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Success Advice

How To *Not* Be A Spineless Leader

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Until recently, I thought I wasn’t a leader. Then a few months ago it all changed.

Consistently I started to get told that I was inspiring people. I was seeing the changes that people were making as a result of the blog posts I putting up on social media. I felt good. I felt like I had a purpose that made a difference.

Then I took the opposite approach: I decided to think about how to not fall into the trap of becoming a spineless leader. I’ve met many of them. They’re like walking zombies except they stand up straight and look like they have a normal spine. They don’t.

Here’s how to *not* be a spineless leader:

 

1. Don’t be a “Yes Man or Yes Woman”

Saying yes because you think others will appreciate you for it is spineless. Real leaders say what they think regardless of whether it’s the popular thing to say. Say what you think. Give honest feedback in a respectful way. It’s possible to do without your ego getting in the way.

 

2. Do the dirty work

Quick story for you all. I met a very senior leader that refused to ever talk to a customer. Their response to the question “Can you talk to a customer?” was, “I just do strategy,”

That’s the best description I can give of a spineless leader. Real leaders want to be in the trenches to understand what their people are going through. Real leaders know the front line better than anyone. It’s this knowledge that helps them steer the team in the right direction and make it out alive.

“Real leaders know that you have to do the dirty work before you can ever become a leader”

Once you get the illustrious title, it’s then your job to never be too precious of doing the dirty work again. At the drop of a hat, you should be prepared to do whatever it takes to help the team reach its goals.

You still get to outsource, but what you don’t get to do is sit in an ivory tower, alone with your strategy documents and hold your head up high. That task is reserved for spineless leaders.

 

3. Avoid trying to be a people pleaser

At least a third of the people you meet are going to think you are an asshole. Deal with it. We all have different tastes and likes. Sometimes all it takes is someone to disagree with the color of your pants for them to think bad things about you.

Getting people to like you, for who you are, flaws and all, is far more important. Real people are insanely rare and they stand out in a good way.

“Kissing ass, on the other hand, is a dirty little habit that spineless leaders use to fill in the void of authenticity that is missing in their life”

Being a people pleaser will only get you so far. Then, all of a sudden, your career progress will halt and you’ll have no idea why. The reason is because you’re acting like a suck and everyone knows it.

 

4. Have direction, combined with determination

Having no idea where you’re heading is spineless. The people that follow you can’t be led by you unless they know where you’re heading. For all they know, you’re leading them off a cliff without even realizing it.

What makes us follow a leader is when we feel that they are determined to achieve an outcome at whatever it costs. The “never die” attitude is persuasive and motivating for anyone listening. None of us want to invest time in a leader who’s lost and could give up at any moment.

 

5. Have courage in spite of all the risks

It’s easy to say to know based on some unforeseen risk. The reality is everything we ever do has risk. It’s not about avoiding risk; it’s about understanding and managing it. That takes real courage to do because you could lose your position as “The Leader.”

That title you’ve worked so hard for could be taken away from you at a moments notice because of a risk you took.

At the other end of the spectrum is to take no risks. This means that nothing ever changes. The outcome of all of this risk avoidance is the following:

– No innovation
– Lack of motivation
– A lowering of team morale
– The risk that you get beaten by the opposition

Spineless leaders are asleep at the wheel because their risk avoidance leads to a lack of progress. We’re either growing or we’re dying. It takes calculated risks to grow.

 

6. Allow others to shine brighter

A spineless leader doesn’t like when someone takes the spotlight away from themselves. A real leader loves when their team does amazing things and likes to celebrate with them. These same leaders like to build others up so eventually they can create more leaders just like them.

“The goal is to breed more authentic leaders, not to be the only leader, therefore becoming a dictator of sorts”

 

7. Intentionally be a leader

Spineless leaders got their role by accident because someone asked them to try it and the title sounded good, got them more money, made them feel good or was the easy option at the time. We’ve all met someone who fell into leadership and has no passion for it.

Real leaders are intentional and have worked their entire life to serve others and make progress towards their cause. The difference between the two is the same as the difference between the person that came sixth in the Olympics at high jump and the person that won gold the last three times for the same event.

Dabbling and being unintentional, when it comes to leadership, is for amateurs. You either want to be a leader or you don’t. If you want to be a leader, then you better show up ready to do what it takes.

Otherwise, leadership will knock you flat on your face and make you a complaining victim who’s angry at the world. I don’t want that for you and neither do you.

 

8. Make a decision

To not make a decision is the biggest problem. Spineless leaders procrastinate on decisions in the hope that the decision is forgotten about or sidelined. Real leaders make a decision in a timely manner and back themselves regardless of the outcome.

 

9. Be focused on your team

The whole meaning of a leader is to be focused on the people they lead. We’ve all met spineless leaders who have the title only to exploit it and use it for vanity metrics. You have to give to your people for them to deliver you the tangible progress towards your mission that you’re seeking from them.

To do that you need to be likable. To be likable, you need to be prepared to give all of yourself and be prepared to get nothing in return. Real leaders have no guarantee of success. Real leaders still take the position because it’s the channel they use to give their experience, knowledge and selflessness to the world.

Leadership is for people who stand for a cause beyond their own. Leadership is for people who believe that they can make the world a better place which in turn gives something back of value to all of us.

You probably think this may not sound like a whole lot of fun. It may appear that way but it’s freaking amazing when you give all of yourself and get to make a difference. It’s the best thing you can ever receive. You’ll only understand this lesson when you become a real leader.

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

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. json formatter

    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for these advice!

  2. Emily

    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Great advice! Don’t be a YES man!

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Success Advice

What I’ve Learned Working In Finance For Six Years (Hint: It Applies To Everyone)

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I’ve been in the corporate world of finance now for more than six years. I get everyone from kids straight out of college, to older guys and girls that have been out of the workforce for ages, to people looking for a career change asking about the finance industry.

I’ve found the real lessons I’ve gained from working in finance are far broader than just one industry. Finance has taught me life skills and how to deal with people. While the startup world was fun, the finance industry gave me some extra skills.

Here’s what I learned working in finance:

 

1. The grass is never greener.

Over the years, many of my colleagues have left finance to start their own thing or join some new age fintech that apparently has all the answers – that is, until they come up against credit risk or accidentally fund terrorism through their products and services. The grass is never greener.

“Every company, whether it’s a large bank or one you started yourself, is going to have challenges. It comes down to which flavors of challenges you like the most”

Maybe you have to be really innovative in your career but don’t mind lack of funding or small travel budgets.

Maybe you have to work with really smart people but don’t mind being in a low budget office. The people I’ve met in finance that are always chasing greener grass never seem to find it.

At some point, we can’t avoid challenges or people we don’t like – they exist in all companies whether we like it or not. Learning to deal with these facts is how I’ve stayed in finance for six years and not given up on my career.

 

2. There are mediocre people everywhere we go.

In finance, like any industry, there are mediocre people. Some of them are uneducated; some of them lack critical thinking; some of them have zero sales ability; some are afraid of customers; some of them love a good company paid breakfast for no good reason. We can’t avoid mediocre people.

“What I’ve learned through my years in finance is that it’s not that people are mediocre or dumb; it’s that everyone has different priorities”

Some people want to leave at 5:01 pm to be with their kids and that’s okay.

Just because we don’t prioritize our career and our KPIs, doesn’t mean any of us are dumb because of it. There are many levels of intelligence within a company and all are acceptable.

I’ve visited a few unique and prestigious businesses in Silicon Valley where everyone is a genius and these companies spend half their time arguing who the smartest person is in the room rather than getting down to business and solving a real problem in the world.

 

3. There are good leaders and bad ones.

Don’t get emotional about it, just spend as much time as you can with the good ones. There will be leaders you encounter who are trying it out and who’ve been given a chance. There will be other leaders you meet that are born for the role.

Everyone has the right to step up and be a leader regardless of their ability.

My career in finance has been focused on getting around the good leaders. Sometimes you’ll have to work for a bad leader and the key is to suck it up, eat shit for a while, and then leave and work for a leader you believe in.

 

4. Your career is never going to be full of highlights.

I was on the homepage of our company’s website twice in one year. Many never get this chance ever in their career and it happened to me twice in one year.

Then there was a year after that where nothing happened. There were no big milestones, no punching the air and plenty of low points involving customers.

In finance, and in the business world, it’s never going to be a back-to-back show-reel of Instagram highlights where we win every day.

There will be periods of massive growth and then there will be months and even years where nothing happens – times where we show up for work each day expecting something big to happen and it doesn’t.

 

5. The need for a side hustle.

Our career can’t always be full of highlights, which is why we need a side hustle. Think of it like another avenue that we can use to kick goals, grow and broaden your skills. For me, outside of working in finance, it became social media and blogging. Over the last five years of my finance career, I’ve hustled my face off learning somewhat non-related skills that have nothing to do with finance.

Side hustles allow us to explore our wild side. Working in finance can be quite dry and without my side hustle, I may have succumbed to suppressing my emotions, wearing a corporate mask and dressing in a suit and tie every day.

Side hustles helped me keep it real. Some days I work in jeans and a t-shirt. Other days I wear the cliché suit. My side hustle helped me live a little and get some perspective on what the finance industry was really about. The answer? Like every business, finance is about people.

 

6. Once we understand people, we’re set.

People go through a range of emotions every day. Once we understand that what’s happening in business could be entirely down to the fact they’re human, and nothing to do with business, we see the business landscape differently.

We become more compassionate to stakeholders, we treat customers with kindness and we quit thinking that we’re a freaking genius that has all the answers and if only people would listen to us the business would make 10X the profits.

Business is about people and by understanding them we can see it for what it is. Our customers are also people, and our interactions with them become easier when we come to grips with this fact.

If I were to get you to learn one thing, it would be the basics of psychology. Most of the key points can be Googled for free but the value they bring will help whether you’re in finance or any another industry.

 

7. We’re all constantly growing in secret.

I always thought that GM’s, CEO’s, etc, had it made. I always thought that they woke up each day and came to work with a killer instinct. The finance industry taught me I was wrong. The leaders we admire with those big job titles are just like you and me: they’re scared as F.

The difference is that the leaders we admire are growing in secret.

You think they have it made but when you get in their head, you realize that even with their success they suffer the same human pitfalls that you and I do. The difference is they embrace those pitfalls and take action regardless.

Even your heroes are fearful when they have to perform, but they do it anyway.

 

8. Your happiness doesn’t stay the same.

At the start of a new role in any industry, we’re loaded with energy. We come to work with new strategies and different ways to acquire customers. Then a few years go by and we become a bit negative. We see the same challenges over and over and the same people failing to take action.

This can lead to unhappiness in our career.

What working in finance has taught me is that there will be times we’re really happy with our role and other times where we are unhappy.

What we learn in the unhappy times helps us when we’re living through the happy times. If you expect to get into any industry and be blazing on fire for decades straight you’ll be sadly disappointed. One solution I’ve found is to change up my career and try new things.

Maybe you start in a sales role and end up working in product or risk. Maybe you work in customer service and end up in a strategy role.

Much of the unhappiness is tied to boredom and changing roles can help reboot our happiness at work.

 

9. Innovation is much harder than we think.

Geez, if there’s is one thing I have seen a lot of in many financial services businesses it’s innovation. So many companies have tried it and it never works. Sometimes it’s too much red tape that is put around the business or idea which ultimately suffocates the life out of any opportunity to innovate.

Other times it’s the wrong people that kill the innovation.

“Surprisingly, one thing that makes innovation really challenging is an abundance of resources”

Large businesses can afford to throw lots of money against the wall at innovation whereas startups can’t.

The limitations and budget restraints a startup has are often why they can be nimble and innovative. In the end, true innovation is damn hard. If it were easy, then many businesses would be more successful than they are.

The key is not to give up on innovation. It’s a slow process to embed innovation into the culture of a business and get results. True innovation requires a lot more failure than the leaders in the business world are often comfortable with.

It’s only by looking at what doesn’t work that we find truly innovative solutions.

 

10. It’s not about networking: it’s about helping.

Someone emailed me yesterday and said, “Hey I’d like to network with you.”

I thought to myself “Wow that sounds really silly!”

This idea that we have to network is stupid. What makes more sense is to build relationships just like we would with friends. Networking is focused too much on what we can get and what we will give in return. It’s transactional and it feels unnatural.

The subtle difference is that when we build a relationship with someone (instead of network with them) we’re not seeking anything from them. There’s no expectation and that’s where the magic lies right there.

 

11. We all experience bad publicity. It’s how we handle it.

Even monster success stories like Facebook have bad publicity. Working in finance can have some ugly moments. Not everyone is honest and there will be times where the business you work for or even your own business may face negative publicity.

No company or industry (including finance) is perfect. Businesses make mistakes just like humans do because ‘Business’ is just a label for a group of humans doing their life’s work.

Expecting the company you work for to be a perfect corporate citizen is a fantasy.

 

12. Listening to customers is not easy but it works.

Working in finance has allowed me to see my fair share of angry customers. For years, I tried to defend my position and this caused me to miss what the customer was saying.

After a while in finance, I learned that if you shut up and listen to the client, you learn much more. Sometimes they might yell at you for 30-minutes flat. Sit there and listen.

By listening, you get the chance to understand the problem fully and it gets your mind ticking with ideas. When people feel they are being properly listened to, they’re more receptive to the solutions you present for their problems.

It’s freaking revolutionary when you listen more. Not just in business but in life too.

 

13. What you have for lunch matters.

I was eating chicken nuggets in a bread roll for ages and it caused me to be sleepy in the afternoon. This killed my productivity and my desire to work effectively so I would cram all my challenging tasks into the morning.

Once I learned what a proper lunch was and began eating one every day, my energy, mood and productivity improved. I’m still getting better but what I learned is to monitor carefully what I eat if I want the energy to excel in my career. Bread, at lunchtime in particular, tends to suck away my energy later in the afternoon.

 

14. Kindness and compassion are superpowers.

Your humility separates you from the pack. Trying my best in my finance career to show compassion and be kind to people has helped me immensely. These two traits are rarer than you think.

In the business world, kindness and compassion are the glue that sticks all of the right opportunities together for you and presents them as a beautiful collage.

The reason I’ve had some cool opportunities (particularly of late) is that I’ve tried to be different instead of being like everyone else. I’ve questioned the way business works and experimented with kindness and compassion.

It turns out these two traits make people see me in a weird way. It’s almost like these two traits make me more human.

Kindness and compassion are about seeing the best in people before making assumptions that they’re out to screw you. Kindness and compassion are about believing in the power of the human species above all else.

 

15. Taking off the mask is freeing.

For the first half of my career in finance, I wore a mask. It’s hard to admit but it’s true. I used corporate language like “revenue targets” and “customer value proposition” and took a notepad to meetings to look smart. I wore the nicely ironed suit with the cute little cufflinks.

I said hello politely to everyone and was graceful. When it came to social media, I promoted the company and supported my colleagues. I told people I liked what they did even when I didn’t.

I did all of this because I thought that being fake and wearing a mask of bravery and perfection was what you had to do to succeed. I thought that’s how business land worked.

I found that all of this acting became exhausting and it was incongruent with who I really was. Deep down, I was an entrepreneur and a highly creative person that wanted to express himself.

After a string of bizarre situations – like narrowly missing cancer and seeing a few people close to me like my grandma pass away – I decided to throw away the mask.

I started dropping the odd F-Bomb. I told people politely when I didn’t like their idea. I became brutally honest with clients and stopped telling them what they wanted to hear.

All of this led to the real version of me being on display. Some people liked it and others weren’t interested.

“Either way, you can’t keep faking it till you make it at work every day because eventually, you’ll fall down from all the BS and wonder whose life you’ve been living for the last six years”

 

16. Scheduling holidays in advance provides additional motivation.

Let’s not pretend we’re 100% motivated each week at work. Some weeks will suck and that’s normal. Booking holidays in advance gives me a permanent memory of yet another thing that’s great about life: taking breaks.

The first half of my finance career involved almost no holidays. Not only did I become burnt out, but I also didn’t have as much to look forward to. Then I began booking in holidays to New Zealand, the USA and Japan. My motivation changed. I’d work harder leading up to holiday time so that I could take an even bigger break away from it all.

Holidays became like a reset button for my finance career and they gave me something else to aim for other than boring old KPIs.

 

17. Working really long hours means there’s a problem.

There have been a lot of times I’ve encountered people in finance working their butt off. I used to think it’s cool; now I see it as a problem.

If you’re working long hours, there is a problem. You’re either unproductive, distracted or under-resourced. All of these issues can be resolved and working stupidly hard is not the answer.

“Productivity is the opposite of working long hours”

 

18. You’ll have to speak in front of others.

That’s why I tell everybody to get their arse to Toastmasters and learn how to speak without having a thousand Ums and Ahs between every word. Public speaking is a basic form of communication and mastering it is how you get across your ideas, visions and tell phenomenal stories.

No matter your speaking ability in front of others, it’s time to improve it.

 

19. Most people have no idea about business so don’t feel so bad.

Yep, that’s the truth! All these people you meet in business that sound like they know what they’re talking about often don’t. They are just regurgitating something they heard or read which they thought was right.

We all pretend like business is an art and so many times it’s not what it’s made out to be. The science of business has more to do with life skills than anything else. Most books about business try and overcomplicate something that isn’t that hard.

“The greatest challenge and complexity with business is understanding its simplicity”

 

20. Change is guaranteed. Why not embrace it?

And here’s the final thing I’ll say: whether you work in finance like me or in another industry, change is guaranteed. One of these will happen to you:

–    Your industry will be disrupted if it hasn’t been already

–    Your company will go through a restructure, merger or be acquired which may cause you to lose your job

–    The business you are a part of could fail

–    Or a natural disaster or manmade event like a GFC could screw with your career

Change is guaranteed in your career so rather than avoiding it, what I’ve learned in finance is to embrace it. See the fork in the road as the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.

Welcome change with open arms otherwise it will be the kiss of death to your perfect, cookie-cutter career in whatever.

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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Success Advice

5 Ways to Think Yourself Into Mind Blowing Results From Globally Renowned Leaders

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deep thought

Many wonder why someone who’s less qualified is achieving greater success even though you’re smarter, work harder, or even have more influential connections. The only way someone succeeds is by thinking correctly. It doesn’t matter who you know, what school you attended, or what grades you got; all that matters are your thoughts. Both men and women around the world have been telling people “the secret” to success for hundreds of years. It’s time to listen.

Here are five tactics to begin today:

1. Writing Goals the Napoleon Hill Way

Thinking yourself into mind blowing results starts with the end in mind. Athletes know exactly what their goal is and how to earn the points to win. Life’s exactly the same.  In nearly every Napoleon Hill book, he lays out a goal achieving formula which has helped millions around the world. By following this, you will accomplish something you currently believe is impossible.

Start by writing a clear statement of your desire, then formulate a clear plan to attain it. You’ll also need to know what you plan on giving up in return. Set a definite time limit. Everything you wrote down, memorize it and repeat it to yourself often. It’s imperative you express gratitude towards receiving the results you’re still working for. Be grateful you achieved your desired outcomes long before you actually materialize them into your world.

“If you cannot do great things yourself, remember that you may do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill

2. Creating Your Mental Image How Bob Proctor Teaches

In Bob Proctor’s’ book, You Were Born Rich, he titled Chapter 3, “The Image Maker” because we think in pictures. Our thoughts are like movie clips being projected on the screens of our minds; control the pictures, control the outcomes.  It’s vital to manage our thoughts and expel the ones that don’t serve us. Knowing this, you’re now the ‘mental architect’ of your life, of your destiny!

Once you have your desired outcome, it’s time to put that image on the screen of your mind. See yourself already in possession of what you desire. Clearly watch yourself living it, hearing the sounds and feeling the feelings you’ll experience.

A powerful question to ask to know which moment should be on the screen of your mind is, “what’s the last thing that needs to happen in order for me to know I’ve achieved the result I’m after?” This is the moment to focus on!

3. Allow Dr. David Schwartz to Give Yourself a Daily Pep-Talk

Start thinking more of yourself through self-praise. You’ll begin to discover how much bigger and stronger you feel when you upgrade your thinking habits. In Dr. David Schwartz’s book, The Magic of Thinking Big, he provides you with a daily technique. Constantly reminding yourself that you’re top-notch by using his “Sell-Yourself-to-Yourself 60 Second Commercial.”

Developing the “commercial” is as easy as writing down your assets and points of superiority. What’ll separate you from the herd is practicing your “commercial” out loud in front of a mirror once a day with enthusiasm and determination. Lastly, read it silently many times throughout the day as a constant reminder of your greatness. Just like a written goal, keep this with you at all times. It’s a great mental tool to regain enthusiasm and determination after the inevitable setback.

4. Experience Unlimited Power Like Tony Robbins

Have you heard about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)? It’s the study of success and how to emulate it; it’s the language of the mind and how to create concise results. From the many learnings gathered from both Tony Robbins and the study of NLP, controlling your state of mind is one thing that will drastically change the results you’re currently producing.

In his book, Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins gifted us with the technique, “memory management.” This is linking an emotion to a memory which instantly elicits that empowering feeling. Simply know your arsenal of positive memories to think about when you need that extra umph.

Successful people gain access to their most resourceful emotions on a consistent basis, you can too. What’s great about the mind is that they don’t even need to be real memories. Daydreaming about your fantasy life will do the trick too!

“People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else.” – Tony Robbins

5. Think Positive as if You Were Norman Vincent Peale

Believing in yourself is vital to succeed, but not crucial to begin. The path to attainment is by forming faith and expectancy that what you desire is going to happen. In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, he wrote a chapter for each of these important necessities; believing and expecting. By not having both of these right now, or even just one of them, that shouldn’t stop you from anything!

There’s an undeniable cure for both. To believe in yourself and have the full expectation that what you want will come to pass, the only tactic out there are autosuggestions, commonly known as affirmations.

Developing statements in the positive, present tense and repeating them thousands of times a day, you’ll reprogram your subconscious mind to a success-filled mindset. By convincing your subconscious to believe in your end game, soon enough, you’ll begin to expect it; just like you expect to go to sleep tonight.

Since our minds are the most powerful force in all of creation, it’s time to start using it to its fullest potential. Start today by writing your goal the Napoleon Hill way!

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Success Advice

2 Secret Roads to Success – Why Some People Have It All and How You Can Too

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road to success

Have you wondered how some people seem to have it all – the 6-figure pay check, a healthy and fit body and amazing relationships? On the other hand, others are successful in one aspect of our lives (perhaps we are happy with our careers) but there’s always something that’s missing – that strong body, that perfect someone or living a meaningful life.

I’ve personally experienced having a successful career but failed at having a healthy and strong body. When I finally succeeded at getting and staying healthy, I realized that there are two completely different approaches, both of which need to be mastered to find success in life – the goal-driven approach and the process-driven approach.

The Goal-Driven Approach

A goal-driven approach is one in which our goals themselves, are sufficient to motivate us to act until we achieve them. This works well for:

  1. Short-term goals lasting a few days or a few weeks, where we can see the end in sight and push ourselves to get there.
  2. Goals that are usually within or just outside our comfort zone.
  3. Goals that have some certainty of success at the end. For example, working overnight and acing the client presentation the next morning makes us feel proud of our achievement and gets us recognition from our boss.

This approach inherently rewards speed, agility and short bursts of intense work. We end up relying on quick wins or successes which make the task worth it and help us feel motivated to achieve our goals.

Most of us are very adept at using this approach because we’ve grown up in environments, traditional education and companies, which operate this way. Schools and universities set exams and corporate jobs require us to complete tasks upon which we get good grades or promotions.

When the Goal-Driven Approach Doesn’t Work

What a goal-driven approach doesn’t teach us though is how to approach long-term goals like staying healthy, having meaningful relationships or building our careers around our purpose in life.

  1. These goals are usually so big and so long-term that we don’t fully understand all the steps to reach them.
  2. They don’t have any immediate reward associated with them so our motivation to chase them decreases after the initial burst of inspiration. For example, it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off by just eating healthy for a week.
  3. Because they are so long-term, any future action of ours can completely wipe out the gains made in the beginning of the process which is even more de-motivating. For example, a week of eating healthy can be wiped out by one night of bingeing.
  4. There is also no artificial sense of urgency like deadlines -so we need to find the motivation internally to engage in the task every day. If we ever try to impose timelines on these tasks, it only stresses us out and we compensate by completely sabotaging ourselves like eating an entire pack of cookies one fine night exhausted from a week of eating too little.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

The Process-Driven Approach

The process-driven approach breaks down our big goals into minute goals and creates a habit to execute these minute goals regularly.

Putting such a habit into place is simple. Just follow these four steps:

  1. Break down your big vision into multiple long-term goals all of which have to work together to make your big vision come true. For example, for your big goal of feeling healthy and fit, you may break it down into eating healthier, exercising regularly and sleeping more.
  2. Pick one of the goals to focus on, ideally the one you think will have the biggest payoff.
  3. Break this goal down into a series of simple activities that you can do without much effort. For example, let’s say you picked eating healthier as your priority goal. One of the activities that might be sabotaging you is your regular McDonald’s dinner on the way back from work. A simple activity that can replace this is to stop driving by McDonald’s if it’s triggering your craving and take a different route back home instead.  This might take a little bit of willpower on the first day but as you get used to the new route over a couple of weeks, it’ll become an automatic habit.
  4. Once the first activity feels like a normal part of your day, stack on the second activity and so on. Similarly, once you’ve achieved the first goal, stack on the second, third and remaining goals to reach your long-term vision.

How to Succeed with the Process-Driven Approach

Though this seems simple in theory, there are two emotional and mindset changes needed to succeed with this method.

The first is to be patient – instead of focusing on the big shiny dream, measure progress against the habit that you’re trying to cultivate. Accept that seeing the big vision come true takes months and sometimes years. Our biggest Achilles heel is impatience and while this works well in academia and work, it backfires in building health and relationships because we end up taking short cuts that harm us long term.

The second is to build rewards into your process – Having rewards is the best way to motivate ourselves and makes our mini-habits easier to stick to. For example, if you don’t eat at McDonald’s then your reward could be having a spa massage at the end of the week.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

Find The Right Balance

At the end of the day, we need to master both goal-driven and process-driven approaches to succeed. Use the goal-driven approach for short-term goals or when you need a burst of energy to push you through a task. Use the process-driven approach for long-term lifestyle change journeys such as getting healthier, having more meaningful relationships or pursuing a career that resonates with your purpose in life. In this way, you too can soon be the person who seems to magically “have it all”.

What are you doing today to reach success later on? Let us know your tips in the comments below!

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Success Advice

You Don’t Have To Listen To Every Bit Of Career Feedback. Some People Just Don’t Get You And That’s Fine!

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I recently got rejected from what I thought was a fantastic career opportunity. I was told that I was “Not entrepreneurial enough.”

Those that know me well know that it’s probably one of the few things I’m good at. Many of my mentors who I told this story to laughed out loud.

These three words were career feedback and I was always led to believe that to ignore this feedback would be ignorant and stupid.

I pondered that thought for a few days and then had a revelation: “I don’t have to listen to every bit of feedback I get.”

 

Pissed off is a natural first reaction.

That’s how I felt after someone told me I was crap at the very thing I love and have dedicated most of my time to. Our brain wants to be angry and fight back. Our first reaction, though, is often not what we should pay attention to.

“Empty space and time to reflect is how we process career feedback for what it really is: an opinion”

Don’t let your first reaction dominate how you think about the feedback. Maturity that can come at any age will show you to question everything – even your reaction.

 

Some people just don’t get you.

You’re not their type, they don’t like you, you speak a different language or you may have different values. Not everyone is going to get you and what you stand for and that’s okay. In my case, I didn’t connect.

Buying into the circus that is me is not for everyone. If you don’t like vulnerability or breaking comfort zones, then you probably won’t like me.

If you’re not obsessed with big goals, doing the impossible and trying to improve just a little bit every day, then you probably won’t like me.

That’s okay and I forgive you. I don’t have all the answers and I’m far from perfect – like the rest of us.

Learn to accept that some people will never get you and what you’re about.

That realization is how we overcome career feedback that we may not agree with.

 

Sometimes it’s any excuse. The real answer is something different.

Feedback can be disguised by the truth. The truth is maybe there was someone else the whole time and I never had a chance at this career opportunity. Maybe it wasn’t me at all.

Sometimes feedback is given because the real reason is much harder to deliver. It’s not easy to say “Tim, thanks but we hired someone else and you were never in the running.”

Admitting you never even had a chance is something many of us would never want to say. Being brutally honest takes courage, and courage is not everyone’s kind of kebab with garlic sauce on top, sprinkles and chili flakes.

 

We all get rejected.

I nearly forgot this fact. Everyone gets rejected. In fact, right now, someone is being rejected.

Rejection is not limited to you and me; learning to deal with it will only help us, not hinder our ability to achieve success in any field.

“We’ve all got 99 problems and thinking you’re special will only create more pointless thoughts that won’t serve you or your goals”

 

You’re responsible.

The thing about career feedback is that you have to take responsibility. Maybe in my case, I didn’t deliver the message of how obsessed and skilled I am at entrepreneurship. Maybe I could have done a better job at explaining my entrepreneurial background and passion.

It’s highly likely that I am entrepreneurial enough for this career opportunity and that it’s not a lack of skill at play here but a lack of effective communication.

“Responsibility always trumps the blame game and it helps us grow more as a person”

 

There’s always one lesson.

Mine was to develop more skills in strategy.

Let’s stop for one second: I hate the word strategy. The other career feedback I got was to do more strategy yet that’s not a skill of mine and I have no desire to do lots of that in my career.

The key here is that there’s always a lesson from all feedback and it might not be the intended lesson that the giver left you with.

There’s either a great lesson in the feedback or a reminder in the feedback of what you stand for. Don’t let any feedback compromise your values and who you are.

 

You are good enough.

You just have to believe in yourself and eventually, the right opportunity will find you.

Don’t give up your hopes and dreams because of one rejection. Interrupt the story in your head that plays on repeat and focuses on anger towards another person.

Replace that story with thoughts of how you can do better and get to the next opportunity.

Through rejection and bad career feedback, you find your way to what you’ve always wanted. That’s the hack and it works.

I’m off to suck up the rejection and take my own advice. Much respect.

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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The 9 Question Exercise Which Will Help You Prioritize What Matters Most

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You’re busy, I get it. If you’re like me, you’re constantly jumping from one activity to the next. From one commitment to another, you barely have enough time to think, let alone ask yourself the meaningful questions that will help you drive your career forward or lift your business to the next level. Nonetheless, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to clearly define your goals and your aspirations if you are going to make real progress in any direction. (more…)

McVal Osborne is the author of Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. json formatter

    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for these advice!

  2. Emily

    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:24 am

    Great advice! Don’t be a YES man!

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Success Advice

What I’ve Learned Working In Finance For Six Years (Hint: It Applies To Everyone)

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I’ve been in the corporate world of finance now for more than six years. I get everyone from kids straight out of college, to older guys and girls that have been out of the workforce for ages, to people looking for a career change asking about the finance industry.

I’ve found the real lessons I’ve gained from working in finance are far broader than just one industry. Finance has taught me life skills and how to deal with people. While the startup world was fun, the finance industry gave me some extra skills.

Here’s what I learned working in finance:

 

1. The grass is never greener.

Over the years, many of my colleagues have left finance to start their own thing or join some new age fintech that apparently has all the answers – that is, until they come up against credit risk or accidentally fund terrorism through their products and services. The grass is never greener.

“Every company, whether it’s a large bank or one you started yourself, is going to have challenges. It comes down to which flavors of challenges you like the most”

Maybe you have to be really innovative in your career but don’t mind lack of funding or small travel budgets.

Maybe you have to work with really smart people but don’t mind being in a low budget office. The people I’ve met in finance that are always chasing greener grass never seem to find it.

At some point, we can’t avoid challenges or people we don’t like – they exist in all companies whether we like it or not. Learning to deal with these facts is how I’ve stayed in finance for six years and not given up on my career.

 

2. There are mediocre people everywhere we go.

In finance, like any industry, there are mediocre people. Some of them are uneducated; some of them lack critical thinking; some of them have zero sales ability; some are afraid of customers; some of them love a good company paid breakfast for no good reason. We can’t avoid mediocre people.

“What I’ve learned through my years in finance is that it’s not that people are mediocre or dumb; it’s that everyone has different priorities”

Some people want to leave at 5:01 pm to be with their kids and that’s okay.

Just because we don’t prioritize our career and our KPIs, doesn’t mean any of us are dumb because of it. There are many levels of intelligence within a company and all are acceptable.

I’ve visited a few unique and prestigious businesses in Silicon Valley where everyone is a genius and these companies spend half their time arguing who the smartest person is in the room rather than getting down to business and solving a real problem in the world.

 

3. There are good leaders and bad ones.

Don’t get emotional about it, just spend as much time as you can with the good ones. There will be leaders you encounter who are trying it out and who’ve been given a chance. There will be other leaders you meet that are born for the role.

Everyone has the right to step up and be a leader regardless of their ability.

My career in finance has been focused on getting around the good leaders. Sometimes you’ll have to work for a bad leader and the key is to suck it up, eat shit for a while, and then leave and work for a leader you believe in.

 

4. Your career is never going to be full of highlights.

I was on the homepage of our company’s website twice in one year. Many never get this chance ever in their career and it happened to me twice in one year.

Then there was a year after that where nothing happened. There were no big milestones, no punching the air and plenty of low points involving customers.

In finance, and in the business world, it’s never going to be a back-to-back show-reel of Instagram highlights where we win every day.

There will be periods of massive growth and then there will be months and even years where nothing happens – times where we show up for work each day expecting something big to happen and it doesn’t.

 

5. The need for a side hustle.

Our career can’t always be full of highlights, which is why we need a side hustle. Think of it like another avenue that we can use to kick goals, grow and broaden your skills. For me, outside of working in finance, it became social media and blogging. Over the last five years of my finance career, I’ve hustled my face off learning somewhat non-related skills that have nothing to do with finance.

Side hustles allow us to explore our wild side. Working in finance can be quite dry and without my side hustle, I may have succumbed to suppressing my emotions, wearing a corporate mask and dressing in a suit and tie every day.

Side hustles helped me keep it real. Some days I work in jeans and a t-shirt. Other days I wear the cliché suit. My side hustle helped me live a little and get some perspective on what the finance industry was really about. The answer? Like every business, finance is about people.

 

6. Once we understand people, we’re set.

People go through a range of emotions every day. Once we understand that what’s happening in business could be entirely down to the fact they’re human, and nothing to do with business, we see the business landscape differently.

We become more compassionate to stakeholders, we treat customers with kindness and we quit thinking that we’re a freaking genius that has all the answers and if only people would listen to us the business would make 10X the profits.

Business is about people and by understanding them we can see it for what it is. Our customers are also people, and our interactions with them become easier when we come to grips with this fact.

If I were to get you to learn one thing, it would be the basics of psychology. Most of the key points can be Googled for free but the value they bring will help whether you’re in finance or any another industry.

 

7. We’re all constantly growing in secret.

I always thought that GM’s, CEO’s, etc, had it made. I always thought that they woke up each day and came to work with a killer instinct. The finance industry taught me I was wrong. The leaders we admire with those big job titles are just like you and me: they’re scared as F.

The difference is that the leaders we admire are growing in secret.

You think they have it made but when you get in their head, you realize that even with their success they suffer the same human pitfalls that you and I do. The difference is they embrace those pitfalls and take action regardless.

Even your heroes are fearful when they have to perform, but they do it anyway.

 

8. Your happiness doesn’t stay the same.

At the start of a new role in any industry, we’re loaded with energy. We come to work with new strategies and different ways to acquire customers. Then a few years go by and we become a bit negative. We see the same challenges over and over and the same people failing to take action.

This can lead to unhappiness in our career.

What working in finance has taught me is that there will be times we’re really happy with our role and other times where we are unhappy.

What we learn in the unhappy times helps us when we’re living through the happy times. If you expect to get into any industry and be blazing on fire for decades straight you’ll be sadly disappointed. One solution I’ve found is to change up my career and try new things.

Maybe you start in a sales role and end up working in product or risk. Maybe you work in customer service and end up in a strategy role.

Much of the unhappiness is tied to boredom and changing roles can help reboot our happiness at work.

 

9. Innovation is much harder than we think.

Geez, if there’s is one thing I have seen a lot of in many financial services businesses it’s innovation. So many companies have tried it and it never works. Sometimes it’s too much red tape that is put around the business or idea which ultimately suffocates the life out of any opportunity to innovate.

Other times it’s the wrong people that kill the innovation.

“Surprisingly, one thing that makes innovation really challenging is an abundance of resources”

Large businesses can afford to throw lots of money against the wall at innovation whereas startups can’t.

The limitations and budget restraints a startup has are often why they can be nimble and innovative. In the end, true innovation is damn hard. If it were easy, then many businesses would be more successful than they are.

The key is not to give up on innovation. It’s a slow process to embed innovation into the culture of a business and get results. True innovation requires a lot more failure than the leaders in the business world are often comfortable with.

It’s only by looking at what doesn’t work that we find truly innovative solutions.

 

10. It’s not about networking: it’s about helping.

Someone emailed me yesterday and said, “Hey I’d like to network with you.”

I thought to myself “Wow that sounds really silly!”

This idea that we have to network is stupid. What makes more sense is to build relationships just like we would with friends. Networking is focused too much on what we can get and what we will give in return. It’s transactional and it feels unnatural.

The subtle difference is that when we build a relationship with someone (instead of network with them) we’re not seeking anything from them. There’s no expectation and that’s where the magic lies right there.

 

11. We all experience bad publicity. It’s how we handle it.

Even monster success stories like Facebook have bad publicity. Working in finance can have some ugly moments. Not everyone is honest and there will be times where the business you work for or even your own business may face negative publicity.

No company or industry (including finance) is perfect. Businesses make mistakes just like humans do because ‘Business’ is just a label for a group of humans doing their life’s work.

Expecting the company you work for to be a perfect corporate citizen is a fantasy.

 

12. Listening to customers is not easy but it works.

Working in finance has allowed me to see my fair share of angry customers. For years, I tried to defend my position and this caused me to miss what the customer was saying.

After a while in finance, I learned that if you shut up and listen to the client, you learn much more. Sometimes they might yell at you for 30-minutes flat. Sit there and listen.

By listening, you get the chance to understand the problem fully and it gets your mind ticking with ideas. When people feel they are being properly listened to, they’re more receptive to the solutions you present for their problems.

It’s freaking revolutionary when you listen more. Not just in business but in life too.

 

13. What you have for lunch matters.

I was eating chicken nuggets in a bread roll for ages and it caused me to be sleepy in the afternoon. This killed my productivity and my desire to work effectively so I would cram all my challenging tasks into the morning.

Once I learned what a proper lunch was and began eating one every day, my energy, mood and productivity improved. I’m still getting better but what I learned is to monitor carefully what I eat if I want the energy to excel in my career. Bread, at lunchtime in particular, tends to suck away my energy later in the afternoon.

 

14. Kindness and compassion are superpowers.

Your humility separates you from the pack. Trying my best in my finance career to show compassion and be kind to people has helped me immensely. These two traits are rarer than you think.

In the business world, kindness and compassion are the glue that sticks all of the right opportunities together for you and presents them as a beautiful collage.

The reason I’ve had some cool opportunities (particularly of late) is that I’ve tried to be different instead of being like everyone else. I’ve questioned the way business works and experimented with kindness and compassion.

It turns out these two traits make people see me in a weird way. It’s almost like these two traits make me more human.

Kindness and compassion are about seeing the best in people before making assumptions that they’re out to screw you. Kindness and compassion are about believing in the power of the human species above all else.

 

15. Taking off the mask is freeing.

For the first half of my career in finance, I wore a mask. It’s hard to admit but it’s true. I used corporate language like “revenue targets” and “customer value proposition” and took a notepad to meetings to look smart. I wore the nicely ironed suit with the cute little cufflinks.

I said hello politely to everyone and was graceful. When it came to social media, I promoted the company and supported my colleagues. I told people I liked what they did even when I didn’t.

I did all of this because I thought that being fake and wearing a mask of bravery and perfection was what you had to do to succeed. I thought that’s how business land worked.

I found that all of this acting became exhausting and it was incongruent with who I really was. Deep down, I was an entrepreneur and a highly creative person that wanted to express himself.

After a string of bizarre situations – like narrowly missing cancer and seeing a few people close to me like my grandma pass away – I decided to throw away the mask.

I started dropping the odd F-Bomb. I told people politely when I didn’t like their idea. I became brutally honest with clients and stopped telling them what they wanted to hear.

All of this led to the real version of me being on display. Some people liked it and others weren’t interested.

“Either way, you can’t keep faking it till you make it at work every day because eventually, you’ll fall down from all the BS and wonder whose life you’ve been living for the last six years”

 

16. Scheduling holidays in advance provides additional motivation.

Let’s not pretend we’re 100% motivated each week at work. Some weeks will suck and that’s normal. Booking holidays in advance gives me a permanent memory of yet another thing that’s great about life: taking breaks.

The first half of my finance career involved almost no holidays. Not only did I become burnt out, but I also didn’t have as much to look forward to. Then I began booking in holidays to New Zealand, the USA and Japan. My motivation changed. I’d work harder leading up to holiday time so that I could take an even bigger break away from it all.

Holidays became like a reset button for my finance career and they gave me something else to aim for other than boring old KPIs.

 

17. Working really long hours means there’s a problem.

There have been a lot of times I’ve encountered people in finance working their butt off. I used to think it’s cool; now I see it as a problem.

If you’re working long hours, there is a problem. You’re either unproductive, distracted or under-resourced. All of these issues can be resolved and working stupidly hard is not the answer.

“Productivity is the opposite of working long hours”

 

18. You’ll have to speak in front of others.

That’s why I tell everybody to get their arse to Toastmasters and learn how to speak without having a thousand Ums and Ahs between every word. Public speaking is a basic form of communication and mastering it is how you get across your ideas, visions and tell phenomenal stories.

No matter your speaking ability in front of others, it’s time to improve it.

 

19. Most people have no idea about business so don’t feel so bad.

Yep, that’s the truth! All these people you meet in business that sound like they know what they’re talking about often don’t. They are just regurgitating something they heard or read which they thought was right.

We all pretend like business is an art and so many times it’s not what it’s made out to be. The science of business has more to do with life skills than anything else. Most books about business try and overcomplicate something that isn’t that hard.

“The greatest challenge and complexity with business is understanding its simplicity”

 

20. Change is guaranteed. Why not embrace it?

And here’s the final thing I’ll say: whether you work in finance like me or in another industry, change is guaranteed. One of these will happen to you:

–    Your industry will be disrupted if it hasn’t been already

–    Your company will go through a restructure, merger or be acquired which may cause you to lose your job

–    The business you are a part of could fail

–    Or a natural disaster or manmade event like a GFC could screw with your career

Change is guaranteed in your career so rather than avoiding it, what I’ve learned in finance is to embrace it. See the fork in the road as the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.

Welcome change with open arms otherwise it will be the kiss of death to your perfect, cookie-cutter career in whatever.

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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Success Advice

5 Ways to Think Yourself Into Mind Blowing Results From Globally Renowned Leaders

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Many wonder why someone who’s less qualified is achieving greater success even though you’re smarter, work harder, or even have more influential connections. The only way someone succeeds is by thinking correctly. It doesn’t matter who you know, what school you attended, or what grades you got; all that matters are your thoughts. Both men and women around the world have been telling people “the secret” to success for hundreds of years. It’s time to listen.

Here are five tactics to begin today:

1. Writing Goals the Napoleon Hill Way

Thinking yourself into mind blowing results starts with the end in mind. Athletes know exactly what their goal is and how to earn the points to win. Life’s exactly the same.  In nearly every Napoleon Hill book, he lays out a goal achieving formula which has helped millions around the world. By following this, you will accomplish something you currently believe is impossible.

Start by writing a clear statement of your desire, then formulate a clear plan to attain it. You’ll also need to know what you plan on giving up in return. Set a definite time limit. Everything you wrote down, memorize it and repeat it to yourself often. It’s imperative you express gratitude towards receiving the results you’re still working for. Be grateful you achieved your desired outcomes long before you actually materialize them into your world.

“If you cannot do great things yourself, remember that you may do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill

2. Creating Your Mental Image How Bob Proctor Teaches

In Bob Proctor’s’ book, You Were Born Rich, he titled Chapter 3, “The Image Maker” because we think in pictures. Our thoughts are like movie clips being projected on the screens of our minds; control the pictures, control the outcomes.  It’s vital to manage our thoughts and expel the ones that don’t serve us. Knowing this, you’re now the ‘mental architect’ of your life, of your destiny!

Once you have your desired outcome, it’s time to put that image on the screen of your mind. See yourself already in possession of what you desire. Clearly watch yourself living it, hearing the sounds and feeling the feelings you’ll experience.

A powerful question to ask to know which moment should be on the screen of your mind is, “what’s the last thing that needs to happen in order for me to know I’ve achieved the result I’m after?” This is the moment to focus on!

3. Allow Dr. David Schwartz to Give Yourself a Daily Pep-Talk

Start thinking more of yourself through self-praise. You’ll begin to discover how much bigger and stronger you feel when you upgrade your thinking habits. In Dr. David Schwartz’s book, The Magic of Thinking Big, he provides you with a daily technique. Constantly reminding yourself that you’re top-notch by using his “Sell-Yourself-to-Yourself 60 Second Commercial.”

Developing the “commercial” is as easy as writing down your assets and points of superiority. What’ll separate you from the herd is practicing your “commercial” out loud in front of a mirror once a day with enthusiasm and determination. Lastly, read it silently many times throughout the day as a constant reminder of your greatness. Just like a written goal, keep this with you at all times. It’s a great mental tool to regain enthusiasm and determination after the inevitable setback.

4. Experience Unlimited Power Like Tony Robbins

Have you heard about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)? It’s the study of success and how to emulate it; it’s the language of the mind and how to create concise results. From the many learnings gathered from both Tony Robbins and the study of NLP, controlling your state of mind is one thing that will drastically change the results you’re currently producing.

In his book, Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins gifted us with the technique, “memory management.” This is linking an emotion to a memory which instantly elicits that empowering feeling. Simply know your arsenal of positive memories to think about when you need that extra umph.

Successful people gain access to their most resourceful emotions on a consistent basis, you can too. What’s great about the mind is that they don’t even need to be real memories. Daydreaming about your fantasy life will do the trick too!

“People who succeed at the highest level are not lucky; they’re doing something differently than everyone else.” – Tony Robbins

5. Think Positive as if You Were Norman Vincent Peale

Believing in yourself is vital to succeed, but not crucial to begin. The path to attainment is by forming faith and expectancy that what you desire is going to happen. In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, he wrote a chapter for each of these important necessities; believing and expecting. By not having both of these right now, or even just one of them, that shouldn’t stop you from anything!

There’s an undeniable cure for both. To believe in yourself and have the full expectation that what you want will come to pass, the only tactic out there are autosuggestions, commonly known as affirmations.

Developing statements in the positive, present tense and repeating them thousands of times a day, you’ll reprogram your subconscious mind to a success-filled mindset. By convincing your subconscious to believe in your end game, soon enough, you’ll begin to expect it; just like you expect to go to sleep tonight.

Since our minds are the most powerful force in all of creation, it’s time to start using it to its fullest potential. Start today by writing your goal the Napoleon Hill way!

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Success Advice

2 Secret Roads to Success – Why Some People Have It All and How You Can Too

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Have you wondered how some people seem to have it all – the 6-figure pay check, a healthy and fit body and amazing relationships? On the other hand, others are successful in one aspect of our lives (perhaps we are happy with our careers) but there’s always something that’s missing – that strong body, that perfect someone or living a meaningful life.

I’ve personally experienced having a successful career but failed at having a healthy and strong body. When I finally succeeded at getting and staying healthy, I realized that there are two completely different approaches, both of which need to be mastered to find success in life – the goal-driven approach and the process-driven approach.

The Goal-Driven Approach

A goal-driven approach is one in which our goals themselves, are sufficient to motivate us to act until we achieve them. This works well for:

  1. Short-term goals lasting a few days or a few weeks, where we can see the end in sight and push ourselves to get there.
  2. Goals that are usually within or just outside our comfort zone.
  3. Goals that have some certainty of success at the end. For example, working overnight and acing the client presentation the next morning makes us feel proud of our achievement and gets us recognition from our boss.

This approach inherently rewards speed, agility and short bursts of intense work. We end up relying on quick wins or successes which make the task worth it and help us feel motivated to achieve our goals.

Most of us are very adept at using this approach because we’ve grown up in environments, traditional education and companies, which operate this way. Schools and universities set exams and corporate jobs require us to complete tasks upon which we get good grades or promotions.

When the Goal-Driven Approach Doesn’t Work

What a goal-driven approach doesn’t teach us though is how to approach long-term goals like staying healthy, having meaningful relationships or building our careers around our purpose in life.

  1. These goals are usually so big and so long-term that we don’t fully understand all the steps to reach them.
  2. They don’t have any immediate reward associated with them so our motivation to chase them decreases after the initial burst of inspiration. For example, it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off by just eating healthy for a week.
  3. Because they are so long-term, any future action of ours can completely wipe out the gains made in the beginning of the process which is even more de-motivating. For example, a week of eating healthy can be wiped out by one night of bingeing.
  4. There is also no artificial sense of urgency like deadlines -so we need to find the motivation internally to engage in the task every day. If we ever try to impose timelines on these tasks, it only stresses us out and we compensate by completely sabotaging ourselves like eating an entire pack of cookies one fine night exhausted from a week of eating too little.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra

The Process-Driven Approach

The process-driven approach breaks down our big goals into minute goals and creates a habit to execute these minute goals regularly.

Putting such a habit into place is simple. Just follow these four steps:

  1. Break down your big vision into multiple long-term goals all of which have to work together to make your big vision come true. For example, for your big goal of feeling healthy and fit, you may break it down into eating healthier, exercising regularly and sleeping more.
  2. Pick one of the goals to focus on, ideally the one you think will have the biggest payoff.
  3. Break this goal down into a series of simple activities that you can do without much effort. For example, let’s say you picked eating healthier as your priority goal. One of the activities that might be sabotaging you is your regular McDonald’s dinner on the way back from work. A simple activity that can replace this is to stop driving by McDonald’s if it’s triggering your craving and take a different route back home instead.  This might take a little bit of willpower on the first day but as you get used to the new route over a couple of weeks, it’ll become an automatic habit.
  4. Once the first activity feels like a normal part of your day, stack on the second activity and so on. Similarly, once you’ve achieved the first goal, stack on the second, third and remaining goals to reach your long-term vision.

How to Succeed with the Process-Driven Approach

Though this seems simple in theory, there are two emotional and mindset changes needed to succeed with this method.

The first is to be patient – instead of focusing on the big shiny dream, measure progress against the habit that you’re trying to cultivate. Accept that seeing the big vision come true takes months and sometimes years. Our biggest Achilles heel is impatience and while this works well in academia and work, it backfires in building health and relationships because we end up taking short cuts that harm us long term.

The second is to build rewards into your process – Having rewards is the best way to motivate ourselves and makes our mini-habits easier to stick to. For example, if you don’t eat at McDonald’s then your reward could be having a spa massage at the end of the week.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

Find The Right Balance

At the end of the day, we need to master both goal-driven and process-driven approaches to succeed. Use the goal-driven approach for short-term goals or when you need a burst of energy to push you through a task. Use the process-driven approach for long-term lifestyle change journeys such as getting healthier, having more meaningful relationships or pursuing a career that resonates with your purpose in life. In this way, you too can soon be the person who seems to magically “have it all”.

What are you doing today to reach success later on? Let us know your tips in the comments below!

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Success Advice

You Don’t Have To Listen To Every Bit Of Career Feedback. Some People Just Don’t Get You And That’s Fine!

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I recently got rejected from what I thought was a fantastic career opportunity. I was told that I was “Not entrepreneurial enough.”

Those that know me well know that it’s probably one of the few things I’m good at. Many of my mentors who I told this story to laughed out loud.

These three words were career feedback and I was always led to believe that to ignore this feedback would be ignorant and stupid.

I pondered that thought for a few days and then had a revelation: “I don’t have to listen to every bit of feedback I get.”

 

Pissed off is a natural first reaction.

That’s how I felt after someone told me I was crap at the very thing I love and have dedicated most of my time to. Our brain wants to be angry and fight back. Our first reaction, though, is often not what we should pay attention to.

“Empty space and time to reflect is how we process career feedback for what it really is: an opinion”

Don’t let your first reaction dominate how you think about the feedback. Maturity that can come at any age will show you to question everything – even your reaction.

 

Some people just don’t get you.

You’re not their type, they don’t like you, you speak a different language or you may have different values. Not everyone is going to get you and what you stand for and that’s okay. In my case, I didn’t connect.

Buying into the circus that is me is not for everyone. If you don’t like vulnerability or breaking comfort zones, then you probably won’t like me.

If you’re not obsessed with big goals, doing the impossible and trying to improve just a little bit every day, then you probably won’t like me.

That’s okay and I forgive you. I don’t have all the answers and I’m far from perfect – like the rest of us.

Learn to accept that some people will never get you and what you’re about.

That realization is how we overcome career feedback that we may not agree with.

 

Sometimes it’s any excuse. The real answer is something different.

Feedback can be disguised by the truth. The truth is maybe there was someone else the whole time and I never had a chance at this career opportunity. Maybe it wasn’t me at all.

Sometimes feedback is given because the real reason is much harder to deliver. It’s not easy to say “Tim, thanks but we hired someone else and you were never in the running.”

Admitting you never even had a chance is something many of us would never want to say. Being brutally honest takes courage, and courage is not everyone’s kind of kebab with garlic sauce on top, sprinkles and chili flakes.

 

We all get rejected.

I nearly forgot this fact. Everyone gets rejected. In fact, right now, someone is being rejected.

Rejection is not limited to you and me; learning to deal with it will only help us, not hinder our ability to achieve success in any field.

“We’ve all got 99 problems and thinking you’re special will only create more pointless thoughts that won’t serve you or your goals”

 

You’re responsible.

The thing about career feedback is that you have to take responsibility. Maybe in my case, I didn’t deliver the message of how obsessed and skilled I am at entrepreneurship. Maybe I could have done a better job at explaining my entrepreneurial background and passion.

It’s highly likely that I am entrepreneurial enough for this career opportunity and that it’s not a lack of skill at play here but a lack of effective communication.

“Responsibility always trumps the blame game and it helps us grow more as a person”

 

There’s always one lesson.

Mine was to develop more skills in strategy.

Let’s stop for one second: I hate the word strategy. The other career feedback I got was to do more strategy yet that’s not a skill of mine and I have no desire to do lots of that in my career.

The key here is that there’s always a lesson from all feedback and it might not be the intended lesson that the giver left you with.

There’s either a great lesson in the feedback or a reminder in the feedback of what you stand for. Don’t let any feedback compromise your values and who you are.

 

You are good enough.

You just have to believe in yourself and eventually, the right opportunity will find you.

Don’t give up your hopes and dreams because of one rejection. Interrupt the story in your head that plays on repeat and focuses on anger towards another person.

Replace that story with thoughts of how you can do better and get to the next opportunity.

Through rejection and bad career feedback, you find your way to what you’ve always wanted. That’s the hack and it works.

I’m off to suck up the rejection and take my own advice. Much respect.

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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