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Becoming Bulletproof: How to Transform Your Lowest Moments Into Your Greatest Opportunities

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I was devastated. I had spent six weeks promoting one of my company’s first ever events, and needed to sell at least twelve tickets to break even. Despite pouring my heart, soul and every spare minute I had into marketing the event, with a week to go, I had only sold six tickets. I was having major doubts whether my business was going to be viable going forward.

Then, with two days to go, the ticket sales started to roll in; 7, 8, 9, 12, and on the day before, I reached 17. I was profitable! Things were looking up. I could hardly contain my excitement as I signed people in to the event that morning. After registering, attendees grabbed a cup of coffee and took their seats in the classroom. We were due to start at 10am. 

As 10am drew nearer, I became concerned that there was no sign of the course leader. I tried calling a few times – no answer. Sent a text – no reply. The clock hit 10. Then 10.05. Then 10.15. He never showed.

I walked into the room, explained what had happened, and proceeded to refund every single penny in revenue I had spent six weeks working to generate. Later, the course leader called me and told me he’d made a ‘scheduling error’. To date, this was my biggest setback in business, and in this post, I’ll share three ideas that helped me get through it.

1. Experience is Raw Material

Years before, I had read Victor Frankl’s: ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who was imprisoned in Nazi Concentration Camps during World War Two. One of his key insights was that it is our responsibility to determine what experiences mean to us. Having read Frankl’s work, I realised it was now my choice to decide what the setback meant to me.

On one hand, I could take it as a sign that maybe I’m not cut out for entrepreneurship and I should just give up the dream, be realistic and get a ‘real job’. On the other, I could use it as fuel. I could see it as an opportunity to develop resilience in overcoming adversity. If I could come back from this, then I’d become the kind of person that is able to land on his feet; no matter what life throws at him.

Both interpretations were potentially true. But I realised that the actions I took from then on in, would determine which future would materialise.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl

2. The Circle of Influence

Steven Covey was an American educator and author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. One of his core ideas is that there are two areas where you can spend your time and energy: The circle of influence and the circle of concern.

The circle of influence contains everything that is directly within your control. E.g. Your health, relationships, the amount of effort you put in, etc. The circle of concern contains things you have no direct control over. E.g. The weather, other peoples’ opinions, nuclear war, etc.

Proactive people spend most of their time in the circle of influence. Reactive people spend their time in the circle of concern. 

When the setback happened, I realised I had a choice about what to focus on. On one hand, I could spend it in the circle of concern; thinking about how I’d been screwed over, blaming the course leader, and worrying that my business was going to fail. 

On the other, I could spend it in the circle of influence. I could focus on what I now had control over; refunding attendees, scheduling a new date, getting a new venue, and arranging more courses. I opted for the latter. We re-ran the course two weeks later and made a profit overall.

3. Extreme Ownership

Extreme ownership is an idea from Jocko Willink. It involves taking as much responsibility as possible for the negative things that happen in your life. If something goes wrong, you ask: ‘In what way did I contribute to the negative outcome that occurred?’

You then take ownership of it, identify where you screwed up, and do your best to ensure history doesn’t repeat. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to only want to see the good in ourselves. We really want to see ourselves in a positive light.

If something challenges this, we feel threatened, insecure, and look to put the blame elsewhere. In my case, my brain went into blame-overdrive. But I knew if I was going to make sure it didn’t happen again, I needed to figure out what part I had played in the outcome, and take action to prevent it happening again in the future. 

“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

When I reflected, I realised my communication had let me down. If I had effectively communicated with the course leader leading up to the event, the situation would never have happened as it did. Since, I’ve now developed a system where I email clear information about the date, timing and location to speakers six days before my events.

Extreme ownership allowed me to learn from my mistake and put systems in place to ensure it never happens again. As a result, I have a better, and less risky business. Had I simply blamed the course leader, then I’d be vulnerable to the same mistake in the future. Worse still, all the pain I went through would have been for nothing.

​No matter what you do, life is going to throw problems at you. It’s an inevitable part of the human experience. The goal then, shouldn’t be a life free of problems and adversity. But rather, it should be to become the kind of person who can overcome them. As John Kabat-Zinn said: ‘You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.’

Realising that it’s your choice what meaning you give to any situation, spending your time in the circle of influence, and taking extreme ownership, are three powerful ways to do this.

Niall McKeever is a writer and Founder of The Weekend University - which aims to make the best minds and ideas in psychology more accessible to the general public. To do this, they organise monthly conferences, which host talks from world-leading psychologists, authors and university professors. You can get early access to their latest talks here.

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20 Ways You Can Become a Powerful Communicator

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Emile Steenveld Speaker and Coach

Some people seem to naturally know how to effectively communicate in a group setting. They can express themselves clearly and listen attentively without dominating the conversation.

Being a powerful communicator is important for several reasons, including building and maintaining relationships, achieving goals, resolving conflicts, improving productivity, leading and influencing others, advancing in your career, expressing yourself more confidently and authentically, and improving your mental and emotional well-being. Effective communication is an essential life skill that can benefit you in all aspects of your life.

But, don’t worry if you don’t naturally possess this skill, as effective communication is something that can be developed with practice, planning and preparation.
 

1.  Listen actively: Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker and responding to what they are saying.

 

2. Use “I” statements: Speak from your own perspective and avoid placing blame or making accusations.

 

3. Avoid assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling.

 

4. Be clear: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and concisely by getting to the point and avoid using jargon or overly complex language.

 

5. Show empathy: Show that you understand and care about the other person’s feelings.

 

6. Offer valuable insights: When speaking in a group, provide a valuable takeaway or actionable item that people can walk away with.

 

7. Be an active listener: Listen attentively and respond accordingly, incorporating your points into the conversation.

 

8. Choose the right time: Pick the most opportune time to speak to ensure that you have the group’s attention and can deliver your message without interruption.

 

9. Be the unifying voice: Step in and unify the group’s thoughts to calm down the discussion and insert your point effectively.

 

10. Keep responses concise: Keep responses short and to the point to show respect for others’ time.

 

11. Avoid unnecessary comments: Avoid commenting on everything and only speak when you have something important to say.

 

12. Cut the fluff: Avoid being long-winded and get straight to the point.

 

13. Prepare ahead of time: Sort out your points and practice them before speaking in a group.

 

14. Smile and be positive: Smile and nod along as others speak, to build a positive relationship and be respected when it’s your turn to speak.

 

15. Take responsibility: Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.

 

16. Ask questions: Ask questions to clarify any confusion or misunderstandings.

 

17. Avoid interrupting: Allow the other person to finish speaking without interruption.

 

18. Practice active listening: Repeat what the other person said to ensure you have understood correctly.

 

19. Use your body language too: Use nonverbal cues such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to convey your message and build rapport.

 

20. Be aware of the tone of your voice: it should be calm and assertive, not aggressive or passive.

 

By keeping these tips in mind, you can improve your communication skills and become a more powerful communicator, which can help you build better relationships, achieve your goals, and lead a more fulfilling life.

I you want to learn how to become more confident in life then you can join my weekly mentorship calls and 40+ online workshops at AweBliss.com so you can master your life with more success.

 
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