What Do You Believe In?

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have A Great Day. Every Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stop Counting Other Peoples’ Blessings

“How much money does he or she make?”

“How many cars do they own?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Where Is Life’s Reset Button?!

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

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

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

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

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

Going All The Way..

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

Joe Namath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beware The Lure Of Internet Fame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opportunity Knocks. Or Does It?!

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds

Francis Bacon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Success and Making Mistakes

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

Dale Carnegie

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

F = First

A = Attempt

I = In

L = Learning

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

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

Samuel Beckett

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

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

 

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

Thomas Edison

Mind Your Own Business

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

Confucius

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Man Vs Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Wasting Precious Time and Energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Good To Want Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leading With Empathy

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

Oprah Winfrey

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How To Genuinely Influence Others

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

Seamus Heaney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Is Rather Magical

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

W.B Yeats

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

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

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

Why is this important?

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

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

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

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

Your Life Is Your Responsibility Alone

Stop waiting for others to make your dreams come true. They have dreams of their own…they’re not worried about yours.

Tim Grover

This is one of the most important life lessons which we all need to be aware of, at all times. In short, our lives, and the direction which they take, are our responsibility alone. Each person is answerable for the life which they lead, and whether it’s one full of progress and achievement, or frustration and missed opportunities. Of course, we seek guidance, advice and direction from family, friends, mentors and various other sources, but what we do with the information they provide is up to us. Nobody else can live your life for you. You’re the one who has to decide whether the advice you receive is relevant to you, and what action you will take (if any) to implement it into your life.

Technology, and the ease of access to information, has blessed us with a level playing field. Now, everybody with internet access can find the information and help which they need, if they care enough to look for it. One of the things which separates the successful from the average people is not access to knowledge, but the willingness to apply that knowledge and take action. There is no excuse for living an average life, unless that is what you truly want.

Seeking the advice or assistance of others is not a bad thing by any means. You just need to understand that another’s opinion is based on their own experiences and limitations, and while something might have worked for them, it might not be relevant to you. If a friend doesn’t agree with a goal which you are working towards, so what?! They might not like it, but that doesn’t matter because it’s what you really want in your own life. Letting other peoples’ opinions dictate your life will only lead to anger, frustration, resentment and regret.

Don’t allow someone who has had their dream killed, to kill yours. Don’t allow someone who accepted their limitations, to limit you.

Prince Ea

I’ll let you into a little secret…very few people really care about your dreams, ambitions and goals. They will voice their support, or their misgivings, but their priority is themselves. They have families to raise and goals of their own to chase. You can’t wit around for them to validate yours.

For a long time I was stuck in this trap. I would seek the advice, help or opinions of others whenever I set out to achieve a goal. If they didn’t like the goal, I would allow their negativity to dent my confidence and give up. Or, I would wait to be told what to do and how to do it, instead of just taking action and figuring it out for myself. The change I made in my life was about taking responsibility, and trusting my instincts. I had an honest brainstorming session about my life’s direction, asking myself the below questions. This gave me clarity about who I was, what I wanted and my life had purpose and direction breathed into it. While I still share my goals and journey with others, I apply a filter to their opinions and advice, asking myself what they have based it on and if it’s relevant or helpful to me. This has given me back my confidence, because I know what I want and how I can get it. I take action towards my goals every day, without waiting for others. Knowing that my destiny is in my own hands, gives me the confidence, drive and responsibility that has enabled me to really turn my life around. I wish the same for you, which is why I share this.

Stop relying on other people to tell you how to live your life, give you permission or do the hard work for you. Take ownership of your life. It’s yours, and up to you what you do with it. Not all advice you receive will be relevant, and not all opinions which you hear are worthy of acknowledgement.

Take yourself somewhere quiet, and think carefully about what you want from life;

  • What is your purpose in life, or your calling?
  • What do you want to achieve? What are your goals?
  • What is important to you?
  • What principles and standards do you live by? What are/ aren’t you prepared to accept in life?
  • What does a happy, accomplished life look like to you?
  • What kind of people do you want in your life? Do you need to reconsider who you are spending time with?

Once you have an idea of who you are and what you want from life, you will feel empowered like never before. This is more than just motivation though, because once you know what you want, you can then go after it with passion and determination. You will no longer drift aimlessly through life while hoping for the best, but more importantly, you won’t let the opinions of others affect your confidence and derail your efforts.

 

 

“Why?!” The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself

There are 2 ways that you can lead your life. You can either spend your life following the example of others and living for their approval. Or you can take control, and lead the life which you want for yourself.

That sounds a bit simplistic, but the truth is that it is really not that difficult a thing to do. Getting started just takes a bit of courage and self-confidence. The hardest part is freeing yourself from the need to please others and worrying about what could go wrong. Yes, other people will be shocked and surprised. One thing worth remembering here is that those who truly care for you will support you once they get over their initial shock. Those who have a problem with you taking ownership of your life? Let them go. You don’t need that negativity in your life. People are entitled to their own opinion, but even if another person doesn’t agree with your choices they will still support you if they want to remain in your life. Take this opportunity to audit your friendships and who you spend time with.

We’ve looked in depth before at the steps to follow which can set you on your way to leading a successful and fulfilling life;

  • Self-Reflection
  • Planning
  • Goal-Setting
  • Action

As you achieve your goals, go back and repeat the process again. With each cycle you are learning, growing and surprising yourself with what you are able to achieve as well as the person you are becoming.

Throughout this whole process, and throughout your life in all areas, there is one question to ask which will bring the greatest results….”Why…?!”

  • Why do I do what I do, the way I do it?
  • Why am I not constantly questioning if there is a better way to do everything?
  • Why do I worry about the opinions of others?
  • Why do I maintain friendships with people who don’t believe in, or support me?
  • Why do I react a certain way in certain situations?
  • Why do I engage in certain activities which are not helping me in the pursuit of my goals?
  • Why am I not making better use of my time?

These questions, and so many more, are the key to constant improvement in all areas of your life. Your life improves because you become more self-aware when you question why you do what you do, and why you are not striving for better. You become more aware of the positive things which you are doing and which are bringing good results, and once highlighted, you are able to do more of these things, and more often.

Moreover, asking “why” can help you to identify unhelpful and destructive patterns of behaviour which we can then address and remove from our lives.

If you’re really ambitious, you might want to also ask yourself What and When questions too, such as “What do I truly want to achieve, and by when?”

Never lose your curiosity if you want to lead a richly fulfilling life.

 

Discipline Is Just Another Way Of Loving Yourself

Hearing the word “discipline” is often enough to send a shiver down the spine of the best of us. When we hear that dreaded word, we think of suffering and foregoing pleasure. It conjures up thoughts of strict diets and living like a monk. Too often, we think of it as giving up the good stuff in order to achieve a particular goal, whether that be to save a certain amount of money, lose weight, attract a girl/ boyfriend or any other goal we may have in mind. The problem with this is that we achieve the goal, for example lose 10 kilos in weight, and then discipline goes out of the window so we gradually gain the weight back. We need to start thinking differently about discipline, seeing it as a powerful force for good, and a practice which we should adopt permanently, not just when we have something to gain.

Social Media “gurus” love to talk about discipline in term of struggle. Please don’t take them seriously. They will tell you, in their own jargon-filled way, how you can only become a billionaire through being strictly disciplined. Their version of discipline, however, often involves depriving yourself of sleep and giving up any time which you would usually spend socialising, instead sitting in front of a computer screen to work on becoming an entrepreneur. Their version of discipline is just plain wrong, not to mention dangerous to your mental and physical health. Even if following their plans and programmes makes you reasonably wealthy, you will need that money to undo the damage which this “discipline” has caused to your mind and body.

Discipline is not about achieving a specific goal, it is about making difficult decisions now which your future self will thank you for. Discipline is simply a matter of making choices in your own best interest. Choices that will give you the best possible quality of life. It’s about choosing your long-term health and happiness instead of immediate pleasure. It’s looking into the future, and making the choices which will give you the best quality of life long-term. In practical terms, it’s picking the chicken breast over the cheeseburger, going to the gym even though you don’t feel like it, saving 25% of your pay check every month…decisions which your heart and bank balance will thank you for.

Discipline is about crafting a future in which you consistently make the most appropriate choices, and experience sustained health and happiness.

The Ten Fundamental Truths of Success

One of the great things about the blogging world is the sharing of theories, quotes, experiences and stories about success in order to inspire and motivate each other. They are as helpful as they are entertaining. I am grateful to everybody who shares theirs in the hope that they may inspire others, and I hope to be able to do the same. However, there is one thing that i’d like to share more of, going forward, and that is the tools and strategies which have worked for me. The good news? All they cost you is the time required to adapt them for yourselves and put them into practice. Of course, they may not be suitable for everyone, but life is all about experimenting with new things, keeping what works and adapting or discarding that which doesn’t.

Recently, we looked at the importance of defining your core values and setting standards in your personal and professional lives. I hope that you have managed to do this exercise for yourselves and are already reaping the benefits. For me, these have been crucial in helping me turn my life around and achieve that which I could only dream about before, and I wish the same for you.

Today, i’d like to share the ten truths, or foundations, of success as I have defined them. I didn’t actually create them myself, but borrowed them from a number of sources over the years, before moulding them into a statement of belief. These are my golden rules which I aim to live by, and also serve as a great way to pick myself up when things do not go according to plan;

  1. You are the only person responsible for your success. The power to shape your future lies in your hands. It is all down to you and your thoughts and actions.
  2. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Innovation and progress is usually the result of looking at how things can be done more efficiently. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to invent something new, but it could be as simple as improving an existing design or process.
  3. There is no progress without determined action. Progress doesn’t just happen by chance. You have to really want it and work relentlessly for it.
  4. Persistence always wins. Life is a rollercoaster, so enjoy the ups and learn from the downs. Whatever you do, though, never give up on what you truly desire.
  5. Focus is crucial. Stop letting distractions such as tv and social media rob you of valuable time and energy. Your actions should be targeted towards the achievement of your goal. So, put down your phone, turn off the tv and read a book which could increase your knowledge or work on a skill which could help your efforts.
  6. Failure is a necessary part of the process. Failure is one of life’s greatest teachers. Instead of cursing your bad luck, look for the lessons which can be learned from the experience so that you can bounce back stronger and wiser. What decisions or actions produced a negative outcome, and should be avoided in future? Are there any skills or knowledge gaps which you can address?
  7. Positivity fuels productivity. You must believe that you can and will do it. This fuels the determined action which will bring you closer to what you desire.
  8.  Determine the person you want to become, not the end result. Rather than material gain, determine what kind of person you need to become in order to achieve your big goals. Do you need to become more assertive, a better communicator, more confident…? Explore the common personality traits of those who have achieved what you aspire to, and ask yourself if you could benefit from applying any of them to your own life.
  9. Helping others, and contributing, is a big part of success and fulfillment. Don’t be selfish. The only person who you should be competing against is your current self, striving to improve every day. Share your advice, experiences or resources to help others without asking for anything in return. In your life, people have helped or supported you to get where you are today, so pay it forward and take the opportunity to help others succeed or just improve their quality of lives.
  10. Success is a journey of countless baby steps. There are no shortcuts and it won’t just come looking for you. You have to put the work in consistently over time.

The sections in italics have been added to clarify what each statement means, and explain why each one is important enough to feature on the list.

I have this list written on a series of postcards which I have at work, on my bedside table and in my journal because I never know when I will need to revisit them. They are simple statements and really work.

What would your list look like? What would you remove or add?

The Siren Call Of Lady Luck

I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it

 Thomas Jefferson

Whenever we get “lucky” it feels fantastic. I, personally, am grateful whenever some comes my way but it’s not something I count on having. Luck, in reality, is not as random and effortless as it seems. It actually takes a lot of hard work and effort.

While the concept of luck can be exciting, it can also be extremely damaging to us mentally and to our goals. Too often when times get tough, as they invariably do, the temptation is to bemoan the fact that you get no luck, and then give up. Or, you look at those who have achieved what you want, and write them off as just being lucky. As a result, your confidence takes a hit and you don’t even go after what you want. It is time that we all wake up and realise that luck is not something to hope for, but rather a consequence of preparation and persistent hard work.

Luck requires preparation. The only time you can get lucky without any effort at all, is by winning the lottery. In this case, you simply buy your ticket, and if your numbers come up, you win. It really is that simple. However, are you really prepared to put your life on hold in the hope that you might win lots of money, or would you rather work for it.? I know which I prefer, because I know that when you achieve something through hard work and persistent effort, you appreciate it more and the euphoria of achievement which you feel is like nothing else.

If you want to get “lucky”, here are a few key things to do;

  • Preparation. The first thing to do is to determine exactly what it is that you desire. Then, reflect on where you are right now. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What knowledge and skills do you need to achieve what you want?
  • Action. Now that you know what it is that you want, and what you need in order to achieve it, it’s time to get busy. Read, study, network or do whatever you need to do amass a level of knowledge and a skill set so strong that when you close your eyes, you can see, feel, touch and taste what you want to achieve. This visualisation is important, as it helps to make your goal feel real and within your reach. Once you’ve finished working on your skills and knowledge gaps and visualisation exercises, it’s time to take action in the direction of your goals.
  • Persistence. It’s important to understand that things will go wrong, mistakes will be made and that there will be setbacks on your journey towards your goals. The key here is to keep going. Don’t stop, or else it will be hard to get back up and start again. You have built positive momentum to this point, so you need to keep it going. The one thing which you need to do, when things go wrong is to take some time to reflect on the experience and determine what went wrong, why, and what you could do better next time when in a similar situation. Treat it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Repeat. As you achieve your goals, it’s important to replace them with new, more challenging ones to keep you moving forward. Failure to do this could see you becoming comfortable and complacent, which is a big threat to your continued success.

In all honesty, this is nothing new. As you may have noticed, the formula I use to get “lucky” is the same I use to achieve my goals. It’s simply a matter of deciding what is important to you, planning and preparing effectively, and doing whatever it takes to achieve what it is that you want.

Good luck on your journeys!!

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
Seneca

How Deeply Do You Want To Win?

When a man desires a thing so deeply that he is willing to stake his entire future on a single turn of the wheel in order to get it, he is sure to win

Thomas Edison

Do you dream about leading a successful, fulfilled life? Because if it’s just a dream, hope or a wish, then that is how it will remain. Or do you crave it, want it and feel drawn by it with every once of your being? Is it your first thought when you wake up in the morning and your last thought at night? Does it drive your thoughts, decisions and actions every day?

Desire is an intense motivation to achieve whatever you believe to be worthwhile, against all odds. With deep desire, you will be unstoppable in pursuit of your goals. You won’t let obstacles stop you, and you won’t be prepared to take no for an answer. You will do whatever it takes, until you make your desire a reality.

Thing is, we all know what we would like to have. We all know what we want, because social media dictates that to us; nice cars, big houses, fancy clothes….so we chase material goals. The problem here is that when we buy that Rolex or Maserati, the initial joy is replaced by a sense of emptiness. So we set a bigger material goal and go after it. We never stop, however, to consider why we want these things. We never stop to consider the direction we want our lives to take, or the people we want to become because we get caught up in a cycle of craving nice things, obtaining them and then moving on to the next shiny trinket.

I was caught up in this vicious cycle for far too long. I won lots of times, or at least thought I did because I had nice things and a comfortable life. But my confidence was low. I would achieve something, then immediately feel empty. Things would go badly, and I would give up. All this happened because I lost sight of what I truly desired in life, and was living without purpose. My life felt like a lazy river waterpark ride. It was as though I was floating on a slow moving river being gently carried along, no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted.

I lived this way for far too long, and it took a serious illness which very nearly cost me my life for me to address the direction of  my life. It took me losing everything before I finally decided to ask myself what my vision for my life really was, not what others wanted for me. I determined not to waste a moment more of my life, and once I got home I put pen to paper and wrote down what I truly desired from life. What I wanted personally, professionally and financially. This gave me purpose, direction, hunger and my life took on a new meaning. I set my goals, drew up my plan and went after it with passion and desire. Going after what I truly desired was a very expensive act, though. It cost me everything, including my relationship. However, my life now had meaning. I had hit rock bottom but I was happy because I knew what I truly desired, and where my life was headed.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I lost everything but I knew what I wanted my life to look like. This was last November and since then, life has been better than ever. I am happier and more fulfilled than ever. I know who really cares about me, and have rid myself of fake friends and hangers-on. I am more self-aware than ever, more successful than ever and have reconnected with my faith, family and friends in a deeper way than ever. How? Because I know what I truly desire in my life, and knowing this has helped me find a new level of energy and strength which I never knew I had.

So what do you really desire? To achieve financial independence? A successful acting career? To positively influence the lives of others? Take a moment to honestly reflect on what drives you and write it down. What does your heart really crave? If you had a billion pounds in the bank, and money was no longer a worry, what would you choose to do with your life? How do you want to be perceived? What reputation do you want to have? What contribution do you want to make? What legacy do you want to leave?

Unless you know what makes your heart sing, and what you deeply want, your life will lack direction and purpose. This is dangerous because you could find yourself a slave to outside influences such as money or the opinions of others. Take control of your life by taking control of your life’s direction. How can you do this? By becoming clear on what you want from life

When you want something deeply enough, you will find a way to make it happen. Why? Because when you really want something you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. You will work harder than you have ever done before in your life. You will live and breathe your goals. Your approach to them will be relentless. Most importantly though, you will give meaning, passion and direction to your life.

So, what do you really want? Determine this and then get after it.

If you limit yourself only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise

Anaïs Nin

Inherent Power

There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself

Miyamoto Musashi

I love the above quote from Musashi. Centuries old, it still rings true today. We have everything already within us which enables us to forge the life we truly want. We just need to find the self belief and confidence to look within ourselves and find what we need.

Stop looking for shortcuts to your goals. You already have all the tools you need. No tip, trick or secret can replace the hard work and consistent effort that success requires of you so stop wasting your time and money on quick fixes. Fall in love with the process instead of trying to speed it up, because the journey itself towards your goals is the best bit. Enjoy the ups and learn from the downs.

You know yourself better than anyone else ever could, so have faith that you already have the skills, ability and knowledge to achieve that which you desire. Nobody can achieve success for you. It takes hard work. Lots of it. And perseverance.

So, stop doubting yourself. Decide what it is that you really want. Set your goals and plan out your journey towards them. Then, take action. Reflect on things that go wrong and try to find the lesson within the experience. Celebrate your successes. Most of all, though, keep going.

What Do You Want?

Of all of the questions which we ask ourselves every day, there is one which we often overlook. In failing to consider this question, we often end up leading unfulfilled lives with no direction or real purpose. That question;

What Do I Want?

is NOT “What does society tell me that I should want?”

and DEFINITELY NOT “What do my family and friends want for me?”

This is a deeply personal question, and is all about what you desire for yourself. You, and you alone. Don’t worry about others’ opinions. If they care about you, they will take time to understand and respect your wants, desires and decisions, even if they conflict with their own. Those who have a problem with you chasing what you want in life? Forget about them, because you don’t need their negativity infecting you.

Determining exactly what you want in life requires some actual work, though, so grab some paper and a pen. On this paper, write the following questions, and leave enough space under each question to write down the thoughts which immediately come to mind;

  • What do I want personally? What relationships do I want to have? What do I value most in my personal life? What would I like more of? What kind of legacy do I want to create?
  • What do I want professionally? Am I happy in my current role? What can I change to improve my current circumstances? Would a career change make me happier, and give my life more meaning?
  • What do I want financially? What is my goal in terms of salary? What would earning more give me – freedom, security, comfort..?
  • What do I want in terms of health and fitness? Am I happy with my current physical state? Do I feel healthy? Do I have vitality and energy? Am I eating healthy and exercising regularly, or is that something that needs to be addressed?

This is one question, broken down into the 4 main areas of life. Even if you have done this exercise previously, revisit it because as we learn and grow, our needs and desires change. Make sure that your “wants” clearly reflect the direction in which you want your life to be headed. It’s your life, nobody else’s, therefore these choices are yours alone. When you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in life, you make better informed choices and decisions. Because you know where you are headed, you make the decisions and take the actions which will take you closer to your end goals. No more drifting through life.

Stop waking up with no direction and just taking life as it comes. Living is not a passive process, so stop treating it as such. Don’t sit back and let life just happen to you. Worse still, don’t sit back and wait for good things to come to you before you have put in any work. Forgive me for my negativity, but life does not work in this way. Decide what you want to attract and achieve in life. Turn these desires into specific goals. Now, break these goals down into a plan of action. 

With a clear idea of what you want, and a plan of how you will achieve this, all that is left is to wake up each morning with the hunger and determination to take steps towards achieving your goals. This gives your life structure and purpose. Every day, you are striving towards your goals, and learning, developing and growing as a person in the process. Stop leaving everything to chance. Or would you rather wander aimlessly through life waiting to get lucky and have good things happen? Personally, i’d rather not waste time waiting, but go out and make good things happen. Decide what you want, and go after it with all you have. All day. Every day.

What Are Your Core Values?

A value is something we place importance upon. Anything which you hold dear is valuable. Value can be assigned to anything form a watch to an emotional state. In this instance, however, I am referring to life values. Our core beliefs. These are the most important things in your life. These values, whether we are consciously aware of them or not, lead us to make the decisions and take the actions which dictate the direction of our lives.

This is why it is essential that we put aside some time to gain a clear understanding of what is most important in our lives. We then need to commit, no matter what life throws at us, to living in accordance with our values. When your values, thoughts and actions are all aligned, you have congruence and harmony. This leads to confidence, happiness and inner peace, as your life becomes a reflection of your values and beliefs. It also leads to a more focused, determined approach to the pursuit of your goals. You surround yourself with the right people who can support you on your journey through life, but you also make the right decisions which get you to where you want to go. If your values and choices are in sync, then there is less chance of being diverted off-course or losing confidence.

A few examples of life values are;

  • Love
  • Passion
  • Comfort
  • Health
  • Success
  • Freedom
  • Intimacy
  • Adventure
  • Security
  • Power

There are many more, but these tend to be the most common. Read the list again, and ask yourself;

  • Which values are relevant to my life? Are there any values which are relevant to me, but missing from the list? Which of the above values dictate my choices and my life’s course?
  • Of the above values which are relevant to me, what is the order of their importance?
  • Do I have conflicting values? For example, are security and freedom both at the top of my list? Look out for any potential opposites or conflicts, as this could explain why you may be struggling to make decisions, or making the wrong ones which sabotage your progress.
  • If I were to re-evaluate the importance of some of my values, and revise the list, could that positively impact my life if I start living in accordance with my new priorities?

When you have determined what your life values are, write them down. Memorise them. Put them on a card and glue this to the inside cover of your journal. Attach another card with your values to your bathroom mirror. Your values should be clearly visible in several places of your choosing, where they can provide a daily reminder of what is important in your life, and what determines your thoughts and actions. This can help you to remain focused and motivated.

If you don’t know what your values are, or why you prioritise one over another, you will forever struggle to achieve a sense of fulfillment. Why? Because you will remain unclear on what is important to you and what you really want. If, however, you know what you value and in what order, your life will be all the richer for it. Determining your values is an exercise in self-awareness, after all. The better you get to know yourself, the better chance you will have of becoming the person you aspire to be, as your values, thoughts and actions will all be in harmony with each other. Not only that, but you will also attract the right people into your life, who will be drawn by your integrity, and be able to positively influence and help others.