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4 Things I Learned About Life From Paulo Coelho

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Paulo Coelho

I haven’t read The Alchemist.

Yeah, I know. For someone who writes an article about Paulo Coelho AT LEAST I should read the book that made him a success.

But the only book I read was Aleph and it was really good. After reading it, I had an image of him as a very spiritual and calm person.

To learn more about Paulo Coelho, I read his authorized biography, “The Warrior’s Life,” which was written by Fernando Morais.

The most interesting parts of the book were the stories of his youth, which were far from what I had imagined. They were inspiring and made me reflect upon my life.

Read further to know the four life lessons you can learn from Paulo Coelho’s youth. Trust me – it’s worth it.

 

1. If you have a weakness, learn to compensate for it with your strength.

Paulo was weak physically.

According to his biography he was “very thin, frail and short.” He had a nickname – Pele – which means ‘skin. It was given only to those who were always being bullied by their classmates.

Considering his physical weakness, it was hard for Paulo to gain the respect of his peers. Yet he found out that despite his weakness, he managed to gain their respect.

How?

I quote: “By knowing things no one else knew and reading stories none of his peers had read was one way of gaining respect.”

The lesson: If you think you have a weakness, you don’t necessary need to remove that weakness. Some weaknesses, especially physical ones, are hard to get rid of. A more effective way would be to find your strengths and work on them until you are at least above average.

Or better yet: Be so good they can’t ignore you.

 

2. Rejection doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do after being rejected.

Paulo believed in himself. He believed that he was a good poet and that his poems were not suitable for small magazines. So he sent his poems to the ‘Escritores e Livros,’ a reputable literary column in a newspaper called Correio da Manha.

After a week, Paulo looked at the newspaper and read the following:

“To all young show-offs who are desperate to get themselves a name and publish books, it would be worthwhile recalling the example of Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who only published three volumes totalling 144 poems in 15 years.”

Like any normal person, he took it personally, but managed to regain his confidence and write his own version of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If…”.

If you ask your friends and enemies for a chance.

If you can hear a ‘no’ and take it as a ‘maybe,’

If you can start from the bottom and yet still value the little that you have.

If you can improve yourself each moment and reach heights without succumbing to vanity.

Then you’ll be a writer.

The lesson: Rejection always hurts. Some say that rejection shouldn’t be taken personally, but honestly, I don’t think that advice helps. We value ourselves and the things we create, thus rejection brings a cognitive dissonance inside our minds.

Two conflicting thoughts, self-belief and self-doubt, wage wars to determine who will stay and rule the kingdoms inside our heads.

When there are two conflicting thoughts, we need something to guide us on what to do after the rejection. If you don’t know what to do or what to believe in, most of the time the evil side will win the war.

In the case of Paulo, his self-belief won and this is because of a certain obsession of his.

Paulo Coelho quotes

 

3. Be obsessed with your dream

Paulo was obsessed with the idea of becoming a famous writer. Yet, it was funny that the obsession only bore fruit in his later years.

This is because he was always changing his art: from poetry to acting, directing, writing about the occult, and lyric writing.

Although he gained success in some of his ventures, he kept reminding himself that he wanted to be a famous writer. That obsession made him what he is today.

The lesson: Sometimes, we think our dream lies buried under a pile of work or studies. I’m the same. I am going to a medical school, but I know being a doctor is not my dream. I want to be an entrepreneur.

For several reasons, I can’t cancel my entry to medical school. It looks like I don’t have a choice, but I actually have one: to choose to stick with my dream no matter what or to succumb to the path people ‘forced’ me to go on.

The same thing goes for you. Be obsessed with your dream and don’t let it die easily.

 

4. Your ‘horrible’ past doesn’t make you a failure in the future

One word sprung up inside my mind when I read about Paulo’s past – horrible.

Paulo failed in his studies, almost killed a boy because of his driving, was forced to stay in a psychiatry clinic because of his escalating problems, took drugs, was kidnapped by a secret organization and embraced Satanism.

There was more, but you get the picture.

Looking at his past, I was amused by the stark difference between his past and future selves. It shows how someone’s past is not a good predictor of his future because he is capable of changing it if he is willing.

The lesson: The problem with most of us is we focus on things we can’t change. It is true that our past can influence our future, but we don’t want to let that influence spread too much and work of its own accord.

We should stop doing that: Stop letting the past be our fortune-teller. What we need to do is to focus on the present and take control of our future.

Why?

We are the fortune-teller.

 

Conclusion

Let me leave you with a quote from the man, Paulo Coelho, himself:

“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

Thanks for reading.

 

Paulo Coelho picture quotes

 

Question: What have you learned from reading Paulo Coelho’s  books?

 

If you haven’t read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho make sure you get your hands on a copy here:

Feature Image by: REUTERS/Eloy Alonso

Wan is a medical student and budding blogger. His blog, Overthinker's Advice, is the space where he shares no-nonsense, actionable, and interesting personal development ideas that helps people to improve their lives. He is also the writer for the simple eBook "21 Things You Can Do to Slow Down Time" which you can get for free here.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Pingback: Wake up! Stand up! Embrace Life – Positive thoughts and Facts of Life

  2. Robert Bright Salijeni

    Mar 30, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Stand tall in the midst of adversities. Pursue that dream no matter what!

  3. Akpo 'Diddie Uyeh

    Oct 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Henceforth I would always tell myself the truth and manage rejections rather than let them get to me.

  4. Neerja gandhi

    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I have read his Alchemist….had been following, and was happy to read his Alchemist book 🙂 would want to read his other books as well 🙂

  5. Susy

    Apr 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    And two months later Paulo Coelho himself featured this article on his blog and made it viral on his Facebook page… A virtue that goes full circle. Nice.

    • Joel Brown

      Joel Brown

      Apr 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Yes, great work on the article Wan 🙂 You got Paulo’s attention.

  6. apurva prabhawalkar (@prapurva)

    Apr 12, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Hey Wan, thanks for writing this article. Cheers to you bro.

  7. iryne

    Mar 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    be so gud at your strength, replace your weakness that they just cant ignore u! i love that!

  8. festus Ogunrewo

    Feb 18, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    It take a lot of courage and effort to achieve your dream and most of don’t be deterred by the naysayers. Its your dream its your life

  9. @Zingcali

    Feb 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    This makes a perfect sense at some stage in our lives we realize our strengths and weaknesses but deny to deal with our weaknesses until to a stage that becomes registered in your mind that this is who you really are ,and that is followed by the stage where we fight or take flight …that is your last freedom to be or not to be …this is a very relevant story

  10. Naomi@businessstartups

    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Wan,

    Like a lot of successful entrepreneurs he has been through a lot in his life. But that persistent drive to continue throughout the hardship and where others would fail – is what splits the men from the boys.

    I guess it just comes down to how badly to want your dream to become reality?

    Naomi

  11. Jeremy

    Feb 14, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    One thing I noticed about all these awesome people is that they are insanely obsessed with their craft. They are obsessed with living a passionate life. Sometimes I think about whether I’m obsessed enough to succeed. But then again, thinking even about something like that is quite obsessive, no? It’s crazy.

    I’ve just ordered The Alchemist. Great article, Wan, and thanks for linking to my article. 🙂

  12. Claudia Columna (@claudiacolumna)

    Feb 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Entrepeneurial freedom meets freedom of art. Excellent medication, too. Congrats!
    Claudia – fortune-teller – Columna

  13. Nikola Gjakovski

    Feb 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

    “At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie” I have to tweet this 🙂 Shared this text everywhere very nicely written article

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Life

You Can Create Whatever Life You Want So Stop Talking Yourself Out of Your Destiny

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destiny
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There’s never been a time like right now in human history for entrepreneurship. We have access to virtually limitless knowledge thanks to the advent of the internet, and you can reach anyone on this planet literally at the click of a button.

However, despite the massive amount of opportunity out there, there are still time-tested principles that every wanna-be entrepreneur needs to know in order to truly succeed. Knowing these principles can spell the difference between achieving your dreams and talking yourself out of your destiny.

There is Such a Thing as Preparing Too Much

While it’s certainly necessary to prepare in life, a just as devastating problem many people face in life is being too prepared. Way too often, people believe they’re actually working by spending hours “preparing” when all they’re doing is thinking about working while their actual work goes untouched.

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it bluntly in one of his livestream Q&A videos, “There are just so many ways to build your business, but lack of action is not one of them.” Basically, we are both blessed and cursed by our access to virtually limitless knowledge. We can turn on the faucet of knowledge and grab a quick swig when we need it, but if we leave it on for too long we’ll be drowning in information and be stuck trying to process everything.

If you spend too much time processing, you’ll be more likely to talk yourself out of taking the risks necessary to build a successful business. The solution is simple: stop processing and start taking action.

A phrase I find myself repeating a lot when I get into a bind is, “How did successful people do it before the age of internet?” The answer is they did it by not talking themselves off of the ledge of destiny and instead diving into their project headfirst.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Our Feelings Often Lie to Us

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like throwing in the towel when trying to build my web design business. I remember one day in particular I had a massive headache and was on the verge of quitting everything due to the frustration I felt while dealing with a problematic client.

I looked at my watch and realized I hadn’t eaten yet that morning, so I went and made myself breakfast. After eating a bowl of scrambled eggs and toast, my headache magically vanished along with my thoughts of wanting to quit. I quickly realized what needed to be done and fixed the client’s issue without much thought. The problem wasn’t with the client, the problem was with my stomach.

Can you imagine how ridiculous I would have looked had I fired my client all because I hadn’t eaten that day? This is why our feelings sometimes need to take a backseat when it comes to making wise, calculated decisions for our success.

Intuition is important, obviously, but it’s best utilized with years of reliable experience to back it up. So go with your gut when it’s wise to do so, but always make sure your gut is fed otherwise you may regret what it has to say.

Perfectionism Can Halt All Progress

You will never have everything figured out. Let that sink in. It’s become such a trope in our society that it’s surprising how easily we tend to forget it. There isn’t a single business out there that has all the answers on how to do things right, so why do we feel the need to stop moving forward if things aren’t perfect?

I remember a friend of mine spent years trying to compose music on his synthesizer but never released anything because it “wasn’t good enough” by his standards. I gave him the simple proposition to “put out crappy music”, since no matter what he would always think his music was crappy due to his perfectionist mindset. Within a day, he finally put something out on SoundCloud and his song “#Selfie” became a hit worldwide while his band The ChainSmokers continues to put out hits to this day.

OK, I’m kidding about that last part, but hopefully you get my point. My friend finally had a song out that he could have had out years ago but was too caught up on making everything “perfect” to do anything. He had, in effect, talked himself out of taking action. The same thing applies with business, even if you don’t have everything figured out it’s best to just start something and learn as you go.

“Imperfection is perfection.” – Flume

Whenever that annoying, perfectionist voice in your head tries to get you to quit because you’ll never have the “perfect” product or service to sell, tell it to shut up and put out your product or service anyway. As you gain experience in your field and receive valuable feedback from customers, you’ll be able to continually improve things with your business.

Had you not taken action to begin with, you would never have attained either of these two valuable assets. Never settle for mediocrity, but at the same time recognize your need to be in motion even if the thing that sets you in motion is initially subpar.

How do you push yourself and keep motivated? Let us know your thoughts below!

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Life

3 Mental Tricks to Help You Become a More Productive Person

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how to become more productive
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Whether you’re a career salesman, a student, or a software engineer, you can’t move an inch in your career if you produce less. Productivity is the key that will unlock your success. Unfortunately, not all of us are productive. And some of it is not our problem. Our Internet-empowered world is bloated with too many social media tools, too many emails and notifications, too many SMS and short messages, too many YouTube videos and Netflix movies. The distractions are at an all time high.

But what if there is a system that will help you keep all these distractions aside until you have accomplished your tasks? There is. And it only takes 3 simple steps. Read Below:

Step 1: See your everyday tasks as a gift

Showing up every day to work is anything but fun. You know your life depends on it, but some days are not your best days. No matter how you plan your projects, you can’t show up to do them. You’re tired and bored and uninterested. What’s the way forward? It’s not about planning. It’s not about waking up early. It’s not about lack of exercise or anything like that.

If you want to conquer your to-do list, day in and day out, you need a simple shift in your mindset. Stop thinking of your tasks as work. See those tasks as gifts…as natural endowments exclusively given to you. This simple shift in your mindset will awaken the sleeping giant within you. You’ll start feeling great about yourself, stop seeing your work as burdensome. The tasks will now make you feel proud.

No longer will your showing up early at your desk irritate you—because now you feel comfortable doing the work that matters. The mindset adjustment is not even difficult. Just figure out the value that your tasks will bring to your marketplace.

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

Step 2: Be conscious of the impeccable values of your tasks

That’s how to shift your thinking. You dissect the unique values that are embedded in your tasks (when you accomplish them, of course). If you’re a web designer, for example, think about the joy and life-changing events that your design job will bring to your client. That landing page that you’ll design, it would mean the world to your client.

It will even change their business and their lives along the way. But that will not happen if you don’t show up every day, roll up your sleeves and work on that landing page. Now if you can visualize that value, it will serve you well. You’ll be motivated. So, how do you become more conscious of the values of your work? Write them down. And read them every day to spark your productivity.

Step 3: Remind yourself of the limited time you have in life

We like to postpone today’s tasks for tomorrow. Often, we’ll schedule a time to work, but when the time is due, we come up with another excuse, “I’ve got to call that client instead; I’ll leave that work till tomorrow.” But we don’t own tomorrow. We don’t have control over it. We don’t even know what it holds. And we have a very limited time.

If you want to improve your productivity, you have got to remind yourself about the scarcity of your time. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (I recommend that you do these exercises every time before you begin to work):

  • If you only have 24 hours left today, how do you want to spend it?
  • If you have 5 projects to complete today, how do you manage your time?
  • Would you rather watch a movie on Netflix or accomplish today’s task and move closer to your vision?

“Do something instead of killing time because time is killing you.” – Paulo Coelho

It’s about making smart choices. I know It’s hard. It’s tough. It requires an impeccable amount of discipline. But with constant practice, these mental tricks will help you become a more productive person, move you closer to realizing your vision.

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Life

7 Simple Tips to Help You Eliminate Negative Thoughts

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Have you been feeling low lately? Are you missing being the person you once used to be? In this fast-paced life of ours, it is not surprising to feel depressed. 15 out of 100 adults in the USA fall prey to depression every year.

As we get more and more detached from reality and bury ourselves into the virtual world of our smartphones, anxiety and stress seep into our brain and make us lose sight of the happy versions of ourselves. It is optimism alone that keeps us going by giving us the will to fight the battle within us. The power to usher in positivity and shoo off the negative thoughts rests with you.

Here’s what you can do to remove the dark cloud of pessimism that hovers over you:

1. Train your mind to think positive

Affirmations can help boost your self-esteem. If you continue to affirm your brain, it will learn to believe in you and will work positively. Positive affirmations are scientifically proven and can make miracles happen. Tell yourself that you are getting better and your subconscious will adapt to it and function accordingly.

Train your brain to give a neutral spin to all your negative thoughts. Since, building a positive mindset isn’t an easy task to do, the neutral thoughts will help you keep the negativity at bay and aid you in paving your path towards positivity.

2. Cultivate self-love

If you have been waiting for a pair of arms to reach out and rescue you, you might just have to wait longer. Instead, be your own messiah. In order to do so, you have to perfect the art of self-love. Nurture your narcissism a bit and learn to appreciate yourself more often.

Learn to turn down offers politely and indulge in some quality Me-time. Bake your favorite cake or shop for the dress that you had been eyeing for quite some time now. Go get a spa treatment and appreciate the daily efforts that you make.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” – Brené Brown

3. Keep yourself busy

The key to ward off negativity is to keep your brain busy, so that it does not get the time to breed ill thoughts. Considering how the descent towards the abysmal pit of depression starts at our workstation, I would suggest that you find engagements outside your workplace that helps your mind to relax.

You can try reading lighthearted literature. A personal favorite, the Chicken Soup for the Soul, can actually nurture your brain with the much-needed optimism to fight away the negative blues. Listen to happy, soulful music or take a stroll in the fresh air.

4. Surround yourself with positivity

People around us have the power to affect us – in both positive and negative ways. Their actions affect us, and we take their words to heart. Quite often, negative thoughts cloud our minds because of a seed that was sown by someone we hold close to our hearts. The people we walk and talk with are capable of influencing our emotions. So, you must choose your company wisely.

Surround yourself with people who care for you and love you. Love is the only magic potion for us muggles, and with the right kind of love and support, we can eliminate the negative thoughts that wreak havoc in our brains. Also, learn to block unwanted people from your lives.

5. Be a social butterfly

In this age of social media, we have more virtual friends than actual friends. So, come out of the virtual world and spend some time with your family and friends. Your family members fall among the ones who love you just as you are. At the end of the day, they are the ones who matter.

Moreover, when you go out of your way to help someone, you feel more positive. Rescuing someone from the same pit of darkness as you are in can help you ward off your own demons. So, don’t shy away from community work.

“Society is like a large piece of frozen water; and skating well is the great art of social life.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

6. Lead a healthy life

Exercise and meditation can be of immense help when it comes to overcoming stress and negative thoughts. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which play an important role in regulating your mood. Mediation helps you to increase your brain power and aligns your thought processes towards optimism.

Other than exercising, you must get enough sleep. Proper sleep helps our bodies to recover from the daily toil and provides it with the time to repair. Also, try to eat healthy food. Avoid gluten, caffeine, and sugar as they make you bitter and depressed. Keep your body healthy, which in turn will tell your brain to be more positive.

7. Make your ambiance teem with positivity

Other than exercising and eating healthy, you can take little steps like drawing yourself a bath or sleeping with a heavier comforter on to make yourself feel more calm and composed. When you feel rejuvenated physically, your mind will automatically feel relaxed.

Get your upholstery in happier shades of light pastels and make sure that your room is adequately lit up. However small these changes might be, they will welcome positivity into your life.

In the end, I would like to emphasize the importance of reducing stress. Train your brain to focus on the brighter side of things, so that depression and negativity cannot take a toll on your mental health. Trust me when I say that you are stronger than you think!

Which one of these 7 tips to eliminate negative thoughts do you need to work on most? Let us know how you’re going to work on it below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Life

4 Steps to Accepting and Acting on Negative Feedback

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All feedback is good, but not all feedback is positive. We’re often subject to negative feedback at work for different scenarios such as missing a performance target set by the organization or developing a high-end product idea that flopped after testing.

Regardless of the reason, accepting negative feedback can be difficult—especially if there is pressure across the board to perform in the face of perpetual downsizing, outsourcing, or consolidation.

It can be even harder if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to take the feedback as a personal affront. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Performance feedback isn’t meant to insult or demean, it’s an attempt to rehabilitate.

Think about it, why would your supervisor take the time to talk it out if they’d already given up on you? Because motivating a team also means holding team members accountable for what’s not working. Receiving feedback is a chance to improve and better support those around us.

So next time you’re called into the boss’ office for feedback, consider these four steps below:

1. Detach – Remember that it’s not personal

The first step is to detach, emotionally that is. Before the conversation starts, remind yourself that this feedback is based on job performance and factors that include objective data. It has nothing to do with how nice you are, how fun you are around the office, or how you live your life away from work.

Your supervisor is trying to do their job as well as you’ve been trying to do yours. They feel that talking to you now is vital for your own well-being as a team member and for the team as a whole. If there’s something you’re doing that needs to be better, they have a responsibility to everyone on the team to tell you—and early enough so you can address it and make the end result better for everyone.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

2. Information – Focus on the data

Your supervisor’s description of your performance should be specific and actionable, so listen first and take careful notes as you pick up on themes. The earlier you try to respond, the more likely you will appear defensive and only out to present your ‘side’.

If you focus on listening and taking down what observations they have, you are more likely to capture what needs improvement. If you’re focused on improving those things, you’ll ultimately grow and be successful in supporting the organization and remaining an asset to those around you.

3. Vision – Create an image of what improvement looks like

The conversation is over. You’ve left the office and are back in your workspace. Review your notes and think about what your supervisor said. It’s time to work on the counter-image—what does improvement look like? This is an exercise in setting and realizing a vision.

Imagine what it looks like for the opposite of the feedback to be true. Don’t think about the steps to get there yet. Focus on ‘winning’ the situation, accounting for each observation your supervisor provided and experiencing success. Develop a narrative that you can see the same way you can watch a television series play out.

Got the image? Now plan your steps, in reverse from the vision you have to the moment you find yourself in now. You must have a vision of where you’ll end up before you can plan the steps to get there, otherwise you’ll set out on a path that leads nowhere—and therefore never ends.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

4. Empathize – Put yourself in the shoes of those around you

This is the most important step. Your supervisor felt it was the best thing for you and the team to tell you where you fell short and afford you a golden opportunity to do better. The truth is the conversation was likely as difficult for them as it was for you. Having to tell a teammate they’re not meeting standards can eat away at a manager, and is challenging because they must now consider what happens if you’re unable to improve.

You both have the organization’s best interest in mind. Feel what it’s like from their side, what it takes to manage the team and support everyone while meeting performance milestones set by senior leadership. Then think about the team around you.

What are they hoping to see from you? What can you do to help them focus elsewhere in the organization where there’s more work to be done? If you can push the envelope of improvement and get your team moving forward, it allows others to worry about the bigger problems ahead that will take everyone’s effort to solve.

Feedback is a tool for improvement, for yourself and those around you. If you’re receptive, you’ll engender trust and remain as an asset to the organization. That goes for managers, too.

Feedback is a two-way street, so if you’re that supervisor, remember to solicit feedback from your employees on a regular basis and rely on these same four steps to improve and look positively to the future.

How do you deal with handling negative feedback? Let us know your tips for others!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Entrepreneurs

5 Tips for Young People Starting a Business or Side-Hustle

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The decision to start a business or any sort of “side-hustle” takes a lot of nerve, especially when you’re only in your 20s. Yet, the ability to power on and keep going – through all the ups and downs of business is a feat to be truly admired. (more…)

With the desire to go "digital nomad" and help businesses with their social media, Chelsea Tobin founded her boutique social media agency, Queen of Swords Media, in 2018. She attended Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Business (Marketing major) and a Bachelor of Communication Studies (PR major). She enjoys speaking and writing about her journey so far in the world of business, self-development and mindfulness as a young millennial woman navigating her way through life, and of course social media. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Pingback: Wake up! Stand up! Embrace Life – Positive thoughts and Facts of Life

  2. Robert Bright Salijeni

    Mar 30, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Stand tall in the midst of adversities. Pursue that dream no matter what!

  3. Akpo 'Diddie Uyeh

    Oct 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Henceforth I would always tell myself the truth and manage rejections rather than let them get to me.

  4. Neerja gandhi

    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I have read his Alchemist….had been following, and was happy to read his Alchemist book 🙂 would want to read his other books as well 🙂

  5. Susy

    Apr 14, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    And two months later Paulo Coelho himself featured this article on his blog and made it viral on his Facebook page… A virtue that goes full circle. Nice.

    • Joel Brown

      Joel Brown

      Apr 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Yes, great work on the article Wan 🙂 You got Paulo’s attention.

  6. apurva prabhawalkar (@prapurva)

    Apr 12, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Hey Wan, thanks for writing this article. Cheers to you bro.

  7. iryne

    Mar 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    be so gud at your strength, replace your weakness that they just cant ignore u! i love that!

  8. festus Ogunrewo

    Feb 18, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    It take a lot of courage and effort to achieve your dream and most of don’t be deterred by the naysayers. Its your dream its your life

  9. @Zingcali

    Feb 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    This makes a perfect sense at some stage in our lives we realize our strengths and weaknesses but deny to deal with our weaknesses until to a stage that becomes registered in your mind that this is who you really are ,and that is followed by the stage where we fight or take flight …that is your last freedom to be or not to be …this is a very relevant story

  10. Naomi@businessstartups

    Feb 14, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Wan,

    Like a lot of successful entrepreneurs he has been through a lot in his life. But that persistent drive to continue throughout the hardship and where others would fail – is what splits the men from the boys.

    I guess it just comes down to how badly to want your dream to become reality?

    Naomi

  11. Jeremy

    Feb 14, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    One thing I noticed about all these awesome people is that they are insanely obsessed with their craft. They are obsessed with living a passionate life. Sometimes I think about whether I’m obsessed enough to succeed. But then again, thinking even about something like that is quite obsessive, no? It’s crazy.

    I’ve just ordered The Alchemist. Great article, Wan, and thanks for linking to my article. 🙂

  12. Claudia Columna (@claudiacolumna)

    Feb 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Entrepeneurial freedom meets freedom of art. Excellent medication, too. Congrats!
    Claudia – fortune-teller – Columna

  13. Nikola Gjakovski

    Feb 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

    “At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie” I have to tweet this 🙂 Shared this text everywhere very nicely written article

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Life

You Can Create Whatever Life You Want So Stop Talking Yourself Out of Your Destiny

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There’s never been a time like right now in human history for entrepreneurship. We have access to virtually limitless knowledge thanks to the advent of the internet, and you can reach anyone on this planet literally at the click of a button.

However, despite the massive amount of opportunity out there, there are still time-tested principles that every wanna-be entrepreneur needs to know in order to truly succeed. Knowing these principles can spell the difference between achieving your dreams and talking yourself out of your destiny.

There is Such a Thing as Preparing Too Much

While it’s certainly necessary to prepare in life, a just as devastating problem many people face in life is being too prepared. Way too often, people believe they’re actually working by spending hours “preparing” when all they’re doing is thinking about working while their actual work goes untouched.

As Gary Vaynerchuk put it bluntly in one of his livestream Q&A videos, “There are just so many ways to build your business, but lack of action is not one of them.” Basically, we are both blessed and cursed by our access to virtually limitless knowledge. We can turn on the faucet of knowledge and grab a quick swig when we need it, but if we leave it on for too long we’ll be drowning in information and be stuck trying to process everything.

If you spend too much time processing, you’ll be more likely to talk yourself out of taking the risks necessary to build a successful business. The solution is simple: stop processing and start taking action.

A phrase I find myself repeating a lot when I get into a bind is, “How did successful people do it before the age of internet?” The answer is they did it by not talking themselves off of the ledge of destiny and instead diving into their project headfirst.

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” – Simone de Beauvoir

Our Feelings Often Lie to Us

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt like throwing in the towel when trying to build my web design business. I remember one day in particular I had a massive headache and was on the verge of quitting everything due to the frustration I felt while dealing with a problematic client.

I looked at my watch and realized I hadn’t eaten yet that morning, so I went and made myself breakfast. After eating a bowl of scrambled eggs and toast, my headache magically vanished along with my thoughts of wanting to quit. I quickly realized what needed to be done and fixed the client’s issue without much thought. The problem wasn’t with the client, the problem was with my stomach.

Can you imagine how ridiculous I would have looked had I fired my client all because I hadn’t eaten that day? This is why our feelings sometimes need to take a backseat when it comes to making wise, calculated decisions for our success.

Intuition is important, obviously, but it’s best utilized with years of reliable experience to back it up. So go with your gut when it’s wise to do so, but always make sure your gut is fed otherwise you may regret what it has to say.

Perfectionism Can Halt All Progress

You will never have everything figured out. Let that sink in. It’s become such a trope in our society that it’s surprising how easily we tend to forget it. There isn’t a single business out there that has all the answers on how to do things right, so why do we feel the need to stop moving forward if things aren’t perfect?

I remember a friend of mine spent years trying to compose music on his synthesizer but never released anything because it “wasn’t good enough” by his standards. I gave him the simple proposition to “put out crappy music”, since no matter what he would always think his music was crappy due to his perfectionist mindset. Within a day, he finally put something out on SoundCloud and his song “#Selfie” became a hit worldwide while his band The ChainSmokers continues to put out hits to this day.

OK, I’m kidding about that last part, but hopefully you get my point. My friend finally had a song out that he could have had out years ago but was too caught up on making everything “perfect” to do anything. He had, in effect, talked himself out of taking action. The same thing applies with business, even if you don’t have everything figured out it’s best to just start something and learn as you go.

“Imperfection is perfection.” – Flume

Whenever that annoying, perfectionist voice in your head tries to get you to quit because you’ll never have the “perfect” product or service to sell, tell it to shut up and put out your product or service anyway. As you gain experience in your field and receive valuable feedback from customers, you’ll be able to continually improve things with your business.

Had you not taken action to begin with, you would never have attained either of these two valuable assets. Never settle for mediocrity, but at the same time recognize your need to be in motion even if the thing that sets you in motion is initially subpar.

How do you push yourself and keep motivated? Let us know your thoughts below!

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3 Mental Tricks to Help You Become a More Productive Person

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Whether you’re a career salesman, a student, or a software engineer, you can’t move an inch in your career if you produce less. Productivity is the key that will unlock your success. Unfortunately, not all of us are productive. And some of it is not our problem. Our Internet-empowered world is bloated with too many social media tools, too many emails and notifications, too many SMS and short messages, too many YouTube videos and Netflix movies. The distractions are at an all time high.

But what if there is a system that will help you keep all these distractions aside until you have accomplished your tasks? There is. And it only takes 3 simple steps. Read Below:

Step 1: See your everyday tasks as a gift

Showing up every day to work is anything but fun. You know your life depends on it, but some days are not your best days. No matter how you plan your projects, you can’t show up to do them. You’re tired and bored and uninterested. What’s the way forward? It’s not about planning. It’s not about waking up early. It’s not about lack of exercise or anything like that.

If you want to conquer your to-do list, day in and day out, you need a simple shift in your mindset. Stop thinking of your tasks as work. See those tasks as gifts…as natural endowments exclusively given to you. This simple shift in your mindset will awaken the sleeping giant within you. You’ll start feeling great about yourself, stop seeing your work as burdensome. The tasks will now make you feel proud.

No longer will your showing up early at your desk irritate you—because now you feel comfortable doing the work that matters. The mindset adjustment is not even difficult. Just figure out the value that your tasks will bring to your marketplace.

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

Step 2: Be conscious of the impeccable values of your tasks

That’s how to shift your thinking. You dissect the unique values that are embedded in your tasks (when you accomplish them, of course). If you’re a web designer, for example, think about the joy and life-changing events that your design job will bring to your client. That landing page that you’ll design, it would mean the world to your client.

It will even change their business and their lives along the way. But that will not happen if you don’t show up every day, roll up your sleeves and work on that landing page. Now if you can visualize that value, it will serve you well. You’ll be motivated. So, how do you become more conscious of the values of your work? Write them down. And read them every day to spark your productivity.

Step 3: Remind yourself of the limited time you have in life

We like to postpone today’s tasks for tomorrow. Often, we’ll schedule a time to work, but when the time is due, we come up with another excuse, “I’ve got to call that client instead; I’ll leave that work till tomorrow.” But we don’t own tomorrow. We don’t have control over it. We don’t even know what it holds. And we have a very limited time.

If you want to improve your productivity, you have got to remind yourself about the scarcity of your time. Here are a few questions to ask yourself (I recommend that you do these exercises every time before you begin to work):

  • If you only have 24 hours left today, how do you want to spend it?
  • If you have 5 projects to complete today, how do you manage your time?
  • Would you rather watch a movie on Netflix or accomplish today’s task and move closer to your vision?

“Do something instead of killing time because time is killing you.” – Paulo Coelho

It’s about making smart choices. I know It’s hard. It’s tough. It requires an impeccable amount of discipline. But with constant practice, these mental tricks will help you become a more productive person, move you closer to realizing your vision.

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7 Simple Tips to Help You Eliminate Negative Thoughts

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Have you been feeling low lately? Are you missing being the person you once used to be? In this fast-paced life of ours, it is not surprising to feel depressed. 15 out of 100 adults in the USA fall prey to depression every year.

As we get more and more detached from reality and bury ourselves into the virtual world of our smartphones, anxiety and stress seep into our brain and make us lose sight of the happy versions of ourselves. It is optimism alone that keeps us going by giving us the will to fight the battle within us. The power to usher in positivity and shoo off the negative thoughts rests with you.

Here’s what you can do to remove the dark cloud of pessimism that hovers over you:

1. Train your mind to think positive

Affirmations can help boost your self-esteem. If you continue to affirm your brain, it will learn to believe in you and will work positively. Positive affirmations are scientifically proven and can make miracles happen. Tell yourself that you are getting better and your subconscious will adapt to it and function accordingly.

Train your brain to give a neutral spin to all your negative thoughts. Since, building a positive mindset isn’t an easy task to do, the neutral thoughts will help you keep the negativity at bay and aid you in paving your path towards positivity.

2. Cultivate self-love

If you have been waiting for a pair of arms to reach out and rescue you, you might just have to wait longer. Instead, be your own messiah. In order to do so, you have to perfect the art of self-love. Nurture your narcissism a bit and learn to appreciate yourself more often.

Learn to turn down offers politely and indulge in some quality Me-time. Bake your favorite cake or shop for the dress that you had been eyeing for quite some time now. Go get a spa treatment and appreciate the daily efforts that you make.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” – Brené Brown

3. Keep yourself busy

The key to ward off negativity is to keep your brain busy, so that it does not get the time to breed ill thoughts. Considering how the descent towards the abysmal pit of depression starts at our workstation, I would suggest that you find engagements outside your workplace that helps your mind to relax.

You can try reading lighthearted literature. A personal favorite, the Chicken Soup for the Soul, can actually nurture your brain with the much-needed optimism to fight away the negative blues. Listen to happy, soulful music or take a stroll in the fresh air.

4. Surround yourself with positivity

People around us have the power to affect us – in both positive and negative ways. Their actions affect us, and we take their words to heart. Quite often, negative thoughts cloud our minds because of a seed that was sown by someone we hold close to our hearts. The people we walk and talk with are capable of influencing our emotions. So, you must choose your company wisely.

Surround yourself with people who care for you and love you. Love is the only magic potion for us muggles, and with the right kind of love and support, we can eliminate the negative thoughts that wreak havoc in our brains. Also, learn to block unwanted people from your lives.

5. Be a social butterfly

In this age of social media, we have more virtual friends than actual friends. So, come out of the virtual world and spend some time with your family and friends. Your family members fall among the ones who love you just as you are. At the end of the day, they are the ones who matter.

Moreover, when you go out of your way to help someone, you feel more positive. Rescuing someone from the same pit of darkness as you are in can help you ward off your own demons. So, don’t shy away from community work.

“Society is like a large piece of frozen water; and skating well is the great art of social life.” – Letitia Elizabeth Landon

6. Lead a healthy life

Exercise and meditation can be of immense help when it comes to overcoming stress and negative thoughts. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin which play an important role in regulating your mood. Mediation helps you to increase your brain power and aligns your thought processes towards optimism.

Other than exercising, you must get enough sleep. Proper sleep helps our bodies to recover from the daily toil and provides it with the time to repair. Also, try to eat healthy food. Avoid gluten, caffeine, and sugar as they make you bitter and depressed. Keep your body healthy, which in turn will tell your brain to be more positive.

7. Make your ambiance teem with positivity

Other than exercising and eating healthy, you can take little steps like drawing yourself a bath or sleeping with a heavier comforter on to make yourself feel more calm and composed. When you feel rejuvenated physically, your mind will automatically feel relaxed.

Get your upholstery in happier shades of light pastels and make sure that your room is adequately lit up. However small these changes might be, they will welcome positivity into your life.

In the end, I would like to emphasize the importance of reducing stress. Train your brain to focus on the brighter side of things, so that depression and negativity cannot take a toll on your mental health. Trust me when I say that you are stronger than you think!

Which one of these 7 tips to eliminate negative thoughts do you need to work on most? Let us know how you’re going to work on it below!

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Life

4 Steps to Accepting and Acting on Negative Feedback

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All feedback is good, but not all feedback is positive. We’re often subject to negative feedback at work for different scenarios such as missing a performance target set by the organization or developing a high-end product idea that flopped after testing.

Regardless of the reason, accepting negative feedback can be difficult—especially if there is pressure across the board to perform in the face of perpetual downsizing, outsourcing, or consolidation.

It can be even harder if you’re just starting out. It’s easy to take the feedback as a personal affront. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Performance feedback isn’t meant to insult or demean, it’s an attempt to rehabilitate.

Think about it, why would your supervisor take the time to talk it out if they’d already given up on you? Because motivating a team also means holding team members accountable for what’s not working. Receiving feedback is a chance to improve and better support those around us.

So next time you’re called into the boss’ office for feedback, consider these four steps below:

1. Detach – Remember that it’s not personal

The first step is to detach, emotionally that is. Before the conversation starts, remind yourself that this feedback is based on job performance and factors that include objective data. It has nothing to do with how nice you are, how fun you are around the office, or how you live your life away from work.

Your supervisor is trying to do their job as well as you’ve been trying to do yours. They feel that talking to you now is vital for your own well-being as a team member and for the team as a whole. If there’s something you’re doing that needs to be better, they have a responsibility to everyone on the team to tell you—and early enough so you can address it and make the end result better for everyone.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

2. Information – Focus on the data

Your supervisor’s description of your performance should be specific and actionable, so listen first and take careful notes as you pick up on themes. The earlier you try to respond, the more likely you will appear defensive and only out to present your ‘side’.

If you focus on listening and taking down what observations they have, you are more likely to capture what needs improvement. If you’re focused on improving those things, you’ll ultimately grow and be successful in supporting the organization and remaining an asset to those around you.

3. Vision – Create an image of what improvement looks like

The conversation is over. You’ve left the office and are back in your workspace. Review your notes and think about what your supervisor said. It’s time to work on the counter-image—what does improvement look like? This is an exercise in setting and realizing a vision.

Imagine what it looks like for the opposite of the feedback to be true. Don’t think about the steps to get there yet. Focus on ‘winning’ the situation, accounting for each observation your supervisor provided and experiencing success. Develop a narrative that you can see the same way you can watch a television series play out.

Got the image? Now plan your steps, in reverse from the vision you have to the moment you find yourself in now. You must have a vision of where you’ll end up before you can plan the steps to get there, otherwise you’ll set out on a path that leads nowhere—and therefore never ends.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein

4. Empathize – Put yourself in the shoes of those around you

This is the most important step. Your supervisor felt it was the best thing for you and the team to tell you where you fell short and afford you a golden opportunity to do better. The truth is the conversation was likely as difficult for them as it was for you. Having to tell a teammate they’re not meeting standards can eat away at a manager, and is challenging because they must now consider what happens if you’re unable to improve.

You both have the organization’s best interest in mind. Feel what it’s like from their side, what it takes to manage the team and support everyone while meeting performance milestones set by senior leadership. Then think about the team around you.

What are they hoping to see from you? What can you do to help them focus elsewhere in the organization where there’s more work to be done? If you can push the envelope of improvement and get your team moving forward, it allows others to worry about the bigger problems ahead that will take everyone’s effort to solve.

Feedback is a tool for improvement, for yourself and those around you. If you’re receptive, you’ll engender trust and remain as an asset to the organization. That goes for managers, too.

Feedback is a two-way street, so if you’re that supervisor, remember to solicit feedback from your employees on a regular basis and rely on these same four steps to improve and look positively to the future.

How do you deal with handling negative feedback? Let us know your tips for others!

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