Rid Yourself Of The Limiting Beliefs Which Are Holding You Back

Go a little out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom. you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.

David Bowie

When it comes to identifying opportunities to improve our lives and circumstances, and taking advantage of them, we are our own worst enemies. Every decision we make can potentially be the first step to something wonderful, but for this to happen we need to be prepared to take calculated risks. I’m not suggesting that we should be reckless and rash with our choices, but that we should weigh up our options and be willing to step out of our comfort zones.

Yet, we don’t take chances, but instead make safer choices. So, all that we want for ourselves remains a dream because we fail to act upon it. After all, taking action towards our goals forces us to leave our  comfort zones. We fear the unknown, so comfort zones feel good. When in your comfort zone, you feel in control. You know, from experience, what to expect and there are no unwelcome surprises. This is a place reserved for people who are happy as they are, and have achieved all that they set out to in life. This is for those who want to save their energy and time for their families or interests.

Comfort zones, however, are the enemies of progress. If you want more out of life than you currently have, if you want to become more than you currently are, then you can’t afford to become comfortable and complacent. You can’t afford, either, to keep making the rubbish excuses which you use to justify remaining in the comfort zone. Of these, there are plenty, but I want to look at just three; background, circumstances and experience.

How many times have you dreamed of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, opening your own restaurant or having your ideal job? More times than you can count, right? And what have you actually done about it?

For a number of people, their dreams remain just that. Dreams. Not because they lack the knowledge, skills or work ethic, but because they talk themselves out of even starting to work towards making these dreams a reality. They don’t apply to the bank for a loan to open a restaurant because they believe that their current circumstances will only earn them a refusal. They don’t apply for their dream job because they lack experience, or believe that their background will make it difficult to relate to others and fit in. This negative self-talk needs to stop as it destroys your confidence. The truth is that you don’t know anything for certain unless you try. Even if somebody else from a similar background, for example, has tried what you want to do and failed, it means nothing. Everybody is different, and you may very well succeed where someone similar to you tasted defeat.

The reality is very different. We now live in an unprecedented age of opportunity. Your background, circumstances and experience can actually be a source of strength. So what if your parents aren’t millionaires?! Talk to them and learn from them about their struggles and how they overcame them. Instead of being embarrassed about a modest upbringing, use it to fuel your hunger for success. Aim to work yourself into a position that you can now provide a comfortable life for your parents and your own family. Strive to succeed so that you can ensure that your family will no longer struggle.

“But my current circumstances are bad, so I can’t help anyone let alone myself” I hear you say. Rubbish. We all go through difficult times in our lives. I have hit rock bottom several times, each new time worst than the last, but have always bounced back. As can anyone else. If this is your excuse for not trying to do and become more in life, you need to stop wallowing in self-pity and take action. If you are unhappy with your current circumstances, you have in your hands the power to change them. Leave a toxic relationship, get a new job, start exercising regularly…Identify whatever it is that is getting you down, and tackle it. A bad week or month does not lead to a bad life if you do something about it.

How about experience then? This really isn’t as important as people believe, because experience can be gained. Whether you lack experience in relationships or want to change career, don’t let that hold you back. Have the courage to go after what you want, and let your passion and dedication show. You will find doors opening for you, and you will get the experience you need. If you want to change careers and work in an industry where you lack experience, focus on what experience you have gained in studying and working and how that could help you in this new role. This is what will make you an interesting prospect for an interview panel.

Overcoming these limiting beliefs is one area in which reading the biographies of successful people could help. I am against the idea that copying the greats and trying to be more like them will bring you success, because it makes no sense. You could match their work ethic and ingenuity and still fall short because they succeeded in a different country, or even era. The only way you will succeed is by being you, and giving all you have in pursuit of your goals.

What these biographies can do is highlight how to people can succeed despite their background or circumstances or anything else which could have held them back. They didn’t let the negative self-talk take over and dissuade them from their path. Instead, one thing that many of the greats have in common, is their determination that they would succeed, regardless of the start they had in life or the circumstances in which they found themselves.

Like many of the other limiting beliefs which hold us back, background, circumstances and experience are not fatal to our progress. What does matter, and does determine how far we will go in life, is the courage, commitment, dedication, passion and hard work which we are prepared to put into the pursuit of our personal and professional development.

 

 

The Job Hunt is a Numbers Game

A month from today, people will be making an eager start on their New Year’s resolutions. Virtually everyone you meet will be telling you about their “new year, new me” transformations and what that entails. Basically, this will fall into 2 categories; improved health and fitness or new jobs and careers. Perhaps a mixture of both. It’s the hunt for a new job which I would like to discuss with you today.

Landing a new job or changing careers is not easy. Sorry if I’m bursting anyone’s bubble here. It is, of course, possible to be headhunted by a recruiter and this will feel as though a dream job is just falling into your lap. It is, however, the exception to the rule. Generally, waiting for the job to come to you or making minimal effort is the quickest way to ensure that your wish for a new job remains just a wish.

Landing a new role, whether it be your first or twenty first requires hard work, time and being proactive. Depending on the industry you want to get into or progress in, it could be of help to read trade journals in which specialist vacancies will be advertised, or visit trade fairs and conferences where you have an opportunity for networking. Most vacancies will be found, however by visiting the “Careers” pages of the organisations which you are interested in working for, or checking online job boards such as Monster. It also helps to register and submit your cv to any other relevant job boards your search may bring up, and to engage the help of agencies which specialise in recruiting for the industry in which you want to work.

It goes without saying, though, that simply applying for a job which matches your skills and experience won’t necessarily land you an interview. There could be hundreds of other candidates with similar experience also applying for the role. A growing number of recruiters and HR departments are using algorithms to filter out the lesser-qualified candidates, following which a selection panel will then decide on who they would like to invite for interview. This takes time after which, maybe, you will get an invite. Maybe not. Once you have submitted the application, the rest is out of your hands.

So, was does this mean? Firstly, if you apply for a job which on paper you are perfectly suited for, don’t just stop after that and wait for the closing date to come so you can find out if you’ve been shortlisted for interview. Keep searching and applying. That first application may earn you an interview, but even that’s not a guarantee that you’ll land the role. Another candidate could interview better.  If you don’t get shortlisted for interview, on the other hand, your confidence will be boosted by the fact that you still have a number of other applications pending. More importantly, if you don’t get an interview for a job which you feel to be perfect for you, don’t be disheartened. Just pick yourself up, scan over your cv and see if there is anything which could be improved upon.

As the title warns, the job hunt is a numbers game. An article I once read stated that you should expect a positive response rate of 10% when applying for jobs. So, if you apply for 10 roles, you should expect at least 1 interview invitation, while hoping for many more. In search of a career change, I have applied for over 60 roles in the last month. While I wait for the closing dates to come and find out for which roles (if any) I will be offered interviews, I am continuing to apply for relevant and suitable roles. So far, my tally is 1 rejection and 1 interview, and if the article’s claim is to be believed, I should expect 5 more interviews. Naturally I want every remaining application to earn me an interview but that may just be wishful thinking.

Takeaways;

  • The more roles you apply for, the more chance you stand of being shortlisted for interview. You also get more experience in completing the application forms and answering questions relevant to your suitability for the role.
  • The more interviews you have, the more chance you have of landing a new role. You might be brilliant enough to succeed in your first interview, but if not, learn from the experience so that next time you can be better prepared for the types of questions that will be asked.

Good luck with your search. Hope t brings you the results you want!!

It Couldn’t Be Done (Edgar Albert Guest)

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
      But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
      On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
      At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
      Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
      There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
      The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
      Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

The Man Who Thinks He Can (Walter D Wintle)

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t;
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the word we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will,
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outcasted, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But soon or late the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Character of the Happy Warrior (William Wordsworth)

  Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he
That every man in arms should wish to be?
—It is the generous Spirit, who, when brought
Among the tasks of real life, hath wrought
Upon the plan that pleased his boyish thought:
Whose high endeavours are an inward light
That makes the path before him always bright;
Who, with a natural instinct to discern
What knowledge can perform, is diligent to learn;
Abides by this resolve, and stops not there,
But makes his moral being his prime care;
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain,
And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train!
Turns his necessity to glorious gain;
In face of these doth exercise a power
Which is our human nature’s highest dower:
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves
Of their bad influence, and their good receives:
By objects, which might force the soul to abate
Her feeling, rendered more compassionate;
Is placable—because occasions rise
So often that demand such sacrifice;
More skilful in self-knowledge, even more pure,
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
—’Tis he whose law is reason; who depends
Upon that law as on the best of friends;
Whence, in a state where men are tempted still
To evil for a guard against worse ill,
And what in quality or act is best
Doth seldom on a right foundation rest,
He labours good on good to fix, and owes
To virtue every triumph that he knows:
—Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state;
Whom they must follow; on whose head must fall,
Like showers of manna, if they come at all:
Whose powers shed round him in the common strife,
Or mild concerns of ordinary life,
A constant influence, a peculiar grace;
But who, if he be called upon to face
Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
Is happy as a Lover; and attired
With sudden brightness, like a Man inspired;
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law
In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
Or if an unexpected call succeed,
Come when it will, is equal to the need:
—He who, though thus endued as with a sense
And faculty for storm and turbulence,
Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, wheresoe’er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love:—
‘Tis, finally, the Man, who, lifted high,
Conspicuous object in a Nation’s eye,
Or left unthought-of in obscurity,—
Who, with a toward or untoward lot,
Prosperous or adverse, to his wish or not—
Plays, in the many games of life, that one
Where what he most doth value must be won:
Whom neither shape or danger can dismay,
Nor thought of tender happiness betray;
Who, not content that former worth stand fast,
Looks forward, persevering to the last,
From well to better, daily self-surpast:
Who, whether praise of him must walk the earth
For ever, and to noble deeds give birth,
Or he must fall, to sleep without his fame,
And leave a dead unprofitable name—
Finds comfort in himself and in his cause;
And, while the mortal mist is gathering, draws
His breath in confidence of Heaven’s applause:
This is the happy Warrior; this is he
That every man in arms should wish to be.

The Power of Small Victories.

Before we start, let’s please just get one thing clear. Success and great achievements DO NOT occur overnight. There is no magic book, pill, potion or secret. You need patience, persistence, self belief and HARD WORK.

A big reason why some people fail to realise their true potential is largely a matter of confidence. Some look at their big goals and doubt their ability to achieve them. Others spend too much time in the planning and researching stage, struggling to muster up the courage to make a start. For those who do start on their journey towards their goals and make initial progress, confidence can also be affected when things stop going according to plan, leading to self-doubt and ending in them quitting prematurely.

Confidence was never my strong point, and far too often I let negative self-talk, the doubts of others and minor setbacks keep me from persisting in the pursuit of my goals. If you find yourself in the same situation, there is a great way to overcome self doubt and it works wonders.

Darren Hardy, public speaker and editor of Success Magazine, calls this phenomenon The Compound Effect and his book on the subject is well with a read. The Compound Effect is about how small actions all add up, and over time lead to huge success. In other words, over time small victories can lead you to fulfilling your potential.

Life is all about learning and growing, and that won’t happen if you play it safe. You don’t need to have it all figured out to before you get started on the journey towards your goals. You just need to have;

  • Reflection. Before starting, it is important to have reflected enough that you are aware of your strengths and weakness, and what resources you have at your disposal.
  • Goals. As well as that, it helps to know  what you ultimately hope to achieve and set yourself small, achievable goals which will help you to get there.

Reflection and goal-setting alone won’t help too much with any confidence issues. You need to pair them with action. With small, defined and achievable goals to aim for, you will find that your confidence grows and momentum builds as you reach those goals. Make sure to celebrate, briefly, as you meet each on. After all, each goal met, no matter how small, is an achievement and progress in the right direction. For example, if your ultimate goal is a new job or a career change, your small goals may involve applying for jobs, reaching out to recruiters and attending careers fairs, each of which can be ticked off and rewarded on your journey and will provide a confidence boost.

There is a snowball effect, or compound effect, at work here and the more small goals you achieve and celebrate, the more your confidence will grow and spur you on. Even when disaster strikes, the confidence gained from achieving your goals so far will help you to pick yourself up and keep going. In short, to take advantage of the confidence boosting effects of meeting your goals;

  • Break your big goals down into small, achievable goals which will get you there.
  • Take action, and enjoy the confidence boost as you meet your small goals
  • If you hit a roadblock, look for lessons to be learned before picking up where you left off.
  • Keep going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know your worth..

..and the value you bring to the world. People only respect us to the extent that we value and respect ourselves, and this applies to all areas of our lives from our personal relationships to our businesses. 

When we lack confidence and self-awareness, this is reflected in our body language and interactions with others. We then get treated accordingly. The negative behaviour of others towards us affects our confidence further, and it becomes a vicious cycle. Furthermore, there will be unscrupulous and manipulative individuals who will be looking to take advantage of a weakness which they perceive in us. This is why knowing our worth and having a healthy amount of self respect is so important, as it provides an effective defense mechanism against these situations and circumstances. 

If, however, we think and behave as though we are confident and know our worth, people will behave more positively towards us. “Faking it” has its limits though. If we really want to live the lives of our dreams, we need to work on becoming more confident, more self-aware and having more self-respect. In order to achieve our goals and taste success, we need to know our worth, our strengths and the value which we bring. Then we need to let the world know about who we are and what we can offer. 

How can this be done?

  • Reflect, then take action. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Determine where your passions lie, and define what success looks like to you. Set goals, make a plan of action, and get to work. As you make progress towards your goals, you will become more confident and more aware of your worth which will show in your behaviour and speech.
  • Learn a new skill. As you master a new skill, your confidence will grow. Furthermore, as you master new skills, you become better equipped to provide value to the world around you.
  • Invest in yourself. Read books, attend training courses or go to conferences. However you do it, invest some of your time and money in your personal development.

As you reflect on yourself and identify your strengths, as you learn new skills and take steps towards your goals, your confidence will grow. In turn, there will be a positive shift in your behaviour and how you carry yourself. In turn, people will respond to you in a far more positive manner and you will find more opportunities presenting themselves to live a more fulfilling life.

Profiting from your passion

Turn what you love into a successful business, and quit your 9-5 job!! This is the new dream which we are being sold. It’s everywhere we look from magazine articles to social media. Is it really possible, or just too good to be true? I am not about to try and find fault with this proposition, but rather urge caution. So yes, I do think it’s possible, but you need to be smart about it.

We read and hear of plenty of success stories in which people have turned a hobby or passion into a very successful and profitable business. They subsequently quit their jobs and are now wealthy entrepreneurs. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who gave up everything to pursue their dream only to be brought back to Earth with a vicious bump. Countless people are staking everything on their passion project and losing badly. This begs the question, as to why there are such extremes.

Having helped a number of people launch small business over the years, I would like to share a few pointers on what I have learned. I’ve said it before, the world needs more beauty and positivity, so we should create art and music, or launch businesses which will bring value to people and brighten their lives. However, too many people are rushing in to their new ventures blindly and leaving too much to chance, and it is this which. I would urge against

Your passion must be mixed with practicality. You must also be realistic about your expectations. Yes, you dream that you will take what you love and turn it into a very successful business. You can envision it. You can reach out and touch it. You can taste it and smell it BUT in order for it to go from dream to reality, there will be a lot of hard work involved. Your passion needs to be mixed with a strong work ethic, a well thought-out plan, a strategy of how you it will unfold, resilience and an incredible amount of hard work.

If you are serious about profiting from your passion and turning it into a viable business, there are a few things to bear in mind;

  • Research and Plan. You need a well-researched plan. Look at the market and who you might be competing with. Look at consumer trends and research the forecasts for the future within your chosen market or industry.  Use this information to plan wisely for the future.
  • Be financially savvy. Save enough money, or secure enough funding before you take your first step. It is a hard fact that many business run at a loss in their first year. This is because it takes time to establish yourself and build a customer base. Naturally, there are exceptions, but I would strongly recommend that you plan for this outcome. Plan for the best and work to make it happen, but have enough money in the bank to support yourself if it takes longer than expected for success to come. The last thing you want is to have to abandon your business and take a full-time job to pay the mortgage and bills. Worse still, you might keep your business only to be maintained by funding from an investor who pushes you to compromise your values. Give yourself a financial safety net, and remove one of the big pressures when starting a business.
  • Determine your strategy. You have a plan, a financial safety net and the drive to succeed. Next step? Work out how you will go about launching your business. Who is your audience? How will you grab their attention? What is your story? What value will you offer them? What is your marketing plan? How will you promote your business?
  • Hard work. You are now clear on what you want to do and how you will go about it. Now, just put the work in. Give it your full focus and attention and put in the relentless work. Take advantage of any networking opportunities and use social media to raise awareness of your brand. As you work, though, you must also reflect on your journey. Learn from the positives and negatives and use this knowledge to adapt and grow. This is a fluid process, and as you work towards making your business a success you need to keep learning and adapting. You need to have a plan and execute on it, but you also need to be able to respond quickly to any challenges or expand on what is working well.
  • Perseverance and resilience. There will be bumps in the road, challenges and rejections. This is unavoidable. The key is to keep going. When disaster strikes, reflect on it and see what you can learn from the experience. Learn from it and then get yourself back on track, stronger and more determined than before.

Having witnessed the struggles of people as they launched their new ventures, I would ask you to please reflect on the above so that you can avoid the same challenges. Research thoroughly, plan well, develop an effective strategy and go for it. Give it your full focus and attention, but don’t forget to take advantage of any learning opportunities on your journey and use them to adapt and grow. If the entrepreneurial route is the one for you, I wish you the very best and pray for your success.

“No” is not a dirty word. Embrace it.

Wherever we look, there is a battle going on for our attention. It’s big business. There is a whole array of books, seminars and programmes devoted to it, because attention is priceless. Once someone is granted your attention, they can use their sales and marketing techniques to try and manipulate you into buying something you don’t want, or doing something you don’t want to.

Most of the time we don’t realise that we are being manipulated into doing another’s bidding . Even when we do, it’s only after the event, or because we feel unable to decline or picture any alternative and therefore just go along with it. The downside to all of this is that time, focus and energy is taken away from our own lives. We stop doing whats important to us. Our progress slows and our relationships become strained, all because somebody else convinced us that their need was all that mattered. This is why we should start saying no, and stop putting the wants and needs of others before our own. Of course, there must be give and take in life but we need to be careful of just how much of ourselves, our time and our energy we give.

If it sounds a little selfish, that’s because we sometimes have to be. In this case, putting yourself, and those you care about the most, first is absolutely necessary if you want to be happy. If you handle the situation respectfully and with tact, people will respect your decision to say no. What form this “no”  takes will differ from person to person. For me, I prioritise my own journey and the goals which I am working towards, alongside spending quality time with my family. As such, I say no to things which can divert my energy and attention away from what is important to me, such as resisting the temptation to check work emails at home. When you say no to things which you don’t want to do, strange things happen, such as an increase in productivity. You find yourself getting fewer requests, and having more time to do what makes you happy. Most significant of all, though, you get to focus on what’s important to you. Your confidence also gets a healthy boost as you take back control of your life and stop being led by others.

The more you try to help others  and accommodate their wishes, the more they will ask of you. However, if you say no to whatever you don’t feel to be a good use of your time, people will soon get the message and leave you in peace. Say no, and watch as your happiness, time, confidence and productivity all get a healthy boost

Perspective

Too often, people unwittingly sabotage their own success and fall short of their goals. They fail to fulfill their potential, but the problem is that most don’t even recognise that they are doing it. This is because the cause is not openly visible for them to see. The sabotage comes from somewhere internal and hidden from sight; the mind. Your own worst enemy can often be found in the space between your ears.

The mind is as wonderful as it it complex. In good times, its positive voice can keep up the momentum and keep us motivated and inspired. It can identify opportunities for more success, or just identify things which we should be grateful for. In short, when times are good, our mind instills in us a positive outlook and we become happier and more determined to do well. This has the ability to attract more positivity and good results into our lives. Today I would like to focus, however, on the negative voice which can sometimes take over and bring our progress to a screeching halt.

When things are not going so well, though, our mind can also work against us. We find ourselves almost paralysed by fear or insecurity, being held back by thoughts of what others will say or do. We also tend to dwell on our misfortunes, or get so accustomed to a certain lifestyle that we are filled with terror at the thought of losing it.

The difference between these 2 scenarios is perspective, and the ability to take a step back and look at the overall situation, not just the snapshot in which we find ourselves. Whether times are good or bad, we should still be reflecting on our journeys. This helps us to keep everything in perspective. In times of success, maintaining a sense of perspective is what keeps us focused and motivated, but also humble. We realise that, in order to maintain our momentum and stay ahead of our competition, we need to keep learning from our experiences, putting in the work and taking steps forward.

In bad times, a sense of perspective is what can help us to turn the situation around. Again, you need to reflect on your current situation and identify opportunities for learning. Ask yourself where it went wrong and what you could’ve done better. Identify areas of weaknesses which need attention, and areas of strength which need to be taken advantage of. Use this reflection as an opportunity to learn, but also as a chance to rediscover your hunger, motivation and passion. This is how you put a setback into perspective, by using it as a chance to learn and bounce back wiser and hungrier to succeed.

Focus on the important aspects, such as your journey and progress, and not on things which you can’t control, from the approval of others to the lifestyle you wish you had. This is how you will develop the ability to put situations into perspective, and stop a bump in the road from totally bringing your progress to a halt.

 

Love your haters.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks”

Winston Churchill

Haters. Doubters. Naysayers. Critics. We all have them. Most have good intentions and mean well; just family and friends urging caution as we chase our big goals and dreams. They urge us to be realistic, play it safe and think smaller. They do it because they care, though. They want to see us succeeding and doing well, but fear that we might overreach and fail. It comes from a good place and they mean well, but it’s also a reflection of their own limitations. Perhaps they too chased big goals once, only to fall short, become discouraged and give up. Out of respect we should listen to what they have to say, as their experiences could provide priceless opportunities to learn from, but be careful not to let your spirit and passion be dampened.

Sometimes, however, criticism can come from a more sinister place. This is a dark place inhabited by curious lifeforms known as trolls, where the air is thick with the pungent smell of spite and jealousy. These people seem to exist solely to discredit, discourage or abuse people online. Maybe they resent the happiness of others. Perhaps they are jealous of the success of others. Perhaps they are unhappy with their own lives but too weak to address the cause of their misery. After all, it is easier to point out another’s flaws, weaknesses and shortcomings than to admit that you have your own and tackle them. Or maybe they were never taught kindness, respect and compassion. Who knows?! It’s not your responsibility to diagnose their ills and try to fix them. If you have worked on becoming more resilient, then this is one area in which it will pay off handsomely. With the increased self-awareness and confidence which you have developed, you will be able to see trolling as a cry for attention. You will neither take it personally nor give them the attention they so badly crave.

If the criticism is constructive, welcome the opportunity to learn and develop. If it isn’t, just do your best to ignore it and move on. In order to succeed, you need a thick skin. Most important of all, though, is not to lose your focus, passion, desire or drive. In order to persevere and stay on course in the face of criticism;

  • Remain open to constructive feedback, and act on that which you feel is relevant.
  • Keep reflecting on yourself, your journey, your work and your progress. Keep updating your targets and adapting to circumstances wherever necessary.
  • Just keep going.

 

Monday. Your Time To Shine

“Everyone has his day, and some days last longer than others”

Winston Churchill

Monday. Its mere mention is enough to instill fear in some of us, while filling others with eager anticipation. Why the contrast? In a word, outlook. Whether a person regards Monday positively or negatively, is largely dependent on their mindset, vision and attitude. Those who welcome the first day of the working week, are those who sense opportunity. These are the people who view the traditional working week as a chance to make progress towards their goals. Those who dread it, however, see the working week as a necessary evil. To them it is simply a means to an end; they suffer through the drudgery of the week so that they can enjoy themselves in the evenings and weekends.

Social media, and Instagram in particular, is slowly working to change Monday’s bad reputation though. How?! Through the humble hashtag, #Mondaymotivation. People are starting the week by sharing positive quotes which motivate them, or by simply declaring their determination to work tirelessly towards their goals. This, in turn, inspires others to change their attitude towards work and strive for more. After all, who wants to be left behind when everyone else becomes successful?!

Here are a few truths i’d like to remind you of. If you work hard enough, smart enough and for long enough you will succeed. If you are patient and persistent you will succeed. If you can bounce back from setbacks and bumps in the road without a loss of enthusiasm you will succeed. With self-awareness, passion, drive and purpose you will succeed.

Your time will come. If you want it badly enough, visualise it so well that you can reach out and touch it, and are constantly striving to learn, grow and improve, it will happen. For some this might last for no longer than a fleeting moment, but for others it may last much longer. There are various factors which can affect this, many of which are outside of our control, and there are no guarantees that we will be able to extend our 15 minutes of fame when it comes. That said, there a few steps that we can take to help prolong our success;

  • Keep going. The hard work and effort which brought you success…keep it up! All too often, people ease up when the good times come and turn their attention to enjoying their time in the spotlight. We should, of course, celebrate our successes but this is the perfect opportunity to make even more headway. If we stop innovating and making progress, we allow our competitors to catch up and overtake us.
  • Keep evaluating. Even when your hard work and effort is finally recognised, the work doesn’t stop there. In order to remain successful and relevant in your chosen arena, you need to keep reviewing and reflecting. You need to reflect on yourself and decide whether you need to set new goals and targets for yourself. You also need to reflect on your work, and what you have learned so far; is there anything that can be improved upon? how do you move it forward?
  • Keep networking. Markets, trends and fashions are constantly changing and evolving. What was popular yesterday might be seen as cringeworthy and to be avoided at all costs today. You need to stay relevant in your chosen arena if you want your success to be lasting. You need to do what you can to ensure that people continue talking about you, and the best way to do this is by networking. Connecting with your clients, suppliers, stakeholders, industry insiders or fanbase will help you to keep abreast of developments which may affect you.
  • Keep telling your story. People relate to each other best through stories. It’s our oldest form of communication. The way you tell your story, or market yourself, is crucial. As other competitors challenge you in your chosen industry or area of expertise, your story will help you stand apart from the crowd. In selling a story, people will feel as though they know and understand you better. This in turn fosters a sense of loyalty in your consumer or fanbase which can in turn translate into lasting success.

Before you help others, help yourself.

I recently watched a video in which serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk warns that you need to be selfish before you can even think of being selfless. I was initially surprised to hear this because they are complete opposites, but it gave me plenty of food for thought. A few days later, I had a flight to catch. As usual, my mind wandered as the safety demonstration began, but I came back around just in time to hear the announcement instruct passengers that, in the event of an emergency, they should secure their own safety vest before helping others with theirs. In other words, only after you have helped yourself should you attempt to help others. Cue even more reflection.

After my initial skepticism, I actually began to understand and appreciate the brilliance of this advice. If your intentions are noble and you only wish to help others and be kind, the first step is to be kind to yourself. After all, if you are struggling in your personal life or career, how are you going to help anyone else?

Helping others in place of helping yourself will neither make your troubles go away, nor is it a substitute for them. Simply put, if you prioritise the needs of others over your own, it’s just another form of escapism.

In order to achieve anything in life, regardless of your goals, you need to first work on yourself. You need to define your purpose, identify your goals and learn to become resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks. This, in turn, will help you to become stronger and more rounded as a person. From that position, you can use your experiences to help other people meet the challenges which they may be facing.

In short, the more you work on yourself and build your self-awareness and strength, the better you will be able to help others and make a difference in their lives.

 

Don’t hide your talent from the world

All of us have our own special skills or talents, unique to ourselves. The problem is that the world doesn’t get to experience much of it, because we are often reluctant to share our work for fear of rejection or ridicule. Today, I want to ask one thing of you;  please, just put your work out there. The world will be a richer place for it.

Whether your burning passion is to write, draw, dance or whatever else it may be, that is not important in the grand scheme of things. What matters, is that you share your passion with the world. In the current climate of fake news, and the fear and scaremongering peddled by the media, we need more beauty in the world. We need more people to have the courage to introduce the world to their talent.

This is not easy. At all. In publishing your work, you open a window to your soul. You expose your true self to the world, and this is scary. Nobody likes rejection. and in putting our work out in the public domain, that is exactly what we open ourselves up to. Moreover, as we are exposing our true selves through our work, it can feel like a personal attack if our work is not initially well received. This is actually a good thing, though, because, as we learn to overcome rejection we become resilient. When we become resilient, we develop the ability to better recover from setbacks but we also become more confident in ourselves and our abilities.

Putting your work out there can help you to connect with people who share your passion, and get feedback. It can inspire others to follow their passion too. Or it might just bring a little happiness to someone who was having a bad day before they came across your work. Yes, the response might not be overwhelming once your work is in the public domain. Just be patient. Some people may even be unkind in their feedback, but you have a choice, and can choose to focus on those whose feedback is positive and constructive instead. Who knows, your work might be viewed by someone with a wealth of influence and experience, and in turn could open new doors for you. Unless you try, though, you will never know for certain.

You may even hope to turn your passion into a new career or business. Again, i’d plead with you to put your work out there. Let people see and understand who you are and what you are passionate about. Give them a sample of what you can create and keep them hungry for more. Then, slowly expose them to more of your work, and if all goes well, you may find yourself able to scale it up and get paid to do what you love. Even if, after doing your homework, you feel that the market/ public is not ready for your work, put it out there anyway. Opinions change. Markets move. People embrace new ideas. You might find your work gaining popularity among the general public, or it might be welcomed by a niche market. Either way, you have to put your work out there and see where it leads. Don’t wait for others to dictate when you should share your passion. If nobody else is doing what you do, then put yourself out there and be the first. As business guru Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

We have previously looked at planning and preparing for success. We have also looked at the benefits of taking action. I strongly believe that you need both in order to succeed, in healthy balance. Plan and prepare, but be careful of overthinking or waiting too long. Sometimes it pays to be bold.

Discipline

“In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory was over themselves. Self-discipline with all of them came first”

Harry S Truman

When exploring the multitude of factors which have the power to influence or contribute to our happiness and success, there is one which reigns supreme. Discipline. Mastery over the self, and a certain level of control over our emotions and impulses, can bring serious benefits to all areas of our lives from our health and fitness to our relationships with others, our professional lives and everything in-between.

There have been a number of studies over the years which have explored the power and benefits of discipline in depth, and if there is one common theme, it is that those who practice self-discipline are often happier as a result. Better yet is the fact that discipline is a learned behaviour. It is not something that you are born with, but rather it’s within reach for all of us. So, if you want to become more disciplined, it is entirely possible as long as you put the effort and hard work in. And hard work it most certainly is. In order to become disciplined, you must master the self. This means becoming more aware of who you are, what motivates you, your hopes and fears and your vision for the future. Furthermore, you become more acutely aware of your emotions and what triggers them, leading you to becoming more effective at controlling them as well as your impulses. This culminates in a person developing a sense of balance and becoming more able to make better informed and more rational decisions, which are not governed by impulse and emotion. Your decision-making process becomes proactive and guides you towards your goals as you spend less time and energy simply reacting to the world around you.

Becoming more disciplined requires constant practice and reflection, but the results are more than worth the hard work and effort required. Alongside the increased self-awareness and impulse control, as you work on becoming more disciplined, you will find bad habits being broken and replaced with healthier, more productive ones.

When it comes to the “how” of becoming more disciplined, there is no singular, winning formula. This stands to reason, as we are all unique and on our own individual journeys towards our vision of success. There are, however, a few proven and popular methods, and i’ll end with my top 4;

  • Expressing gratitude. We live in an age of consumerism and are relentlessly bombarded with messages about things that we need to buy in order to be happy. The result is that we spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy focusing on what we lack, and how important it is for our future happiness to have it. Essentially, we are allowing our impulses and actions to be manipulated by clever marketers and salespeople. If you want to become more disciplined, you need to take control here. This starts with a shift towards appreciation and gratitude. Focus, instead, should be switched to what you already have and are grateful for.
  • Eating healthier foods, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Fighting temptation and cravings in order to lead a healthier lifestyle will build a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. As the saying goes, “Mens sana in corpore sano” or “a healthy mind in a healthy body”.
  • Organisation. This is one area which you can practice at work, as well as at home, in order to become more disciplined. In becoming more organised, you become better able to prioritise tasks and manage your time effectively, as well as your emotions and energy levels.
  • Resilience. Discipline is also about willpower and mental strength, and the one area where this guaranteed to be regularly tested is in our response to setbacks. As you develop the ability persevere through hard times, you will find yourself becoming more disciplined. This, in turn, will help you to develop the strength to bounce back from challenges and get yourself back on the path towards your goals.

 

 

 

 

Ego

Recently, we looked at the beauty of humility, but today I would like to discuss its arch-nemesis, the ego. The word “ego” comes from the Latin, meaning “I”, and unless it is kept in check, it is a powerful force that has the potential to undo much of your good work.

Ego often gets confused with confidence but it is important to understand that these are 2 very different concepts. Confidence is a belief, and faith, in your skills and abilities. It is something that, when we work on it, can improve our lives and open the door to opportunities. Ego, on the other hand is about self-interest. When the ego takes over, we crave the validation and approval of others in order to justify what we do and how we do it. Ego is a very destructive force.

The problem with ego is that it doesn’t like feedback. Ego assumes that you already know everything and have nothing to learn. To the ego it is a sign of weakness to admit that you don’t have all the answers. In turn, the egotistical overestimate their abilities, skills and knowledge and miss opportunities. In opening yourself up to feedback from others, you also open the door to potential opportunities for learning, growth and progress. The ego, however, makes sure that this particular door remains locked, bolted and boarded up.

As we become more self-aware, some are taking it to the extremes and becoming self-obsessed and self-centered. If this is not addressed, it can wreak habit our our personal lives and relationships as well as our professional lives and businesses. There is a balance between humility and confidence, which we should strive to find. In order to keep the ego in check and stop it from taking over, I have found the following very effective;

  • Allow yourself extra time before making decisions or taking action. Wherever possible, stop and think first. In this way, you are more likely to be calmer and more focused as you take your next step.
  • Practice gratitude. Be thankful for what you have achieved and experienced so far. Celebrate your successes and achievements, but also acknowledge others who have helped and supported you on your journey so far.
  • Take responsibility and ownership. Just as you celebrate your successes, take responsibility for setbacks and failures too. Rather than complain, or ignore it altogether, focus on how you will recover and bounce back. Share your experiences, negative as well as positive, so that others may be inspired and learn too.

Life itself is a journey of learning, discovery and development, so admitting that we don’t have all the answers just makes us human, and humble. More likeable too.

 

What is your driving force?!

You may have heard of it referred to as your “why” and if you want to lead a successful and fulfilled life it is important that you know exactly what it is. Everybody has goals and dreams but it is your “why” or reason for being that has the power to set high-achievers apart from the crowd.

Your why is your purpose. It’s your reason for being. It’s a cause that you believe in deeply, to your core. Furthermore it’s a source of inspiration and motivation which will help you to rebound strongly from setbacks and problems and keep you going when times get tough. When you know why you are doing what you do, and find yourself on your chosen path, there is less likelihood of becoming disheartened and quitting when faced with adversity. On the other hand, it also keeps you grounded, humble and focused when you do start to make real progress.

There is a catch, though. I can’t tell you what your why is. Nobody can. For every individual it will, of course, differ. Only you can figure that out for yourself through honest reflection. There are, however, some questions which anybody can benefit from asking themselves;

  • What does success look like to you? Before you embark on your journey, you must know what it is the you are aiming for. If you don’t know where you are headed or what you are aiming for, you can’t possibly know when you are making progress. What does the end result look like? What do you want to achieve through your journey? Are you driven to bring about social change? Are you looking to start a business? Are you looking to strengthen your personal relationships?
  • What issues are you passionate about? What motivates or inspires you? What keeps you up at night, occupying your thoughts? What is the burning question that you want to answer, or change that you want to bring about?
  • If money were no object, what would you do? Put aside the pay check for a moment and the bills which need paying. If your finances were comfortable and you were in complete control of your destiny, how would you spend your time? What would you focus on?

Your why is your mission. Use the 3 questions above as prompts to help you find your own. It gives you strength in testing times and keeps you humble and focused when things go well. Find it and you will discover strength and ability which you may not have realised that you possess. Coupled with a deep belief in what you are doing, and a dogged determination to succeed, you will soon find yourself on a journey through life which is as fulfilling and meaningful as it is successful.

Gratitude

Gratitude is infectious, and easy to practice. Try it. Take 5 minutes out of your day to stop and reflect on 3 things which you have to be thankful for. Make a note of them, either mentally, electronically or with good old pen and paper. Now, as your focus shifts to these opportunities for which you are grateful, you will discover even more to be appreciative of. This, in turn, has the power to improve your mood and outlook, making your days feel brighter and more fulfilling. Motivation levels are thus topped up, focus is shifted back to your goals and your progress towards them, and the small, seemingly mundane daily tasks which all add up to propel you towards your goals become a lot more pleasant.

Practicing gratitude can have a positive impact in a multitude of ways, providing a healthy boost to our brains, bodies, relationships and everything in between. It’s a healthy human emotion, with therapeutic powers and physiological benefits which are endless. The more you express gratitude, the more opportunities you will attract for which to be grateful. This is supported by science, neuroscience to be exact, which has revealed that the expression of gratitude can play a role in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter in the body, manufactured in the brain and intestines,  which is thought to regulate mood and social behaviour, as well as sleep, memory, digestion and sexual function.

In essence, as soon as you start to find reasons to be grateful, your mood lifts as your serotonin levels raise. This improves your mood and outlook further, opening your eyes to even more opportunities to express gratitude and improving your body language and behaviour in such a way as to potentially attract even more to be thankful for. This is known as a virtuous cycle, in which the initial benefit of expressing gratitude generates ever more opportunities to express gratitude, with our mood and behaviour improving to attract even more to be thankful for.

The relatively small step of finding 3 initial things for which to be grateful has the potential, over time, to play a huge role in guiding you on your journey towards success.

Resilience

We recently added optimism to the list of elements which can help us on our journey of self discovery and growth. But does it not sound a little too simplistic?! So far we have learned that we should adopt a growth mindset and an optimistic outlook before setting goals and taking action if we want to succeed. As for failure, which is inevitable in any undertaking, it should not be feared but rather welcomed as an opportunity to learn and grow. So, armed with all of the above, you should confidently go forth and be rewarded with the life of your dreams, right? The problem is that if it was as easy as that sounds, we would all be entrepreneurs, actors, singers or astronauts.

So, what is it that high achievers do or possess that allows them to achieve their goals and ambitions? This element goes by many names, such as resilience, perseverance, mental strength or persistence. There is also an excellent book on this subject by Angela Duckworth, which defines it as grit.

Resilience, or whichever definition you prefer, is a passion and perseverance for long-term goals but means different things to different people. For some it is a stamina, which gives the strength to rise from setbacks and finish what they started. For others, it is the knowledge that, as long as you keep learning and putting in the work, you will get back on the right track. In other words, it is a belief that failures and setbacks are just a bump on the road towards success. It is the drowning out of the negative comments and misgivings of naysayers, no matter how good their intentions, and having confidence and faith in your own ability.

Resilience is not something you are born with, which you either have or don’t. The good news is that it can be worked on and developed, and here are some of the ways which work for me when  things don’t go according to plan and failure pays a visit;

  • Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is where optimism, a positive outlook and perspective really help. Keep reminding yourself of your purpose and why you are doing this. What do you want to achieve? What skills and behaviours do you want to foster and develop? What kind of person do you want to become by the end of your journey? How is this done, though? ⇓⇓
  • Reflect. Remind yourself, ideally in a reflective journal,  of what you are grateful for, and the progress which you have made so  far. This will help steer you back towards a positive mindset. Once you have rediscovered your optimism, it’s time to look for reasons as to why a particular setback happened. This is healthier and more productive than making excuses and becoming disheartened.
  • Evaluate. With things back into perspective, your optimism returned and an awareness of what went wrong, it’s time to bring it all together with an honest evaluation. This is where you determine how you will be getting back on track and moving forward. What resources do you have available to you? Are there any gaps in your knowledge which you can address? Most importantly, though, you now have an opportunity to challenge yourself, venturing once more outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself to do something which you think you can’t.

Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive and others may use methods and strategies which work just as well, if not better. If you are one of these people, I would love to hear about your experiences and what works for you.

Resilience means different things to different people, but at its core it’s the faith that setbacks are only temporary, and actually offer an opportunity to learn and grow. Furthermore, it is the confidence that you will soon be back on course, stronger and better informed.