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13 Lessons You Can Learn From An Olympic Champion – Kieren Perkins

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So before interviewing Olympic champion, Kieren Perkins, I was not sure what to expect. Would he be washed up? Would he be old and burnt out? The answer is neither. Next to Tony Robbins I believe he is one of the most inspiring, motivational geniuses of our time.

He is not someone you want to underestimate. He has success oozing from every part of his being, and he knows every form of motivation and personal development skill you could imagine. If you want to know what it takes to be successful, and you have been looking for the answer, then the only thing you need to do is listen to Kieren’s advice!

Kieren Perkins - From Swimming To Corporate - Addicted2Success Tim Denning InterviewThis interview will stay with me for a very long time. There were so many a-ha moments, and so many quotes (thank god I recorded the audio). I almost had to make the entire article just quotes because there was no filler to anything he said. Everything he learnt by being an Olympian he still uses today, except he does it in the corporate world, not the pool.

For Kieren, he was attracted to swimming and not team sports like Football and Soccer, because his whole life was about beating himself and improving every day, it was not about looking good or trying to be what everyone else wanted him to be.

Below are the thirteen lessons you can learn from Kieren’s life and Olympic success.

 

1. You know you will win before you even start

If you stand up on the blocks in an Olympic games, and you think you can’t win, you won’t. If you do win, it’s because you knew you would, you prepared, trained, practised, stressed and pushed yourself to your absolute breaking point.

You repeated this process again and again until you got to that moment in your preparation, which aligned with your strategy, that meant that when you stood on the blocks you were ready to go.

 

2. Develop the mental toughness ingredients

Kieren never worried too much about his competitors. One of the things he got taught when he was very young was that if someone tries to psych you out before a race, that’s great because there worried about you, you need to ignore them and worry about your race.

This thinking was part of the manifestation of the mental toughness that evolved in him. You need all the ingredients such as:

– Being able to stay calm and rational

– Understand what matters and what doesn’t

– Have clarity around what you’re trying to achieve

– Being willing to deal with the issue, not the circumstance so you don’t get caught up in the emotion of a problem

Kieren Perkins Interview On Addicted2Success - Tim Denning
All of these ingredients go into providing a resilience and a clarity of a mindset that enables you not to get dragged down the path of emotions that are destructive and undermine your ability to get the job done.

These destructive emotions are usually not particularly real or helpful; they’re just perceptions that are your reality for that moment in time. If you don’t let that reality dominate you, and you can control it, your chances of being successful are much higher and the resilience you have in moments of stress will be greater.

 

3. No matter how you’re feeling just get started

No one wakes up every day of their life jumping out of their skin saying, “my life is fabulous, I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get to the pool and swim.” No sane human being is like that. We all have days where we think we’re tired, it’s cold, we can’t be bothered, or we want to just stay in bed.

Inevitably Kieren says, you get to the pool, and you start the activity of training. Within five minutes of starting you are engrossed, engaged, you’re there doing it, and all of that negativity or self-talk that was undermining your reasons for starting the process, disappears, and you get it done.

Next time you feel like you can’t do something, imagine what Kieren went through swimming in a pool every morning, and then just get started on whatever it is that you need to complete. You will be surprised how quickly you can push through any type of negative feeling.

 

4. Find something more engaging in what you’re doing than just the end

When Kieren used to train, he would see people that were only motivated by competition and winning at all costs. He would think to himself, “how do you drag yourself out of bed every day when your competition is four years away? You have got a lot of training to do between now and that competition. How do you wake up every day absolutely engaged in a sustainable performance mindset when the end goal is so distant?”

To Kieren, you want to have something that’s tangible, every single day that you can grasp, feel, touch, and taste that’s pushing you and motivating you to try and continue to improve, to be better, and get you to wherever you’re going.

Kieren has a view that if you want to be sustainable in your performance, if you want to have long-term out-performance and success in your career, you have to find something in what you’re doing that’s far more engaging and motivating than just the end.

If it’s only about the end, if it’s only about the competition, if it’s only about the opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal, the next time you have to start that process again and you stand on the line of day one, of the next four years of work, to get to the opportunity to try and win the next gold medal, Kieren says “Mount Everest looks pretty bloody big from there and pretty much unattainable.”

Kieren has seen it many times before (athletes who have treated the Olympics like a mountain) and when they have to climb the mountain for the second time or fourth time, they just can’t comprehend pushing themselves through the struggle ever again.

If you have a bit more of a sustainable mindset about those smaller chunks, (eat an elephant one bite at a time kind of an attitude) your chances of being sustainably successful are a lot higher.

 

5. Dealing with extreme pressure is a skill, unlike fitness

Throughout the interview, I wanted to know how Kieren’s mentors had influenced his success. The lesson Kieren told me that had a profound effect on him was from his swimming coach Mr Carew.

Mr Carew was very technically focused and believed that what made a great athlete was firstly the human being, the values, beliefs and attitudes, but then secondly, their technical ability. His view was that anyone could be fit, and that fitness was not mysterious or difficult.

His coach believed that to be technically perfect, under immense pressure, in an extremely hostile environment, and to challenge yourself and push yourself to do something extraordinary, was where the real skill lied.

This lesson doesn’t just apply to athletes; it also applies to life in general. Most skills and professions can be learned, but the one thing that will determine your success is the way you think and your psychology. Luckily all of this can be learned, and your brain has the ability to evolve.

“Every human being you interact with has got something to teach you and that they know something that you don’t know. The challenge about whether or not you learn anything from them is your capacity to actually listen and ask the right questions”

 

6. Let someone else show you what’s possible

A lesson we can all learn from Kieren is that often we have no idea what is possible until we see someone else achieve what we think is impossible. These experiences are invaluable and provide us with a blueprint for success.

The moment for Kieren, which showed him what was possible, was seeing Glen Houseman swimming in the 1989 Commonwealth Games Heats, in the 1500m freestyle. As Kieren was talking to his coach in the stands after his own event, he began to hear this amazing noise building from the swim centre which was uncommon for a 1500m swimming race at the time.

800m into the race, the commentator worked out that Glen was under world record pace. Back then, half a dozen records would be broken globally a year, on average. To see a world record at this time was just incredible, and it barely ever happened.

The 1500m race was one that nobody believed a world record could be broken because it was set by an extraordinary Russian athlete that was five generations ahead of his time in terms of what he achieved in the pool.

As Glen touched the wall and broke the world record, it shattered all the beliefs of what Kieran thought was possible, and broke down all the things that he took for granted about what could and couldn’t be done.

It really opened his eyes to the fact that if you think differently, give yourself a chance and dream high, who knows what you might be able to deliver.

 

7. Your state of mind shouldn’t change no matter how big the event is

For Kieren, one of the things he learned in his sporting career was that when that moment of truth comes, and you’ve got to stand on the blocks and deliver your performance, your capacity at that moment in time is physically set.

At that moment, you’re not getting fitter, stronger or more technically proficient. The struggle for anybody in that moment, when the questions being asked, “how good are you?” is to have the capacity to be realistic about the challenge that’s in front of you and control the emotions that inevitably come with it.

When you’re ten years old, the consequence of failure is nothing. Being able to balance out the reality of the situation versus the emotion of the perceptions that can be created, versus your experience, is really where the skill comes in.

The nerves and the emotion that you feel standing on the blocks, racing in your first school carnival, shouldn’t be any different to the state of mind you’re in when you’re standing on the blocks defending your third Olympic title.

If there is a big variance in your state, then the chances are that variance is going to lead to mistakes and bad performance.

 

8. In moments of unease, get some perspective and do your best

One of the hardest parts of being a champion is dealing with the huge expectations that are placed on you. These expectations can sometimes create unease and a feeling of sickness. The irony is it’s not about pushing through the sickness it’s about stepping back and getting some perspective.

In the lead up to the swim at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (the final), Kieren started to panic and get incredibly nervous. There was a moment in time where he recognised that the physical state he was in was going to lead to a guaranteed bad performance.

Kieren Perkins - Olympic Gold Medalist - Addicted2Succes Tim Denning InterviewHe was smart enough in that moment, to recognise the reason he was in that physical state was because of his emotions, but he recognised that if he stayed in that physical state he wouldn’t be able to perform well.

It shocked him into stepping back and saying to himself well “you never used to get this nervous as a ten year old, what did you used to do, what was the process, what were the skills you utilised to put yourself in a position as a ten-year-old where you were far more in control and relaxed than you are right now?”

Just breaking it down into chunks and thinking about the things he had control over, and controlling them in the way he had learned over all those years, brought him back to a space where he was really able to get some perspective and unburden himself from the consequence of failure, and of not winning an Olympic gold medal.

It enabled him to bring it back to the thing that had always been the most important view in his life which was saying to himself “if I do my best, it doesn’t matter whether I win, lose or draw as long as I know I have done my best, and I couldn’t do any better, I will be proud and satisfied with my performance.”

 

9. Allow the adrenalin to dissipate during stressful moments

For Kieren, the main skill that he learned about controlling his emotional state during stressful moments was being able to distract himself. When he felt it getting out of control, he would distract himself and allow the physiological impacts to dissipate, which is essentially the adrenalin.

When you get stressed, adrenalin is produced by your body. Your body needs to first stop producing more adrenalin, and then secondly process the adrenalin that’s in your system, and once that’s been processed, you will be calm and rational again.

What helped Kieren was to distract himself and be able to step away from the pressure of the moment to allow himself to calm down, to allow himself to process that adrenalin, to then build some rational perspective – mentally that was the key. While training for the Olympics, Kieren would experience this phenomenon throughout the entire process.

It might happen while eating, doing stretches or in the middle of a warm up. What helped Kieren greatly was to work hard to focus on the here and now, and focusing on what the most important thing that had to be done, at that moment in time.

 

10. You’re always in control; there are no lucky charms

One concept Kieren says to drop is the idea of lucky charms. Some athletes have lucky charms like wearing red undies on the day of competition, and they believe that if they don’t, they will lose. When an athlete says “I ate a certain meal on the day of an event, so I knew I was going to win,” Kieren says that’s feeble-mindedness.

If you really think that your success is predicated on what you’re wearing, or what you’re eating, or other external circumstances, then you aren’t in control of what you’re trying to achieve, and that’s madness.

The real skill in being able to deliver your potential is always being in control so that when things go wrong, when you wake up in the morning arrive at the pool, and realise that you didn’t bring your favourite red undies your response isn’t hysteria, or “oh my god I am not going to win.”

Your response needs to be “who cares, it’s not going to make any difference, I am going to do what I need to do today.”  You don’t actually control, the whole process; there will always be stuff that goes wrong.

Kieren Perkins Australian Hero & Olympic Champion - Addicted2Success Tim Denning
 

11. The ultimate feeling of success is pride – replicate these moments

During my time with Kieren, I wanted to know what it was like to achieve the impossible Olympic gold medal dream, what feeling came from it, and what lesson I could learn – I got a great lesson. The lesson he gave me was an analogy that is his blueprint for success and can be used as a winning strategy for anybody’s life.

The analogy Kieren gave is, think back to being in primary school when you got the first assignment that you actually cared about. It was a subject or a topic that you really loved, were curious about, interested you and intrigued you.

When you got that assignment, you were excited. The thought or possibility of what you could achieve was real, and it was tangible because it mattered to you. Then you went through this process of working hard to get the result.

You focused, concentrated, and put in effort to deliver that assignment better than any assignment you’ve done before because you cared about it, and you engaged with it. When you got to the end of that process, and you had finished your assignment – after you had put in more work than you had ever put into anything you had done before in your life – there is a moment of huge anticipation when you hand it to the teacher.

You think to yourself “is it good enough, is it the best I could have done?”  You know you couldn’t have worked any harder, and you wait with bated breath for the result to come through. Inevitably, the mark you get is fabulous. It’s a better mark than you could have anticipated.

In that moment, when you receive that mark, you get a swelling in your chest where you feel your heart pushing on your rib cage, and there is a buzz that goes through your core at that moment in time.

That sense of pride, in knowing that you set yourself a task, you were engaged, motivated and committed to achieving it, you were focused on delivering the result, you worked as hard as you possibly could to get it done, and you have received the rewards for your effort.

That moment of pride is exactly what it’s like winning an Olympic gold medal. If you can find an experience like this in your own life, and break down the components to the things you did that enabled you to deliver that result, you can apply this strategy to anything you want.

 

12. Understand how to come down from a major high

The only time Kieren had to come down was the day he retired. He describes it as horrific and awful, and it took him a decade to get it through it.  It wasn’t about the buzz of victory or the thrill of competing in the Olympics; it was about the lifestyle, a sense of value, belonging and being, that had disappeared overnight.

Kieren knew he would never have access to that again because the reality of sport at the highest level is that you are surrounded every day by people who have the same level of commitment, motivation, positivity, self-focus, determination, and attitude around what it means to be successful, and an understanding of excellence and what it looks like.

“You have to be able to pick and choose the bits you allow to infect you and the stuff you want to engage with. Try and hold onto those things that make you happy and engage you, and not let other people’s perceptions, values and beliefs drag you down”

Unfortunately, these things just don’t exist in a broad environment. You can’t expect to work in a large organisation with thousands of people, and have everybody turn up knowing with complete clarity, focus and an unwavering spirit to deliver success at their absolute edge of potential and excellence every single day. It’s unnatural, it’s not normal, and it isn’t replicable.

 

13. Step back from the emotion of not achieving a goal

During Kieren’s career, he admits that there was no doubt he didn’t achieve all of his goals. There were times when the performance was not at all what he wanted to achieve. He says the skill in those moments is to be able to step back from the emotion of it and say, “what worked, what didn’t and what am I going to do better next time?”

If you have got that sense of hope and possibility that it can be done, you can reassert yourself, you can focus, you can adjust, adapt and act, and keep pushing yourself forward to deliver the result.

 

***Final Thought***

At the end of the interview with Kieren, I only had one last question for him, which was, “what is the one quote that you have lived your entire life by?” Kieren replied by reciting a poem his father gave him when he was young that really resonated with him.

To Kieren, it was one of the things that enabled him to think beyond what everybody else told him was possible; it enabled him to step outside of the norm. IF YOU EVER WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE ONE INFLUENCE WAS THAT MADE KIEREN A WORLDWIDE HERO, THAT WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN, THEN HERE IT IS!

The Man Who Thinks He Can – Walter D Wintle

If the advice Kieren gave was beneficial to you, then I encourage you support his passion for helping others, by visiting the Starlight Foundation’s website and getting involved anyway you can.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ackii

    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Awsome article Tim, like your previous ones…..

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 26, 2015 at 4:58 am

      Wow thanks Ackii glad you liked it!

  2. Steven

    Sep 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Point 1 reminds me of a Sun Tzu quote: ““Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” Very nice article. Thank you.

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I thought of the same thing Steven when I was writing that point. Good pickup.

  3. Dotchamou Zakari

    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. The secret behind any success is always the same: always do the best you can do no matter what. Yes, Kieren Perking is truly an exemple to follow for anybody who really wants more for himself .

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Thanks Dotchamou for leaving your feedback.

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Success Advice

The Three P’s You Need to Master to Become a Better Leader

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Leadership
Image Credit: Unsplash

I have been a fan and a student of Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Jack Welsh for many years. It is very valuable to find similar traits in these great leaders and aggregate them, basically come up with some common denominators of their leadership success. By doing so, we can then begin to reflect their great skills into our own leadership profile. My goal here is to give you some very quick and applicable tools to modify your behavior for greater leadership skills.

Here are the 3 P’s for you to develop greater leadership skills based upon my findings:

1. Passion

If there is one thing that I found in most leaders, it is passion. They love what they do, they love talking about what they do and they love getting others involved in what they do. Passion has different ways of emoting. Some people move very quickly on stage with arms flaying, voice pitching from a diminuendo to a crescendo with 100 giant television screens behind them.

Remember Steve Jobs when the iPhone was being introduced? I’ve seen other people standing behind the podium speaking from written notes but the emotional intensity in the room grew thick and reaching the level of static discharge. I’ve seen everything in between. There is an old saying that we have a leadership theory and that is, “if you think you’re leading and you turn around and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk!” It is passion that prevents that from happening.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

You may be asking yourself how you can develop more passion in your life and in your leadership repertoire. The answer to that is fairly simple but the application can be somewhat deceptive in its apparent simplicity. If you wait to feel passionate before you act passionate, you’re allowing outside circumstance to control your emotions. However, if you begin to act passionate even if, by chance you don’t feel it, you will begin to. Thus, it is better for us to act our way into a new set of feelings than it is for us to feel our way into a new set of actions.

2. Planning

All leaders are planners; it’s a requirement of the job. By virtue of leading it means that you must be planning for the future. Planning can in fact be learned and is not that difficult of a process. If you want to become a better planner study chess. Notice I did not say play chess, although that will be the natural outcome of your studying. Study chess and notice how the minds of the great masters develop a strategy and implant tactics around that strategy. Chess is an amazing process to develop planning skills.

Another thing you can do is think about how you planned your last vacation, or even a weekend getaway. Think about the steps you took, the research you did based on those steps and their outcomes. Both the study of chess and personal planning will assist you in developing planning for your leadership skills.

3. Persistence

Leaders never give up! If there is something they want, they find a way around, over, or through the obstacle. Too many people never develop their full leadership birthright because of the mental script running through their minds saying, “It’s too tough for me. I Should just go home and get a good nights sleep.” Leaders know that the only possibility of failure is in giving up. If you fall down 10 times but get up on the 11th, you have not failed 10 times – you have succeeded. Period!

You may be wondering how to develop that no nonsense, I will not be denied attitude of persistence. The real question is not how do I develop persistence, but how do I develop the courage to go after what I want? Persistence is a by-product of courage! When there is something that should be yours, developing the impassioned desire to obtain that through raw courage will develop sheer persistence.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Maybe I should’ve included a 4th P with this article. That of POWER! The best thing I can say about power is that if you want a more powerful leadership dynamic, develop a repertoire that contains passion, planning and persistence. The three of them combined will be a powerful leadership punch that should lead you to getting what you want and assisting others in believing that they should follow you because there is great value in you leading them.

How do you define a leader? Comment below!

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Success Advice

The Secret Power of Storytelling That You Need to Know

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storytelling
Image Credit: Fortune

What does the power of storytelling mean to you? Do you visualize your mom or dad telling you a bedtime story, or do you think about an enjoyable summer read? Every single conversation that we have with an individual or group is us sharing a story about the past, present and future. If we have a product or service that we offer to others, we tell a story about it when we do a pitch or a presentation.

The reason why we tell stories is because we know the power of stories. We know how being able to tell a captivating story can affect and change the lives of the people for better or worse. Hitler used stories about the Jews in the 1930’s which caused Germany to rally the youth and the German people to go to war, and in England, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, used the power of stories to rally the British in a movement of never surrendering to the Germans.

Not everyone knows how to tell stories

Our abilities to tell captivating stories is one of the greatest assets we possess. However the problem is that not everyone has the skills to be a good storyteller, and the ability to be a good storyteller is critical in our success whether it’s in our personal or business life.

The power of storytelling goes way beyond just our everyday conversations, it goes far beyond simply giving facts and data. Stories emotionalize information. They bring life and depth to otherwise bland material, and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Tony Robbins, the world famous motivational speaker and strategist interviewed Peter Guber, the Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment whose films has earned more than $3 billion and over 50 Academy Awards nomination. Guber stated “emotion combined with information becomes memorable and actionable.  Where were you on 9/11? Chances are that you can remember exactly where you were when you learned about the tragic events that transpired that day. But if you had to think where you were the day before that – that memory is probably hazier. Because information attached to pain or pleasure creates an emotional connection that resonates within you.”

He goes on to also say “Keeping in mind that a story is not a monologue, but a dialogue, helps you to give your audience proprietorship. They become emotional owners of the story you are telling. Then they become advtes –oca of your product, your service, your business, your brand.”

The power of storytelling can transform lives when useful and relevant information is combined with emotions. The next time you speak to another person regardless of the situation, remember you are being a storyteller, because you are in the process of transferring information to that person or group.

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” –Tahir Shah

Our most powerful tool

Our ability to communicate effectively is the most powerful tool we have, and when we strategically use our communication skills to transfer bland information into masterful stories we also have the power to transform lives.

If done correctly, our stories will have a massive effect on our listening audience. It will inspire and influence them. It will move them to act. So never underestimate the power of storytelling. Make it relevant–connect emotionally, create a dialogue, and you will see why the power of storytelling is the most powerful tool you have.

Don’t just take my word on for it, Look at some of the greatest leaders throughout history

You will see that they all had the ability to tell stories and bring people together through their words. The greatest motivational speakers in the world use the power of storytelling to emotionalize their audience, because there is no quicker or more effective way to get your audience engaged.

Les Brown who has been one of my mentors and one of the greatest motivational speakers that has ever lived, uses stories masterfully. He shares stories about his upbringing in Miami, and how he and his twin brother were adopted at birth and he is somehow able to transition those stories into whatever relevant topic needs to be heard by his audience, but he first draws them in with his stories.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown

Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Tony Robbins, the list is endless, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to tell stories masterfully. Some of the greatest philosophers have told us that there is a blueprint for success, and obviously storytelling is part of that blue print.

There is no greater power that we possess than the ability to transform regular words into captivating stories that can take your audience on whatever journey you want to take them on.

Being a great storyteller is like being a puppet master, because when you can draw people in to your stories you will have your audience on a string taking them on any emotional roller coaster. The secret power of storytelling is to be treated with respect, because with great power comes great responsibility, and this power should only be used for good.

Do you enjoy storytelling? If so, do you have any techniques or advice to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

5 Signs You’re on the Right Path to Success

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success
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Every successful person had his own moment(s) of doubt. The road to success is full of obstacles and sweet hardships that will frequently make you stop and ask, ‘Am I on the right track?’ Even legends and billionaires had moments like that. Just imagine how 62 year old Colonel Sanders felt when he was rejected time and time again trying to franchise his famous chicken recipe.

It felt harsh and I bet he stopped, at least for a moment, to question his entire existence, not just the success of his business idea. But I also bet that there were probably some signs that told Sanders —and any other successful person— ‘You`re going to make it, just hang in there.”

Here are the 5 signs that will tell you whether you`re going to be successful or not:

1. You’re good at the consistency game

I don`t like the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, and I believe that a restless hare would smash them both, but there`s a reason why that slow tortoise crossed the finish line; It`s called consistency.

Success eventually favors the most consistent, and if you`re not disciplined with the things that make you successful, then your chances to succeed are slimmer than Marlon Brando`s chances of winning the lottery (Marlon Brando is dead, and one of every 175 million tickets wins the lotto).  

Systems and routines (i.e., consistency), predict success, so take a look at your habits. Are they positive? Do you practice them regularly? If the answer to both questions is “Yes,” then sooner or later you`re going to be successful.

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis

2. You stopped having a toxic relationship with money

Success is no longer a zero-sum game to you; opportunities are everywhere, and there`s room for everybody to make money, including you. When you check the news, the success of other people no longer makes you envious. A celebrity buying a new mansion or a $150 million contract for a LeBron or Federer-like athlete, doesn`t bother you but instead makes you believe there`s plenty of money out there for ambitious, hard-working people like you. When you switch from worrying about not having enough money to having faith that you will make the money you want, then you know you`re on the way to success.

3. You know the right people

Another sign is having a big social network. I read it somewhere that business owners prefer to hire those they know over those who are skilled. Sounds skewed, I know, but it helps a lot if you combine your technical skills with excellent people skills. To want success is more like wishing to enter a nightclub on a busy Friday night. If you know the bouncers or have enough skills to befriend them, you won`t stay long in the line. The same thing happens in business, the more people you know, the easier it will be to find the right job, get proper funding and save time waiting in the line.

Social skills will help you more than you can ever imagine. There`s a guy I used to work with, he`s not that good looking, but he`s the slickest I`ve ever seen. When that guy hit rock bottom, he dropped out of school, bought a one-way ticket to Dubai, became a real estate agent and made his first million before reaching 30. I`ve also read about Michael Bloomberg who used to come to work at six in the morning to distribute coffee and tea to CEOs who come to work early when others are sleeping. For $.99 each, Bloomberg befriended at least a dozen bigwigs who later helped him launch a billion dollar business after he quit Wall Street.

4. You know what makes you tick

The successful people are better than most people at understanding themselves and overcoming —to a greater extent—the five foundations of poverty: sleep, fear, anger, laziness, and procrastination. They have worked on themselves so deeply and have made so many mistakes that they now know their soft spots as well as what motivates them.

Do you know what makes you sad, angry or excited? Do you know when you`re more likely to cheat on a diet or skip a workout? What are your strengths? Can you motivate yourself at will? And how? Having answers to most or, preferably, all of these questions will help you tap into your full potential and sets you on the path to massive success.

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak

5. You have faith

Faith in the yet to be seen, is a huge sign of success. When you think about the future, there should be a positive energy around you that says “I`m gonna make it.” You may not know exactly when you`re going to succeed, but you`re sure it’s a matter of time. This faith, or certainty, comes from having a solid plan – It`s when you know your goal, how you`ll achieve it, and how you`re going to react if things go south and deciding to believe in the unknown

If you think about it, hard work doesn`t always come as the first cause of success. It`s the faith that you`ll achieve the goal that makes you work hard, and thus, achieve the goal. I was reading a book on Michael Jordan by Roland Lazenby —who also wrote Kobe Bryant`s biography— and it stopped me that part of Jordan`s extraordinary success goes to expectations.

He expected every single ball he shot to go in. Jordan used that mindset over and over and didn`t stop when one of his shots was missed. He merely understood that even though nobody wins all the time, believing you`ll win every single time makes you win most of the time, which is enough to get a career like his. The most prominent success sign is the certainty. To believe, and act, as if you`re going to succeed, and then let that belief lead manifest into actions.

What are some things you do to say on track? Comment below!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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7 Powerful and Inspiring Words of Encouragement to Help Lift You Up

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When you’re going through tough times, all you need is sympathy. You just need someone to tell you how strong you are and how you can cope with the situation. Essentially, you’re waiting for a soothing voice that can calm your inner storm and genuinely help with your troubles. (more…)

I am Eliana Jags, Co-Founder & Author at beinginsightful.com. I'm passionate about writing motivational and inspirational articles. Before I became a full-time blogger, I was a Software Engineer but left the job to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer and thus I've committed myself completely to my passion of writing. You can connect with me on my Facebook page here.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Ackii

    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Awsome article Tim, like your previous ones…..

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 26, 2015 at 4:58 am

      Wow thanks Ackii glad you liked it!

  2. Steven

    Sep 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Point 1 reminds me of a Sun Tzu quote: ““Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” Very nice article. Thank you.

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      I thought of the same thing Steven when I was writing that point. Good pickup.

  3. Dotchamou Zakari

    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for this post. The secret behind any success is always the same: always do the best you can do no matter what. Yes, Kieren Perking is truly an exemple to follow for anybody who really wants more for himself .

    • Tim Denning

      Sep 3, 2015 at 5:21 am

      Thanks Dotchamou for leaving your feedback.

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Success Advice

The Three P’s You Need to Master to Become a Better Leader

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I have been a fan and a student of Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Jack Welsh for many years. It is very valuable to find similar traits in these great leaders and aggregate them, basically come up with some common denominators of their leadership success. By doing so, we can then begin to reflect their great skills into our own leadership profile. My goal here is to give you some very quick and applicable tools to modify your behavior for greater leadership skills.

Here are the 3 P’s for you to develop greater leadership skills based upon my findings:

1. Passion

If there is one thing that I found in most leaders, it is passion. They love what they do, they love talking about what they do and they love getting others involved in what they do. Passion has different ways of emoting. Some people move very quickly on stage with arms flaying, voice pitching from a diminuendo to a crescendo with 100 giant television screens behind them.

Remember Steve Jobs when the iPhone was being introduced? I’ve seen other people standing behind the podium speaking from written notes but the emotional intensity in the room grew thick and reaching the level of static discharge. I’ve seen everything in between. There is an old saying that we have a leadership theory and that is, “if you think you’re leading and you turn around and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk!” It is passion that prevents that from happening.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

You may be asking yourself how you can develop more passion in your life and in your leadership repertoire. The answer to that is fairly simple but the application can be somewhat deceptive in its apparent simplicity. If you wait to feel passionate before you act passionate, you’re allowing outside circumstance to control your emotions. However, if you begin to act passionate even if, by chance you don’t feel it, you will begin to. Thus, it is better for us to act our way into a new set of feelings than it is for us to feel our way into a new set of actions.

2. Planning

All leaders are planners; it’s a requirement of the job. By virtue of leading it means that you must be planning for the future. Planning can in fact be learned and is not that difficult of a process. If you want to become a better planner study chess. Notice I did not say play chess, although that will be the natural outcome of your studying. Study chess and notice how the minds of the great masters develop a strategy and implant tactics around that strategy. Chess is an amazing process to develop planning skills.

Another thing you can do is think about how you planned your last vacation, or even a weekend getaway. Think about the steps you took, the research you did based on those steps and their outcomes. Both the study of chess and personal planning will assist you in developing planning for your leadership skills.

3. Persistence

Leaders never give up! If there is something they want, they find a way around, over, or through the obstacle. Too many people never develop their full leadership birthright because of the mental script running through their minds saying, “It’s too tough for me. I Should just go home and get a good nights sleep.” Leaders know that the only possibility of failure is in giving up. If you fall down 10 times but get up on the 11th, you have not failed 10 times – you have succeeded. Period!

You may be wondering how to develop that no nonsense, I will not be denied attitude of persistence. The real question is not how do I develop persistence, but how do I develop the courage to go after what I want? Persistence is a by-product of courage! When there is something that should be yours, developing the impassioned desire to obtain that through raw courage will develop sheer persistence.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Maybe I should’ve included a 4th P with this article. That of POWER! The best thing I can say about power is that if you want a more powerful leadership dynamic, develop a repertoire that contains passion, planning and persistence. The three of them combined will be a powerful leadership punch that should lead you to getting what you want and assisting others in believing that they should follow you because there is great value in you leading them.

How do you define a leader? Comment below!

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Success Advice

The Secret Power of Storytelling That You Need to Know

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What does the power of storytelling mean to you? Do you visualize your mom or dad telling you a bedtime story, or do you think about an enjoyable summer read? Every single conversation that we have with an individual or group is us sharing a story about the past, present and future. If we have a product or service that we offer to others, we tell a story about it when we do a pitch or a presentation.

The reason why we tell stories is because we know the power of stories. We know how being able to tell a captivating story can affect and change the lives of the people for better or worse. Hitler used stories about the Jews in the 1930’s which caused Germany to rally the youth and the German people to go to war, and in England, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, used the power of stories to rally the British in a movement of never surrendering to the Germans.

Not everyone knows how to tell stories

Our abilities to tell captivating stories is one of the greatest assets we possess. However the problem is that not everyone has the skills to be a good storyteller, and the ability to be a good storyteller is critical in our success whether it’s in our personal or business life.

The power of storytelling goes way beyond just our everyday conversations, it goes far beyond simply giving facts and data. Stories emotionalize information. They bring life and depth to otherwise bland material, and they allow people to connect with the message in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Tony Robbins, the world famous motivational speaker and strategist interviewed Peter Guber, the Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment whose films has earned more than $3 billion and over 50 Academy Awards nomination. Guber stated “emotion combined with information becomes memorable and actionable.  Where were you on 9/11? Chances are that you can remember exactly where you were when you learned about the tragic events that transpired that day. But if you had to think where you were the day before that – that memory is probably hazier. Because information attached to pain or pleasure creates an emotional connection that resonates within you.”

He goes on to also say “Keeping in mind that a story is not a monologue, but a dialogue, helps you to give your audience proprietorship. They become emotional owners of the story you are telling. Then they become advtes –oca of your product, your service, your business, your brand.”

The power of storytelling can transform lives when useful and relevant information is combined with emotions. The next time you speak to another person regardless of the situation, remember you are being a storyteller, because you are in the process of transferring information to that person or group.

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” –Tahir Shah

Our most powerful tool

Our ability to communicate effectively is the most powerful tool we have, and when we strategically use our communication skills to transfer bland information into masterful stories we also have the power to transform lives.

If done correctly, our stories will have a massive effect on our listening audience. It will inspire and influence them. It will move them to act. So never underestimate the power of storytelling. Make it relevant–connect emotionally, create a dialogue, and you will see why the power of storytelling is the most powerful tool you have.

Don’t just take my word on for it, Look at some of the greatest leaders throughout history

You will see that they all had the ability to tell stories and bring people together through their words. The greatest motivational speakers in the world use the power of storytelling to emotionalize their audience, because there is no quicker or more effective way to get your audience engaged.

Les Brown who has been one of my mentors and one of the greatest motivational speakers that has ever lived, uses stories masterfully. He shares stories about his upbringing in Miami, and how he and his twin brother were adopted at birth and he is somehow able to transition those stories into whatever relevant topic needs to be heard by his audience, but he first draws them in with his stories.

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” – Les Brown

Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Tony Robbins, the list is endless, but one thing they all have in common is their ability to tell stories masterfully. Some of the greatest philosophers have told us that there is a blueprint for success, and obviously storytelling is part of that blue print.

There is no greater power that we possess than the ability to transform regular words into captivating stories that can take your audience on whatever journey you want to take them on.

Being a great storyteller is like being a puppet master, because when you can draw people in to your stories you will have your audience on a string taking them on any emotional roller coaster. The secret power of storytelling is to be treated with respect, because with great power comes great responsibility, and this power should only be used for good.

Do you enjoy storytelling? If so, do you have any techniques or advice to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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5 Signs You’re on the Right Path to Success

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Every successful person had his own moment(s) of doubt. The road to success is full of obstacles and sweet hardships that will frequently make you stop and ask, ‘Am I on the right track?’ Even legends and billionaires had moments like that. Just imagine how 62 year old Colonel Sanders felt when he was rejected time and time again trying to franchise his famous chicken recipe.

It felt harsh and I bet he stopped, at least for a moment, to question his entire existence, not just the success of his business idea. But I also bet that there were probably some signs that told Sanders —and any other successful person— ‘You`re going to make it, just hang in there.”

Here are the 5 signs that will tell you whether you`re going to be successful or not:

1. You’re good at the consistency game

I don`t like the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, and I believe that a restless hare would smash them both, but there`s a reason why that slow tortoise crossed the finish line; It`s called consistency.

Success eventually favors the most consistent, and if you`re not disciplined with the things that make you successful, then your chances to succeed are slimmer than Marlon Brando`s chances of winning the lottery (Marlon Brando is dead, and one of every 175 million tickets wins the lotto).  

Systems and routines (i.e., consistency), predict success, so take a look at your habits. Are they positive? Do you practice them regularly? If the answer to both questions is “Yes,” then sooner or later you`re going to be successful.

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis

2. You stopped having a toxic relationship with money

Success is no longer a zero-sum game to you; opportunities are everywhere, and there`s room for everybody to make money, including you. When you check the news, the success of other people no longer makes you envious. A celebrity buying a new mansion or a $150 million contract for a LeBron or Federer-like athlete, doesn`t bother you but instead makes you believe there`s plenty of money out there for ambitious, hard-working people like you. When you switch from worrying about not having enough money to having faith that you will make the money you want, then you know you`re on the way to success.

3. You know the right people

Another sign is having a big social network. I read it somewhere that business owners prefer to hire those they know over those who are skilled. Sounds skewed, I know, but it helps a lot if you combine your technical skills with excellent people skills. To want success is more like wishing to enter a nightclub on a busy Friday night. If you know the bouncers or have enough skills to befriend them, you won`t stay long in the line. The same thing happens in business, the more people you know, the easier it will be to find the right job, get proper funding and save time waiting in the line.

Social skills will help you more than you can ever imagine. There`s a guy I used to work with, he`s not that good looking, but he`s the slickest I`ve ever seen. When that guy hit rock bottom, he dropped out of school, bought a one-way ticket to Dubai, became a real estate agent and made his first million before reaching 30. I`ve also read about Michael Bloomberg who used to come to work at six in the morning to distribute coffee and tea to CEOs who come to work early when others are sleeping. For $.99 each, Bloomberg befriended at least a dozen bigwigs who later helped him launch a billion dollar business after he quit Wall Street.

4. You know what makes you tick

The successful people are better than most people at understanding themselves and overcoming —to a greater extent—the five foundations of poverty: sleep, fear, anger, laziness, and procrastination. They have worked on themselves so deeply and have made so many mistakes that they now know their soft spots as well as what motivates them.

Do you know what makes you sad, angry or excited? Do you know when you`re more likely to cheat on a diet or skip a workout? What are your strengths? Can you motivate yourself at will? And how? Having answers to most or, preferably, all of these questions will help you tap into your full potential and sets you on the path to massive success.

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak

5. You have faith

Faith in the yet to be seen, is a huge sign of success. When you think about the future, there should be a positive energy around you that says “I`m gonna make it.” You may not know exactly when you`re going to succeed, but you`re sure it’s a matter of time. This faith, or certainty, comes from having a solid plan – It`s when you know your goal, how you`ll achieve it, and how you`re going to react if things go south and deciding to believe in the unknown

If you think about it, hard work doesn`t always come as the first cause of success. It`s the faith that you`ll achieve the goal that makes you work hard, and thus, achieve the goal. I was reading a book on Michael Jordan by Roland Lazenby —who also wrote Kobe Bryant`s biography— and it stopped me that part of Jordan`s extraordinary success goes to expectations.

He expected every single ball he shot to go in. Jordan used that mindset over and over and didn`t stop when one of his shots was missed. He merely understood that even though nobody wins all the time, believing you`ll win every single time makes you win most of the time, which is enough to get a career like his. The most prominent success sign is the certainty. To believe, and act, as if you`re going to succeed, and then let that belief lead manifest into actions.

What are some things you do to say on track? Comment below!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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