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13 Tips To Create A Viral Blog – Joshua Becker

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Joshua Becker blogger minimalist

One of my favourite types of people to interview is other bloggers who have had a worldwide impact. A person who fits this category perfectly is Joshua Becker from the blog Becoming Minimalist. His blog gets more than 2.2 million views a month, and he has gone on to be a best-selling author.

Before getting into the topic for our interview, I asked Joshua if he started out thinking of himself as a writer or blogger. His reply to me was “definitely not Tim.” He started his blog because he wanted to journal his family’s transition from middle class America into minimalism.

It’s this very distinction, that I believe after talking with Joshua, made him so successful at blogging. Many people start a blog to become millionaires or attract lots of people, but like Joshua, my reason and his reason for blogging are totally different to the traditional approach.

Both of us believe the following statement about successful blogging; if you’re starting a blog to have lots of social media followers and make heaps of money then quit now – you will fail!

The following thirteen tips are what Joshua told me you need to start a viral blog just like his.

 

1. Add viral elements to every post

It’s no secret that lists posts (like this very article) are a key element to viral blogs. List posts tell the reader what to look for, what to expect and allow them to skim to the points of post that are most relevant to them.

The other element is that your headlines must engage the reader right from the start. Joshua told me that your headline needs to offer a promise of some sort. What can you guarantee by the end of the article to the reader if they invest the time in reading what you have to say? Titles that offer this promise and then deliver on it by the end of the post are the ones that are most shareable.

Having said all of that, Joshua says that often the posts you write at the last minute with the least amount of planning, end up being the most successful – this has been true for me as well.

 

2. Flip the perspective of your writing

If there was another defining moment in my interview with Joshua it was this one; if you want people to start reading your articles then flip the perspective of your writing from being about you, to being about helpful advice that can help your audience.

For the first two years, Joshua blogged in relative obscurity. At the start Joshua was writing what he calls very “me centred content” about what he was doing each day in his niche of minimalism. About two years in Joshua decided to change his blogging and write articles that could help another person.

As an example, a simple article about how he was getting rid of his clothes, turned into how someone else could get rid of some of their clothes – same topic, different perspective.

 

3. Destroy the belief that blogging is dead

When Joshua was starting his WordPress blog everyone was saying that blogging was dead. Even now, seven years on, he says that people are still saying that blogging is dead. According to Joshua, the truth is that blogging is more relevant than ever.

The common misconception is that social media has replaced the need for blogs. In reality, blogging provides a totally different opportunity that social media does not. With social media sites like Facebook, you can’t have longer form conversations with readers.

Most users on these sites are scrolling through on their mobile phone and are not interested in sitting down and reading something. On social media, the behaviour is more about reading the first paragraph of something and then scrolling onto the next post.

With a social media platform it’s not your space whereas with a blog you can set the tone, theme, culture and design of everything from the buttons to the sidebar.  If you look at Joshua’s blog, it’s all about minimalism and the layout of his blog follows the same theme. It would be impossible to try and replicate this format on social media from scratch.

Joshua Becker Social Media Blog Quote
 

4. Define the success of your blog early

Another successful attribute of Joshua’s blog is that he defined what success looked like early on. As I said earlier, you can’t just tell yourself you want to build a following and then start blogging. The outcome of Joshua’s blog was to journal about his family so this kept him motivated.

For your own blog, success might be, achieving a goal that you are working hard for, or documenting your life’s work (this is one of mine). These are real goals and they are very achievable. If you define success as something like money or the number of followers, then you won’t be able to stay motivated.

In Joshua’s case, he blogged for almost 18 months with no one reading. Is your blogging goal strong enough to do the same? If not, then now’s your chance to redefine it.

 

5. Use some beginner tools to attract readers

One of the most common questions that all successful bloggers like Joshua get asked is “how do I build traffic from nothing?” I asked the same question to Joshua and he told me that it’s about the little things.

When you create a blog post on wordpress you get the option to add tags. This simple tool is how people found him in the early days. Once Joshua had a few posts on the site, he then shared new posts on Facebook with family and friends

He then began leaving comments on other people’s blogs that were in the same niche so that people could click his name and find his blog. The next step was to email other bloggers and let them know that he was writing in a similar field to them. After that, he began sharing their work on his blog.

When he wrote an article that was relevant to something on another bloggers site, he would link out to it in his post. Surprise, surprise, other bloggers started returning the favour and doing the same for him.

The final step he took was to have a few guest posts a couple of times a month from other bloggers. That meant that the guest blogger got exposure to Joshua’s audience and vice versa. So that’s how Joshua built traffic early on. It’s pretty simple and something that anyone could do right?

 

6. Blog 2-3 times per week (it’s been tested)

At the start of Joshua’s blogging career he tried to write posts every single day.  By trying to achieve this difficult goal Joshua found that his posts were very short and rushed because he was trying to write something new every single day.

He ended up cutting back and writing three times a week instead. In reality, no one is coming to your website every single day so you shouldn’t feel like you need to publish something new every day. By cutting back to three times a week Joshua found that he had longer, better quality posts.

These posts were being enjoyed more and better still, they were being shared a lot more than before. After a year of blogging three times a week, Joshua cut down to writing two times per week. The level of quality in his posts got even better and they begun getting shared even more.

Joshua did try blogging only once per week but he found that his blog numbers started to decrease and that once per week was not enough. So there you have it, the blogging frequency myth has been demystified for you and you now know how many times per week you need to write to have success.

 

7. Find the time away from distractions

I asked Joshua during our interview what the basics were that someone needed to blog. His reply was that you need a topic you are passionate about, a platform to publish your writing on and the time to write.

Joshua said to me that the last one (time) is the most important because finding the time to blog and making the commitment to do it is the real challenge. The easiest way to find time is to stop watching TV and write instead!

Distractions are another part of the time component. Try writing in 45-60 minute blocks and you will find that you can write for longer. If social media is another distraction for you then do what Joshua does and use some software, like Ommwriter to block out distractions.

Having the time is one thing but consider what time of the day you write best. For Joshua and I, we both write best in the morning. Ask yourself, what time do you write best?

 

8. Think carefully about the number of words

Word count is all about training your audience to expect a certain number of words. For Joshua, he typically writes 600-900 works, which works best for his site’s audience. Bloggers like Seth Godin write very short posts of 200 words or less, but the quality of the content is very high and his audience are trained for his short bursts of brilliance

Other well-known bloggers like James Clear tend to write longer posts and again, the audience have come to expect this from him.  If you can combine the way you write with how long your audience want to read you will have the optimal word count.

 

9. Find a relevant photo

Given the type of blog that Joshua has, photos are not as relevant as maybe some other sites. Needless to say, Joshua still thinks that the photo matters. He says that you need to find a photo that loosely represents what you’re talking about and is inviting.

The other point to consider is what photographers call “eye-flow.” Joshua typically looks for photos where your eyes tend to scan down as you look at it, which will lead reader’s eyes to the post text. Some websites that Joshua uses to find photos are Unsplashed, Pixabay and Minimography.

 

10. Mailing lists are about conversions – nothing else

Mailing lists are something that every blog has but Joshua has an interesting view on how to use one. He says that a lot of people offer a free eBook or free course to capture readers email addresses. The problem Joshua has with this method is that you attract hundreds of email addresses but the conversion rates on any emails you send to them in the future are crummy.

The reason for this result is quite obvious; these methods will only get you a one-time subscriber who just wanted your free product. What Joshua does is have a subscribe button at the bottom of every page and then that way he is only capturing people that have enjoyed his writing and want to know when there is new content.

The other point that Joshua raised was that you should avoid having annoying pop-ups on your site trying to force people to subscribe. His view is that you put a subscribe box where it can be found, but don’t jam it down the readers throat.

 

11. Be patient your tipping point will come

As you can see from Joshua’s story so far, patience is a big part of blogging. If you do it for the right reasons and you’re patient, your tipping point will come. There were two very clear tipping points for Joshua where his blog traffic started dramatically increasing.

The first one was when Leo Babauta from Zen Habits wrote a blog about minimalism and referenced Joshua’s site as a good blog to read on the subject – this sent a lot of traffic his way. As you can see the law of reciprocity is at work again (there is a reason we harp on about this on Addicted2Success).

The second part of Joshua’s tipping point was when he made the clever decision two years in to take all the major posts from his blog and turn them into an eBook. This eBook became a way for Joshua to reach out to other blogs and say, “hey I just wrote this eBook, if you want to check it out or send people to it then here it is.”

After both of these events occurred, Joshua discovered that Facebook was well suited to his theme and he began sharing his posts on there, which saw his numbers increase further.

 

12. Monetise your blog (Joshua’s formula)

Before I go into this point I need to make it clear that this is Joshua’s formula so it doesn’t mean you need to follow this exact method. So what you’re all wondering is how did he quit he job and make money fro his blogging?

Your beliefs form a big part of your monetisation strategy. For Joshua, he has never had any advertising or Google Adsense on his blog. He believes that advertising on a website is merely selling a readers attention and he wants his readers attention on what he is writing, not on ads.

All of Joshua’s income comes from book sales and Amazon affiliate links for books he has recommended to his readers. Even though Joshua makes a lot of his money from book sales, he says “it’s easy for people to see a book on the New York Times bestseller list and think wow I wish I could be that lucky.”

This thought often occurs without really understanding how many late nights, early mornings and vacations were sacrificed to write the book.  For this monetisation model to work, he has learnt that the only way is to self-publish his books because traditional publishers will pay fairly small royalties.

The places he recommends to self-publish books are Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, iBooks and Kobo Books (good for international sales). To publish your book on these sites you will need to have your Word Document converted into the various file formats. Joshua uses 5JDesign to do this process.

Once you have the different file formats, you can just go to each website yourself and upload the book, write a description, upload your cover and set price. These tasks will take you an afternoon to do yourself.

While PDF books are not as common anymore, there are sites like eJunkie where you can set up affiliates to help sell your book. Joshua sold one of his early books for $10 and gave the affiliate a very generous $5 for each sale they helped him make.

The other reason to have a PDF version of your book is so you can send it to other bloggers who might be interested in it for free. To be successful at this, you have to have the mindset that you will lose one sale, but that the blogger who gets your book will help you make many more sales.

Some other sites that Joshua has used to sell PDF books through are Smash Words and Gumroad.

Joshua Becker - Author Quote - Becoming Minimalist
 

13. Build more traffic by promoting your book

Just publishing a book will help your blog traffic a bit, but Joshua recommends that you take it further by promoting your book using some of the simple tips he has used.

As I mentioned in the previous tip, offer the book free to bloggers but make sure you insist on a review from them that they put on their own site.  You should also find yourself a team of readers to read your book in exchange for leaving a review on Amazon (the reviews are honest so you don’t know what you will get).

Get into the mindset that the more free books you send out, the more reviews you will get, and the more people you will have talking about your book.

To find the team of readers Joshua suggests you do a blog post and say, “hey I’m looking for 50 people to read my book, leave your email address here if you’re keen.” You can then use a simple WordPress contact form to capture the email addresses or use something like Mailchimp to link to your WordPress blog.

If you’re mailing list is big enough, you could send an email out to your database with the same message instead of doing a blog post or do both.

If you’re blog has a very small audience then websites like GoodReads are another great place to post your book. Experimenting with “Sponsored Facebook Posts” is another way you could promote your book. Don’t be afraid to also jump on Twitter and let people know and ask them to retweet it for you.

“The marketing of a book doesn’t start the week before it comes out or even months in advance. Ideally, it should start years in advance where you have been helping other writers, promoting other people’s books, and being a cheerleader and supporter for them. If you have done this then, you will have some strong supporters at the start of the book launch”

***Final Thought***

 So you now have all the tips you need to go off and start your own blog. I hope that you’re inspired and please share your blog creation with me once you get going.

Joshua’s Favourite Book – More Or Less by Jeff Shinabarger

Joshua’s Favourite Quote – “In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.” – Brennan Manning

If you got value from Joshua’s blogging advice, then I strongly encourage you to check out his new not for profit organisation The Hope Effect that is going to change orphan care around the world.

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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Evan

    Dec 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Hey Tim!

    Great article, studying someone who’s got in-depth experience from supplementing his income with blogging and gathering the most valuable lessons from it.

    This post has been super helpful for me since I’m writing for the benefit of other people too and growing an audience of success-chasers. There are great tips for lifting other people up and supporting their movements while you build your own!

    Thanks!

    – Evan

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:22 am

      Thanks Evan. I also learnt a lot of Joshua and his tips were really clear and simple for any blogger to follow. I hope you use them to grow the reach you are looking for on your own site. Cheers

  2. Doug

    Nov 1, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Great article Tim! A theme I picked up on throughout was that of patience and persistence… necessary things to hear for a new blogger such as myself. Thanks for the good read!

    • Tim Denning

      Nov 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much Doug. When talking to Joshua I also got the same theme which is that you just need patience. If your writing is good then even if you’re niche is done to death it doesn’t matter because you can provide a fresh take on what already exists. Best of luck with your blogging Doug.

  3. Ifeanyichukwu Miracle

    Oct 31, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks so much. Am inspired by this article to start off. Please Joshua i will need more help, more on step by step involved. To blog has been my hunger and dreams. I’m very excited to meet this post this night. God bless you.

    • Tim Denning

      Nov 2, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks for your comment. My advice and Joshua’s advice is just go for it and write about your passion. Let us know how you go.

  4. Esther Mellar

    Oct 31, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for advising me to read this article, it is very helpful. I also heard saying that writing a blog today without readers is like talking in an empty room, therefore it is advised to have some followers already before staring a blog. What are your thoughts about this?

    Cheers,

    Esther

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Hi Esther, I personally don’t think you need any followers to start a blog. Organically through Google and WordPress you will pickup a few by tagging topics in your post. Once you have even one person reading your posts, all it takes is for you to write amazing content and that one person will share it with everybody else. The focus should never be how many followers you have, it always should be about the quality of the content. I would also argue that everybody has an audience already. People like yourself have at least 100 friends on Facebook and Twitter right? So you have followers already. You have to be prepared to do what Joshua did and write because you love it not because you are trying to get followers. If the content is good, the followers will come. Tim

  5. Stephen Osoko

    Oct 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    This was a truly helpful article for me.

    I also have a personal development blog and am very passionate about it.

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 31, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Stephen for reading. Best of luck with your blog and I hope we can give you some inspiration.

  6. Brad DeVore

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Great article Tim! A solid checklist to determine why a blog isn’t thriving. This post also delivered all the sources to cut research time in half for publishing a book. Thanks for the value! -Brad

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 30, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks Brad and glad you liked the article. Joshua is very switched on and gave me so many tips that I hadn’t thought of before.

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
Image Credit: Unsplash

Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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decision making
Image Credit: Unsplash

How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

5 B.S. Facts About High Performers Everyone Thinks Is True

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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Success Advice

Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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10 Lessons for Bootstrapping Your Startup to $1M Annual Revenue

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In an entrepreneurial landscape dominated by headlines of unicorn startups and billion-dollar acquisitions, getting a company to $1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) may sound like small change. Let’s be real, though, hitting $1 million ARR is an aspirational milestone most young companies can relate to. And it’s not that easy, especially if you’ve secured modest investments or no investment at all. (more…)

Kenneth Burke is the Marketing Director at Text Request, a business texting software company.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Evan

    Dec 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Hey Tim!

    Great article, studying someone who’s got in-depth experience from supplementing his income with blogging and gathering the most valuable lessons from it.

    This post has been super helpful for me since I’m writing for the benefit of other people too and growing an audience of success-chasers. There are great tips for lifting other people up and supporting their movements while you build your own!

    Thanks!

    – Evan

    • Tim Denning

      Dec 30, 2015 at 2:22 am

      Thanks Evan. I also learnt a lot of Joshua and his tips were really clear and simple for any blogger to follow. I hope you use them to grow the reach you are looking for on your own site. Cheers

  2. Doug

    Nov 1, 2015 at 4:47 am

    Great article Tim! A theme I picked up on throughout was that of patience and persistence… necessary things to hear for a new blogger such as myself. Thanks for the good read!

    • Tim Denning

      Nov 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much Doug. When talking to Joshua I also got the same theme which is that you just need patience. If your writing is good then even if you’re niche is done to death it doesn’t matter because you can provide a fresh take on what already exists. Best of luck with your blogging Doug.

  3. Ifeanyichukwu Miracle

    Oct 31, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks so much. Am inspired by this article to start off. Please Joshua i will need more help, more on step by step involved. To blog has been my hunger and dreams. I’m very excited to meet this post this night. God bless you.

    • Tim Denning

      Nov 2, 2015 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks for your comment. My advice and Joshua’s advice is just go for it and write about your passion. Let us know how you go.

  4. Esther Mellar

    Oct 31, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for advising me to read this article, it is very helpful. I also heard saying that writing a blog today without readers is like talking in an empty room, therefore it is advised to have some followers already before staring a blog. What are your thoughts about this?

    Cheers,

    Esther

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 31, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      Hi Esther, I personally don’t think you need any followers to start a blog. Organically through Google and WordPress you will pickup a few by tagging topics in your post. Once you have even one person reading your posts, all it takes is for you to write amazing content and that one person will share it with everybody else. The focus should never be how many followers you have, it always should be about the quality of the content. I would also argue that everybody has an audience already. People like yourself have at least 100 friends on Facebook and Twitter right? So you have followers already. You have to be prepared to do what Joshua did and write because you love it not because you are trying to get followers. If the content is good, the followers will come. Tim

  5. Stephen Osoko

    Oct 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    This was a truly helpful article for me.

    I also have a personal development blog and am very passionate about it.

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 31, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Stephen for reading. Best of luck with your blog and I hope we can give you some inspiration.

  6. Brad DeVore

    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Great article Tim! A solid checklist to determine why a blog isn’t thriving. This post also delivered all the sources to cut research time in half for publishing a book. Thanks for the value! -Brad

    • Tim Denning

      Oct 30, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks Brad and glad you liked the article. Joshua is very switched on and gave me so many tips that I hadn’t thought of before.

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

5 B.S. Facts About High Performers Everyone Thinks Is True

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high performers
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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Success Advice

Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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