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6 Ways Your Brain Attempts To Sabotage Your Goals & Dreams

Joel Brown (Founder of Addicted2Success.com)

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Now we know that you should never make excuses for not sticking to your goals, and we understand that from time to time you will have your valid reasons, but what if it is not really you to blame for your failures and that your brain is actually out to sabotage your hopeful plans?

Well this article here explains the 6 ways that your brain plays tricks on you to sabotage your goals and dreams.

 

1.) Your brain can hurt your goals by fantasizing too much

Would you believe that fantasizing is the #1 way your brain can unintentionally ruin your goals?

It seems unlikely, right?

The thing is, the proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the research): psychologists have found that while positive thinking about the future is broadly beneficial, too much fantasy can have disastrous results on achieving goals.

Researchers tracked the progress of how people cope with four different types of challenges.

As an example, in one of those challenges (trying to find a fulfilling job), those who had spent the most time fantasizing performed the worst in a variety of critical data points:

  • they had applied for fewer jobs
  • they had been offered fewer jobs
  • if they were able to find work, they had lower salaries.

Why?

Why could fantasizing about a positive end take a turn for the worse?

Jeremy Dean, a psychological researcher at UCL London and the owner of PsyBlog had this to say about the researcher’s conclusions:

The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However, they don’t alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all, it feels like we’ve already reached our goal.

It’s one way in which our minds own brilliance lets us down. Because it’s so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality.

Our poor brain is thus a victim of itself.

Again, this is not to say that visualizing goals is necessarily a haphazard strategy for achieving them, it’s just that we need to be aware of the dangers of excessive fantasy.

Instead of being entranced with what the future may bring, we need to learn to love the work here and now.

Enjoying our day by day progress and realistic ‘checkpoints’ is a much more practical way to create our future; getting lost in grandiose dreams that focus on the ultimate end is not.

As they say, don’t give up on your dreams, but don’t fall under their spell either.

 

2.) Your brain procrastinates on big projects by visualizing the worst parts

Procrastination, of all of the things on this list, is likely the most recognizable: everybody realizes that they procrastinate from time to time, and it’s something we are forced to battle with every day.

How can we fight this persistent opponent?

Interesting research from Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik (of whom the Zeigarnik Effect is named after) reveals to us an interesting tidbit about the human mind: we are better at remember things that are partially done.

Ms. Zeigarnik came to this conclusion by testing the memory of folks doing simple “brain” tasks like puzzles or crafts.

She then interrupted them and asked them to recall (with specific detail) the tasks that they were doing or had completed.

She found that people were twice as likely to recall more detail about the tasks they had been interrupted in than in the tasks they had completed.

What does this have to do with procrastination?

Before we get to that, know this: in a study by Kenneth McGraw, participants were given a very tricky puzzle to solve with an “unlimited” amount of time.

The thing is, all of the participants were interrupted before they could finish, and then told that the study was over.

Guess what happened next…

Despite being told they were done, nearly 90% of participants continued working on the puzzle anyway.

What both of these studies teach us is that when people finally manage to start something, they are much more inclined to remember the task and finish it.

The Zeigarnik Effect and the subsequent McGraw study assure us that the best way to beat procrastination is to start somewhere… anywhere.

Our brain has the habit of envisioning the impending huge workload of an upcoming task.

It also tends to focus on the most difficult parts or sections, and this is where procrastination begins to set in: as we try to avoid the “hard work”, we find ways to skate around it and trick ourselves into thinking that we’re busy.

Just starting though, triggers our brain in a different way.

It’s the same way that cliffhangers are utilized to keep us coming back to our favorite TV shows; we’re primed to remember the last episode because the story was interrupted, and our brain wants a conclusion.

It’s the same with your tasks: start, and your brain will overcome the first hurdle.

This seemingly small milestone appears to be the most important one to overcome if you wish to defeat procrastination.

After starting a task, your brain will be more enticed to finish it to it’s “conclusion.”

You also tend to see that it’s not as big a mountain as you initially imagined, and that the work involved in completing this task won’t be so terrifying after all.

 

3.) Your brain will “abandon ship” at the first sign of distress

Anyone who’s fought the good fight with dieting will likely recognize this phenomenon.

Envision this:

You’re on a diet, and have been doing well for about 2 1/2 weeks, but you know your defenses are at risk.

To make matters work, you’re having dinner with friends tonight.

Instead of the healthy meal you could have made at home, you’re forced to use a restaurant menu.

The problem is this: At the bar before dinner, you had a little “cheat” moment by ordering snacks and drinks, after all, you’re with your pals tonight, right?

You know that those drinks and snacks, combined with the bread you had before dinner, leave you with one option to stay a bit over your caloric intake goals: you must eat a salad.

The thing is, your brain is yelling out “BURGER!”.

Instead of finishing the day a tad over your 2000 calorie goal, you order the burger with fries and don’t look back.

The crazy thing about this scenario?

It’s much more than a momentary act of weakness: psychologists have observed that this is much more likely to happen as a result of you missing a previously set goal.

Specifically, in research by Janet Polivy and her colleagues, people who were actually on diets were tested with pizza and cookies.

In the study, two groups of participants (those on diets and those not dieting) were told not to eat beforehand and then served exactly the same slice of pizza when they arrived to the lab.

Afterwards, they were then asked to taste and rate some cookies (I’m getting hungry already : )).

The thing was, the experimenters didn’t really care about the cookie’s rating, they just wanted to see how many people ate.

This is because they tricked some of the participants into thinking that they had received a larger slice than the others (using framing and false information). This was to make them believe that they had most certainly “ruined” their diet goals for the day.

The result?

When the cookies were weighed, it turned out that those who were on a diet and thought they’d blown their limit ate more of the cookies than those who weren’t on a diet.

This doesn’t paint the true picture though: they ate over 50% more!

On the flip side, the dieters that did think that they were in their caloric limit ate the same amount of cookies as those who weren’t on a diet at all.

Truly, our brain is geared towards a call of “Abandon ship!”, whenever we come short of our goals.

Don’t let this happen to you!

The best way to combat your brain from signaling ‘Mission Abort!’ after you’ve missed a short-term goal is to re-frame what just happened.

Yes, you did fall short or maybe mess up this time, but remember the progress that you’ve made.

With the diet example, you could look at all of the “good days” you’ve accumulated thus far: even if you fell after only a few days of starting your new diet, it’s still an accomplishment to have started one and to have set long-term goals for yourself.

Short-term lapses in your end-goal is not like a bad apple spoiling the bunch: you have gotten things accomplished so far and you need to stay focused on the long-term, not become distraught by a single mishap.

Research tells us that this is the best mindset to take for misfortune and failure in general: your progress and achievements go so much farther than that slip-up; don’t let your brain convince you that all is lost!

 

4.) Your brain loves mindless busywork disguised as progress

How fitting that this should be posted on a site that relates to social media!

One of the ways in which your brain continues it’s trickery is through busy work: work that gets “something” done, but not something that produces any measurable results.

In fact, research by John Bargh and colleagues reveals that our brain just loves to become robotic and to even mimic people out of habit.

I shouldn’t have to tell you that this is disastrous to achieving long-term goals!

This busy work is often a mechanism our brain uses in cohesion with avoiding big projects (mentioned above): instead of diving into the difficult tasks we KNOW we should get done, we’ll instead float around doing semi-related (read: barely related) menial tasks to make ourselves feelproductive without actually getting anything done.

Here’s the thing: you’re not going to build a thriving business or a successful blog with that kind of busy work.

It takes doing the hard work and it takes deliberate practice, there’s no way around it.

The thing is, your brain knows this, that’s why you have to remind it remind yourself that the challenging stuff is often the stuff that produces the results you desire.

Also remember that you can fight that procrastination by just getting started.

When you look back at what you’ve gotten done by the end of the day, make sure you’re proud of what you got accomplished, don’t let your brain ruin your goals by diverting you from what needs to be done!

 

5.) Your brain gives you a false sense of time.

Your brain says: “Relax, you’ve got plenty of time for this project.”
The reality: You are straight-up terrible at estimating how long it will take you to finish tasks. You’ll almost assuredly underestimate the time you’ll need.

When they started building the Sydney Opera House, the blokes in charge were all like, “No worries, mate. She’ll be done by 1963 and this $7 million budget should cover things nicely. Throw another shrimp on the barbie.” (Note: I am paraphrasing here.) Then they proceeded to tear through the $7 million faster than a kangaroo chasing a boomerang (fun with stereotypes!). The iconic building finally opened in 1973—ten years late and $95 million over budget.

You tend to underestimate how much time projects will take for you to complete. It’s called Planning Fallacy, and it’s why Afternoon-You looks at the to-do list made by Morning-You and says, “Were you under the impression that I am some sort of goddamn superhero or what?”

Psychologists think your overly optimistic planning is caused by a combination of wishful thinking and how you view similar projects you’ve done in the past, which is to say you subconsciously take credit for the progress that was made but blame outside forces for delays. The last article took so long to write because your computer crashed, your neighbor was playing “Rhythm Is A Dancer” on his damned guitar again, and you got stuck in traffic on the way to an interview. Those things weren’t your fault and won’t happen again, you say. But they might. And if they don’t, other time-sucks will show up to take their place.

Solutions:

  • Your brain isn’t as bad at determining how long it will take someone else to complete a task. You’ll overestimate in most cases, but it’s nothing compared to the wildly overoptimistic standards you’ll set for yourself. When you need to determine a time frame for a project, imagine someone else will be completing the task and your guess will be closer to the truth.
  • Planning Fallacy is going to tell you that writing your book will take, oh, maybe two weeks if you stop for meals. As always, it lies. For a goal as complex as that, the only way to get a remotely accurate estimate is to break it into the individual steps it will take to achieve it. Besides, it’s scary as hell to see “write novel” on today’s to-do list, but breaking it down into steps like “research alpaca breeding standards for book” or “write chapter seven” turns it into something that’s finite, specific, and easier to wrap your head around. Make a list. Write down how long each step will take. Add ’em up.
  • Make a note of how long similar tasks have taken, but don’t adjust for distractions or problems caused by outside sources.
  • Identify potential snags. Assume they’ll happen.

 

6.) Your brain is not good at “winging it” when it comes to planning… ever!

Every night before I go to sleep, I like to write a simple “to-do” list that I group into two categories.

I put some in category ‘A’ (must be done tomorrow) and some in category ‘B’ (must be worked on or done in 2-3 days).

I do this because when I sit down at the computer to do work without a plan, I tend to fall flat on my face.

My so-called “work time” turns into the not-so-productive “check email time” or “browse Reddit” time; nothing of any importance gets done.

It seems that I’m not alone!

In research by Gollwitzer and colleagues, the subject of “if-then” plans was discussed in relation to how we set and stay consistent with out goals, and the results are not surprising but reveal a lot of insight into how our brain reacts to planning (and even some great tips).

The thing is, researchers found that not only do well laid plans seem to get accomplished more often, but planning for failures along the way (“In case of emergency…”) helps people stay on task under duress.

Let’s continue our diet example from above.

Say you did have that lapse and go over your calories for the day.

Instead of “winging it” and letting your brain crumble to it’s likely response (discussed above), you should have a backup plan ready to know what to do when failure strikes.

This could be something like: “If I go over 2000 calories in a day, I’ll finish the day as close to 2000 as I can, and then the next morning, I’ll go for a 15 minute run as a ‘penance’, make sure I eat an extra healthy breakfast, and then continue the rest of my day as normal.”

You are likely no stranger to feeling ashamed about getting off track, we’ve all been there.

Having those “In case of emergency…” plans help us to have a game plan in case we do falter, and including a small ‘penance’ like I discussed above can help us get over it quicker.

If you failed on your diet for a day and then ‘punish’ (again, just with a quick run) yourself by running in the morning, you can go about your day knowing that you got what you deserved, instead of sliding down the slippery slope of guilt through the rest of the day.

So remember to include an “If-Then” plan for your next big goal, you’ll be able to beat back your brain’s guilt over slipping up now and then and you won’t have to ever “wing it” in case something goes wrong!

 

And here is a bonus little meme from the good fellas over at Runt Of The Web that I am sure we can all relate to:

annoying songs brain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an article by Gregory Ciotti, founder of Sparring Mind.

I am the the Founder of Addicted2Success.com and I am so grateful you're here to be part of this awesome community. I love connecting with people who have a passion for Entrepreneurship, Self Development & Achieving Success. I started this website with the intention of educating and inspiring likeminded people to always strive for success no matter what their circumstances. I'm proud to say through my podcast and through this website we have impacted over 100 million lives in the last 6 and a half years.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Wojciech Krotoszyński

    Mar 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This is absolutely : “…a how to overcome my personal work problems guide.” -> Though I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for procrastinating another task I have to do.. :p

  2. andrea

    Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

    This article is just brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  3. Chris

    Oct 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    so the question then is how can we retrain our brains to work for us instead of against us?

  4. Brain Hater

    Oct 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    That’s the reason I bang my head against the wall to discipline it. Now I’m going to bang it more

  5. Suriya Choudhary (@Supriyakc85)

    Jun 4, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Really, really nice article that explains us how our brains play fools with us! I have jotted these down to be constantly ‘aware’ that these don’t come in my way of success.

  6. Erica Roberts

    May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Actually, I always OVERESTIMATE how long I will take to finish a project and end up finishing ahead of time. When I was much younger I underestimated it.. but then I learned..

  7. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    Jan 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    These are some great tips. I always make sure I have a plan. When I lay down in bed at night, I’ll do a quick run through of the things I want to do tomorrow. It helps me to be more productive.

  8. Dianne McLaren

    Dec 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Great tips …. Very interesting I will definitely share.

  9. Tim

    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    All of it true. I can relate to the entire list and have experienced all of them in my business. The hard part is retraining your brain to work in the opposite.

  10. Tammy

    Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

    This is great! I just had to share it!

  11. Mary Gudzenovs

    Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Brilliant. thanks. Will share this a link to this on my blog. And start practicing these tips!

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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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leadership
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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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Success Advice

This Is Why Most People Give Up On Their Dreams — I Plead With You Not To Become One Of Them.

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We all have a dream even if we haven’t realized it yet. It could be something as simple as raising a family, or it might be more extreme like winning an Olympic gold medal.

No matter the dream, most people give up on their dream.

I’m pleading with you not to be one of those people. You can achieve your dream when you understand why people give up in the first place.

Here’s why most people give up on their dreams:


They failed once before.

Many people try something once and when they fail, they give up. That’s because nobody tells you that achieving your dream doesn’t happen the first time around.

You have to try and try again until you reach your goal.
The problem is it’s easy to try once, fail, and then say “I already tried and I didn’t win.”

We give in so easily because the upside is a life of excuses.

We give in because we can live through the heroes of our favorite Netflix show.

We give in because in some ways there is a reward. Giving up gives you permission to sit on the couch, eat junk food, be angry at the world on social media and sleep in your nice warm bed

The problem is that this life sucks. You’ll get tired of it. One day you’ll want to chase your dream again, but you might be old, frail and full of regrets.

I’m pleading with you not to choose this option.


They got told no.

You don’t need permission — remember that. You are going to get told no hundreds of times in your life. With every dream you have, there’s going to be some fat, lazy slob that’s going to be standing in your way.”

Push through these people — flubber and all. Don’t let someone else’s laziness or issues with your dream stop you.

Ignore the no and get right back to it. Ask them again. Ask someone else.

Ideally, don’t ask them at all. I never asked to be a blogger I just did it. Certain publications turned me down and I kept writing.

Not everyone understands your gifts or potential and that’s fine. The main point here is that you understand.

I’m pleading with you to not give up because of a no. Make the no your motivation instead.


They don’t see failure for what it is.

Failure is nothing more than the inevitable education that any person who achieves their dream goes through.

Failure is so important that I personally like to pay money for it. I wish there was a shop or course I could do that would guarantee me failure instead of success. I want you to want the failure because that’s where all the answers are.

Once you know what doesn’t work, you’ll have a path forward. Change the word failure into education.

I’m pleading with you to fall in love with failure and not to give up on your dream.


Boredom strikes like thunder.

Everyone gets bored. I watched a documentary where Usain Bolt was training for the Olympics and even he admitted that he got bored after he won a few gold medals.

Boredom is normal, but it’s why a lot of people give up on their dreams.

It’s in the moments of boredom that you give your mind a chance to rest. Doing nothing and being lazy for a few hours can often bring a spark of creativity. No one is motivated 100% of the time — not even me.

It’s up to you to add some variety into your day, so you don’t get stuck in boredom forever.

Boredom can also be a good sign as well. It can be a sign that you need to change your approach or do things in a new way.

I’m pleading with you not to be afraid of boredom. Use boredom to your advantage.


They stop believing in themselves.

Your dreams are not easy (obviously). The rejection, failure and setbacks you’ll achieve can bring you down. What messes people’s dreams up is they stop believing in themselves.

Everything starts to fall over when you don’t believe in yourselfYou have to believe you can do it before anyone else will buy into that idea. The challenge is that you’re going to need help to achieve your dreams. You can’t do it alone.

You’ll never get that help unless you can get people to believe what you believe.

I’m pleading with you to believe in yourself no matter what. You have this dream for a reason and you can do it.


They are stuck on one strategy.

Many people live their entire life based on one strategy or one arbitrage. They refuse to change and so eventually the environment around them changes which affects their ability to reach their dream.

If you’re set in your ways and won’t change your approach, you’ll probably fail. We all imagine how our dream should look yet sometimes the reality is different.

You have to be open to change. In my experience, my original dream looked much different and I’m glad it’s changed. Changes to your dream are for the better.

I’m pleading with you to be open-minded.


They are surrounded by an army of morons.

If everyone around you is telling you you’re an idiot and they don’t respect your dream for what it is, this will have a negative impact on you whether you like it or not.

Run away from the dream killers who are making up for their own broken dreams and surround yourself with people who support you

The best people are the ones that support you but don’t always agree with you. Even better are the ones that support you and challenge your thinking. 
I’m pleading with you to reassess the people around you.


They want security.

No dream comes with an insurance policy or a set path. People are afraid to take risks and want reassurances when they pursue their dream.

There are none. Dreams are made off the back of taking calculated and clever risks most of the time. If you want someone to guarantee your dream, then it ain’t going to happen.

It’s the unpredictability that makes dreams addictive, delicious and worth the effort. Not knowing is what our mind craves — we just don’t know it. If we knew how our dream turned out, we wouldn’t be as excited.

I’m pleading with you to take a risk or two.


They refuse to be disciplined.

Nothing worth achieving can be done without discipline. There’s work involved and that has to be scheduled and executed upon.

I’ve written every single week since 2014. That takes bloody discipline.

My discipline reflects my results in the blogging world. The same applies to your own dream.

Block out chunks of your calendar and get to work. If you’re not doing at least one small thing towards your dream every day, then you’re heading in the wrong direction.

I’m pleading you to put in regular work towards your dream.


The greener grass syndrome.

Another reason we give up is not because we’re lazy necessarily but because we failed and there is a better option. That’s what our mind tells us.

I didn’t fail; I just found something better,” you say to yourself.

Well, that’s the sad truth.

“Changing your idea of success consistently is not the answer. At some point, you need to decide to chase one dream and quit the ADHD dream chasing the average person chases. You’re better than that”

Worrying about what everybody else is doing and then chasing their dreams is ridiculous.

I’m pleading with you not to fall for this lie. The grass is not greener it just requires more work than you anticipated.


Final thought.

Please, please, please don’t give up on your dream. You’re closer than you think. You just need to stand back and think about a few of the points I’ve mentioned.

Broken dreams have birthed so many broken people.

It doesn’t have to be that way. See your dream for what it is: Something special that you can achieve if you put your mind to it, focus and be excited by the possibilities.

Don’t give up on your dream.

<<<>>>

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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23 of the Most Inspiring and Motivational Cardi B Quotes

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Image Credit | Know Your Meme

Cardi B has been at the top of her game for over a year by releasing multiple Number 1 single’s, having millions of followers on social media, and releasing her debut album in April 2018. (more…)

Armando Quintana III is a current master’s student and one of his main goals is to be a physician. He mentors high school and college students along with giving them speeches on alternative ways to reach success, and aims to educate people as a future physician on the natural healing powers of the body. He can be reached through social media at @armandoq3 or his website at mfmanifesto.com.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Wojciech Krotoszyński

    Mar 24, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    This is absolutely : “…a how to overcome my personal work problems guide.” -> Though I wouldn’t have read it if it wasn’t for procrastinating another task I have to do.. :p

  2. andrea

    Nov 4, 2013 at 12:18 am

    This article is just brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  3. Chris

    Oct 27, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    so the question then is how can we retrain our brains to work for us instead of against us?

  4. Brain Hater

    Oct 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    That’s the reason I bang my head against the wall to discipline it. Now I’m going to bang it more

  5. Suriya Choudhary (@Supriyakc85)

    Jun 4, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Really, really nice article that explains us how our brains play fools with us! I have jotted these down to be constantly ‘aware’ that these don’t come in my way of success.

  6. Erica Roberts

    May 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Actually, I always OVERESTIMATE how long I will take to finish a project and end up finishing ahead of time. When I was much younger I underestimated it.. but then I learned..

  7. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides

    Jan 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    These are some great tips. I always make sure I have a plan. When I lay down in bed at night, I’ll do a quick run through of the things I want to do tomorrow. It helps me to be more productive.

  8. Dianne McLaren

    Dec 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Great tips …. Very interesting I will definitely share.

  9. Tim

    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    All of it true. I can relate to the entire list and have experienced all of them in my business. The hard part is retraining your brain to work in the opposite.

  10. Tammy

    Nov 19, 2012 at 2:01 am

    This is great! I just had to share it!

  11. Mary Gudzenovs

    Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 am

    Brilliant. thanks. Will share this a link to this on my blog. And start practicing these tips!

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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decision making
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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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leadership
Image Credit: Unsplash

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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Success Advice

This Is Why Most People Give Up On Their Dreams — I Plead With You Not To Become One Of Them.

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We all have a dream even if we haven’t realized it yet. It could be something as simple as raising a family, or it might be more extreme like winning an Olympic gold medal.

No matter the dream, most people give up on their dream.

I’m pleading with you not to be one of those people. You can achieve your dream when you understand why people give up in the first place.

Here’s why most people give up on their dreams:


They failed once before.

Many people try something once and when they fail, they give up. That’s because nobody tells you that achieving your dream doesn’t happen the first time around.

You have to try and try again until you reach your goal.
The problem is it’s easy to try once, fail, and then say “I already tried and I didn’t win.”

We give in so easily because the upside is a life of excuses.

We give in because we can live through the heroes of our favorite Netflix show.

We give in because in some ways there is a reward. Giving up gives you permission to sit on the couch, eat junk food, be angry at the world on social media and sleep in your nice warm bed

The problem is that this life sucks. You’ll get tired of it. One day you’ll want to chase your dream again, but you might be old, frail and full of regrets.

I’m pleading with you not to choose this option.


They got told no.

You don’t need permission — remember that. You are going to get told no hundreds of times in your life. With every dream you have, there’s going to be some fat, lazy slob that’s going to be standing in your way.”

Push through these people — flubber and all. Don’t let someone else’s laziness or issues with your dream stop you.

Ignore the no and get right back to it. Ask them again. Ask someone else.

Ideally, don’t ask them at all. I never asked to be a blogger I just did it. Certain publications turned me down and I kept writing.

Not everyone understands your gifts or potential and that’s fine. The main point here is that you understand.

I’m pleading with you to not give up because of a no. Make the no your motivation instead.


They don’t see failure for what it is.

Failure is nothing more than the inevitable education that any person who achieves their dream goes through.

Failure is so important that I personally like to pay money for it. I wish there was a shop or course I could do that would guarantee me failure instead of success. I want you to want the failure because that’s where all the answers are.

Once you know what doesn’t work, you’ll have a path forward. Change the word failure into education.

I’m pleading with you to fall in love with failure and not to give up on your dream.


Boredom strikes like thunder.

Everyone gets bored. I watched a documentary where Usain Bolt was training for the Olympics and even he admitted that he got bored after he won a few gold medals.

Boredom is normal, but it’s why a lot of people give up on their dreams.

It’s in the moments of boredom that you give your mind a chance to rest. Doing nothing and being lazy for a few hours can often bring a spark of creativity. No one is motivated 100% of the time — not even me.

It’s up to you to add some variety into your day, so you don’t get stuck in boredom forever.

Boredom can also be a good sign as well. It can be a sign that you need to change your approach or do things in a new way.

I’m pleading with you not to be afraid of boredom. Use boredom to your advantage.


They stop believing in themselves.

Your dreams are not easy (obviously). The rejection, failure and setbacks you’ll achieve can bring you down. What messes people’s dreams up is they stop believing in themselves.

Everything starts to fall over when you don’t believe in yourselfYou have to believe you can do it before anyone else will buy into that idea. The challenge is that you’re going to need help to achieve your dreams. You can’t do it alone.

You’ll never get that help unless you can get people to believe what you believe.

I’m pleading with you to believe in yourself no matter what. You have this dream for a reason and you can do it.


They are stuck on one strategy.

Many people live their entire life based on one strategy or one arbitrage. They refuse to change and so eventually the environment around them changes which affects their ability to reach their dream.

If you’re set in your ways and won’t change your approach, you’ll probably fail. We all imagine how our dream should look yet sometimes the reality is different.

You have to be open to change. In my experience, my original dream looked much different and I’m glad it’s changed. Changes to your dream are for the better.

I’m pleading with you to be open-minded.


They are surrounded by an army of morons.

If everyone around you is telling you you’re an idiot and they don’t respect your dream for what it is, this will have a negative impact on you whether you like it or not.

Run away from the dream killers who are making up for their own broken dreams and surround yourself with people who support you

The best people are the ones that support you but don’t always agree with you. Even better are the ones that support you and challenge your thinking. 
I’m pleading with you to reassess the people around you.


They want security.

No dream comes with an insurance policy or a set path. People are afraid to take risks and want reassurances when they pursue their dream.

There are none. Dreams are made off the back of taking calculated and clever risks most of the time. If you want someone to guarantee your dream, then it ain’t going to happen.

It’s the unpredictability that makes dreams addictive, delicious and worth the effort. Not knowing is what our mind craves — we just don’t know it. If we knew how our dream turned out, we wouldn’t be as excited.

I’m pleading with you to take a risk or two.


They refuse to be disciplined.

Nothing worth achieving can be done without discipline. There’s work involved and that has to be scheduled and executed upon.

I’ve written every single week since 2014. That takes bloody discipline.

My discipline reflects my results in the blogging world. The same applies to your own dream.

Block out chunks of your calendar and get to work. If you’re not doing at least one small thing towards your dream every day, then you’re heading in the wrong direction.

I’m pleading you to put in regular work towards your dream.


The greener grass syndrome.

Another reason we give up is not because we’re lazy necessarily but because we failed and there is a better option. That’s what our mind tells us.

I didn’t fail; I just found something better,” you say to yourself.

Well, that’s the sad truth.

“Changing your idea of success consistently is not the answer. At some point, you need to decide to chase one dream and quit the ADHD dream chasing the average person chases. You’re better than that”

Worrying about what everybody else is doing and then chasing their dreams is ridiculous.

I’m pleading with you not to fall for this lie. The grass is not greener it just requires more work than you anticipated.


Final thought.

Please, please, please don’t give up on your dream. You’re closer than you think. You just need to stand back and think about a few of the points I’ve mentioned.

Broken dreams have birthed so many broken people.

It doesn’t have to be that way. See your dream for what it is: Something special that you can achieve if you put your mind to it, focus and be excited by the possibilities.

Don’t give up on your dream.

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If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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