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My Mentor And Boss Shocks Me By Quitting – How To Be An Inspirational Leader

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I had a last minute meeting appear in my diary late last Wednesday titled “Team Announcement.”

Something told me that in a few hours everything was going to change. I was right.

It’s been two years now working in what I would describe as a dream team.

We’re all crazy intrapreneurs in my team and we think outside the box. We challenge each other to go even further. We disrupt the traditional business models because that’s all we know how to do.

To some we are crazy: to all of us, we want to do something meaningful.

 

Who is my departing mentor and boss?

In one word, “Gandhi.”

He’s a Buddhist guy with a Yoda philosophy on life. Each day he says something out there and it takes me days to figure out what he means. There is no straight answer because everything has a meaning when it comes from him. The meaning often takes a while to figure out though.

Each day, in our team at work, it’s like preparing for the ancient Japanese Battle of Sekigahara. Every day we have strategy sessions to work out how to take down our enemy. When we get dealt a major blow we know it’s only one of the many battles we face. Overall, we’re optimists led by the chief of the army – my boss and mentor.

 

His departing gift to me

The challenging thing for my former boss is that he loves to give gifts, yet he knows I don’t like material things. Then, one morning on the train, shortly after the announcement, I get a message on LinkedIn from him. The message read:

“…this is my gift to you.”

My foes will become nothing.
My friends will become nothing.
I, too, will become nothing.
Likewise, all will become nothing.
Just like a dream experience,
Whatever things I enjoy
Will become a memory.
Whatever has passed will not be seen again.

With those eight lines of wisdom, my life and career were set to change. He was giving me a message. He knew me better than most and he knew how much this was the best gift he could give. I then saw him at work later and he said:

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

He knew deep down that I was upset he was leaving. He knew that I wanted the dream of our team to continue with him at the reigns of the army. What he figured out I needed was the reassurance that the next chapter of my career would soon begin.

He wanted me to know that the next great leader would appear when I (the student) was ready. Just as he had come into my life when I was ready, so too would the next boss and mentor.

While having a chapter in your life and career come to a close is hard, it’s exciting at the same time. I’ve learned that uncertainty about what’s next is the beginning of the next massive opportunity. Nothing stays the same forever although I sometimes wish secretly that it would.

All you can do in these moments of your career is be grateful. The last two years have been the happiest time of my time in any business.

Here are the lessons my boss and mentor taught me:

 

1. Inspired people change the world

My boss never tried to tell me how to do anything. He always led every conversation with inspiration to do something great. He didn’t want us to be mediocre and be like everyone else. The fact we were a bunch of misfits and didn’t fit in was what he wanted us to embrace. He wanted us to be proud of our unique identity.

Inspirational leaders don’t focus on the how; they focus on the why. Because our team knew why we existed and what our mission was, we always found a way. When our critics laughed at us, we chose to push on. In front of our critics, we always showed respect and smiled. That smile came from a sense that the good guys would win. That good would prevail evil.

Our team was inspired to change the face of our industry. We went after the big stupid goals that everyone said to run a mile from. We put our careers on the line every day. We took calculated risks that others thought were haphazard.

“Nothing, my boss taught us, should ever be done without a why. Everything should have a purpose”

 

2. Relationships always trump the price paid

Many of the clients we dealt with as a team came about through relationship not price. Each of our clients have become like friends. Doing business with my boss and the team feels like going to a family BBQ. My boss taught us that doing business should be based on trust, your value proposition and the feeling of partnership. Partnerships are based on win-win scenarios.

Both sides in every business interaction should feel like they have won. That’s how you know you’re on to something. That’s the way business should be.

 

3. Solve real problems

My boss has a fancy job title and with that comes lots of people who want to pitch a product or service. After some meetings, where we saw something cool, my boss would look very pissed off. I’d ask him what was wrong. He says:

“Tim, what problem are they solving? If you’re not solving a problem then you shouldn’t be asking us to buy from you!”

I thought about that often and realized he was spot on. There’s a lot of clever marketing and companies that have raised money from thin air. These companies only make it when they solve a real problem.

Whatever you do in your career, do your best to try and solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the more money you’ll get for solving it.

 

4. Critical thinking is a rare trait

The one thing that frustrated my boss: lack of critical thinking. Day-to-day in business, we deal with many different characters. Each character forms part of solving a problem (cause that’s what business is after all).

The ability to solve problems effectively, my boss believes, is to use critical thinking. This means that you commit to the following:

– Thinking clearly before deciding on the appropriate action
– Identifying any rational biases beforehand
– Thinking about the connections between different ideas that could form a potential solution
– Being rational about your approach

It’s surprising how rare the superpower is of critical thinking. My boss taught me that it’s something to constantly aim for and to use in business wherever possible.

“Churning out the same old solutions to the same old problems will not move humankind forward. We can all change that”

 

5. Political capital

Throughout the last two years, it felt like we were facing into a different crisis weekly – such is life. The temptation, my boss taught me, is to try and solve every single one. The challenge with that way of thinking is best summed up through a phrase he drilled into my head like a jackhammer: “Political Capital.”

A lot of business encompasses what you would see day-to-day in politics. Each senior leader is a politician, and every politician only has a certain amount of political capital that they can spend on these weekly crises. My boss taught all of us to spend our political capital wisely.

This political capital over the last two years has been the currency we have used to buy our way into a vision for the future that some may say looked “laughable.” Massive change and seeing things before they happen often involves a lot of critics. The key I’ve learned is to turn these critics into supporters, rather than enemies. As I said before, business is very much like a strategic battle.

 

6. Customer focus

So many organizations have this concept of customer centricity at the forefront of what they do. It’s not always a reality though. My boss made sure that I understood the importance of making sure the customer was top of mind with every action I took.

I shouldn’t be trying to build anything without having the customer’s input every step of the way. It’s easy to say, but very hard advice to follow. I learned from my boss to do this, or face problems down the road when it’s too late to change.

 

7. Storytelling futurists matter

Many of our competitors over the last few years were able to win in markets where we were unable to. My boss taught me that the reason our competitors could achieve this goal was because they told better stories than us and spoke about the future.

These competitors spoke about the future and tried to play a part in it. They released products that were way ahead of their time even if they didn’t get the immediate revenue uplift.

Telling stories about the future and releasing products ahead of time gives you a reputation for being a market leader in innovation.

All of us are biased to spend our money with companies who appear to be creating the future we have always dreamt of, even if in reality they are not executing the way it’s perceived they are.

Steve Jobs saw the future of consumer electronics; all of us have the ability to see the future of our industry and play a part in that story.

Stories hold immense power to those who know how to tell them.
Stories make us take action.
Stories inspire us.

 

8. Your boss can be your best friend

The last two years of my life have been a rollercoaster. Multiple romantic disasters. Huge career wins like going viral all over the Internet. I’ve seen colleagues have major illnesses and even seen crowds of people die right in front of the office I work in.

Through each event, my boss has been there. Like Yoda, he’s always had some words of wisdom that don’t give me the answer but help me find it deep within myself. He’s never given up on me. He’s always inspired me. He’s believed in me and the simple idea that I – just like you – can change the world.

He’s made me see that this life is so short and so is my career.
He’s shown me that everything becomes nothing at some point.
So if everything becomes nothing, then all we have is right now.

I don’t know what the next chapter of my career looks like. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a boss, teacher, or friend like this great man ever again. All each of us has is right now. Enjoy it because change is certain.

So is the way you think about change and the awesome opportunities that come with it. It’s time for me to take a break and have a holiday.

I hope you learned a thing or two about leadership from my boss. I know I certainly did.

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 millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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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 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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5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth. (more…)

Want to discover the secrets to unleashing your potential and live a great and successful life? Follow Shawn Lim on his blog, StunningMotivation.com. You can download his guidebook, Active Goal Setting and make your dreams a reality. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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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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5 B.S. Facts About High Performers Everyone Thinks Is True

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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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Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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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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