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Success Advice

5 Steps To Defining Your Own Success

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Defining Your Success To Be Successful

“What does success look like to you?”

The most pivotal question I have ever been asked.

From a young age, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of being successful. Being the best on the team, the fastest in the race, writing the best stories or having the most Pokémon cards. No matter what I set my mind to, I wanted to be successful at it.

So when it came to running my own blog, I wanted to be the best. I wanted to turn it in to a successful blog that made me money. And that’s what I set out to do. I started writing, posting blogs and waiting for the response.

And I got nothing.

My mum, my aunt and an ex-personal training client read my posts, barely reaching anybody else. For months and months, this was my life. And although my reach grew, it never extended past my friends or the occasional Reddit forum.

So I packed it in.

I got flustered, shut up shop and walked away. I wasn’t successful, so I gave it up.

Then one day, I sat down to have a coffee with my mentor and poured my heart out. I explained how unfair it was, why I should have been successful and that it was a complete waste of time.

Sitting back in his chair, he sipped his coffee and asked me “James, what does success even look like?“.

I was stuck. I couldn’t think about what it was I wanted – I just knew I wanted something. I sat there in silence, the cogs ticking in the back of my head, waiting for something to pop up.

The reason I’d failed was because I had no idea what success was. I hadn’t decided how many readers I wanted, what my market was, how many hours I would be working. And that was a key lesson to learn.

In order to achieve success, you must define it.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Well, duh!’ right now. And when you realise it, it’s so simple to understand. But the reason a lot of us fail, and we don’t achieve success is simply this: We don’t know what success is, we just know we want it.

So with that in mind, I worked hard on what success looked like for me. What I wanted to achieve, how I wanted to do it and why it was important to me. It lead me to complete my first book, start my freelance writing career and rekindle my love for blogging.

Now, it’s time for you to do the same. To truly understand what success is to you, and how to make it drive you forward.

All you need is somewhere to write your thoughts, and 10 minutes of your time.

 

Decide Commit Succeed

 

5 Steps To Defining Your Own Success

 

Step 1: Ask Yourself The Question

What does success look like?

Write down whatever springs to mind. Think about what success actually looks like for you. It can be as big and bold as you like, or if you can’t think of an answer, leave it blank. We’ll be coming back to this later.

Done? Good.

 

Step 2: Forget What Other People Think

This step is the most crucial.

Did your parents ever used to make you measure your growth on a doorframe next to your siblings to see how much you’d grown, and mark it off each month against each other? With the biggest sibling always rubbing in the fact they had that third of an inch of height over you?

That’s how most of us view success. That we’re being measured against each other, and that someone with slightly ‘more success’ is further ahead than we are, or that they’re better than us in some way.

The truth? Other people’s success doesn’t matter.

Success to them is not success to you, and the other way around. It is not measured in money, sports cars or bragging rights; it’s measured purely against what you want.

Forget what other people want, or other people’s successes for a second and remember the question – what does success look like to you?

Is it having more time with kids? Getting a promotion? Owning a new car? Moving house? Having the money to redecorate the bathroom? Having the freedom to travel whenever you want? Being able to play Golf on a Wednesday morning?

You can only define it against your life and what suits you. If it’s money and fast cars, feel free to measure it in that. But make sure it’s something that you wholeheartedly want. It’ll keep you from quitting when times get hard.

 

Step 3: Get Specific

In this step I really want you to get in to depth with what it is you want. You’ve decided what success looks like to you, now begin to create the scene in your head.

I’ll use spending more time with your kids as an example.

What days would you spend with your kids? Would it be a whole day, an afternoon, or a few days? What would you do? Where would you go? Would the days be sunny or rainy? Would your partner be there, or just you on your own? Do you need a certain amount of money?

And so on and so forth.

The more specific you make it in your mind, the more attached to it you become. It becomes real, focused and a part of your life. When times get tough, you just picture yourself pushing you kids on the swings (or whatever your success looks like) and it keeps you moving forward.

People fail at diets and workout plans because they don’t know how they want to look at the other end. They want to be lighter, fitter and healthier of course. But those terms mean nothing to you if they aren’t tangible. Fitting in to a size 32 Jean is more achievable than ‘dropping weight off your waist’.

 

Step 4: Ask Yourself The Question, Again

Now, I want you to ask yourself the question again – What does success look like to you?

Write it down, taking in to account everything we’ve spoken about.

Make it specific, make it real and keep that piece of paper in a place where you’re constantly reminded of it.

If you didn’t have an answer at first, you should have an answer by now. If you already had one, how does it compare to what you thought initially? Has it changed, grown, or gotten more specific?

 

Step 5: Make It Happen

Now you know what success looks like, the only thing that’s left for you to do is make it happen.

The more specific the goal, the clearer the path. The easier decisions become to make in line with your definition, and the more likely you are to achieve it (as long as you put the work in).

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Greg

    Feb 23, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Thank you, i needed this right now as well. I’ve always talked about goal setting and having goals that you want to attain. But I needed a refresher and to take a serious moment and define WHY I’m doing what I’m doing and what exactly I’m working towards. I need a clear vision and a clear defined goal. Thank you.

  2. s. stewart

    Apr 6, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Very Well Said

  3. Carol Record (@CarolRecord)

    Aug 1, 2014 at 4:13 am

    I really needed this reminder right about now. I wish more people understood this, especially #2, and it just so happens that one of my current primary goals is to get away from people that don’t understand #2 and spread negativity because of it.

  4. mommylovestocook

    Jun 27, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Worth reading. I agree that success is not to be chased and you wont be successful if without a definite plan.

    • James Johnson

      Jul 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

      I’ve always felt that success is not the destination, it’s surviving the journey. It’s hard to do that without a plan!

  5. Austin Zulauf

    Jun 18, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Very good! It’s hard to hit a destination you haven’t mapped out, you have to know where you’re going. Success is the same way, you have to know what success is to YOU.
    I know clearly written goals have helped me tremendously! A mentor of mine gave me 8 steps to effectively setting & achieving goals & I’ve lived by that!
    Thanks for the great content 😉

    • James Johnson

      Jul 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Hey Austin! Thanks for your comment, I’m sorry for the slow reply to this – I’ve been out of town.

      I’d love to hear your 8 Steps if you hit me up at jamesthinksthings@gmail.com.

  6. Ben Granville Kyle

    Jun 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Asking ourselves the right type of questions plays a huge role in how our lives turns out. If you want to change any results you are getting, you must change your thinking( or the questions you ask). i also like what the author says:” Other people’s successes doesn’t matter”. So often we are caught up in the success of other people that we forget how important success should be for us. Hence, i agree with the author: “The more specific the goal-(or question), the clearer the path. The easier decisions become to make in line with your definition, and the more likely you are to achieve it (as long as you put the work in).”

    Everything—everything!—starts there.

    • James Johnson

      Jul 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Correct, Ben! Sorry for the slow reply to this. Asking the right Questions helps keep your attitude in-line with your goals.

  7. James Johnson (@JamesJohnson_PL)

    Jun 13, 2014 at 7:00 am

    My motto for a long time has been, ‘Do not strive to be rich, strive to be free’.

    Personally, I can’t get behind the concept of money. In terms that, it won’t motivate me anywhere near as much as something more important to me.

  8. Beau Norton

    Jun 12, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Awesome! I used to think that I had to be a millionaire to be successful. Well, i still believe I will be one day, but for the moment I am perfectly happy with living a comfortable life with no financial pressure. The average person doesn’t need that much money at all to feel comfortable and secure. If you can afford to go out to eat at a fancy restaurant and not worry about the bill, then I’d say you’re doing pretty well. Haha. But many people have an obsession with money and will always want more. I think it’s important to define success for yourself so you have a clear income goal. When you reach that, it should be a signal to you that you need to stop chasing the money and start doing more of what you love. Money can buy freedom, but once you are free, there’s nothing more money can do for you! Besides buy more things that is…and that’s more like slavery than freedom.

    • Abel

      Jun 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Awesome article, Step 2 is so crucial I wish more people would follow it, if your goal is to graduate & secure a job to provide for your family you are successful. My goal personally is to grow my business to generate a steady income enough for me to be self-employed. Both examples are different but each successful in their desires & objectives. Thanks Author.

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Success Advice

3 Areas You Should Focus on to Become a Great Leader

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Having listened to all of our stakeholders and being fully aware of the situation, spring is a good time to conduct a quarterly review to see exactly where we are in order. This helps us have a clear starting point to re-adjust our goals for the coming year.

One of the main problems tends to be that we look back at the things we haven’t done and where we didn’t get the results we intended. Because of this, we get ourselves in a state of anxiety which is hardly a resourceful state for setting positive goals.

A better approach is to be nice to ourselves. Have a look back over the last three months and check all the things you have achieved. Give yourself a treat for all of the things you planned to achieve and did. They may be something as simple as maintaining a to-do list or smiling more.

Afterwards, think of all the things you achieved which weren’t planned and congratulate yourself on your flexibility and creativity; for the person with the greatest flexibility of behaviour controls the outcomes.

For those results that weren’t as you intended, remind yourself that we all make the correct choice at the time we make it. We don’t deliberately make the wrong choices and whatever the outcome, there’s always a positive intention. There’s no failure, only feedback, and we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.

“Be good to yourself. Listen to your body, to your heart. We’re very hard on ourselves, and we’re always feeling like we’re not doing enough. It’s a terribly hard job.” – Marcia Wallace

Look to yourself

It is vital, especially for sole proprietors or owner/managers, to manage themselves in order to be fit, healthy, and relatively happy. Evidence points to a clear relationship between our moods and assorted aspects of job performance such as decision-making, creativity, teamwork, negotiation and leadership.

While success may put us in a good mood, an organisation that sees the glass as half full rather than half empty, stands a better chance in these difficult times.

Depressed individuals will always see the glass as half-empty and even rapidly emptying. This attitude saps energy and leaves those affected feeling worthless, helpless, and hopeless. In its worst case, depression can impair the ability to communicate and it’s not hard to see the organisational parallels.

Below are three elements within all of us that need to be taken care of:

1. Your mind

The key to a healthy mind is variety, so take an interest in other people, things, events and current affairs. Adopting an open and curious mindset allows us to see future possibilities and hence be more empowered.

2. Your body

A healthy body requires a solid routine. Ensure you eat and drink healthy products (especially water) and get plenty of rest and exercise. Knowing our own limitations and taking action to stay within them ensures we operate at our best.

3. Your spirit

Much has been written about feeding or maintaining the spirit but I believe there is one simple rule. Believe in something that is true to you and spend time each day with your true beliefs. Solitude is the nurse of enthusiasm and is as needful to the imagination as friends are to our character.

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton

Beyond individual performance, there are broader issues at stake. None of us are islands, happy in our own little depressed world. Moods, good or bad, are infectious and some people or positions can have a greater ripple effect than others. If a shy apprentice has a gloomy outlook, few may notice. But if people like the owner/manager are wandering around looking like the end of the world is coming, that can directly affect team spirit.

Water bearer or well poisoner

So what can the organisation do? Firstly, as individuals, we must show a positive and upbeat demeanor. That’s not easy and faking it will easily be spotted as the deception will be transparent. This isn’t unauthentic, but merely an attempt to empower ourselves.

Congruent leadership offers the means to put into words what it is you are experiencing with the person in order so your behaviour is consistent with your own values and beliefs such that you always appear to be what you desire to be.

Your mood as a leader then is highly contagious. Even though leaders or opinion formers aren’t always in leadership positions, they’re at the centre of informal networks. They have charisma and magnetism, possess strong opinions, and express them forcefully. Therefore, they have considerable social power and can have a direct effect on morale by being a water bearer or well poisoner. Which are you today?

What resonated most with you about this article and leadership? Share your thoughts below!

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The 6 Step Process for Delivering Critical Feedback in a Constructive Way

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We have all been in the position where we knew we needed to have a difficult conversation at work that involved delivering constructive feedback. Maybe a major deadline was missed, there was a clear decline in performance, or someone blatantly dropped the ball. Most of us avoid delivering the feedback, and the conversation can get pushed back again and again, wasting valuable time and money.

Delivering constructive feedback is challenging, and uncomfortable for most people, even highly trained leaders. Yet, delivering and accepting feedback is one of the most important keys for success. So why do we avoid these conversations? Because we never learned how to have them.

Open, honest, direct communication is not a skill we are taught in school. There is no “How to Have Tough Conversations” 101. As a clinical psychologist that specializes in couples work, I see just how important communication is in maintaining thriving relationships. I understand that good communication is the foundation of every successful relationship; both intimate relationships and your work relationships.

Below is a 6-step guide to providing constructive feedback:

Step 1: Clarity on the Goal of the Conversation  

The first step is to get clear on the goal of the feedback conversation. Are you planning to see a change in performance, simply communicate how you felt, or receive an apology? Get clear on what you are hoping to get out of the conversation. Be honest with yourself about what you need, what is most helpful to the relationship, and what is most helpful to the organization. Getting clear on the goal also ensures you are speaking with the right person.

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

Step 2: Invitation

Set up a time to talk. Feedback conversations are not meant to be had in the hallway. It is important that both parties can set aside adequate time and have the space needed for dialogue. Additionally, there must be respect for both parties’ need for time to process information. For example, if you are delivering feedback, and the receiver needs time to process the feedback before responding, setting up a subsequent meeting will be most helpful.

Step 3: Ownership

Own the role you played in creating the situation. When you model ownership of blind spots, failures, or missteps, you set the stage for the receiver to do the same. For example, you may acknowledge that you were not aware of how to support your employee and not aware of the problem until x situation occurred. Equally important as owning your role, is owning your emotions. Own your emotions using “I” statements. For example, “I felt disappointed when I realized your sales performance had substantially declined”.

Step 4: Open, Honest, Direct Feedback

Feedback that dances around the problem does not do anyone any good. It only increases anxiety on behalf of the receiver, and potentially causes the feedback to get totally lost. The conversation needs to be open, honest, and direct. For example: “I felt concerned when you did not attend the last two strategy calls this month…It brought up questions for me about your commitment to the company.”

Step 5: Listen, Validate and Accept

When providing feedback, it is important both parties maintain an open mind, and respond in a way that communicates validation and acceptance. As soon as an individual gets defensive, feedback cannot be taken in, and the value of the conversation dramatically decreases. When providing feedback it is important to listen, validate, and accept your receiver’s viewpoint. Notice, I did not say agree. This looks something like saying: “I can see why X led you to commit Y , I understand you were under a great deal of stress/dealing with a personal situation/frustrated.”

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

Step 6: A Clear Plan for Moving Forward

In providing feedback, the magic is that now things can change! If feedback is never given, relationships end, things will stay the same, businesses will die, and money will be lost. If you have gotten to this step, that means you did the hard work, and now you get to put change into action. A clear plan includes an acknowledgement from both parties regarding what they will do differently to prevent the situation from occurring again, and how they will stay accountable in making the change happen.

The good news about delivering feedback is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Remember, giving and receiving feedback is one of the most surefire ways to open yourself up to massive growth.

As a giver of feedback, it is your job to model openness and a desire for growth, so that the receiver may take in the feedback and make the necessary changes. Exceling at feedback delivery will help you set you apart from others and enable you to achieve extraordinary relationships, in both your personal and work lives.

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Success Advice

Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should Have a Podcast, Youtube Channel or Online Show

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Confidence comes from a place of strong understanding of self. After close to three years on radio, I’ve grown from a shy introvert to a shy introvert with an extrovert persona. When the mic is turned on, I can channel a version of myself that some say is attractive, strong, and of course, confident but it wasn’t always this way.

What I want to share with you is what I discovered on this journey into broadcast that you can apply to your life, your ventures, and your personal development. This doesn’t require any fancy gear. It does require a leap of faith on your part because once you go down the road of media; it can change your life.

1. Perceived Expertise

When you go to a doctor, you expect their knowledge will guide them to a solution to your problems. When you have a show, you become your listeners’ doctor. For all the multiple thousands, maybe millions, of YouTube channels, podcasts, and user-created content in the world, each person that gets behind a mic takes a position on their passion, their opinions, and their themes.

They challenge the status quo for the benefit of their listeners in hopes to entertain and educate. With consistency on your side, those fans place you on a platform and give you permission to influence them.

2. Global Acknowledgement

One of the benefits to increasing confidence is when you receive thank you notes from people you may never meet. The feeling of enriching someone’s life from halfway around the globe, provides validation you’re enhancing someone else’s life with your wisdom and your wit.

The very first time I was told I was making a difference in someone’s life in a country other than my own, I felt like I caused massive impact that transcends my circle of influence. When you experience just how much you can cause impact and it comes back to you, it’ll change your worldview.

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.” – Zig Ziglar

3. Backed By Numbers

One of the most exciting ways to measure success is to quantify your growth. It’s not enough to just broadcast. Having subscribers and downloads helps to know, numerically, how well you’re doing. Word of caution. This can be a way to set yourself up for distress because of number envy but if you understand what the numbers mean; you can control the narrative of the numbers.

The major number that makes most people smile is 10,000. I’d advise it to be 1. Here’s why. As you grow in your industry, so does your reach. If you learned that the one person that subscribed totally changed for the better because of you, wouldn’t that be worth the effort?

4. Effective Communication

While it’s not talked about much, having a show is documentation. You create a dynamic account of your life, your industry, and the pulse on what’s important simply by having a show. When you find a channel to improve your communication skills, you demand attention and people will listen to you. You become more trusted as a leader and people will follow you once they believe you can lead them to their wants and needs.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” – Tony Robbins

These insights have helped many people become leaders and, ultimately, move others to their best selves. It’s worked for me and I hope it works for you. At the end of the day, it’s all about showing up and showing out.

Have you ever thought about having a radio show? If so, what would you talk about? Let us below!

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5 Essential Skills to Drive Success in Every Niche

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There are many people who don’t have the courage to launch a business in a niche as they think they don’t have the right skills and experience to obtain success. While there are specific skills which determine the success in every niche, there are also some general skills which ensure success in any business you would try.

Below are 5 essential skills you need to drive success in every aspect of your life:

1. Ambition

When you launch a new business, you need to be prepared for difficult moments such as fighting the competition and winning your target audience. Moreover, if you follow some successful entrepreneurs, you should keep in mind that they also faced difficulties and continue to experience them. So, how does a successful entrepreneur get over all the difficulties?

The essential skill you need to possess is called ambition. Set small and clear milestones in your development plan and use your ambition to go over each difficulty and finalize what you had in your mind. It doesn’t matter how hard the path is going to be. Visualize your target and put in all the efforts to achieve it. Staying organized and scheduling each step to get things done are some of the techniques you can use to achieve success.

2. Listen to those around you

While listening to your instincts is necessary if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, this is not enough. As your business develops, you will have an entire team to manage and lead to success. Therefore, you cannot be a successful leader and have success in every niche unless you learn how to listen to the people around you.

You should listen to your employees and discover what they are expecting from you. This is the way to follow if you want to keep your team motivated and help them give the best of themselves.

On the other hand, you will need to listen to your customers to improve your products and services and provide excellent customer support. By listening carefully to the voice of your customers, you will be able to stand out of the competition and ensure their loyalty towards your brand.

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos

3. Courage

When you decided to become an entrepreneur and build your own business, it means you are a courageous person. Courage will help you harness the power of creativity. Don’t be afraid to take risks if you feel a specific action will bring more success to your business.

Apart from doing intensive research on your ideas and developing the exact steps you are going to follow, you will need the courage to implement them. Not all the ideas will turn out to be successful.

Regardless, you will have something to learn from each success or mistake and this will help you move your business even further. When you have the courage to follow a path which is not very familiar to you, this is going to be the moment when you will widen your horizons and exceed your limits to achieve success.

4. Creativity and imagination

If you already implemented your idea and you see that it works, you most probably think that you don’t need to change anything to achieve more success. You need to keep in mind that customers’ preferences change and your competition is waiting for your mistakes to “steal” your clients.

Therefore, you need to use your creativity and imagination to improve your products and services to meet your customers’ expectations. What is more, creativity can also mean that you are open to talk to new people and use their experience to improve something in your business.

“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” – Steve Jobs

5. Continuous learning

If you want to drive success in every niche you will need to show a willingness to learn. You need to stay updated with what happens in your niche and what your customers expect from you.

Education is not only something for school. It is a lifelong process, and you should be open to seek knowledge and improve your skills with every opportunity. An efficient trick is to stay close to people who are already successful in your industry, ask their opinions on various subjects and learn from their experience.

The above five essential skills will help you build a successful business in every niche. A true leader is ambitious, knows to listen to the people around him, and is always open to learning from others.

No matter the size of your business, you will need to be creative and use your imagination to improve your products and services. These skills will help any leader develop new skills, stand out of the crowd, and strengthen his position on the market.

What skill do you think is most important to be successful in life? Let us know below!

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