Jan 272013
 
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more learning acceleration

14 More Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

Hopefully, the first seven ways to accelerate your learning and progress were helpful.  Here are fourteen more to help you build and maintain momentum in pursuit of your dreams and objectives.

1.     Conquer performance anxiety.

Performance anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks.  If the anxiety is extreme, you may not be able to perform at all.  There are techniques for overcoming performance anxiety.  Figure out what works for you and use it religiously.  Seriously, relax!  You’re good.  You just need to believe in yourself and not worry what others think!  It’s easier said than done; I know.

2.     Push beyond.

Any weight lifter will tell you that they’ve achieved their most impressive gains when they’ve been willing to push beyond the point they thought they could handle.  That is, the point of pain, effort, belief, willpower, etc.  When you’re doing “easy repetitions,” whether in weightlifting, another sport, or most any endeavor, you are not making progress.  The progress is made at the margin, where you’re willing to push beyond the norm.

3.     Forget the critics.

Don’t worry about what the critics have to say.  If you want, you can take whatever is useful to you from their commentary.  If not, then ignore them altogether.  Their mission is not to make you successful; rather, it’s to tear you down, so you can be miserable like them.  Don’t buy into that game.  If you ever need inspiration in this regard, turn to one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Teddy Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

Citizenship in a Republic, a speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, France (23 April 1910).

Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt

4.     Choose tougher opponents.

Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and take on tougher opponents.  Regardless of your endeavor, if you want to stay in the shallow end and play the weaker opponents, you may have fun and boost your ego, but you will never get better.  The way to get better is to choose tougher opponents and be willing to lose sometimes (or a lot in the beginning).  Then, learn from your mistakes and keep upping your game.  If you’re never (or rarely) losing, you’re not pushing yourself enough by playing against tough competition.

5.     Set goals correctly.

Not everyone believes in goal setting.  In my experience and observation, goal setting can work well, particularly if goals are set correctlyThis involves ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.  If you are going through the work of setting goals, do yourself a favor and don’t make them so general that they’re not meaningful.  Also, make sure you have a big enough “why” (why are you going after these goals?), so that when you run into challenges, you’ll be able to summon the energy and perseverance to press on.

6.     Make sure you’re committed.

If you’re not committed to achieving your goals and dreams, no one else is going to be committed for you!  The responsibility rests on your shoulders.  You must take the bull by the horns and make it happen.  Ask yourself the question:  Am I interested or committed?  If you find that you’re just interested, that’s acceptable for entertainment purposes, but not for serious goals.  In order to take on a big goal or task, you must be committed, or the likelihood you will make it happen decreases significantly.

7.     Be bold.

As the Latin proverb goes, “Fortune favors the bold”.  When you are trying to achieve something, especially something extraordinary or “great,” you do yourself no favors by being timid.  Be bold.  Be willing to stand out from the crowd.  This may be completely out of character for some, especially the introverts among us, but trust me, you’ll be shocked by how much more you can get accomplished by being bold.  When you are bold, it works not just to convince others, but also yourself, of your conviction.

8.     Overcome perfectionism.

The more I live, the more I realize that perfectionism truly is the enemy of most accomplishment!  Perfectionism can cause us to do nothing.  Perfectionism can cause us to sweat unimportant details and not see the forest through the trees.  Perfectionism can cause us to beat ourselves up needlessly and get into a negative state of mind for no good reason.  I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life and it has been more apparent in certain areas of life than others.  It’s only when I’ve been able to give myself “a break” that I’ve been able to perform at my best in a variety of endeavors.  Performing well without the pressure of being “perfect” (virtually impossible in almost all endeavors) is much easier.  Give yourself a break and give it a try!

9.     Stop procrastinating.

Procrastination is caused, at least in part, by perfectionism.  We don’t get started because we don’t want to fail, with “failure” being defined as anything less than perfection.  With such unrealistic expectations, it’s no wonder that so many people procrastinate.  It is a source of frustration for many.  There are ways to overcome procrastination.  I suggest you study up on them and give yourself the knowledge and confidence to overcome your tendency to put things off, seemingly indefinitely sometimes.

10.  Overcome your fears.

Fears can immobilize us!  Fears, whether founded or not, can cause us to perform poorly in a whole host of situations.  It’s important to learn how to overcome your fears, so you can perform at your best as much as possible.  There are proven techniques for overcoming your fears, or at least lessening the impact of the “fear response” in key situations.  We all have fears, whether or not we’re willing to admit them.  If we want to accelerate our learning and our ability to make progress in our endeavors, we must understand how to conquer our fears.

11.  Understand the key requirements.

In order to accelerate your learning and progress, you must make an effort to understand the key requirements for success in your chosen endeavor!  There is almost never a good reason to reinvent the wheel.  In all likelihood, unless you’re doing something extremely cutting edge, there are other successful people in whose path you may follow.  Work with a coach, other subject matter expert, or mentor to first understand what you will need to have and do in order to be successful.  Only then can you take the most efficient route to success in your endeavor.

12.  Believe.

Strong belief can overcome shortcomings in many key areas.  No matter how difficult the road becomes, your job as an achiever is to continue to believe that you can be successful!  Such belief will give you energy where you thought you had none and it will allow you to tap the enormous reserve of willpower that we all have as human beings.  Without belief, little is possible.  With belief, almost anything is possible.

13.  Tap your will to succeed.

Find ways to tap your will to succeed.  We’re all different, so not all things that work for you may work for the next person.  But there are techniques you can find and develop on your own that will allow you to tap your willpower as needed.  In my experience, it’s helpful to have an inventory of inspirational people and stories in your mind, so that when the going gets tough, you’re able to call on those memories in order to get yourself to push on.  They can be memories from your past, or inspirational stories you’ve read or heard about.  I have used this technique to push far beyond where I thought I could go, both mentally and physically, in a number of very challenging situations.

14.  Plan, even if just a little.

Some of us have a tendency to “wing it” a bit more than we should.  I know that there was a time that I fell into that category.  It tends to come with the territory when you’re not suffering from a shortage of confidence – you believe that whatever challenge may arise, you’ll overcome it and attain your objectives.  With age and maturity, I have learned that even if you do just a little planning, often times the outcome far exceeds what you likely could have pulled off by “winging it”.  Don’t plan to the point of analysis paralysis, but put in some time to lay out the steps you expect will be necessary to achieve your objectives.  Don’t be surprised if you have to course-correct several times on the fly, but that’s OK!  As one of my mentors liked to say, “you should have a powerful plan that can change”.  Don’t be a slave to your plan, but let it provide you with at least a rough road map to where you’re trying to go.

I hope you will put these ideas to use and they will help you to accelerate your learning and progress in your endeavors!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 252013
 
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accelerate your learning

7 Ways To Accelerate Your Learning And Progress

If you are looking to accelerate your learning and progress more rapidly, here are seven ideas to help make it happen in any endeavor.

1.     Create a sense of urgency.

Without a sense of urgency, often times it’s hard to get started and stay focused.  This step may include creating “unrealistic deadlines”.  Such deadlines, while tough to meet, by definition, force you to focus and to employ all available resources, with a strong sense of urgency.

2.     Don’t worry about failing.

As long as you learn from “failure,” it can help you rather than hinder you (the magnitude of the failure is a factor, obviously).  You will need to fail a certain amount to improve to the next level in almost any endeavor.  If you are unwilling to fail, therefore, you cannot make it to the next level.

3.     Focus.

Lack of focus affects almost all of us, at one point or another in our lives.  Study after study has now shown that multi-tasking does not work.  Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can multi-task and be as effective as you are when you focus on one thing at a time.

4.     Have a why.

If you have a compelling (to you) reason for doing something, you are far more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  Many refer to this as “having a why”.  The most important characteristic of a good “why” is that it matters deeply to you; do not worry about what others think.

5.     Stop whining.

Whining in our society runs rampant.  The key is not to be a whiner; rather, put on your big boy pants and step up to the plate.  If you are truly committed to what you’re trying to accomplish, instead of whining when things go wrong, you’ll stay focused on the prize.

6.     Practice correctly, with feedback.

By now most everyone is familiar with the concept of “deliberate practice”.  It is a form of practice wherein you don’t just show up and practice indiscriminately, without paying attention to potential areas for improvement.  If you are going to practice deliberately, you will pay attention to the results you achieve, then use that feedback to continually adjust your approach.  If you practice in this manner, you will likely achieve better results, faster.  You can provide feedback to yourself, but often times it easier, even essential, to have a knowledgeable coach working with you to accelerate your learning.

7.     Don’t overthink everything.

Even if you are a left-brain, analytical type, learn not to overthink everything.  Be willing to do a certain amount of trial and error.  This way you can avoid analysis paralysis, which can be a real progress inhibitor for the person who tends to want to explore every last potential detail and problem before getting started on an endeavor.  For complex endeavors, which include most that are worth achieving, such an approach usually is not realistic.

While speed is not always a major point of focus when we are trying to accomplish a goal or just getting started in an endeavor, often it is.  Given the pace at which our world is changing, many times if we’re not moving at a reasonable speed in our endeavors, particularly in competitive areas such as business and sports, we’re being left behind.  Hopefully, the ideas above will help you with accelerating your learning and making more rapid progress toward the accomplishment of your goals!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 222013
 
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dealing with difficult people

How To Deal With Difficult People – Take Two

Here are five more ideas on how to deal with difficult people.  This is a challenge that will continue until there are no more difficult people; in other words, it’s going nowhere.  Since the problem isn’t going away, I’ve put some more ideas together for you, since my first post on dealing with difficult people – here you go – execute any or all of these with care:

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #11

Document everything.  Don’t allow the difficult person to run you over without a record of what’s happening.  If you don’t document everything and “put a stake in the ground,” should the time come to escalate (or even litigate) the problem, you will have no record that this has been a pattern of behavior, rather than a one-off instance of poor judgment.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #12

Find an ally. If you are finding no success in persuading the difficult person to be reasonable, involve another person in the situation.  That person should be someone the difficult person respects, either because they want to, or just because they have to.  In other words, if you can’t bring someone in whom the person respects as a person, then bring in someone whose authority they must at least respect.  Often times, that will bring the matter (or attitude) to quick resolution.  You must be willing to take this step, so the person knows that you’re not an isolated, disenfranchised victim.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #13

Be willing to walk away.  Make sure the difficult person understands, in no uncertain terms, that you are not willing to be subjected to abusive behavior.  It should be very clear to them that you are willing to walk away, from the situation, the company, the deal, etc. rather than be abused.  If you don’t take a strong position, anyone who is accustomed to running over others will use you for target practice.  Their abuse will be constant and unending, until you’re willing to stand up to them.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #14

Use an example.  Without divulging any confidential information or committing any crimes, give them examples of how you typically deal with such abusive behavior.  Tell them you’ll give them references, if they’d like.  The thing about bullies is that once you come back at them, they usually back down quite quickly.  Rather than take on a worthy adversary, they’d rather spend their time looking for someone else who will just “roll over”.

How To Deal With Difficult People Rule #15

 Find their weak point.  Most difficult people are difficult because they are bitter.  They feel as though they’ve been wronged on a macro and/or micro level and they want to pass on their misery.  As the saying goes, misery loves company.  If you find one or more of their reasons for bitterness, these become an offensive weapon for you to use, once they start their abuse routine.  Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

I realize that the previous list of tips for dealing with difficult people was not as direct or aggressive, particularly when compared to the last couple of approaches on the list above.  Take the high road when you can, but in some instances, you need to stand up for yourself and protect your interests in the face of a difficult person who is aggressive and doesn’t play fair.  In those moments, usually you have to take the gloves off and give it back to them directly – that’s the only way to get the message across that you won’t be their punching bag.  The last couple on this second list are more appropriate in those situations.

All that being said, if you’re dealing with someone who is (or may be) mentally imbalanced and capable of physical violence, then scrap this list and contact the authorities.  You will need to use your discretion to make sure you stay safe when you’re taking on difficult people and bullies.  Whatever approach you take, don’t be a willing victim.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 182013
 
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embrace the naysayers

Embrace The Naysayers

If you’ve ever tried to achieve anything meaningful, undoubtedly you’ve had to deal with naysayers!

These are the people who, often under the guise of trying to help you, will name every possible thing that can go wrong with the endeavor you are planning.

They’ll say things like, “not to discourage you” and “that sounds like a good idea, except…”.

I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed, but often times their comments, especially when repeated over and over again, begin to sound like “sour grapes”.  That is, you start to wonder whether their concern is really for you and your welfare, or whether, instead, they’re just trying to protect their own fragile egos.

The naysayers often seem negative to the point that they find it difficult to look at the positives of any undertaking.  They see themselves as self-appointed protectors of common sense (their definition of it, anyway) and fearless defenders of the status quo.

As it turns out, once you dig a little below the surface, you realize that your instincts were absolutely right:  most naysayers really don’t care about you or your welfare.  They care that you don’t achieve success in your endeavors, while they just sit around criticizing anyone who is trying to accomplish something meaningful.

My suggestion is that rather than resent naysayers, learn to embrace them.  I suggest this for a few reasons:

1.)   Once in a while, naysayers bring up valid points that you should consider before you undertake your endeavor.

2.)   Naysayers, by virtue of their consistent and maddening negativity, can give you the motivation you need to persevere when times get tough.  If nothing else, you’ll do so just to prove them wrong.

3.)   Negative people need love and crave attention, like all human beings.  By listening to their points and paying attention to what they have to say, you are performing a public service – listening carefully to people everyone else does everything they can to ignore.

4.)   Listening to naysayers and trying to understand where they’re coming from may help you to prevent yourself from becoming bitter and a “downer” like them.

5.)   Once in a while, you may actually convert a naysayer to a fan of whatever you’re doing.  In the process, you’ll pick up a fan and help a naysayer become more open-minded.  This won’t happen often, but when it does, again, you’ll be performing a public service.

In summary, learn to embrace naysayers.  I’m not saying to go out of your way to hang out with them.  In fact, I make a practice of doing everything I can to avoid spending too much time with negative people.  What I am saying though, is that sometimes it’s simply not possible to avoid naysayers.  When you are confronted with such a situation, rather than becoming overly negative yourself, have some fun with it!  Do what you can to convert the naysayer.  At a minimum, listen to their ideas and see if there’s anything valid in their criticisms.  If there is, work to mitigate it.  Most importantly though, use their negativity to motivate you when times get tough.  There’s nothing more satisfying than proving the naysayers wrong.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 122013
 
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sense of purpose

A Sense Of Purpose Is So Important, Especially During Tough Times

How important is it to have a sense of purpose in all that you do?  I would argue that it’s extremely important, especially during tough times.

What is a sense of purpose?  If you take a look at the definition of “purpose,” (see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/purpose) you realize that it is a loaded word, with many potential meanings.  For the purposes of our discussion here, I’ll focus on the fifth definition:

         5.  The reason for which something is done, or the reason it is done in a particular way.

Other definitions and synonyms include such concepts as goals, intentions, and targets.  Here, I’d like to go for a higher sense of purpose.  While goals may be part of the picture, as we’re looking at it here, a sense of purpose takes it to a higher level.

Let’s look at an example of the difference between goals and a sense of purpose.

Example.  My wife and I decided we wanted to run a Tough Mudder (www.toughmudder.com) race together.  The race is usually a run somewhere between 11 and 12 miles, interrupted by roughly 25 military-style obstacles.

Our goals included:

1.)   Training sufficiently, so we would reduce the likelihood that we’d get injured during the race.

2.)   Finishing the race.  Finishing the race together.  Finishing the race in a certain amount of time.

3.)   Doing all the obstacles – not skipping any.

4.)   Helping others during the race.

5.)   Doing as well as the younger people in the race (other than the military folks and the top athletes).

Our corresponding sense of purpose included:

1.)   Staying in shape, in order to maintain a high overall level of health and fitness, in an effort to increase our longevity and our quality of life.

2.)   Enhancing our relationship and sharing an experience that we could always have in common.

3.)   Overcoming any fears we may have had, which would make us more confident in overcoming challenges in all areas of our lives.

4.)   Taking part in the camaraderie of the race, reinforcing our own contribution and our positive sense of the nature of human beings.

5.)   Showing our kids and ourselves that, to a large extent, age is a state of mind, and it is possible to be active and competitive throughout your life.

My wife and I have done several Tough Mudder and other challenging mud and endurance races together.  It’s been a great series of experiences, from which we’ve benefited in numerous ways.  I can assure you that if we did not have a sense of purpose, we would have been lucky to complete one such race.  In fact, we likely would have had a hard time even making it through the several months of intensive training that preceded each race.

I could say the same thing about many challenging experiences we’ve had in our lives.  I’ll bet that you can think of examples in your own life, where if you hadn’t had a sense of purpose, it’s likely that you would have quit somewhere along the way.

A clear sense of purpose gives us the ability to access our willpower on a level that simply is not available to most people who have no such sense of purpose.

I think there is a close connection between the idea of a sense of purpose and the common question, “what it your why”?  It gets closer to the core reason you do what you do, than do simple goals or ideas.  The real power comes when you are able to find your “why,” and back it up with goals that are specific and measurable.  Without a “why” or sense of purpose, it’s likely that, regardless of how precise and well-thought-out your goals may be, you will find it hard to persevere toward achieving them, especially when the inevitable tough times come along.

Set goals and monitor your progress toward achieving them.  But before you do so, make sure you have a sense of purpose for what you’re doing.  It’s not necessary that you fully understand that purpose(s), but at least have a sense of your “why”.  In my experience and observation, such an approach will greatly increase the likelihood that you will achieve your goals, and perhaps more importantly, that you will enjoy both the journey and destination.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 092013
 
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entrepreneur manifesto

Entrepreneur Manifesto – Another Look

When I first thought about putting together an entrepreneur manifesto a couple of years ago, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.  Here, I will stick with the same 10 key points, but I’d like to hang a little “meat” on the manifesto, based on a couple more years of learning and reflection on what is important for success as an entrepreneur.   Here are the ten key “commitments” of the entrepreneur:

1.   I will be Persistent.  I know that nothing great is ever achieved without persistence.  I also know that the road to success is littered with those who gave up, while I continued to fight.

2.   I will set Goals I know that setting and monitoring progress toward goals increases my probability of success.  I also know that even if I don’t achieve every goal exactly as planned, by having goals I give myself targets toward which I can strive.

3.   I will have a Plan.  I know that although plans can change, having one is important.  I understand that it is very likely that I will have to course-correct frequently as I execute my plan, but rather than see such course corrections as failures, I will see them as opportunities to continue on the path to success.

4.   I will be a Believer.  I know that being an optimist and expecting the best works in my favor.  I will focus on the reasons to believe, rather than be swayed by all the naysayers who don’t want to see me succeed while they stand still.

5.   I will be a Realist.  I know that being realistic and making incremental improvements is the way to go.  I understand that being a believer and being realistic are not mutually exclusive; rather they are two sides of the same coin.

6.   I will always be Learning.  I know that everything changes and ongoing, constant learning is the only way to succeed.  I subscribe to the theory that if I stand still in business, I’m actually losing ground.

7.   I will stay Focused.  I know that if I don’t stay focused, I am not likely to achieve my goals.  I will find my “why” and I will use it to help me to avoid succumbing to shiny object syndrome.

8.   I will be BoldI know that being timid won’t get me far as an entrepreneur.  I will, when appropriate, do what it takes to make my business and my offering stand out from the crowd.

9.   I will have a sense of Urgency.  I know that hardly anything is ever attempted or accomplished without it.  I will find ways to access my sense of urgency whenever I need it, in order to continue to progress toward accomplishment of my goals.

10. I will be Passionate.  I know that my passion for what I do is what sets me apart from all the noise in the market.  I will use my “why” and my commitment to success as strong sources of passion and energy as I grow my entrepreneurial ventures.

Let me know what else you think should be included in the entrepreneur manifesto!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Jan 032013
 
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ted

Why You Need To Know About TED — Inspiration And Ideas

If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, I strongly suggest that you check out TED.  Technology, Education and Design, for which TED is the acronym, is a series of conferences and talks that cover a wide range of subjects.  Most importantly though, at this time, TED’s website, www.TED.com offers over 1,000 such talks, usually less than 20 minutes each, for free.  It’s a truly amazing resource!  Their tagline is “Ideas worth spreading”; I couldn’t agree more.

Here are a few of my favorite talks on TED.com, the variety of which gives you a good idea of the range of topics covered on TED.  The site contains ideas and inspiration for you, regardless of your interests.

1.)   Steve Jobs:  How To Live Before You Die

This talk was filmed at Stanford University in June, 2005.  Steve Jobs gave the commencement speech shortly after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  At that time, he had received treatment and the cancer was in remission and Steve Jobs provided his words of wisdom to the students, many of whom probably had a difficult time digesting his message.  It was very insightful, but perhaps a bit dark and difficult for younger people to appreciate and digest.  He made several great points, but the one that stuck with me most was about asking himself the question whether, if today were the last day of his life, he’d want to do what he was about to do.  If the answer came up “no” too many days in a row, he knew it was time to make a change.  Great insights from a true legend of the entrepreneurial world.

2.)   Susan Cain:  The Power Of Introverts

Ms. Cain’s talk is humorous and insightful.  She makes a good argument about the importance of introverts in our society, which she convincingly contends is geared toward viewing extroverts as “successful”.  I recommended this talk to my daughter who confronts many of the same issues Ms. Cain seems to have faced and continues to overcome to this day.  She points out that you’re not either an introvert or an extrovert – it’s not binary.  Rather, you fall somewhere along a continuum from completely extroverted to completely introverted.  Those who are equal part introvert and extrovert she refers to as ambiverts, a label that strikes me as funny, but apt.  I think this talk should be required viewing for all educators.  Let me know if you agree.

3.)   Elizabeth Gilbert:  Your Elusive Creative Genius

I found this talk fascinating.  As a heavily left-brain, analytical thinker, I’m always searching for ways to use my right-brain more and be more creative.  It’s an uphill battle at times, but this talk was an inspiration.  In particular, I found it very interesting how, in ancient Greece and Rome, they did not believe that creativity came from humans; they believed it came from a divine spirit.  It was in the Renaissance that humans were put at the “center of the universe” (figuratively speaking), so it was then acceptable to attribute creativity to humans, rather than to some divine spirit.  This led to some ego inflation, of course, but it also had the effect of putting serious pressure on creative types, as they could no longer blame a lack of creativity on some mystical spirit.  It was a double-edged sword, quite literally in some cases – humans could take the credit for creativity, but they also had to withstand the blame and punishment if creative genius was nowhere to be found.  Ms. Gilbert tells a few stories that make quite palpable some of the challenges of the post-Renaissance concept of creative genius.

This is just a small sample of the ideas and inspiration that await you on TED.com.  Don’t take my word for it – check it out!  Let me know what you find.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Learn To Give Yourself An Attitude Adjustment – 20 Ideas To Make It Happen

 Posted by at 5:08 pm  Mindset, Negativity  Comments Off on Learn To Give Yourself An Attitude Adjustment – 20 Ideas To Make It Happen
Jan 012013
 
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Learn To Give Yourself An Attitude Adjustment – 20 Ideas To Make It Happen

It’s important to be able to recognize when you need to give yourself an attitude adjustment.  It took me a while, but I’ve learned to do this when I start obsessing about negative stuff or other things out of my control.  As I sat at my desk yesterday fuming about a couple of personal and business issues I was confronting, I decided to write down some of the ways I give myself an attitude adjustment.  Maybe you’ll find them helpful in your quest to “get your head right”.

Here are some of the ways I’ve found that usually work for me:

  1. Listen to classical music.  I know this isn’t for everyone, and sometimes, classical music isn’t the ticket for me, either, but I do find that listening to music, whatever the genre, often can help me get my attitude back on track.  Usually, the louder the music, the better it works for me.
  2. Watch (or listen to) TED talks.  This is one of my favorite ways to get my attitude back on track.  TED is an acronym for technology, education and design.  It’s a series of conferences where they get all the best thinkers and innovators in the world to give talks on a variety of topics.  GREAT stuff.  Check it out at www.ted.com.
  3. Read an inspirational book, blog or quote.  This approach is tried and true.  Whatever your favorite written source of inspiration may be, have at it.  We all have our “go-to” sources for getting our attitude back on track.
  4. Exercise.  Even if you haven’t seen the inside of a gym in a while, give it a shot.  You’ll be amazed the miracles a bit of exercise can work on your state of mind.  If you can’t (or won’t) make it to the gym, exercise at home or somewhere else where you’re comfortable.  Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
  5. Eat ice cream.  Just kidding – I’d stay away from using food to adjust your attitude.  It’s a bad habit that’s far too easy to start and tough to break.  Choose something else from the list.
  6. Take a walk on the beach.  Or take a walk in the mountains.  Try to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and get some exercise at the same time.  If neither beach nor mountain is available nearby, take a walk anywhere.  Bring along some music if it helps.  This is an easy one, requiring no special equipment other than walking or running shoes.
  7. Look at your vision board.  Assuming you’ve create a vision board for your future, taking a look at that can help change your state of mind.  This is especially true if you’ve populated your vision board with images that inspire and motivate you.  If you don’t have a vision board, I strongly recommend creating one.
  8. Look at photos that make you happy.  This is an easy one.  Look at your own camera roll (iPhone terminology) or photo album.  If you have neither, look at Instagram or Pinterest, or whatever site contains images that you enjoy.  This can be a quick and painless way to get your mind back on track.  It can also be quite distracting, so use this one with care.
  9. Plan a trip.  Take a few moments to plan your next trip.  This can be a great virtual getaway for your mind, as you think about some of the details of your next escape from reality.  If you don’t have any trips in your near future, make a list of some of the places you’d like to visit when you do get a chance to travel.  Don’t spend the whole day on this, but putting a few minutes into it can help return your mind to a positive state.
  10. Get some sleep.  I find that a lot of times when my attitude is out of whack, I’m at least somewhat sleep deprived, if not totally exhausted.  If you’re having attitude challenges and you know you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, get some rest.  Take a short nap, or get to bed early.  I’m not saying to sleep all the time – that too can be taken to an extreme – but it’s worth making sure you are rested.  Your performance on all levels should improve when you’ve had enough rest.
  11. Drink alcohol.  Just kidding – I’d stay away from this one as much as possible.  It’s been an approach I’ve used at times, but it’s a rough road to take, particularly if you use it with great frequency.  Whenever possible, select something else from the list.
  12. Call a close friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  This is a great one!  Getting in touch with old friends is great for your state of mind!  Use this one whenever you have the time to talk for a bit.  Often times, these conversations will go on for a while, and time will stand still as you’re talking about old times.  This will be good for your attitude and your soul.
  13. Watch a comedy movie.  Laughter is often the best medicine.  Check out a comedy you’ve heard is great, or go back to an old standby that you know will make you laugh.  Laughing causes physiological changes in your body and often has a positive effect on your attitude.  Use this one when you have a couple hours to watch a movie.  If you have less time, watch a sitcom.  Just use this with care – this one can be addictive, and a huge time waster if you’re not careful.
  14. Take a ride in your car.  This isn’t for everyone, but for some, driving can be therapeutic, particularly if you live in a place where you can take a scenic route.  It can also be fun to hit the accelerator a little harder than usual – use that one at your own risk though and stay safe, based on where you are and who’s around.
  15. Play a game with friends or family.  I find that playing a game with my kids can, at times, be a great distraction from ”reality”.  Obviously, it also has the collateral benefit of allowing you to spend some quality time with your kids – a win-win situation.  The same can be said if you play with friends.
  16. Remember, “it’s only a time and it will pass”.  This is one of my Mom’s favorite expressions.  I’ve found it quite helpful sometimes when I need an attitude adjustment.  When confronting difficult situations, it’s often quite helpful to bear in mind that whatever it may be, it’s not going to last forever – “this too shall pass”.
  17. Realize that whatever you’re facing, it’s likely relatively minor.  This is not always true, of course, but often times we get all bent out of shape over small issues.  We tend to blow things out of proportion.  Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves that there are people out there with much more difficult situations and challenges.  Get a sense of perspective.  It should help you get your mind right.
  18. Do something you’ve been putting off.  There are few better feelings than knocking something off your To Do List, especially something you’ve been putting off for a while.  When your attitude gets bad, respond from a position of strength and attack something on your list about which you’ve been procrastinating.  Do that and your attitude will change instantly.
  19. Buy yourself a gift.  This one’s often referred to as “retail therapy”.  Use this one with care – it can be addictive and usually really doesn’t fix much, but it can snap you out of a negative state of mind.  Learn what works for you, hopefully something relatively affordable.
  20. Remember where we fit in the universe.  This is another good one for gaining perspective.  You’re facing an issue that’s giving you a bad attitude; it’s likely a minor issue.  In the meantime, we’re really a small speck in the universe – quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  We’re inhabitants of a small (but beautiful) planet in a solar system, the center of which is a star that is one of BILLIONS in the universe.  How big is your problem in this context?  Don’t blow it out of proportion.  Put your big boy (or girl) pants on and get back on track!

Hopefully these ideas will be helpful to you next time you need an attitude adjustment.  If you have others that work for you, I’d love to hear about them!

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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The Most Important Lesson Regarding The Role Of Luck In Success

 Posted by at 1:02 pm  Mindset, success  Comments Off on The Most Important Lesson Regarding The Role Of Luck In Success
Dec 262012
 
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The Most Important Lesson Regarding The Role Of Luck In Success

What is the role of luck in success?  If we’re being honest with ourselves, luck plays an important role in almost everything we do.  Do you agree?

I used to have the following mindset:  someone would wish me good luck with something and I’d respond with something along the lines of “no luck necessary, I’ve got it under control”.  Even if I didn’t say it out loud, that’s usually what I was thinking.

As I’ve grown older, and hopefully a bit wiser, I’ve realized that luck plays at least some role in everything we do.  That wisdom has caused me to lean toward accepting sayings like “better lucky than good,” which I used to reject as the words of people with a weak mindset.

I’ve also seen a tendency in many people I coach, and even in my own kids, to come out with comments like, “they’re not good, they’re just lucky”.  Such a comment and mindset have embedded in them equal parts hope and denial.  Pointing out the luck of others can be used as an excuse, which tends to be a very unhealthy behavior that serves no purpose in helping you reach your goals.

So, what is the role of luck in success?  In my experience and observation, luck is shared equally among most people; that is, it’s shared equally among most people who are in the game!  The point is, that if you’re not “in the game,” you cannot be the beneficiary of luck in that game, nor can you be the beneficiary of the skills and willpower you bring to the table.  In such a scenario, you’re usually a powerless observer.

You see, the reality is that many of the people who are busy pointing out how lucky this person or that person is, are people who are sitting on the sidelines!  And if they’re not sitting on the sidelines, they’re often sort of half playing “the game,” while all the “lucky” players are pouring their hearts and souls into their efforts.  The casual observer or player takes comfort in the fact that the others are so much luckier than them, so they don’t have to feel bad about how their lackluster efforts are yielding less than extraordinary results.  Go figure!

Granted, there are people who put in very little effort and end up being successful based solely on luck.  They are few and far between.  They are literal (or virtual) “lottery winners” and we all know the stories of how they often end up squandering the wealth and other success that they obtained purely through luck.

True, sustainable success is that which we earn through our efforts and our willingness to “fail” over and over again, then get right back up and continue playing the game.  If we have that sort of “never say die” mindset as a player in the “game,” we appreciate any luck that comes our way, but we do not dwell on it, just as we don’t lament or dwell on the luck of others.

We know that sometimes our luck will be good and sometimes it will be bad, but at the end of the day, our true success will be dependent upon our ability to take on tough challenges again and again without becoming discouraged and quitting.

As the saying goes, luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.  The most important lesson is:  We must be in the game, prepared, and playing our hearts out in order to succeed, not sitting on the sidelines criticizing others and pointing out how lucky they may be.  Luck, be it good or bad, is just one part of the equation.  When it’s good, let it be the wind in your sails; when it’s bad, let it stir your sense of challenge, adventure, and determination and spur you along toward achievement of your goals.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

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Dec 192012
 
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maintain momentum during the holidays

5 Tips To Maintain Momentum During Holidays

This is a challenge that comes up several times a year:  how to maintain momentum during holidays and keep your sanity.  Like most people who work on a variety of projects, I struggle with this issue quite a bit.  It used to frustrate me that many people take a lot of time off around holidays.  Then I had an epiphany:  maybe they’re not crazy; maybe I should be changing my habits.  It’s not their fault if they want to enjoy some down time with their families.  In fact, maybe if I had any sense, I’d do the same.

That being said, I’m the stereotypical achiever who cannot relax completely.  I can (and want to) devote more time to doing family activities during the holidays, but I have to get some constructive stuff done for my business and other projects each day, or I get frustrated.  I love the extra time with my family, but in my opinion, it’s not mutually exclusive with getting some other things done as well.  I know, I know; “you should unplug completely sometimes”.  Right now, that’s not in the cards for me.  I simply don’t feel like unplugging completely.

So, here are five tips regarding approaches and mindset I’ve found helpful to balance spending a lot more quality time with my family around holidays and still satisfying my need to be productive in other matters as well.

1.)    Realize Not Everyone Is Working During The Holidays

This used to frustrate me, but now my reaction is “good for them”.  I don’t get frustrated about this anymore.  I acknowledge that people have a right to take time off around the holidays and if I need to get something done that involves someone on vacation, I get as much done as I can without their input, then schedule the rest for when they’re back from vacation.

2.)    Focus On Tasks You Can Accomplish Without Input From Others

Related to the point above, I assume that most people will be on vacation during holidays, so during that period, I try to focus on activities that don’t involve other people.  Those activities may include paperwork that’s piled up, or other miscellaneous “to do’s” that never seem to get done.  I also find that holidays are a great time to work on creative tasks, for which it’s often hard to find quality time during non-holiday periods.

3.)    Realize That You’ll Probably Have To Work Early Or Late Hours

If you’re truly going to try to spend more time with family during the holidays, you’ll need to acknowledge that most of those activities will occur during the day.  Given that, you’ll need to plan on doing your work early in the morning, or late at night.  For some of you, that may not differ much from your typical schedule; for others, it will be a big adjustment, as you’re probably used to “being productive” during work hours.

4.)    Be Sure To Get Plenty Of Exercise

While getting plenty of exercise is hardly ever a bad idea, I find that if I want to be productive during the holidays, exercise is absolutely essential.  Since all members of my family are into sports and exercise, I try to “kill two birds with one stone” and do very physical activities with my family during the extra time we’re spending together.  This helps me to keep a clear head and a reasonable waistline when I’m trying to be productive in the off hours.  Given all the culinary temptations of the holidays, that’s a worthwhile and challenging goal.

5.  Realize That If You Don’t Get It All Done, It Doesn’t Matter

The bottom line is that if you are even remotely productive during the holiday downtime period and, most importantly, you get to spend a bunch of quality time with your family, you’re way ahead of the game.  Whatever work stuff you wanted to get done that you don’t will still be there when the holidays are over.  Make sure that you recharge your batteries with your family and you’ll be that much more productive when you get back to work after the holidays.

Please notice that I did not suggest that you multi-task during the holidays.  Don’t be distracted when you’re hanging out with your family; give them your undivided attention.  Be a serial focuser, not someone who succumbs to shiny object syndrome.  Come on; put your big boy (girl) pants on.  You can do it.  Your family and sanity are worth it.

I look forward to your thoughts!  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin

paul@companyfounder.com

www.companyfounder.com

Don’t miss an issue of Company Founder! Subscribe today.  It’s free.  It’s private.  It’s practical information for entrepreneurs and leaders interested in taking it to the next level.

Go to the right-hand navigation bar near the top of the page, enter your email and click subscribe.  We respect your privacy and will not sell your email address.  Note:  once you subscribe, if the confirmation email doesn’t arrive, check your spam filter.  It usually makes it through, but sometimes those pesky spam filters don’t know what’s good..

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