Be More Picasso

Others have seen what is and asked why.

I have seen what could be and asked why not

Pablo Picasso

We are all unique. We are all different, and this is completely normal. After all, no two people are the same. If we were, life would be boring. Humans wouldn’t be individuals, capable of independent thought and action, but rather robots, pre-programmed to think and behave in the same manner as everybody else.

Accepting that we are all different, with thoughts, feelings, drivers and motivating forces unique to each of us, is a powerful and liberating feeling. It’s empowering, because you come to the realisation that you control your own life, nobody else. You have the freedom to pursue your dreams, and the only one who can stop you is yourself. You don’t have to listen to others, but can instead chase after whatever it is that you want, and learn from the ensuing experiences. Once you accept that we are all unique, you realise that you don’t have to accept  the opinions or limitations of other people, but instead it’s your own judgement that matters. That’s not to say that you should disregard completely what others have to say, because everyone you meet in life has something which they can teach you. Just don’t take the word of others as final. Don’t be afraid to look at a problem from a different angle or perspective. In doing so, it might be you who makes the breakthrough, and gives the world something special. Pablo Picasso’s name is still known today, throughout the world, because he didn’t accept the limitations of those around him. He ignored the critics, and instead focused his energy on pushing boundaries and taking art in new directions. Most important of all though, he believed in what he did, deeply believed, and did not give up. Be bolder, be more daring, be more Picasso.

The reason why there aren’t more people living the lives they want for themselves and are genuinely happy, is fear. Following your instinct and your dreams is a brave decision, because it involves breaking away from the norm and the status quo. People will try and discourage you, some because they don’t want to see you fail and get hurt, and others because they don’t want to see you doing better than them.

This second group are often referred to as having a “crab mentality”. Crab mentality  is a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you”. The metaphor refers to a bucket of live crabs, some of which could easily escape and do try, but other crabs pull them back down to prevent any from getting out, ensuring the group’s collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that members of a group will attempt to reduce the self-confidence of any member who achieves, or even attempts to achieve, success beyond the others, out of envy, spite, or competitive feelings, to halt their progress.

Crab mentality achieves nothing more than mediocrity. Progress and innovation slow to a crawl. Everything stays the same. There’s no change or challenge, just more of the same. This is a very toxic, dangerous, and sorry state of affairs. Crab mentality leads people to feel comfortable and complacent. People stop trying because they don’t want to stand out and be criticised. They don’t attempt anything, because they fear being ridiculed if they fail.

People, however, don’t admire and look up to “crabs”, because they haven’t attempted anything noteworthy. Hence they have no influence, and just become one of the faceless masses who don’t stand out. Is that what you really want?

People admire, respect and are influenced by innovators. People who have dared to attempt something great, whether they have succeeded or not. They want to know what it is that led them to become successful, and what they have learned along the way.

History remembers Henry Ford, Pablo Picasso, Michael Jordan and so many other greats, because they dared to strive to become the best they could possible be in their chosen arena. Those who may have been just as talented, but chose to play it safe, are easily forgotten.

You are not here because you are happy with being average, and just sailing through life. You visited a blog about fulfilling the potential which you have within you, because you are hungry for more. You want to become the best version of yourself. The only way to do this is to be brave. You have to muster up the courage to go after what you want. Decide, plan and act. Reflect on your journey at regular intervals, and make any necessary changes to stay on track.

Don’t allow anybody else tell you how to think or how you should view the world. There are enough people already doing everything the same. Dare to be different, because the world needs more people looking at issues and problems from a fresh perspective. We need innovators, not imitators.

So, as you begin this new week, be bold. Be confident. Be willing to experiment. Be more Picasso.

Life’s A Golf Course, So Start Swinging

Golf is a game of personal accomplishment. Just a little ball sitting there waiting for you to move it in a specific direction. If you do it successfully you get all the credit. If you don’t, you get all the blame. And it takes concentration and relaxation to be good at it

When you’re about to go perform, whatever you do, you’ve got to know the yardage, know which club you need, understand the feeling. This preparedness comes from the hours and hours of quiet practice away from the limelight; days and weeks and months of unrewarding and repetitive work that no-one will ever see. But you’ll know it’s there. And you’ll need it.

Samuel L Jackson

Life is a funny thing. It’s a great deal of things, in fact. However, one thing it should never be, is passive.

Life isn’t something that just happens. It’s whatever we make of it. While some people are genuinely happy to sit back and watch life go by, this is only because they have achieved all of their big goals, and now want a slower pace of life with which they can better enjoy their accomplishments and families. Until the rest of us reach that stage, we need to take a proactive approach to life.

We all know what we want to achieve in life. We know what we do and don’t like. We have an idea what a happy, fulfilled life looks like. Better yet, we know what we have to do to achieve our goals because there are no secrets in this respect. Hard work, perseverance, networking, gaining knowledge and skills and integrity. That’s not an exhaustive list, but they will certainly bring you a better quality of life if you adopt them all.

I’ve interviewed and worked with a great number of people who were unhappy with their lives and felt stuck in a rut. One thing that they all had in common was their approach to life. They were reacting to circumstances, and instead of working tirelessly for what they wanted, they were waiting for it all to fall into their lap. Which will never happen. They wanted all the good things and experiences, but were not doing anything constructive with their time in order to make that possible. They claimed that they were waiting for the right time or conditions before acting. This is, however, the quickest route to disappointment. Perfection does not exist, so you’ll be waiting an awfully long time for it. Time in which you could have been taking small, daily steps towards your goals, with the results already showing. This is, after all, how success is achieved. Small steps. Small wins. Every day. Over time there is a cumulative effect, and the small wins lead to huge achievement. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens as a result of the right actions and choices being made every day, consistently.

Like golf, the game of life takes countless hours of hard work and preparation. Not to mention the countless hours of practice while no one is watching. While everyone is out getting drunk, if you are serious about achieving greatly, you will be reflecting, planning and making minor changes to try and improve your performance. Things will not always go to plan. You will have failures and bad days. As with a professional golfer having a bad tournament, you don’t dwell on it and beat yourself up. You reflect on what happened, learn from it and make whatever changes you feel necessary in order to bounce back stronger. As any professional sportsman or woman will tell you, failures are a priceless learning experience, and can provide all the motivation and feedback you need to achieve great things.

Your life is like that little golf ball. Sit back and watch it, and you’ll notice that nothing happens. However, if you grab a club you will be able to send the ball in the direction which you want. The more time and effort you put in, the better you become at directing the ball. So is this true of life. When you decide where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve, magic happens when you get up and take action. And the more you plan, prepare, reflect and act, the better you will become at shaping your future.

It’s all in your hands. Will you act on, or react to, life?

The Man In The Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows that in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat

Theodore Roosevelt

Life, And Its Infinite Doors

What approach do you take to life? Do you reflect on what you want from life, and go after it every day? Do you take small steps every day towards becoming the person you want to be? Or, do you just go with the flow, reacting to whatever life throws at you with no real goals or plans?

One of these groups achieves great things and leads a fulfilled life in which they are constantly learning and growing. The other group tends to end up frustrated and cursing their bad luck. I’ll let you decide which group is which.

The key difference between the above groups is that one understands how much power they have with which to write their life’s story. The other group, though, believe that life is a matter of luck and circumstances which just happen to them. This focus on outside circumstances leads to feelings of powerlessness and helplessness, with people asking themselves “why should I bother to work for what I want, when I probably won’t get it anyway?”. What they don’t realise is that going after what you want, even if you fall short, is hugely important in itself. It teaches you about yourself, and what areas you might still have to work on. You might discover that your priorities have changed, or you might discover a new area of interest to explore.

The fact is that every single one of us has the power to determine what type of life we will lead, as soon as we start to take responsibility and ownership of our own lives. We don’t have to wait for outside influences to guide our way. We don’t need to wait for others to tell us what to do and how to do it. Other people offer advice which is based on their own beliefs and values. They are not, however, you. Only you, after a period of self reflection, can truly know what’s right for you and what you want from life. Understanding this brings real power, the power to make conscious choices which will propel your life forward.

Choice is the most powerful tool which you have in your arsenal. Everything boils down to choice, whether made consciously or not. We exist in a field of infinite possibilities. Every choice you make is like opening a door in a maze. Opening a particular door will automatically close many others, but at the same time it will also open many others. At any point, you can change the direction of your life by making a simple choice. If you choose wrongly, you  can always go back and try again. Mistakes or bad choices are not final, but rather just an opportunity for learning.

It is all in your hands, your heart and your mind. Choose wisely, choose with your head or choose with your heart. Whatever you do, though, make your own choices or someone else will make them for you and lead you in a direction you don’t want to go.

Legacy

Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart

Jim Carrey

All day, every day, we are bombarded with messages about what we lack in our lives. Some are more subtle than others, but the message is the same; buy this and feel happier, look younger, become irresistible to the opposite sex… Simply put, buy stuff to feel better and be better liked by others. Too many people buy into this idea, and end up short of money but also feeling unhappy and unfulfilled.

It’s time for a reality check. A materialistic mentality will negatively affect your quality of life, because you will never be happy. Technology is constantly being updated, new car models are released every year, and there will always be someone with a bigger house, nicer watch or more expensive suits than you. So, when you tie your happiness and self-worth to things, you will never be happy.

Say, for example, I buy a Maserati GT today. This is my dream car, and I would be over the moon. Driving it will leave me grinning every time, because I finally have what I always wanted. But..2 years later, there’s a redesign and the newer model is released. Suddenly, my car is an older version and not as sleek as the latest release. So, now I need to find another £100,000 to change my car. And then I become happy. Until they release another update. And so it continues. You get the idea.

Material goods do not last, because newer versions will be released or someone else will come along who has more than you. So, any happiness will be short lived. Before long, you will again find yourself unhappy and wanting more.

It is far better to learn to be happy with what you have, and what you have gained through your own hard work. You will stop comparing yourself to others, and live with less. Manage this and you will find yourself happier than ever.

The best way to cure yourself of the curse of materialism? Gratitude. Every day, for a month, take 10 minutes to list 3 things, just 3, for which you are grateful. After a few days, your outlook changes. Instead of looking to outside objects to bring you happiness, you understand that you already have plenty to be happy about in your life. So, you gradually begin to see objects as just that. Objects. Then you slowly stop making pointless purchases. You understand that a car is not going to make you happy or define you. It will just transport you from one place to another. Once you separate emotions from objects, you will find yourself feeling unburdened and happier than ever.

So, when making plans or setting goals, don’t focus on what you need to buy to feel happier about yourself. Do you really want, at the end of your days, to just be remembered as someone with an expensive car? Or would you rather be remembered and respected for your positive influence on others, and your artistic, philanthropic or business endeavors? For me, at least, the choice is clear.

Please do take a moment to reflect on this. Ask yourself;

  • How would you like to be remembered by your family and friends?
  • What kind of legacy would you like to leave?

Contemplating these questions, and expressing gratitude for all the positives which we have in our lives, is a great way to re–calibrate your inner compass. It offers a little perspective, and suddenly that new watch or handbag no longer seems more important than earning the right to be called a good parent, spouse and friend.

So, when your race is run and your eulogy is being prepared, what would you like it to say? Answer this honestly, and adjust your life so that you can live the rest of your days accordingly.

One Door Closes..Now What Do You Do?!

When one door closes, another opens. This is more than just a popular saying, it is a universal truth and part of life for all of us. We’ve all experienced some part of our lives come to an end, whether it be a relationship, job, hobby or anything else. This is usually followed by a period of hurt, confusion, soul searching and reflection until we are struck by something else to focus our attention and efforts on. So, with one door having closed, another one has opened in its place. We don’t know where it will lead or how long this new adventure will last, and that is part of the thrill.

The time between one door closing and the next opening varies massively. It depends on the type of door which has closed, because a broken heart will take longer to heal than a broken ankle which forces you to give up competitive sports. It also varies depending on the individual. Some people have a hard time letting go of the past, and instead of trying to heal and move on, would rather keep replaying their glory days or the good times in their heads.  Instead of looking for what they can learn from the experience, they punish themselves and curse their luck that it ended. This refusal to accept situations as they are is incredibly damaging to any potential progress.

When your focus rests on the past and what was once great, you give all the power and control to an ex partner, an old boss, a former friend or anyone or anything else which no longer is relevant to your life. The past takes control of you and prevents you from learning, growing and seizing the next opportunity. Too often we beat so long on the closed door that we can’t see the one which has opened up for us instead.

Is there anything that we can do to avoid getting stuck in the No Man’s Land of despair and regret when a good thing comes to an end? While this depends on the individual and how they perceive that which has ended, I would argue that there are a few things which we can all do to speed up the healing and learning process, and get us into a position to identify the next opportunity which comes along.

The temptation, when a good thing ends, is to lock yourself up and wallow in self pity. This time is spent between replaying a highlight reel in your head of all the good times, and chasing after something which is clearly over, trying to reopen that closed door. The hardest thing to do when one door closes, is also the best thing to do..

That “thing” involves changing your surroundings and perspective. Get outside and go for a jog in the park. Visit a museum. Meet a friend for a drink and a chat. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get outside and do something to take your mind off of that which has ended. Change your surroundings and gain some perspective. Take yourself away from whatever it is that has ended and is troubling you, and any reminders of it. Do something interesting or fun for a while, and when you return to contemplate it, you will be able to look at it objectively with a fresh pair of eyes.

The power is in your hands, and the decision is yours. Understand that when something ends, you are not helpless, and do not have to wallow in self pity. It’s within your power to take yourself away and do something different for a while, which could in turn help to clear your mind and offer a fresh perspective. With fresh eyes, you will then be better able to identify new doors which are opening, and the opportunities which they could offer.

True freedom is understanding that we have a choice in who and what we allow to have power over us

Meryl Streep

 

 

The Time Is Now

Time passes so quickly, that you don’t even notice it until it begins to show. We forget this, though, and live as though we have all the time in the world to accomplish everything which we desire. We put things off, and tell ourselves that we will make them happen when the time or conditions are right.

The only thing that this attitude will achieve is to erode your confidence, stall your progress and leave you feeling unfulfilled and dejected. This is because there is no such thing as the “right time” or a perfect situation in which to make your move. This is a lie peddled by the lazy, fearful, those low on confidence and the unmotivated to justify to themselves why they are sitting on their arses eating pizza rather than working on their personal and professional development and chasing after their goals.

Those who sit around and wait for the right time to take steps towards their goals, are the same who curse their bad luck when others around them are progressing in life and having fun. “Why am I stuck in the same spot? Why is everyone else doing well, but not me? Why? Why? Poor little me…blah, blah, blah… It’s not rocket science, so quit the pity party and open your eyes.

Those around you who are experiencing success are doing so because they are putting the time, effort and work in to make good things happen. You’re stuck in the same spot, because you are sitting around and waiting for the planets to align and inspiration to strike. See the problem? People who take control of their lives and take action are rewarded for their proactive approach with success. Eventually. Those who choose to sit around and wait, taking a reactive instead of proactive approach to life…they stagnate, and only have themselves to blame.

The only way to achieve anything in life is to work for it. Stop waiting around and procrastinating. Start, instead, taking baby steps every day which will get you closer to achieving what you want and becoming the person you really want to be. This is especially true if you lack confidence. Waiting around and overthinking will only make it worse. Action is the only way to build confidence. Small actions completed successfully every day will help to build momentum, which in turn builds confidence. Everybody is afraid before starting on a big project, but those who conquer that fear and achieve great things are those who take action, no matter how worried they are. So;

  • Have a think about what you really want.
  • Make a list of all the resources you have, or the people who could help and support you
  • Make a plan of action.
  • Go for it. Schedule in regular checkpoints to stop and reflect on your progress to that point
    • What has worked well so far?
    • What have I learned during this process, and what can I apply from my learning?
    • What hasn’t worked as well as it could? Why?
    • Going forward, how can I adapt my approach to bring even more progress and success?

Don’t wait for the perfect, or right, time to do that which you want to do. Wear those fancy shoes you’re saving for a special occasion, take that trip, eat the donuts, watch the late movie, read that book and take more chances.

The time to live your life is now. Stop putting it off until an unspecified later date. Tomorrow is promised to no-one, so make the most of the time which you have.

Keep Smiling

Just because you fail once, it doesn’t mean you’re going to fail at everything. Keep trying, hold on and always, always, always believe in yourself because if you don’t, then who will? So keep your head high, keep your chin up and most importantly keep smiling because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.

Marilyn Monroe

We all experience failure, loss and hard times, some of which hit us harder than others. When failure does strike, the first thing we tend to do is to lose perspective. We stop looking at the bigger picture and just focus on the failure itself, blowing it out of proportion.

The easiest thing to do is also the hardest thing to do in these situations. We all know that we need to take a step back, look at the positives, look at what we can learn from the failure and then get up and get to work again. The problem is that this is easier said than done.

This is why I love the above quote by Marilyn Monroe so much. There is so much truth and wisdom in it.

Personal experience has taught me that the best way to recover from a failure and regain your perspective and mojo is a change of scenery. After all, how can you be reminded of the beauty of life of you are sat looking at the same 4 walls and feeling sorry for yourself?!

The temptation when things go wrong is to slump on the sofa and binge watch Netflix, or seek some other form of escapism. Short-term this may numb the pain, but it doesn’t solve your problem.  I fell into this trap more times than I care to admit.

This changed when, after one particular setback which hit me hard, a friend forced me to get up, get out of the house and go for a walk in the woods nearby. The effect was magical. As my body moved and loosened, my lungs filled with fresh air and my mind cleared. We keep walking, and as we did, I felt better and better.

By the time we went back home, I felt refreshed and happy. I’d been forced out of my pit of misery and been reminded about the beauty of nature which is right on my doorstep. Most importantly, I felt like there was no time to waste and that I needed to address this failure. So, I grabbed my journal and a pen and started reflecting on what happened and breaking it down.

I had recovered from a confidence-sapping failure, and all it took was a walk outside. A change of scenery led to a change of perspective and the way I was looking at the problem. Instead of wallowing in self pity, i’d been reminded of the beauty of life and that had got me back on my feet after a fall.

Of course, there have been other failures since. Each time, though, I forced myself to do something; bike rides, gym, museums, rugby games…whatever took my fancy. I took myself away from the problem, and by the time I returned I did so mentally refreshed and with fresh pair of eyes.

Telling someone who is enduring a tough time to change the way they are looking at the problem doesn’t help. Neither does telling them to reflect, regroup and go again, because at that moment they are suffering from tunnel vision. All they can see is the problem, nothing else.

So, my advice to you is to get up, get out of the house or office, and do something else for a while. Get active, get busy doing something you enjoy or spend time with family or friends. This is what will help you to pick yourself up after a fall, after which you can go back to the problem, conduct a post-mortem, learn, adapt, grow and go at it again.

 

 

When Bad Can Actually Be Good For You

You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to

Robin Williams

Humans love comfort and familiarity. We do whatever it takes to bring joy and happiness into our lives, and will go out of our way to avoid pain, discomfort or anything we consider to be bad. This approach, however, can actually be holding people back in their lives.

Failure and painful experiences, two of the things which many people fear above all else, can actually be good things. They are also some of the scariest things imaginable, because failure and negative experiences can lead to feelings of loss, unhappiness and uncertainty. In order to avoid these negatives, we become risk-averse. In real terms, this means that we become less willing to take calculated risks in our lives and really challenge ourselves. Instead, we seek the security of the known and the familiar. This is fine if you are happy with the life you create for yourself through this approach. After all, isn’t that what we truly want – to design a life for ourselves and become the kind of person who makes us happy? The problem arises when people are unhappy with what they have become, and the life they now have, through playing it safe.

Thankfully, there is an ever-increasing amount of business and entrepreneurship literature which points to the positive side of failure and bad life experiences. As with everything else, it’s not the event, situation or circumstance which we need to pay attention to. We often have no control over that. For example, a business fails because one of the partners have been stealing money, or we are struck down by a sudden and serious illness. Very little, if anything can be done about that, so it doesn’t help to focus on it and become stressed, upset or give up.

Rather than focus on the issue itself, be mindful of how you are reacting to it. This is at the heart of maintaining perspective and developing resilience, two traits which are shared by many of today’s most successful people.

Mindfulness is not a fancy buzzword, but an essential part of living a happy life. At its core, mindfulness is about self awareness. It’s about having a good idea of who you are, how far you’ve come in life and how far you still have to go. It’s being aware of your own set of values and beliefs, and what is important to you. It’s knowing what you are, and are not, prepared to accept in life, what is non-negotiable and which areas are open for compromise.

Beating yourself up after a failure, or when you find yourself in a painful situation, will get you nowhere. It leads you to curse your luck and seek to lay the blame elsewhere for what went wrong. It can eat away at your confidence and stop your progress in its tracks.

This is where the shift in perspective comes in very handy. Shift your thinking away  from failure, pain and loss being negative. Instead, frame it as a learning experience, as pain is the best teacher of all.

Failure, pain and loss should, ideally, lead to reflection. If it’s something which we attempted but ultimately went wrong, reflect on what went wrong and why. Ask yourself, what, if you were to attempt it again, you would do differently. Look for lessons to be learned and changes you could make in order to bounce back stronger.

Pain and loss are different, but can still be formative experiences. Take losing a loved one, for example. While we come to terms with the loss, we are also forced to face our own mortality and accept that nobody lives forever. At least not in body. When doing this, ask yourself;

  • Are you happy with where you are in life right now? If yes, why? If no, why?
  • Are you living according to your beliefs and values?
  • What can you do to improve the quality of your life?
  • What is stopping you from achieving or experiencing more of what you want in life?

Bad things happen to everyone, even good people. For some, they can be crushing events from which they never fully recover. For others, they can be the catalyst for real, meaningful change. The deciding factor lies in the space between our ears. Our “little grey cells” as Hercule Poirot often called them determine how we view and react to everything which we experience, good and bad.

Our grey cells might be relatively “little” but they are incredibly powerful. They absorb everything we see, hear and experience before determining whether it is good or bad, positive or negative. In plain English..it’s up to each individual how they perceive the world around them. This is why we need to be self-aware, because once we know what we want from life, and what we attach importance to, this helps to provide a reference point to which we can compare everything that life throws at us. In this way, we know if we are truly happy at any given time, or not. It’s easier to remain positive in the face of adversity when we know that this bad situation will have no real impact on our lives and the direction in which it is headed. That way, we save our worries and energy for those things that do involve us.

Onward….March!!

Change is difficult. Change is scary. Change can be painful, but change is also a very important part of life. In fact, it’s essential. Without change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we stagnate, and that’s how we end up living lives in which we feel bored, unfulfilled and having fallen short of our potential. The apathy and frustration leads us to give up hope of a better life, so we accept the status quo and just live day to day, never pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Life is not about getting up and doing the same thing every day. Life is about each and every one of us pushing ourselves to become the best possible version of ourselves, before helping others to be able to do the same. Life is all about experiences, from which we learn about ourselves and the world around us. It’s about self discovery and growth. Life is a journey, and on this journey it’s only natural that as we change, we outgrow that which we currently know. Don’t fear the changes which are a necessary part of life, embrace them and learn from them.

Recognise when a phase, job, a life stage or a relationship is over and let it go. Allow yourself to gracefully exit situations which you have outgrown. Moving on doesn’t have to be catastrophic, dramatic or associated with intense pain. It’s all a matter of how you frame the event in your mind.

Reflect on what you have learned and gained so far, but then accept the fact that in order to continue to grow, you may need a job which will offer more of a challenge and the opportunity to increase your knowledge and skill set. Accept that, while a relationship might have been wonderful so far, there is the possibility that you become different people who want different things. That is not to say that you MUST change everything, but be aware of when a change is necessary for your personal or professional development.

Humans generally fear the unknown, but that’s not a good enough reason to hold on to that which you have outgrown or which might be hindering your progress. Let things, situations and people go if you have to so that you can move forward. Embrace the unknown because that is where opportunity lies. Move forward with valuable experience, knowledge or skills. Above all, though, move forward with peace and clarity.

You can move in any direction, as long as it’s forward.

Hell Is Other People…Really?!

“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
From a young age, I was taught that we should make an effort to get to know people. All people. No matter what our first impression of them is. And when I read The Little Prince for the first time as a child, it reinforced the lesson that we should not be so quick to judge others. The narrator teaches us that if we spend time with caterpillars (the people we don’t immediately connect with) and get to know them, they eventually turn into butterflies. That is to say, that if you spend time with people and try to understand them, something beautiful can happen, whether that’s the beginning of a good friendship, or an important lesson being learned.
Everybody has something to teach us, whether it’s their level of knowledge on a particular subject, their life experiences or just their behaviour, body language and the way in which they interact with others. They can inspire us, motivate us and lift us. They can support us and offer us a new perspective on life. Or, maybe, they can serve as an example of what not to say or do. The two greatest teachers on life are our experiences, and the people with whom we come into contact with.
All of this only becomes possible if we approach others with an open mind. Which is easier said than done in the digital age. How often do we “google” a new acquaintance’s name or search social media outlets for them, only to form a judgement on who they are before we have actually taken the time to get to know them as a person? Even in this day and age, people are judged according to their political views, lifestyle choices, sexual orientation and so much more. None of which is a true reflection of who they are as a person and what they could bring to your life if you only put your judgements aside and really got to know them. It could be the case that, in getting to know each other, you are the one who will make a positive difference in their life. And isn’t that why we are all here? To make a positive impact on the lives of others around us? We are social creatures, so it’s only natural for us to lift and support each other.
Too often, though, we surround ourselves with people who share our beliefs and interests. People who think and act like us, and understand us. It’s the safe and easy choice. Given that we like the same things and think and act in similar ways, we know what we are getting with these people. No differences of opinion or challenging conversations. We can just be ourselves without the fear of being judged. As a result, we label ourselves and others, before joining the group which resonates the most with us. With everyone in isolated groups, it makes it harder to get to know others outside our spheres and share ideas and opinions.
In business, these isolated groups are called silos, and organisations are working hard hard to break these down in order to encourage better communication and co-operation between departments and colleagues. In much the same way, we need to work to rid society of these social bubbles, and encourage more people from all walks of life to get to know each other.
We all say that we want to better ourselves and improve the quality of our lives, so why are we overlooking one of the best teachers of all, the people whose interests and experiences are different from ours?!
Judge less. Communicate more. You’ll be surprised just how much this can enrich your life.

Judge Not..Unless You’re Judging Yourself.

That is the most difficult thing of all. It is far more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself correctly, then you are truly a man of wisdom

Antoine de Saint- Exupèry  ~ The Little Prince

Judge not, lest ye be judged yourself… Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could live this way. The world would be a happier place for a start, and a it would be a world in which we all supported and helped each other to become the best that we could be. Sounds like a fairy tale, and unfortunately it is. We judge others, whether we are conscious of it or not and social media has only made the problem worse.

Judgement is not all bad. It depends on the type, and context. We sometimes judge others harshly because we believe in them and have an idea of their true potential which they are not living up to. So, in this instance, initial judgement is followed by constructive criticism, advice, guidance and help with which we hope that they will realise what they are capable of, and start living up to it. This, however, is the exception to the rule.

We often waste valuable time and energy putting others down, whether that be to justify our own decisions and choices, or lift ourselves and feel better. This is just plain wrong, though. What business is it of yours what somebody else does for a living, or how they dress and how they choose to spend their free time?! Your attention should be directed at your own life, and your decisions, choices and actions. What does this achieve? Negative results. Instead of reflecting on what you have to be thankful for, you scrutinise what others have and kick yourself for not having the same, or more. Judging other people is the surest path to unhappiness and dissatisfaction, and who wants to willingly make themselves feel miserable or jealous?! It makes no sense.

Of course, it goes without saying that the best thing you could possibly do is not to judge at all. After all, everyone has the right to live their own life as they please, as long as their actions and words are not causing upset or distress to anybody else. Plus, we all have our own demons to fight and challenges to overcome. Live and let live. Rather than judging and criticising others, treat them with kindness and compassion. If you must judge, apply that scrutiny to your own life instead.

Ask yourself…Are you where you want to be in life? Are you happy with the person you are right now? If not, what could you do today to change this? Are you living up to your potential? Are you striving every day to become the best version of yourself?

Answer all of the above positively, and you will be well on your way to becoming the best you can be. Chances are that you will have already have started to reap the rewards of your hard work, so your focus will be on continuing your success, and not on what others are doing and whether you agree with it. Basically, if you are regularly reflecting on the above and working hard to improve yourself, you are unlikely to feel the urge to stand in judgement of anybody else. Why? Simply put..You will find yourself too busy focusing on your own life and the impact which you have on others to even think about what somebody else may or may not be doing. Life is a journey of constant learning, growth and improvement and once you realise this, and the potential which you have within you to achieve great things, your only concern will be to develop yourself and to nurture, help and support others to become the best that they can be too.

In a world where we are encouraged to adopt a dog-eat-dog mentality and judge others in order that we might rise above them, be the exception. Focus on yourself, and be your own harshest critic, testing your limits and pushing yourself to find out what you are really capable of. Then lend a helping hand to others, so that they may also do the same.

The only person you should judge is yourself. Your only competition is yourself. The world is a massive place, and there is plenty of room in it for us all to lift each other and become successful

Run Your Own Race

It’s not unusual to feel that you are behind in life. After all, social media is full of people announcing their achievements to the world. We open up Facebook, Instagram or whatever other platforms we use, and instantly see pictures of countless people who have already achieved what we are striving for. Not only that, but these people appear, to be achieving so much at younger and younger ages. If you take what you see at face value, of course. The question I want to ask today is; does it really matter what everybody else is doing? Why does it bother us? Why do we get the urge to compete with others who we don’t know?

There is no timetable or schedule for us all to follow. Life is not a linear process from Point A to Point B, but rather a long, winding and wonderful journey of growth and discovery. The notion of having to achieve a certain amount in a certain time frame is a fabrication. The situation in which you find yourself right now where you are meant to be. Billions of people around the world can’t do all the same things in the same order. For a start, each of us is unique. We all have our own desires, visions, goals,  strengths, weaknesses and motivations. Mine will vary greatly from yours, and that is completely natural.

Some get a degree in their 20s, some will get theirs much later in their 40s and some will have no degree at all. The same goes for marriage, children, buying a house and so much more in life. But.. what is considered early? What is late? Who or what are you comparing yourself with?

Your life is your own, and you shouldn’t allow others to impose their schedule on you, whether that be parents, friends or society. Don’t be hard on yourself because of your current circumstances. If you haven’t achieved all of your goals yet, it’s because you still have some learning and growth left. If your progress has stagnated, you need to set new, more challenging, goals. If you seem to be going nowhere fast, that’s a sign that you need some serious and honest reflection, to remind yourself of who you are, what you want from life and what drives you. It’s YOUR life, which follows YOUR own timeline. The only schedule which matters is the one which you set for yourself.

Take a moment to consider a flower bed. Each flower doesn’t care about how its neighbour grows, it just blooms and grows at its own rate. They all get the same water and sunlight, but develop individually. That’s the same with people. We all have access to many of the same resources, but our growth varies from person to person. Rather than beat yourself up about this, embrace your individuality and determine your own personal timeline for achieving your own goals.

Live Your Life Looking Forwards, Not Backwards

Your future is bigger, and more important, than your past.

All that really matters is what you’re striving towards in life. Your big goal, your mission, your “why” or your raison d’être. That is where your focus should be, not stuck in the past. Don’t rank your life by your accomplishments, failures or how it compares to others. Rather, rank your life by the courage and determination you demonstrate by giving your absolute everything to achieve whatever it is that you believe in. All day every day.

It’s the mission, or journey, that holds both the joy and the growth which you seek. That’s not to say that you should just forget about the past – it is one of life’s greatest teachers, after all. BUT you should be looking forwards and building your future. Focusing on past failures will destroy your confidence, just as focusing on your successes will lead you to becoming complacent.

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.