself in this position as recently as last November. Previously, i’d tried tackling the trauma within me by myself. It would work for a while, but then stop and send me back to the start.

This time, however, I sought the help of a psychologist. The transformation was incredible. The simple act of talking to someone helped me to put everything into perspective and make sense of the thoughts and feelings which were so harmful to me.

Naturally, a psychologist can’t do everything for you. They are not magicians, but rather highly skilled mental health professionals. They can help you to understand and become more aware of what is happening within you, and what triggers negative thoughts and emotions. The hard work, however, is something which only you can do.

In my case, I did all the reflective work, and logged it in my journal. It was tough, but also rather exciting to be facing my sources of pain head-on. I still have my moments, when the fears and pain threaten to return and take hold again, but now I am able to identify the warning signs. I know what is coming if I don’t act, so I put on some music, go for a walk outdoors, read a book or phone a friend because these are the little things which keep all the bad stuff away.

Since taking action to deal with the evil within me, life has been wonderful. I am full of drive and positivity, which helps me to keep taking meaningful steps towards my goals every day, constantly learning and growing. I no longer look for the bad in others, in order to feel better about myself. I don’t judge others, or measure my life against theirs.

While you reflect on what you want in life, and how you plan to get it, take some time too for reflection on what you need to rid yourself of. I sought the help of a professional, and was able to rid myself of judgement, jealousy, self-doubt and pent-up anger. Since then, I have a new lease of life and have achieved an awful lot in a very short time.

I want this for you. As you chase your goals, put some time and effort into cleansing yourself of the bad thoughts, feelings or behaviours which are sabotaging your progress. Your future, massively successful, self will thank you for it.

 

Man Vs Machine

Usually, with a title like the above, an article will describe in detail just how far technology has advanced in a relatively short time. There are also the inevitable questions about what these advances could mean for our jobs and what the future could look like.

Today, however, I want to look at a rather different aspect of the relationship between man and machine. That aspect, is all about what machines can teach us.

Humans are creators of their own destiny. Our lives are fluid, spent continually experiencing things, learning and growing. We decide who or what we want to be become, and if we put the work in, we have a good chance of making this happen. We have countless opportunities open to us, as well as freedom of choice. Machines are very different, though, but they have an awful lot to teach us.

This key difference is in the way machines are created. Unlike humans, machines are created for a specific purpose. Machines are made to fulfil a particular role, or solve a problem. Trains, cars, planes and buses are made in order to effectively transport people from one place to another. Smartphones are made to enable effective communication and instant access to information. Kettles are made to boil the water with which we make the coffee which powers us through the day. I could go on, but you get the idea. There is a very specific job which these machines and equipment perform. A kettle can’t decide to become a bicycle and transform itself. The purpose for which these machines and gadget are made is often very specific.

As with machines, purpose is what we need too. Purpose gives your life meaning and direction. It provides all of the motivation and drive which you will ever need. This is the big lesson which machines can teach us – find your purpose, and then go after it. Of course, we have the power to achieve and become whatever we want, but without purpose your life will be aimless. After all, if you don’t know what your purpose in life is, and what you were put here to achieve, you will set goals which will leave you unfulfilled and drifting through life. There is power in purpose, and you need to reflect on, and find, yours before even setting your goals. Define your purpose first, and then set goals and take the actions that will help you to live according to it.

Machines suffer breakdowns and malfunctions, but they can be repaired and put back to work. Machines are resilient, suffering setbacks but getting fixed and put straight back to work.

In much the same way, we experience setbacks, problems and roadblocks on our journeys. As with machines, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep going. While machines can prompt us to find our purpose, they can also teach us the value of resilience and perseverance.

So, perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little more machine-like. After all, when your life has purpose it takes on a new meaning, and when you’re resilient and persistent you will achieve great things because you’re still going strong long after everybody else has given up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Wasting Precious Time and Energy

Of all the things which we waste, the worst offender is time. We can always earn more money if we work hard enough for it. Energy can be replenished after some rest. We waste so much of this precious commodity called time trying to live by the rules and standards of others, that we forget to live our lives. Unlike most other things which get lost, time cannot be recovered. Once it has passed, it becomes history, and you can’t relive a moment once it’s gone. All you can do is to revisit that moment and reflect on what can be learned. So stop wasting time and energy on things which don’t matter. Invest it instead in yourself and focus on your own life.

Stop trying to be what you think other people want to see.

Stop being what you’ve been told you should be.

Start, instead, being exactly who you want to be – take pride in all of your your glorious stangeness and uniqueness.

You have to be different to last in a world where everybody wants to be the same. The only way to achieve this is by being yourself, instead of trying to copy others in order to fit in to a certain group. People will accept, respect and even admire you when they see your authenticity. That is the key to real influence; people look to you for guidance when they see that your words match your actions. There is real power in practicing what you preach.

So, decide what you want from life and go after it. You don’t need anybody’s permission. Live the life you want, the way you want and chase after the goals which you set for yourself. This is the key to happiness and fulfillment. This is how to make positive difference. This is how to provide value to others; focus on developing your own unique skills and talents, and when you achieve success, be sure to pay it forward by helping others without expecting anything in return.

You can’t do any of this, though, if you’re spending all of your time trying to become something which you are not, just because others expect it of you. By all means socialise with family and friends and spend time with those closest to you. Listen to their advice and thoughts, but don’t let anyone detract you from the journey which you are on.

The majority of your time should be spent on what makes you happy, and what will bring the most value to your life. Work on your goals, spend time alone with your thoughts, work on making your business idea a reality, read or spend time with people who inspire you and support your journey and vision for the future. Whatever you need to do to feel happy, and to feel like yourself, do it. This is where most of your time outside of work should be spent if you are serious about becoming the best version of yourself.

Time is precious, and limited, so use it wisely. Spend it on living the life you want, the way you want and on being yourself. Your future self will thank you for it.

Examples vs Opinions

An example is more powerful than an opinion.

Opinions are like bumholes – everybody has one. Examples, however, of the behaviours you want to perfect, skills you want to learn or achievements you want for yourself, are as rare as rocking-horse poo. What I am trying to say, and forgive my rather crude metaphors, is that the world is full of opinions and advice on what we should all be doing and how. While this can be helpful, actual examples are what we need and not just ideas and theories. These, unfortunately, are harder to find.

If you are not convinced, try this exercise;

  • Log into Instagram
  • Pick one of your goals. Now search for this term in hashtags. For example, if you are interested in personal development, search for some associated terms with a hashtag. For example, pick a term like #entrepreneur, #success or #grind.
  • Now sift through the results. Of all the accounts posting advice, tips and guaranteeing you success if you do what they say, pick a few and google them. What have they actually achieved?
  • Pick several more and repeat the exercise. Do this as many times as you need, until you realise that very few of the popular influencers have achieved real success themselves.

The flashy houses and cars are often rented, the watches are fake and the rolls of cash are movie props which can be bought on Amazon. I say this because one of my favourite accounts, Andy Frisella, recently exposed these fantasists. I am not saying that all social media accounts are questionable, but we do need to be careful as to where we get our advice from. The majority of influencers haven’t made their money in business, they have made a comfortable living from selling get-rich-quick programmes to people and promising to transform their lives. They are undoubtedly clever marketers and also knowledgeable, but it’s all superficial. There is no substance. They post pictures of nice things, or write a cryptic post about what they can teach you if you join their programme. They lack real experience, so all they are doing is selling theories.

The simple truth is that people will pay more attention to what you do, and what you have achieved, than they will to whatever you say. This is why you must strive to practice what you preach. After all, how can you give advice about something which you have never experienced yourself? We all know that, just because a theory or idea makes sense, there is no guarantee that it will work in practice. This is where experience comes in handy. It reassures people that you have tried and tested theories and ideas, some of which have worked better than others. You have tasted failure and success, so you have a clear idea of what you are talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, if you have an opinion or thoughts on something, but have never actually experienced it, share them anyway. Discussion and the sharing of ideas can lead to magical places. Please make it clear, however, that this is simply your opinion and that you haven’t actually experienced it yourself. Or if you know someone who has been through something similar, share the experience if they will allow you, but never dress it up as your own personal experience. Share what you have heard or seen, but also be honest about never having experienced the same situation yourself. There are far too many people posing as experienced, accomplished and successful business gurus, in order to sell books and courses. Be the exception, and strive instead to be a person of experience, accomplishment and value. If you manage that, all the trappings of success will follow you, but most important of all, you will find yourself in a position to positively influence the lives of others.

It’s Good To Want Success

It’s good to want success (whatever that may look like to you). In fact, it’s important to recognise what you truly want in life, and to go after it. That is what gives us a sense of purpose, giving meaning to our lives. By visualising the future we want and going after it, we find ourselves no longer taking life day by day and just letting things happen. We become proactive and strive every day to get ourselves closer to our objective. Moreover, we embark on a journey of self-discovery, growth and personal development.

Appreciate the journey, as tough as it might be, but don’t lose yourself along the way.  The temptation will present itself, at times, to shift your focus and your goals to chase something more likely to bring fame and fortune, but which goes against who you are and what you believe in. Don’t sell out, but instead stay true to yourself. No amount of extra money or material gain is worth risking your inner peace. The struggles you will encounter provide priceless lessons, making you stronger and more self-aware. They are one of life’s greatest teachers, so make sure you keep taking notes and reflecting along the way, as you never know when you might benefit from revisiting your journal for a bit of revision, or to see how far you have come since you started.

Not everyone will share your passion, enthusiasm or vision. Please do not hold it against them. They may be fighting their own demons, and not in a position to focus on personal and professional development. In this instance, be there for them and support them. Let them know that they are not alone. On the other hand, they might have reached a point in life where they are comfortable with what they have achieved. They’ve got the job they want, have met their soulmate and have a family. These people don’t have the inclination to set ambitious goals and take big risks in chasing them. Instead, they just want to enjoy the life which they have forged. When others have made this decision in their own lives, please respect it. Don’t try to convince them to copy you in embarking on their own journey of self discovery. Just be happy for them.

Do not compare your life with that of anybody else. This is far from easy, though, because we live in an age of digital peacocks, where people flock to social media to show off how many nice, shiny things they have or how accomplished they are. Do not fall into this trap. See social media for what it really is; a fantasy world. It’s just a bit of entertainment. Does it really make any difference to your life how many Rolex watches someone has?! Again, it a world of make-believe, so enjoy it but don’t take it seriously. Resist the urge to waste money unnecessarily trying to keep up with these social media celebrities. Invest in yourself and your dreams instead. Your future self will thank you for it. Determine who you are and what you want from life. Decide what you want to achieve, set concrete goals and go after them with passion and determination.

Whatever happens, be patient. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, learn from them and move on. Your life will blossom and develop according to the rate at which you work on yourself and your goals. The harder you work at it, consistently, the sooner you are likely to see results. That said, don’t be disheartened if it takes slightly longer than you anticipated, because there are often external factors, outside of our control, which can slow down our progress.

Resist the temptation to fixate on the time frame in which others have achieved that which you desire. You will develop and grow at your own rate. After all, flowers don’t grow at the same rate.

 

Leading With Empathy

Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.

Oprah Winfrey

 

Empathy gets confused with sympathy, often leading to the false assumption that showing empathy towards another person is patronising or a sign of weakness. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings and thoughts of another person. Sympathy, on the other hand, is the feeling of sorrow or pity for another person’s misfortune. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone, and offering consolation. Empathy, on the other hand, is picturing yourself in someone else’s situation, in order to better understand what they are going through, and how you might be able to help or support them. If you ever find yourself in a position where you have to choose between the two, choose empathy. It’s better to offer support and help than a mere “Sorry to hear of…”

Empathy is powerful. It helps to deepen relationships, improves engagement and also lets people know that they are not alone, that there is someone else who understands what they are going through, and is prepared to support them.

We practice empathy in our personal relationships. If our sons or daughters display emotions or behaviours which are out of the ordinary, we don’t ignore them or punish them. We encourage them to talk to us about what they are experiencing, in order that we can understand it too, and support them in whatever way we can. The same goes with our extended families and close friends. Whenever we sense that something may be wrong, we communicate with them, understand their situations and offer any help we can. This strengthens our bonds with these people, because we are letting them know that we are by their side as they tackle whatever challenges they may be currently facing.

So, why can’t we practice empathy in the workplace?! Daily life is a challenge, and unfortunately, we can’t leave all of our troubles at the door when we get to work. No matter how much we want to. Naturally, this affects our productivity. I’ve experienced this as a member of a team, and later as a manager in charge of my own teams. Managing your workload, and also that of your team, is a balancing act at the best of times. When things in your personal life go wrong, that balancing act becomes even harder.

Organisations, however, are interested in the productivity of their workforce and how much value can be provided. This is why KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) exist, so that we can each see how well we are performing. In this way, we are able to quantify the value which we provide to the organisation and its stakeholders, which is a great thing to have when making a case for a pay raise. This is a double-edged sword, though, because when we hit a rough patch and our productivity drops, there is nowhere to hide.

Your KPI numbers won’t always be high, no matter how hard you try. Companies and industries experience difficult times, which in turn can make it harder for you to attract new business or whatever your KPIs require. The good news is that bad patches are normally short-lived and you soon bounce back.

It’s when your figures are low over a sustained period of time, several weeks or months, that the trouble starts. When this happens, there is always an underlying issue causing a drop in performance. However, too many line managers are blinded to this simple fact by their ego. I see it all the time when consulting. The line manager often takes the performance of their direct reports personally. When they are doing well, they see it as a reflection of their strengths as a manager. When they perform poorly, they take it personally, as though the team member is failing to meet their usual standards on purpose. Their solution? Performance Management.

Performance Management is an activity and set of processes that aim to maintain and improve employee performance in line with an organisation’s objectives. While designed as something positive, it is often used as a stick to beat underperformers with. At a time when they need help and support to get back on track, they are given unrealistic objectives which they will not meet, and when those conditions are not met, they are sacked. In this way, a company will lose some of its best members simply because they punished them instead of supported them through a challenging time. It is, essentially, bullying but done in such a way that nothing can be done about it.

This is where empathy comes in. If a colleague or member of your team is struggling, talk to them. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, offer them counselling, but understand that they are going though a difficult time and need help instead of more pressure. Be the difference. Just because other managers might punish a struggling colleague, be the one who listens, supports and helps them instead. Help a colleague through a difficult time, and they will soon be back to their productive best. Furthermore, you will have developed a stronger professional relationship with them, and they will be more engaged than ever. After all, employees want to feel part of something, knowing that someone cares and that they are being listened to. Countless studies and surveys have shown that how people are treated and made to feel in the workplace is more important than how much they are paid.

I have talked often about congruence and authenticity, and this is a perfect example of why it is so important. If you behave with empathy towards others in your personal life, then there is no reason why you should not do the same when at work. After all, you are working with people, not robots. These people have their own demons to face and problems to overcome, the same as your  family and friends. Just because you are not related with someone or didn’t grow up with them, that is no excuse not to treat them with some respect and empathy. There shouldn’t be a difference between your personal and professional self, and if you find that there is and you can’t do anything about it, then perhaps a career change is in order.

 

How To Genuinely Influence Others

Behaviour that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere”

Seamus Heaney

Influencer. How many people use this word to describe themselves on social media. Almost everyone, as it seems.

It’s the new must-have title. Influencer. It screams “look at me, listen to me and do as I say because I am important. I have influence”. It’s all a bit too pompous and fake for me.

I’m not dismissing social media influencers. They are a valuable marketing tool for new and existing companies. BUT, I have noticed that as soon as an influencer starts reaching a larger audience, delusion kicks in. They begin to see themselves as an almost god-like figure who can tell people how to live their lives and pass judgement on those who don’t follow their example. I find this laughable. They start off as an influencer promoting products for certain brands, then all of a sudden they become a self-professed life coach. No. Just no. Get a grip.

If you want to help people lead a better quality of life, set a good example of what that should look like. Social media superstar influencers are predominantly 20 year olds with little real life experience. So why do they think that they are in a position to tell others what to do? Yet, like sheep, people follow them because they have become skilled in promoting themselves and crafting compelling stories to get peoples’ attention.

This delusion needs to stop. Rather than searching for the latest social media superstar, find someone who has already achieved what you desire. What behaviours do the practice regularly? Can you adopt any of those in your own life? Once you know what that particular behaviour looks like, practice it.

It really is this simple. Previously, we have looked at how to put the work in to determine who you really are and what you want from life. If you’ve done this, the next step is to take action, consistently modelling the behaviours you need to achieve your goals.

Here is where the magic happens. If there is congruence and consistency between your behaviour and your communication with others, people will take notice. In short, if your actions match your words, people will trust and believe you. Some will want to copy you or turn to you for advice. This is real influence.

Influence is not about flashy pictures and catchy slogans posted on Instagram for money and free stuff. Influence is about being genuine, being a person of substance and someone whose behavious echo their words. Influence is about helping others and bringing real value to their lives.

Put down your phone and spend your time instead determining whether your behaviours and words are aligned. If not, do something about that. Then go out in the world and strive to be the best version of yourself. Aim to bring real value to your own life and those of others too. Then you will be able to proudly wear the title of Influencer.

Life Is Rather Magical

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper

W.B Yeats

Every day, we are all surrounded by the magic and beauty of life. The problem is that we are often too busy or stressed to appreciate it or even acknowledge it. But it’s there, waiting to be discovered once we free some time to quiet our minds and be still for a while.

If you don’t believe me, do this exercise and tell me i’m wrong;

  • Get outside in nature. Whether it’s the park, a field or the forest…go there.
  • Calm your mind. Close your eyes, tilt your head back and take deep, controlled breaths. Do this until you begin to feel relaxed. This exercise is a great way to clear your mind so you can focus on enjoying  your current surroundings.
  • Open your eyes and observe the beauty and magic around you. I defy you to feel  angry upset or stressed while in the great outdoors. If you’re anything like me, this simple exercise will leave you feeling happy, positive and energised.

Why is this important?

Our lives are lived at 100 miles per hour, and despite technology making life easier, we are overloaded, more stressed and more overwhelmed than ever. This is damaging to our mental health, our personal and professional development and our relationships.

When people hear about meditation or mindfulness exercises, their eyes tend to glaze over. So, instead of trying to get your head around mediation and blaming the mind, just try the exercise above. All you need is a little bit of nature. Once you feel the power of this simple exercise to lift your mood and re-energise you, you will wonder how you’ve survived this long without it.

With a clear head and more energy, you can refocus on your goals and go after them with a new hunger and determination. People will also find it more pleasing to spend time with you. Calm your mind, and your life will improve. Just like…magic.

There is more to life than making money with which to buy nice things. Take some time to appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Your mental health will thank you for it.