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3 Controversial Ways to Smash Procrastination & Achieve Your Goals Immediately

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stop procrastinating

Everybody wants to be successful, but nobody wants to work for it. At least, that’s what you’ve been told. And it’s a comforting thought, because sometimes you don’t want to work for it either. Heck, life would be easier if everything you wanted fell into your lap.

But the brutal truth is that’s never going to happen. Most people work extremely hard to make their dreams come true. And if you aren’t among them – the only person you are failing is yourself. But you already knew that (despite what people told you). Yet you still find creative ways to procrastinate, and you’ve become an expert at rationalizing why that’s okay.

Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Procrastination is a common problem. But it’s an easy one to solve.

Here are 3 brutally honest ways to smash procrastination:

1. Delete all your productivity apps

You’ve just purchased a sweet new app that’s going to help you crush through your to do list. You’ve waited for it to download, now you’re going to figure out how to use it. It’s the answer to all your productivity problems, right? – Wrong. In fact it’s done just the opposite. This new app has already consumed a large chunk of your valuable time – and you haven’t even started using it yet.

Before too long it will lie unused and abandoned in your app graveyard (along with countless others). It’s not because these apps don’t work (some are actually pretty good). It’s because your lack of tools isn’t the reason you’re procrastinating. The truth is that every time a new app grabs your attention, it distracts you from your big picture. And the more you get distracted, the harder it becomes to achieve your goals.

To be successful you have to work consistently on valuable tasks. To achieve consistency you have to stay focused. And to stay focused you have to eliminate distractions. Delete all your distracting apps immediately so that you can start consistently creating value in your life.

“Stay focused, go after your dreams and keep moving toward your goals.” – L.L Cool J

2. Never structure your day

You’re ambitious, but your days are short. You want to get lots of things done, and to do that you have to organise your time wisely. At least, that’s what people tell you. And there’s a good reason why they think that.

Organisation makes you efficient. And being efficient means you can get more done in less time, and we all want that, don’t we? But while efficiency is an undeniably valuable thing to strive for – pursuing it can have disastrous consequences for your productivity.

Why? Because it’s impossible to structure your day without a plan. And designing an airtight plan takes time. Some people spend more time creating plans than actually following them. There’s always something that can be improved or that needs a slight adjustment. But no matter how much time you invest – your plans will never be perfect.

Ditch your plans and throw yourself at your work – seriously. Just start and hope for the best. If you spend your whole day applying yourself to your most important tasks, you’ll be surprised at how many of them you can get through.

3. Sleep more

The more you work, the more you’ll achieve, right? After all, the longer you spend working on your daily tasks, the more of them you can get through. Unfortunately that’s not how our bodies work. Humans can only spend a finite amount of time working, because we can’t control how much sleep we need. If we could I’m sure the most motivated among us would forfeit sleep altogether.

Studies from the university of Rochester, suggest that a lack of sleep is actually a massive productivity killer (not to mention an extreme health risk). It’s bad for your brain and has disastrous consequences on your ability to solve problems.

So if you think that the late nights and early mornings you’re putting in at work are actually benefiting you, you’re sadly mistaken. You’re exhausting yourself, putting undue stress on your body, and impacting the quality of your work.

Don’t fight your body’s natural impulses. If you’re feeling exhausted – sleep! You’ll thank yourself when you wake up fresh and ready to take on a new day.

“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.” – William Blake

Flip conventional wisdom on it’s head

Nobody want’s to see their dreams slip past them unachieved, because we all have deeply personal reasons why we want to achieve them in the first place. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to imagine yourself being less successful than you could’ve been. Especially if it’s because you procrastinated when it really mattered.

But procrastination isn’t a death sentence. It’s never too late to realise your ambitions. And it’s easy to flip conventional wisdom on its head when it’s what has been holding you back all this time. Apply just one of these controversial productivity hacks right now. You have absolutely nothing to lose. The only way you can fail is if you don’t even try.

What are some tips you would give to kill the procrastination beast? Please share below!

Daniel Marlin is a passionate entrepreneur, marketer & business blogger. Get his cheat sheet, How To Create A Business That’s Impossible To Ignore, if you want to get your business noticed, but have no idea where to begin.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jeanine

    Sep 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Daniel

    Great article. I like your thinking!
    1)In my line of work, I constantly have hundreds of tasks and subtasks to navigate though on a daily basis – a never ending / always growing “to do list” is a rather unnerving monster to say the least. My Wunderlist App has been a lifesaver to simply list and order all my tasks, and best of all to get that satisfying feeling of ticking them off when I am done. But yes – find one a App that works for you and delete all the rest – they guzzle up your time and attention. 2) I have tried many techniques to organize my days – but dealing with constant curve balls and clients demands at a drop of a hat – I find it impossible to plan and stick to a plan. I just constantly do do do go go go – ploughing through tasks in order of priority. I get things done and see results. No doubt having a perfectly planned day would be ideal – but reality is less than ideal. Thanks for this advise – I can stop feeling guilty about not fitting in with the “you must plan”model. 3) Aaaagh “sleep” – that wonderful thing that so evades an overactive mind! When I sleep I do so much better all round. Again my Wunderlist App has really helped me to sleep better funnily enough. Subconsciously knowing my hundreds of tasks are neatly tucked away and safely ordered really calms my mind. If I remember something I need to do in the middle of the night I can quickly add it to one of my lists and go back to sleep. Otherwise I would be fretting about forgetting and get no sleep.

    Love your posts – keep them coming

  2. Izuzu Nworgu

    Aug 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hello Daniel,

    I kind of disagree with the second point: “Never structure your day” and I understand what you point is. It’s true that people spend more time making plans than actually following these plans and the reason behind that is lack of self discipline.
    If you discipline yourself to do something, you’ll do it. Planning my day has helped me a lot to increase my daily productivity.

    I’ve tried some productivity apps and they’ve worked perfectly for me. I still use them actually.

    I totally agree with your third point. Lack of sleep has side effects and it decreases productivity.

  3. Sue Lancaster

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Brilliant Daniel. Written precisely for me!! I’ve achieved many of my goals and consider myself moderately successful HOWEVER I’m the worlds greatest procrastinator and carry my TO DO list in my head and on my shoulders constantly.
    Definitely going to give your productivity hacks a good go!!
    Thank you
    Look forward to your next post

  4. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 18, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Excellent perspective, Daniel. I used to do what you state and sleep less thinking I would produce more. I found myself gaining weight, having brain fog and a host of other issues. Now I balance some days with less sleep and others with more than 8 hrs. This has helped my productivity and mental clarity.

    • Daniel

      Aug 18, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Thanks Brian. I like your approach. If you feel capable of achieving more some days – push yourself. If you feel burned out – rest.

      It’s a good way to promote productivity while ensuring important things like health and happiness remain in check.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. Niraj

    Aug 17, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Well said. I’ve tried many different productivity apps and tactics, but this is the only way I’m consistently able to be productive.

    • Daniel

      Aug 18, 2016 at 4:52 am

      Agreed, Niraj. Some apps work for some people, but I’ve found the simplest way to get the most out of them – is just to not download them in the first place!

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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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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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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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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. (more…)

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jeanine

    Sep 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Daniel

    Great article. I like your thinking!
    1)In my line of work, I constantly have hundreds of tasks and subtasks to navigate though on a daily basis – a never ending / always growing “to do list” is a rather unnerving monster to say the least. My Wunderlist App has been a lifesaver to simply list and order all my tasks, and best of all to get that satisfying feeling of ticking them off when I am done. But yes – find one a App that works for you and delete all the rest – they guzzle up your time and attention. 2) I have tried many techniques to organize my days – but dealing with constant curve balls and clients demands at a drop of a hat – I find it impossible to plan and stick to a plan. I just constantly do do do go go go – ploughing through tasks in order of priority. I get things done and see results. No doubt having a perfectly planned day would be ideal – but reality is less than ideal. Thanks for this advise – I can stop feeling guilty about not fitting in with the “you must plan”model. 3) Aaaagh “sleep” – that wonderful thing that so evades an overactive mind! When I sleep I do so much better all round. Again my Wunderlist App has really helped me to sleep better funnily enough. Subconsciously knowing my hundreds of tasks are neatly tucked away and safely ordered really calms my mind. If I remember something I need to do in the middle of the night I can quickly add it to one of my lists and go back to sleep. Otherwise I would be fretting about forgetting and get no sleep.

    Love your posts – keep them coming

  2. Izuzu Nworgu

    Aug 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Hello Daniel,

    I kind of disagree with the second point: “Never structure your day” and I understand what you point is. It’s true that people spend more time making plans than actually following these plans and the reason behind that is lack of self discipline.
    If you discipline yourself to do something, you’ll do it. Planning my day has helped me a lot to increase my daily productivity.

    I’ve tried some productivity apps and they’ve worked perfectly for me. I still use them actually.

    I totally agree with your third point. Lack of sleep has side effects and it decreases productivity.

  3. Sue Lancaster

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:49 am

    Brilliant Daniel. Written precisely for me!! I’ve achieved many of my goals and consider myself moderately successful HOWEVER I’m the worlds greatest procrastinator and carry my TO DO list in my head and on my shoulders constantly.
    Definitely going to give your productivity hacks a good go!!
    Thank you
    Look forward to your next post

  4. Bryan Oliver

    Aug 18, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Excellent perspective, Daniel. I used to do what you state and sleep less thinking I would produce more. I found myself gaining weight, having brain fog and a host of other issues. Now I balance some days with less sleep and others with more than 8 hrs. This has helped my productivity and mental clarity.

    • Daniel

      Aug 18, 2016 at 4:47 am

      Thanks Brian. I like your approach. If you feel capable of achieving more some days – push yourself. If you feel burned out – rest.

      It’s a good way to promote productivity while ensuring important things like health and happiness remain in check.

      Glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. Niraj

    Aug 17, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Well said. I’ve tried many different productivity apps and tactics, but this is the only way I’m consistently able to be productive.

    • Daniel

      Aug 18, 2016 at 4:52 am

      Agreed, Niraj. Some apps work for some people, but I’ve found the simplest way to get the most out of them – is just to not download them in the first place!

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Success Advice

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

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Leadership
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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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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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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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stop trying to be right
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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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