The Fire Within

January. The most wonderfully deluded time of the year. Everyone is keen to share their New Year’s Resolutions with anybody who will listen, and social media is full of every variation of the good old “New Year, New Me” post. Please forgive my cynicism, but come February 1st how many people will still be living their new lifestyle and still be working towards their resolutions? In my 36 years, i’ve made a lifetime’s worth of resolutions only to see them go out of the window not long after. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. People can and do make lasting resolutions and changes, and it’s something that anybody can do. How, I hear you ask…

The answer is simple, the only ones still standing next month and beyond will be those whose motivation is intrinsic. This means that their motivation comes from within. It’s more than just the pursuit of a goal which will earn a reward, it’s their purpose, their reason and their “why”.

For many people, their motivation is extrinsic, or motivated by external sources. This means that they are chasing their goals in the hope of achieving some kind of external reward, be it new clothes which they will treat themselves to if they lose enough weight, a promotion at work or the approval of others, for example.

The problem for those motivated by the hope of some external reward (extrinsic motivation) is that it doesn’t last. It simply cannot last. Sounds harsh, but it is also the truth. I know, because I have had to find this out the hard way over the years.

Externally motivated goals only work in the short-term and the reason is simple. Life is a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs. During the ups, extrinsic motivation works just fine, but it’s during the down times that it falls apart. In pursuit of a goal or resolution, you will undoubtedly encounter tough times and challenges. If your pursuit of the goal is tied to some reward, it is only natural to question, when times get difficult, whether it’s really worth continuing. This is the point at which people start to give up as they determine that the reward is not worth the time, effort or risk required.

When you pursue a goal or resolution which is motivated internally, the results are very different. Intrinsic, or internal, motivation is when you chase a goal for yourself. You’re not after a nice shiny treat. This is when you want something with every ounce of your being. A fire burns inside you for it. It is your purpose, and the reason why are here. It is your first thought in the morning when you wake, and your last before you go to sleep. This is the deciding factor between success or failure in pursuit of your goals, and it really works because it inspires you to keep going even on the most difficult of days, never giving up and never settling.

If you want something badly, deeply or strongly enough, you will do whatever it takes. You won’t just work for it, but you will suffer for it. When the difficult times come, you will persevere through the pain, misery and disappointment until you finally achieve what you set out to. Then, and only then, do you receive the greatest reward of all…the feeling of accomplishment.

Setting goals is the easy part in the quest for a more fulfilled and rewarding life. On the other hand, putting in the time and effort required, and persevering through the tough times, is incredibly difficult.

So, as well as considering what you want to achieve and how you plan to go about it, i’ll leave you with some questions which you may find helpful to reflect upon;

  • How badly do you want this?
  • What/ how much does achieving this goal mean to you?
  • What do you hope to have received in reaching this goal?
  • What are you prepared to do, or give, in order to achieve this goal?
  • What sacrifices are you prepared to make in order to be successful?

 

Whatever your goals, I wish you the very best of luck. May 2018 be your best year yet!!

F Scott Fitzgerald’s words of wisdom

Happy New Year!! 2 days in, and I hope it’s already off to a good start for you. Being the main time of year in which people resolve, plan and set out to change their lives for the better, there is no better time to share the below pearls of wisdom from F Scott Fitzgerald;

 

For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whatever you want to be. 

There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We  can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. 

I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of , and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

Roll The Dice (Charles Bukowski)

As we hit the midpoint in the week, which is for many the hardest day to get through, I would like to share with you another poem from Henry Charles Bukowski, Roll the Dice. This is an inspirational poem, in which we are told that we should chase after what we are passionate about. Wholeheartedly. You must have goals and be willing to sacrifice everything and work tirelessly in pursuit of them. If you can do this, the poet explains that the resulting feeling of accomplishment will be unlike anything else which you have experienced. In true Bukowski style, it is honest, gritty  and truthful rather than overly positive. He tells us that in chasing our passions, we give meaning and purpose to our lives. However we must also be realistic and understand that there are risks involved. Much in the same way as when a dice is rolled, the outcome of that which we attempt in life cannot be known in advance.

The title reminds us that there are few guarantees and certainties in life. With that in mind, you should follow your passion. Do whatever it is that you secretly desire. Regardless of what it is, do it. When you decide to pursue your goals though, you must devote yourself wholeheartedly to it. No half-measures. There may be hardships and challenges to be overcome, but with persistence you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. The feeling when you accomplish your goals will make it all worthwhile.

 

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. 

Otherwise, don’t even start. 

This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind.

It could mean not eating for three or four days. 

It could mean freezing on a park bench. 

It could mean jail. 

It could mean derision. 

It could mean mockery–isolation.

Isolation is the gift. 

All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. 

And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. 

And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. 

If you’re going to try, go all the way. 

There is no other feeling like that. 

You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. 

You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. 

It’s the only good fight there is.”

IF (Rudyard Kipling)

Today, as we hit the midpoint in the week, I have yet another of my favourite poems to share. My hope is that it will encourage you to keep working hard at your goals and personal development, and finish the week strongly.
In the anticipation of motivating and inspiring you, I have chosen If by Rudyard Kipling. Widely quoted, it was written in 1909 and the tone is very upbeat and positive. Despite using words such as man and son, this is a poem for everybody. To me, the poem is a reminder of the amount of potential we all have within us to succeed in life.
Kipling advises the reader that they will face adversity in life, but then proceeds to offer ways in which these challenges can be overcome. Furthermore, he tells the reader that it is not only possible to overcome adversity but that they could go further, thrive and achieve success. Again, Kipling offers his advice as to how this can be done, and implies that the choice is theirs as to whether they make it happen or not.
What I love most about this poem, though, is the use of “if”. In reading these 2 innocent letters, we become aware that the life which they lead is our choice. It’s up to each of us if we succeed in life or not. The potential is within us, but the ultimate outcome depends on what we do with that potential.
If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Psalm of Life (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Another day, and I have another poem which I would like to share with you. Also known as What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist, this poem brims with optimism. This is the perfect tonic for daily life, which can at times feel heavy and as though it is weighing us down.
The poem below, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is a reminder that life is full of possibilities and opportunities for those who work hard and are patient. Essentially, the poet tells us that we can make progress from day to day, and achieve our goals, if we make the full use of our time. That said, our time has to be used wisely, by working hard, but we should also never lose faith in the power and potential of life.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this poem as much as I did after I was introduced to it for the first time. Most of all though, I hope that you heed the poet’s message, that we should all aim to make the most out of this life.
Instead of just watching life pass us by we should take action, as life is full of possibilities. So, if you have a talent within you aching to be released, stop wasting time and just express yourself. Draw, paint, sing, read, write….whatever it is that makes your heart sing, start doing it today. Likewise your dreams, ambitions, goals and plans. We all have something which we want to do or achieve, and now is the time to start working towards making them a reality. Slowly, one step at a time and one day at a time.
Have faith, work hard and make the most of life’s inherent potential.

The Winners (Rudyard Kipling)

This Monday morning, as the world heads back to work or study, I would like to share another of my favourite poems.

 

Collaboration, cooperation and teamwork are terms which we encounter many times each day, especially in the workplace. They all refer to the same thing, the sharing of knowledge and experiences with others in order to achieve shared goals and objectives. It does work, and the ability to work closely with others effectively is a valuable skill.

Kipling, however, raises in this poem the question as to whether collaboration is always necessary, or indeed the best option. He explains that whenever someone wants to accomplish something important, they have to decide whether it would be better to tackle the task with the aid of another, or to just trust in your own abilities and judgment. In warning that “He travels the fastest who travels alone” the poet explains that there is a potential downside to collaboration, as others can distract or impede progress to the point where the goal may never be achieved.

Simply put, the message is that if you have a goal which you believe you can reach alone, don’t wait for someone else, but go after it and reap the rewards of doing your best on your own terms.

 

What the moral? Who rides may read.
When the night is thick and the tracks are blind
A friend at a pinch is a friend, indeed,
But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

White hands cling to the tightened rein,
Slipping the spur from the booted heel,
Tenderest voices cry ” Turn again!”
Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel,
High hopes faint on a warm hearth-stone–
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

One may fall but he falls by himself–
Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf–
Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.

Wherefore the more ye be helpen-.en and stayed,
Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil,
Sing the heretical song I have made–
His be the labour and yours be the spoil.
Win by his aid and the aid disown–
He travels the fastest who travels alone!

 

I love this poem because it is different. Kipling depicts the other side to working closely with others, and highlights the uncomfortable truth that sometimes collaboration can impede progress. Instead, the poet suggests that we muster up the courage to take a leap of faith anyway, go it alone and work on our own terms.

Published in 1888 but still relevant today, the poet implores the reader that, if they want to accomplish something important, they have to carefully consider if they have the ability to complete it on their own, and whether it really is necessary to ask someone else for help?

Are you brave enough to go it alone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Journey so far..

For my 100th blog post, I would like to share a little about myself and the journey which I have been on since starting Fulfill Your Potential.

I didn’t set out to start a blog, it kind of..happened. Writing, however, is something which i’ve always enjoyed. Until I started Fulfill Your Potential, though, I only ever wrote for myself in notebooks and journals. I have boxes of them which I revisit from time to time, as they provide a powerful reminder of how far i’ve come and how far I have yet to go. I’d reflect on myself and my own personal development, as well as anything which i’ve come across and has stuck in my mind. Wherever I go, I always have a notepad and pen with me, just in case inspiration strikes.

In the last couple of years, I have left the teaching profession to pursue a career in Human Resources. This is a broad field, of which Learning and Development interests me the most. I am not only fascinated by how much potential we all have within us, but also the power which each of us has to fulfil that potential. During this time I have studied for a Master’s in Human Resource Management, read countless books and journal articles, gained a wealth of experience and consulted with numerous academics, coaches and professionals. Furthermore I have enhanced my knowledge, skills and professional network.

The problem I faced was that I now found myself with all this research, knowledge and a wealth of resources but not enough of an outlet. At the same time, social media was full of gurus and coaches selling training packages which offered all the secrets to success for a fee. Despite my skepticism, I read a few books and visited numerous blogs and websites but found many of them distinctly lacking any real substance. They were motivational, but didn’t offer anything other than what I felt I already knew. That is, however, the genius of these offerings; because there are no lasting benefits you keep going back to top up your levels of motivation.

I decided that I was being selfish in withholding what I had learned and experienced, and needed to share it with the world. So I started this blog. I actually created it last November, then…nothing. I was waiting for the perfect time and topic before starting. So I waited and waited and waited. Then I remembered that the perfect time does not exist, and if I kept waiting the blog would not get started. In April, I finally took the plunge and posted for the first time.

I am, and have always been, an introvert so this was rather scary. I worried that nobody would read it. Then I worried about being ridiculed. It was slow going at first, and there were many times when I questioned what I was doing and whether I should give up, but I kept writing. Once a week at first, I now write daily and love it. I love being able to share something of value with the world but I enjoy the interactions with readers more. It’s easy to get carried away and become obsessed with the statistics (visitors, likes..) but I am fixated on value. I want to offer something worthwhile and helpful to as any people as possible. I want people to know that it is possible to find help and inspiration for free. You don’t have to pay significant amounts of money for well-marketed programmes, which are often common sense sprinkled with anecdotes of people who have achieved success against all odds. That is not to say that they are all bad. There are indeed a number of very successful coaches who offer a great service, but only if you pay a premium.

Most of all I write in the hope that I can provide value to others by providing a source of motivation or inspiration through the sharing of knowledge and experience. This is simply a labour of love, and something I strongly believe in, so I will continue to write and pay it forward for as long as anyone finds value in this blog.

If you like what your read, I only ask that you please leave a comment and let me know how I can improve my blog for you. If you feel inclined to share any of my posts, that would also be greatly appreciated. If there is a topic which resonates with you, please let me know and I will promise to revisit it in more depth.

Alternatively, if you hate it, I would love to hear from you too. I am on a mission to write to the best of my ability and provide something of value, so any constructive feedback would help me to help you, the reader. If you believe that you could do better, please do so. After all, the world needs more people to find the courage to share their talents, providing value and beauty while asking nothing in return.

Lastly, I would like to thank you all for joining me on this rollercoaster ride over the past 100 posts. There is plenty more yet to come, and in the pipeline is a podcast, which will be launching as soon as I manage to iron out a few technical issues.

Flashback Friday

Friday is over and we are finally headed into the weekend, when people traditionally unwind and recharge their batteries. This is essential, if you want to avoid burnout and fatigue, but it does not mean that you have to put your personal development on hold, though.

In the spirit of the flashback Friday hashtag which is popular on social media, I would like to share a little something I read from author and coach Brian Tracy a while ago. Short and sweet, but motivational and informative, he offers the keys to success in 4 simple steps;

Four life-changing keys to success:

  • Decide exactly what you want
  • Set a deadline
  • Take action every day
  • Persist until you succeed

In essence, you need reflection, goals with deadlines, plenty of action and the resilience to keep going when times get tough. Of course it won’t bring you overnight success, but it will get you closer to your goals.

I hope this gives you some food for thought and keeps the fire burning..

Make criticism your friend

Today, something interesting happened to me which i’d like to share. After posting 95 times on this blog, I finally got my first negative comment. It appeared in my spam box, but before I had the chance to respond, it had disappeared. This is not an attempt to boost my ego by bragging, but I am writing to share the experience and what I learned from it.

The funny thing is that, despite its content, this message energised me. I felt a surge of motivation, which turned to disappointment when the message was no longer there. The message itself simply stated that reading one of my posts had been a waste of time, as it lacked information. The thing is, this person was right. That particular post had been written to inspire readers to question their situation and take action. It was motivational, rather than informative. I should have made that clearer in my writing.

It is very easy to be discouraged and disheartened by one bad review or comment. It has happened to me plenty of times in the past. This time, however, was different. It made me question what I am doing, and how I could do it better. It also made me realise that our response to criticism is our choice. It’s all about perspective and mindset. It’s easy to accept criticism as fact and give up, but this fails to take into account that another person’s criticism is simply their opinion and not a fact. Another person might see or read the same thing and enjoy it.

When I post on this blog, it is in the hope of providing value in one of two ways. The first type of post aims to provide value through sharing experiences, advice and information. The second type of post, however, is written as a call to action.

This was the first criticism which I have received while blogging, and if the author is reading this, thank you. I appreciate all feedback, and this particular piece motivated me to revisit my writing style and ensure that I am writing to the best of my ability each time. The aim is that this review and reflection leads to better quality writing, while providing more value for all readers. My only regret is that the comment has disappeared and I am unable to share it here.

I welcome, and enjoy reading, all feedback. While positive feedback lets me know what you find interesting or useful, negative feedback is a powerful tool which can help me to provide even better material for your reading pleasure. So, please keep sharing and I will do my best to keep improving.

As far as any lessons which I have to offer, it is that your response to criticism is your choice. You can let it get you down, or it can fuel the fire within you to keep growing and improving. It’s easier said than done and requires practice, but criticism can be a force for good when it spurs you into action. Use negative feedback to review, reflect and improve your offering. I chose to be motivated by criticism to improve my blog. When criticism comes to you, how will you respond?

The Blueprint

“All you need is the plan, the road map and the course to press on to your destination”

Earl Nightingale

As the weekend draws to a close and we turn our thoughts to the week ahead, I would like to offer two more of my favourite quotes.

The first, is all about the quest for success, and tells you at a glance what you need to get started. The plan is your overall vision, your big goals and the timeframe in which you will achieve them. The road map describes the small goals along the way and your strategy for achieving them. Your strategy, in this case, is simply how you will be making the most of your strengths and resources in order to achieve your goals. The course is the journey which you will be on. This is, arguably, the most important part as this is where you learn and develop. Throughout the journey, you gain knowledge and skills while improving your strengths and addressing your weaknesses. Finally, the destination  is your ultimate goal. This is not the end of the process or the journey at all, though. Once you reach your destination, reflect on the skills and knowledge which you have acquired before starting again. Life is a journey of continuous progression and personal development after all.

There is one element which i’d add to the above, though, and that is the initial reflection. I strongly believe that you should first reflect on who you are and what you want to achieve before you can set goals and pursue them. You have to know what you are good at, and where your weaknesses lie. You also need an idea of what success would look like to you. Without this, how would you know that you have achieved success?

As for the second quote, it’s about taking action now and not wasting time.

Taken together, both quotes offer an important piece of advice. You don’t need much to get started on your journey towards success. Reflect, formulate a clear idea of what you want to achieve, set your goals and get after them. Don’t waste time overthinking it.

I’ll leave you with quote number two from one of my favourite actors, Robert de Niro;

“Time goes on. So whatever you’re going to do, do it. Do it now. Don’t wait”

Be mindful of the company you keep

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room”

Michael Dell

We tend to surround ourselves with what is familiar. We know what we like, and search for it. Why? Because it’s easy, comfortable and makes us feel good. This applies to the people who we choose to spend time with too. If you really want to lead a successful and fulfilled life, though, you need to step outside your comfort zone. Too many of us still fear the unknown and avoid it wherever possible. What they don’t realise, however, is that these unknowns have within them the opportunities which could transform their lives.

Growing up,I was taught that there is always someone in life, there is always  someone better than you out there. The key is to be humble, seek out these people and learn from them. In order to really develop and grow both both personally and professionally, you need to spend time around people who are more successful, more intelligent, more experienced than you.  It may seem daunting and scary at first but these are the people who will challenge you, stretch you, motivate and inspire you. Not to mention the fact that they may have the knowledge, skills or networks to help you overcome a particular challenge which you may be facing.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t devote time to your family and friends. These are the people who bring joy and meaning into our lives. Even if they don’t challenge us, the love, understanding, friendship and support which they offer us is a welcome support. You can still maintain your relationships, while also seeking out new groups which will help your professional development. There are a number of ways in which you can do this with minimal impact to your personal life.

For those who lack confidence in social situations, there are countless forums and groups on social media with a common interest, such as business networking, which can be joined. Or you can search for the nearest networking event or meeting taking place on a topic which interests you, and attend. In fact, many universities and colleges host such events which are open to the public and free to attend.

Alternatively, look to join a group with which you share a common interest and which holds regular meetings. Personally, I benefited most from joining 2 cigar clubs in London. Cigars are my guilty pleasure, which I allow myself when I have cause for celebration. After a bit of research I picked 2 clubs and joined, each of which meet once a month for tasting sessions, for the experience. The aim was to learn more about, and try, more cigars in a relaxed friendly atmosphere. This I definitely got, but there was something else which these groups gave me. I gained the opportunity to meet and learn from new people. On attending the first meeting of each of these clubs, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was in the presence of entrepreneurs, successful businessmen and women, diplomats and creators of government policy to name but a few. That said, the atmosphere is always relaxed and friendly when we meet as everyone has  a shared interest, which in this case is the humble cigar. In the time which I have been a member at both of these clubs, my professional network has grown as have my opportunities for personal development. Better yet, as the groups only meet once a  month, I have plenty of time outside of these 2 meetings to spend with the people who really matter, my nearest and dearest.

I am not saying that everyone should now start smoking cigars. Some would even argue that it’s a filthy habit. What I would suggest, though, is joining a group based on something which interests you. An increasing number of workplaces have groups which meet on a number of subjects, so find the one which interests you the most and give it a go. Universities have societies for virtually everything you can think of, and allow you to create your own if you can’t find one you like. You never know which doors it might open for you.

Your family and friends, whether they challenge or comfort you, are important and should never be neglected. That is not to say, however, that you can’t find a group or society to join which will give you the challenge and motivation to keep learning and developing.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)

 

 

 

 

 

Tabula Rasa..

..or a clean slate, as it is otherwise known.

We have an awful tendency to dwell our our successes and failures, both of which are damaging. Of course our wins should be celebrated, but as with everything else, there should be moderation. Celebrate too long and you begin to lose perspective, as well as any advantage you may have over your competitors. It is easy to begin to overestimate your skills and abilities when you focus too long and hard on your successes. Your ego, however, needs to be kept in check. It is important to understand that life is a continuous process of learning and development. Whatever comes to pass, whether good or bad, has within it a lesson. Identifying this lesson and learning from it is the surest way to continue your personal development and avoid stagnating.  In short, if yesterday was successful, don’t sit back and relax but rather take advantage of it by learning from, and acting on, it in order to continue your progression.

The same rule applies to those times when things are not progressing well or according to plan. It’s too easy to become disheartened and demotivated by focusing on the negative aspects and what went wrong. Left unchecked, negativity and pessimism start to take hold. This can then turn a bad day into a bad week, month or year. Perspective is again important. Amid all the doom and gloom, take a moment to remind yourself just how much control you have over your own life. You control your decisions and actions. Therefore, to a certain extent, you also have a level of control of what happens. So, if you had a bad day, don’t dwell on it but rather use it as a learning experience. Remind yourself that you have the power to turn your fortunes around. Try and identify where it went wrong for you; was it a lack of knowledge or experience? Or was it perhaps a decision which didn’t produce the expected results? Reflect on any  lessons to be learned, so that you can move on wiser as well as determined to get back on track. Learn for the experience and bounce back before negativity sets in and a bad day becomes a losing streak.

Regardless of whether yesterday was good or bad, start each day afresh. Wake each morning with the determination to improve yourself and take steps in the direction of your goals.

 

Quote Of The Day: Work Your Butt Off (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Today, i’d like to share with you a call to action from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Through grit, determination and relentless hard work he has achieved greatness, and this is his philosophy;

“​It is so important that you work your butt off. Don’t ever look for shortcuts. You have to recognize that there are 24 hours a day. We sleep six hours a day. I know there are some of you that say, “Wait a minute, I take more time to sleep.” I say, “Just sleep faster, okay? Because you should only spend six hours in bed because otherwise it’s a waste of time, and then you have 18 hours left.” 

Most people work, let’s say, eight or 10 hours. So now you still have eight hours left. 

What do we do with these eight hours? is really the question.

So this is when you have to study and learn something new. The key thing is, is to keep in mind what is your goal, and keep looking at that as you get up and dust yourself off. Okay?”

In his own inimitable way, Arnie reminds us that we should embrace lifelong learning and strive to improve ourselves every day. My favourite line, however is “get up and dust yourself off”. This is a reality check, and an important one, because things will not always go according to plan. It is, therefore, crucial that you become resilient and better able to persevere through the challenging times. This is what will allow you to get back up and move forward having learned from the experience.

Rather than binge watching the latest box set or going out, spend your downtime working towards your goals. Hustle, grind, work…whatever it is that you call it, that is exactly what you should be doing. This may mean networking, building your brand, creating a website or drafting a business plan. As hard and tiring as it may be to give up your free time in order to chase your dreams, in the end it will be worth it. After all, while others are at rest or play, you have the perfect opportunity to steal a march on them. Don’t waste it.

Less Searching, More Experiencing

Advice on personal development and leading a more fulfilled life is often confusing and full of contradictions . Of these, one of the biggest inconsistencies revolves around taking action. If you were to look back through some of the posts on this very blog, you would be forgiven for spotting potentially opposing advice.

There seem to be two schools of thought on this subject. The practical side will preach the importance of taking action, learning from your experiences and adapting along the way. The theoretical side, however, will stress the importance of reflection, setting goals and making plans. Surely, one of them must be right, but which one?!

The reality is that both of the above are right. Together, they both highlight the key stages in the personal development process. Not all of the stages are relevant for everyone, and there is no set order in which they should be followed, though. I put reflection at the top of this list because that is my starting point, which works best for me.

  • Reflection. This is the ideal starting point, as you identify your strengths and weaknesses, your interests, what drives you and what you hope to achieve both personally and professionally.
  • Goal Setting. With a good understanding of your situation and circumstances, the next logical step will be set goals, both short and long-term. Goals are a great way to keep you motivated as you have something to strive for which is broken down into small steps. Furthermore, goals are an indicator of what progress is being made, and whether you are staying on track.
  • Planning. The planning stage is more a matter of personal preference than a necessity. Some prefer to take action once their goals have been set, but others prefer to plan and strategise. In this instance, some find it helpful to set out how they will use their resources in order to reach their goals, and what knowledge or skills they may need to acquire.
  • Action. Arguably, the most important stage of all. After all, without taking action in the direction of your goals, you won’t achieve very much, if anything. It is by taking action that we gain the experiences from which we learn and grow.
  • Review. As you take action in the direction of your goals, it’s important to regularly review your progress. This will help you identify gaps in your knowledge and areas to be addressed, as well as highlight what has been working well. The review process also gives you the opportunity to amend and update your goals as you meet them.

As with everything else in life, both sides are right but balance is essential. In this case, you need to find a healthy balance between reflection, planning and taking action. If you spend too much time thinking, planning, searching or strategising, you won’t have enough time left to actually take action and so will get nowhere. On the other hand, if you just jump straight in and get to work without a plan, it becomes incredibly difficult to judge what it is that you are actually achieving.

Through reflection and planning, you gain an understanding of who you are, what you have to offer and what you would like to achieve from life. When this is coupled with action, you then get to experience life in all its glory. The lessons gained from your experiences help you to understand what happiness and life itself mean for you.

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of.

You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life

 

Circumstances and taking control

“Man is not a creature of circumstances, but a creator of circumstances. He makes his own circumstances, his own opportunities”

Napoleon Hill

 As we head into the weekend, and prepare to switch off and unwind for 2 days, I thought it would be appropriate to share the above quote with you.

I love it because it really speaks volumes. It reinforces what we all know, deep down, namely that we each control our own destiny. If you know yourself well enough to know what you want, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, then good things will come your way if your put in the hard work. Through your consistent efforts, you lay the foundations for future success.

You can’t do it without hard work though. Of course, the easier option would be to sit back and wait for success to come knocking at your door. The problem with this, however, is that I am yet to meet anybody for whom this approach has actually worked. In fact, this is the quickest path to disappointment, disengagement, despair and even depression.

The hard truth is that if you really want something, you have to put the work in to get it. In being proactive, you take a certain amount of control over your circumstances. When you do this, you will notice that opportunities suddenly start to seek you out. It’s almost as if the universe has seen the work which you are putting in, and decided to give you a helping hand. This is a far better approach than the reactive one, in which people wait for things to happen to them before even thinking about doing anything about it. This second approach is lazy, and laziness will not help your personal or professional development. Lazy, not just in their reluctance to take action, but also lazy in how they react when circumstances  do not work in their favour and opportunities seem to never present themselves. This is because they simply choose to blame others or lady luck herself, rather than do anything which could help to improve their situation.

So, the next time things do not go your way and you stop to curse your bad luck or start telling yourself that you can’t catch a break, ask yourself this simple question;

“Am I really doing all I can to move forward in the direction of my goals or could I do more?”

Carpe Diem

Seize the day. The time is now. There is no time like the present…

These are phrases which we hear all too often, but despite being overused they remain relevant. We all start out with big dreams, goals and ambitions which we chase relentlessly, until we reach a point where we become comfortable and content. So we stop. From there, we fall into a routine and stop striving for constant growth and development because we are happy as we are. Our lives become a cycle of work, play and home life, which is not a bad thing as long as you are not only happy, but also confident that you won’t be filled with regret later. For many people, though, daily life continues merrily until they wake up one morning feeling as though something is missing. This is followed by reflection on time misspent and opportunities missed.

The good news is that it is never too late to put that reflection to good use. Rather than dwell on what may have been missed out on so far, identify what it is that you really want and go after it. Regardless of your age or current circumstances, anybody can set themselves goals for personal development and chase them with vigour and determination. If you want something bad enough and are prepared to put the work in, you will find a way to make it happen. Anybody, absolutely anybody, can make minor adjustments to their daily lives which will help them to take steps towards their goals. These steps may be very small, but each one gets you closer to what it is that you’re aiming for. Darren Hardy calls this “The Compound Effect” and it really does work.

Ideally, you will be carving out a few minutes each day for a little reflection, and acting upon it. I find that this works best for me at night, just before bed, when I look back on my day and ask myself;

  • What have I got to be grateful for (usually 3 things) ?
  • What have I learned today?
  • Did I take any steps in the direction of my goals? Could I have done more? Tried harder? What do I need to work harder on?
  • Did I make a difference to anybody other than myself? Did I pay it forward? Did I help anybody or provide a service? If not, why?
  • What steps can I take tomorrow to get me closer to my goals? Where are the gaps in my skills or knowledge which need to be addressed?

With this done, I get a more restful sleep with a clear mind, and wake up energised and ready to continue my journey towards my goals.

It is by no accident that I post this call to action today, a Friday in August. August is traditionally a month of downtime, when people take holidays to unwind and recharge their batteries. Furthermore, Fridays tend to be quieter days as people switch their focus to the weekend. So on this quiet Friday in the quiet month of August, I would like to ask you this; What if you were to take a different view? What if I told you that there was a golden opportunity to be had if you didn’t follow the lead of others?

A large number of people right now have turned their attention to rest and relaxation while on holiday, or their plans for the weekend. If, however, you chose instead to take action in the direction of your goals, you could gain a huge advantage. Success is not just a matter of hard work and determination, but also having the ability to sense an opportunity and seizing it.

So, while others are working on their suntan or planning their weekend shenanigans, use this to your advantage. The more headway you make now towards your goals, the harder others will have to work to catch you or reach your level when they return from their break.

Regret

“When you are 80 years old, and in a quiet moment of reflection narrating for only yourself the most personal version of your life story, the telling that will be most compact and meaningful will be the series of choices you have made. In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

Jeff Bezos

When you reach a ripe old age and are reflecting back on your life, what would you rather be filled with; the satisfaction of a life well-lived and full of achievement? Or the regret of unfulfilled potential and missed opportunities?

Regret is a very powerful emotional state, but also has within it the potential for good. It is far too late if you wait until you are approaching the end of your days to reflect on how your decisions and choices affected your life. Regret, in this case just intensifies as hindsight reveals missed opportunities which time has now left you unable to take advantage of. If, however, you are self-reflecting regularly as you go through life and setting goals to be aimed for, then regret can be used to your advantage. 

When you reflect back at regular intervals (monthly, for example) on your progress, it is inevitable that you bring to mind elements which fill you with a sense of regret. These could range from a missed business opportunity to an interaction which you could have handled better. Regret is uncomfortable, and our default reaction is to pretend as though it never happened. You can, however, choose to confront the source of your regret. In this way, regret is a positive force as it can spur you into action. It provides a learning opportunity, so that you may handle a similar situation better in the future, but it can also motivate you to search for a way to rectify the error or salvage the situation. The key message to take away here, is that you have a choice whether to let regret motivate you or defeat you.

The life we ultimately lead is the result of our choices and the limits that we have placed on ourselves. Of course, there are always outside forces and unforseen circumstances which may force us to change direction. It is, however, up to the individual whether they allow these challenges to derail their progress and force them to give up, or they find instead the courage to keep going. 

Reflecting on your life’s direction regularly and taking action is one of the most effective ways to fight off regret in later life. Stop letting outside influences dictate how you live your life, but rather make the choices and decisions which take you closer to your dreams, ambitions and goals. If your reflections do reveal sources of regret, don’t shy away from them but muster up the courage to challenge them.

How to keep on winning..

You’ve achieved your goals, personal or business, and success is yours. Finally, you are living the life you had until now only dreamed of. So what do you do next?! KEEP GOING!!! After all, success is an ongoing journey of learning and development. It doesn’t just come to you one night, at random, and stay for a lifetime. It requires an incredible amount of hard work before you can even think of tasting success, and even more of the same to remain successful.

All too often people hit the dizzying heights of success only to then fail, fade away or be overtaken by competitors. This is especially true in the business world. Why does this happen? How does it happen? One big reason why some ventures fade into obscurity after a very strong start, is the naivety and the misunderstanding of what success really is. Too many people see it as an endpoint or a finish line. As soon as they achieve their big goals, they become comfortable and complacent. Most telling of all, though, is that they stop doing what made them successful in the first place. The hunger and desire which drove them this far is now replaced with satisfaction and contentment. Focus turns to living a comfortable lifestyle with nice houses, cars and luxury goods which they can show off to the world through social media.

Unfortunately, success does not last forever. Tastes change, new inventions come to market, new writers or artists release their work and competitors emerge to challenge you for your market share. The problem is that, during this time, you’ve taken a step back in order to enjoy the fruits of your labour. From there, you won’t be able to see, let alone react, to the challenges you will be facing. Before you know it, you are yesterday’s news and scrambling to catch up with everyone else.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Not at all. Take, for example, our personal lives. As we achieve the goals we set for ourselves, we simply stop to reflect before setting more challenging goals. In this sense, our development is ongoing and we are never truly finished learning and growing;

  • We begin with reflection on who we are, our values, what we want from life and our strengths and weaknesses.
  • Once the above has been established, we determine our purpose and then set ourselves goals, both short-term and long-term.
  • At regular intervals, we reflect on our progress so far
  • As we meet each goal, we return to the beginning and reflect before replacing it with another, more challenging, goal.

Sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but this is a formula which can work for anyone willing to put in the required work and effort. Moreover, it can be applied to a business venture too. The only real difference is that the reflection being done and the goals being set are not for yourself but for the business as a whole.

In order to maintain the momentum built by your initial success, you need to be proactive. This is regardless of whether the success is for yourself personally or a business you have launched. You can’t afford to sit back and wait for events to unfold and then react to them. It is far better, and far less stressful to reflect on your progress at regular intervals, adapting or updating your goals whenever necessary. Take a proactive approach and let others strive to catch up with you.

Naturally, when the bad times come, you should maintain your focus and keep going in the direction of your goals. The exact same is true of when the good times come. Keep doing what brought you success in the first place, and fight off complacency with a proactive approach. Don’t lose the passion, desire, hunger and determination which drove you towards achieving what you set out to. Just keep learning, developing, growing and moving forward.

 

 

The “self-made” Myth

Self made. It was all down to me. I did it all by myself. I wanted it bad enough that I went out and made it happen…

How often do we hear the statements like the above when successful people are interviewed? How true are they? Are these people alone responsible for their own success, or is there more to it? Don’t get me wrong, I am not against these comments at all. Narratives like these can provide a fantastic source of motivation and inspiration for others. The message sent is that you don’t have to wait for the right conditions or time for success to come, because the power is in your hands. You control your destiny and have the ability in you to achieve success if you want it badly enough. If doors keep slamming in your face? No problem, just keep banging on more of them until one eventually opens and you get given a chance to prove yourself.

Nobody can achieve success for you. There is no denying this. Others can only teach, advise, guide or assist you to a certain point, after which the rest depends on you. You have to put the work in. The passion, desire and drive needs to come from you. You will be the only one facing the challenges, and in order to overcome them and keep going, sacrifices and compromises will be made. But are you truly going through all of this alone?

No, is the short answer. In the last post, Pay It Forward, we looked at how many of us got to where we are today because somebody took a gamble on us. We were given a chance even though we lacked experience, or another of the key factors which they were looking for. Someone simply saw potential in us and gave us an opportunity, where others would’ve turned us down or shown us the door. So, unless we have been living alone on an island in the middle of nowhere while creating our art or building our business, we have someone to thank for helping us on our journey.

However, it’s not just to the people who gave us a chance and showed faith in us that we have to show our appreciation. While there are some who do manage to go it alone, the majority of us have the love and support of family, friends and communities to support us. These are the people who did everything they could to help us on our journey and asked for nothing in return.

Take credit for your achievements, because they came as a result of your relentless effort and hard work. Be sure to tell the world, as this is a story which could inspire and motivate others. When you do tell your story, though, please give credit to those who helped, supported, influenced or inspired you along the way. Many of these people did all they could to help you and asked for nothing, so please be sure to thank them. “Thank You” is made of just 2 words but when they are said with genuine feeling, they can mean the world to those who helped and believed in you. Mention also your influences too, such as philosophers or businessmen, so that others may read their work and become inspired too.

When success comes, it stands to reason that you should be proud of your achievements and enjoy the accolades. However, telling the world that you are “self made” and alone responsible for your success, is only telling half of the story. Remain humble and grounded during these exciting times and express gratitude for the help, support and inspiration which you received. After all, would you be able to recreate your success if you had to do it all again without the helping hand of family, friends or a mentor?

Pay It Forward

At some point in our lives, someone gave us a chance when nobody else would. We received a random act of kindness and nothing was asked in return. Somebody believed in us, and helped us. Maybe we were offered a job despite lacking experience. Perhaps we were caught doing something we shouldn’t have, but were given a second chance. Whatever form it may have taken, if we think hard enough, we can all bring to mind at least one instance in which somebody saw enough in us that they were prepared to take a gamble.

In times gone by, helping others was a more common practice but somewhere along the way we seem to have become a bit more selfish. Today, people are becoming increasingly driven by self-interest and self-promotion, and ignorant of the world around them. Self confidence is good, and we do need to work on ourselves before we can help others BUT it’s the last part that we are forgetting. We are focusing on ourselves and forgetting that our experiences and knowledge can be a source of help for someone else. Social media posts increasingly seem to revolve around somebody’s latest luxury purchase or their luxurious lifestyle. While we should absolutely share what makes us happy and motivates us, I feel that there is an opportunity being wasted. Rather than your latest watch, why not share some of your knowledge or experience so that you might inspire and motivate others? Share what you have learned on your journey and how you have developed along the way. Or give a glimpse of what life is really like, when the cameras are off, for an entrepreneur, writer, actor, artist…

What I am asking, is for you to pay it forward. Take that kindness, belief, trust or opportunity which you benefited from, and use it to help somebody else who has no real way of returning the favour. Inspire them, in turn, to pay it forward themselves when the opportunity presents itself. In this way, we have something of a virtuous cycle, in which we help others through random acts of kindness and they then do the same for someone else. This is applicable in all areas of life, from business to personal relationships and has the potential to be a huge force for good.

Let’s return to the social media example for a moment. Even if there is a social media strategy in place, and the self-promotion is helping to grow your account and increase your influence, you can still pay it forward. Even if you only devote one Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat post to helping others, it has the potential to be seen by, and inspire, millions of people around the world. This inspirational or informative post might help someone in Australia find the strength to over come a challenge they are facing. It might provide the spark for someone in India who dreams of launching their own business. It might give strength to someone in England who is trying to overcome issues with their self confidence. With the help of the internet, your act of kindness can help people all over the world in a multitude of ways. As a happy coincidence, the more awareness that spreads of what you have posted, it could even serve to enhance your online presence and reputation. Rather than compete with others in showing the world how great you are and what you have, stand out from the crowd and share instead some of your wisdom.

It’s not just online that we can pay it forward. You might be interviewing a candidate who doesn’t quite tick all of the boxes, but if they interview well perhaps you might give them a chance to prove themselves. You might have a friend who is launching a business and would welcome your support. When the opportunity presents itself, however it presents itself, please take it. As well as good art, music and literature, the world needs us to be more considerate towards, and supportive of, each other. Help someone who just needs a chance, and in the future they may be the one helping you.

The untapped potential of your morning commute

For many people, the morning commute is something to be dreaded, whether it involves getting the bus, train, driving or walking. It’s regarded as nothing more than a necessary evil, which gets them to their workplace so that they can earn a living. Does it really have to be that way though?!

It’s easy to understand why this one particular journey, in the morning, is a source of stress for so many people. You wake up, wash, get dressed, have a quick breakfast and then leave the house to head for work. As you leave the house, you put on a pair of blinkers, which provides a dose of tunnel vision for your journey. You then either get in the car and fight the slow-moving traffic all the way to work, or find yourself fighting the crowds of fellow commuters to get on a train or bus. All that then happens is that you arrive at your place of work bored, tired, angry, annoyed, a bit flustered or just in a daze. None of this will set you up for a productive day.

Maybe i’m wired differently, but I enjoy commuting. For me it presents the perfect opportunity to get the day off to a positive start. In total I spend 3 hours every weekday getting to and from work, and I enjoy it because I make the most of the time spent travelling. I love to watch people and observe their behaviour, and it never ceases to amaze me how much time we waste. I see a lot of people listening to music, playing games on their phones, watching a film or just napping. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this. Not at all. But what if, instead of playing games or absentmindedly leafing through a newspaper, we chose to fight boredom by doing something a little more productive during our commute?

We have become so accustomed to leading fast-paced lives that we feel anxious whenever we have to slow down. The commute is seen almost like a race to work. We rush around to get ready, then rush to the car or station and then try to get to our destination as quickly as possible. Every day, without fail, I see people start checking their watches or nervously tapping their feet on the floor as soon as the train leaves the station. It’s almost as though they believe that their nervous energy can help the train to go faster.

I strongly believe that the morning commute to work is the ideal opportunity to get your day off to a good start. I love to read, and will spend the majority of my travelling time with my head in a book. Not only does this mean that I spend this time learning about a topic which I am interested in, but I arrive at the office more relaxed, more focused and with my brain wide awake and contemplating what I have just read. I don’t need time to adjust or get myself ready for the day ahead. I just make a coffee and then get started. Reading on the train really works well for me. Alongside the knowledge which I gain or the enjoyment which I experience, I also become immune to the many irritations that come with being in a confined space with lots of people. I don’t care if I get bumped, nudged or someone is talking loudly. I am focused on the book in my hand, so much so that even on the worst of days when delays and other irritations come all at once, I still arrive at work calm and happy.

If you don’t read, or drive a car so you can’t read, what then?! Modern technology has blessed us with audiobooks and podcasts on almost any topic you can think of. Pick one, and enjoy a dose of knowledge or escapism. Try to either read a book or listen to a podcast/ audiobook, for a week. Monitor your moods and how you start your day when you get to work during that time. Has it helped in any way?

As I said earlier, we tend to go about the majority of our days with tunnel vision, focused solely on what we are doing or where we are going. In doing this, we miss so much of the beauty of daily life, not to mention the opportunities it presents for happiness and enjoyment. Reading a book or listening to an audiobook focuses the mind. We are no longer fighting tiredness or daydreaming, because we have to be present in the moment in order to understand and make sense of what we are reading or listening to. As a result we turn off autopilot mode, and become more aware of what is happening around us, becoming more conscious and less ignorant of the people around us.

We spend so much time reviewing our daily routines and planning how to improve them as we chase our goals, but we overlook the greatest opportunity of all. The time we spend commuting not only presents us with an ideal opportunity to focus our minds, learn and develop but also ensures that we arrive at work motivated and ready for the day ahead. As you put your daily life under the microscope and look at how you can make improvements, take a good look at your commute and how you can harness its potential How can you use that time to make progress towards your goals?

 

Hustle

“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you”

Mark Cuban

You have the power within you to go from good to great. Don’t wait for a spark of inspiration to motivate you. Don’t wait for the offer of a reward. Don’t wait for a push. Don’t settle when you become good, but use that as a springboard to greatness. Even when you think you have achieved everything, keep going and be relentless in your pursuit of greatness. What am I talking about? Allow me to set the scene and put it into a business context…

So, you’ve carried out your research, set your goals, planned and put in the hard work. It’s been a bumpy road, but you have reflected and learned on your experiences and, as a result, have continued to adapt and grow. Now, comes the most challenging point of all. Your effort and dedication is starting to pay off and you are tasting sweet success in your chosen arena. What do you do next?

The temptation is to take a holiday or treat yourself to a shopping spree in Harrods. Or maybe just to take some time off to recharge your batteries. Appealing as each of those options may be, they could do more harm than good to your progress and stall the success of that which you have created.

As your strategy and hard work pay off, things start moving in the right direction. This isn’t the end point, but rather the perfect opportunity to create some real progress. Don’t leave it to chance, but work for it like you have never worked before. Rather than taking a step back to savour your success, build on what you have created. In getting attention and successfully launching your venture, you have opened a door and taken the first step. Now is the time to build forward momentum. Keep growing and developing your business, until you reach a point where you have enough market share that you can’t be unseated or replaced by a competitor. This will take different forms for different people but there are some general steps which anybody could benefit from;

  • Re-evaluate your situation. On a personal level, reflect on where you are at the moment and where you would like to get to. Identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Update your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Now, with a renewed focus, carry out exactly the same audit for your business.
  • Spread the word. With the knowledge that you have a successful product or service, and a clear idea of the direction in which you want it to go, make sure people know about it. Network. Get out there and meet people. If you don’t have one already, think also about a marketing and social media strategy. How will you be engaging with people? Which social media outlets will you be using? Will you be using influencers to increase awareness?
  • Hustle. Do that which brought you success in the first place; work hard with passion and determination. Of course, the goalposts have moved and your business is in a better position but if you want to remain successful and build on what you have created, you need to keep working at it. Keep pushing forward, be bold and take calculated risks. Take note of what works well so that you can do more of it, and learn from bad experiences so that they won’t be repeated.

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.

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.