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Success Advice

Success….And What It Really Takes To Achieve It

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So what does it really take to reach success? There are a lot of myths, the “he says”, “she says” out there but does anybody really have the answer? Success is subjective and has a different definition for each individual.

So let’s take a look through the ages at what is considered as “success”, and what is needed to reach a level of high achievement in various areas of our lives.

 

Geniuses Aren’t Born….They’re Made

Books like The Da Vinci Curse by Leonardo Lospennato does a good job of summing up a problem of our time: that anyone striving to be a universal genius will inevitably fail. Because today, unlike in Da Vinci’s time, there’s so much competition out there in every field that only people who devote themselves to one subject are successful. Anyone who wants to be a professional high flyer, the “Father of the Year,” a star violinist, a globetrotter and an art connoisseur all at once should either rethink his priorities or feel satisfied about being incredibly mediocre in each of these fields. After all, it’s rare for a genius to be an all-rounder.

 

The secret trick: lots of practice and even more mistakes.

Alleged geniuses like Mozart, Goethe and Picasso are not famous the world over for their unique inborn gifts: they were simply lucky enough to be born with a certain amount of talent that they could then cultivate with a whole lot of hard work and dedication.

Anyone who wants to emulate a genius should take note of the fact that neither Mozart nor Einstein changed his profession every couple of years. One reason why Steve Jobs was so successful was that he put all his energy into one thing – and in the process sacrificed his chance of ever winning the “Father of the Year” award. It’s not to say that this path doesn’t have potholes, traffic and detours, but instead that only people who experiment without fear of failure and accept that they can learn from it are bound to produce great things.

 

Napoleon and the light bulb: getting rich by thinking?

Over 100 years ago, Napoleon Hill asked himself whether the success of outstanding personalities could be explained by a formula. Did they all use the same toothpaste? Did they all follow the same traveling priest? Hill’s answer, which he used as the basis for his book Think and Grow Rich, was far more rudimentary: for him, success and wealth were the consequence of having a clear goal and a burning desire to achieve it. And so, we can reinforce what we already knew about Mozart, Einstein and Jobs:

They all worked hard and were ready to accept mistakes and failures.

Even after more than 10,000 failed experiments, Thomas Edison was not discouraged from achieving his goal of inventing an electric light source. He was driven by the desire to make his dream a reality. After years of hard work, he finally succeeded with the invention of the light bulb. Writer Fannie Hurst’s story is similar: she had to cope with over 36 rejections before a single short story was published in a newspaper. Once that happened, her career as a successful novelist and playwright took off. Her burning desire was stronger than the frustration she felt about various rejections – and she was ultimately rewarded with success.

 

How To achieve success - one bite at a time

 

But all this raises a new question: if the path to success is so obvious, why are there so few people who take it?

Keeping all your options open is the road to mediocrity.

Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational talks broadly about why we human beings use our gift of rational thinking and decision-making so infrequently. Or, to give a concrete example, why we promise ourselves we’ll stop eating sweets so we can look good in a bathing suit, yet, as soon as we’ve filled our shopping carts with fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, we still break down and throw in a chocolate bar on our way to the cash register. Or why, once we’ve fulfilled our dream of having a Porsche, we want a Ferrari. Or, finally, why we put off making decisions and keep all other options open in the meantime, even if it means taking the road to mediocrity or, worse, to a state of constant dissatisfaction.

People are obsessed with keeping their options open, even when it hurts them in the long run. We humans try to keep our options open as much as possible: in our education, our careers and our choice of romantic partner. Some might say that, in an uncertain world, it makes sense to leave open as many avenues as possible, but not making a decision also carries consequences. A person indecisive between two career paths, say architecture and IT engineering, may not whole-heartedly pursue either, and hence end up a mediocre architect or programmer.

Which, in turn, raises the question of how to solve this dilemma. Although countless books have an answer to this question, at the moment we’d like to focus on one classic and one recent bestseller.

 

Efficiency vs. effectiveness: a small, but subtle difference.

Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a classic in the advice and productivity genre. Like Napoleon Hill, Covey investigated what it is that makes people who have made extraordinary achievements different from others. The book relies on mantras such as “first thing’s first” and “sharpen the saw,” i.e., it encourages readers to prioritize and keep themselves balanced. He argues that, in order to have enough time to do so, you have to understand the difference between efficiency and effectiveness:

Many people work towards meaningless goals. They simply worry about being efficient rather than effective. Being efficient, i.e getting the maximum amount done in the shortest amount of time, is pointless if you don’t know why you’re doing it. Not knowing what’s really important to you and what you’re working towards is like climbing a ladder which is set against the wrong wall. To avoid this, it is important to first be clear about your long-term goals. To this end, it can be useful to ask yourself the Funeral-Questions:

What do I want people to say about me at my funeral? What sort of person do I want to be remembered as? What do I want to be remembered for?

That’s why answering these (admittedly somewhat morbid) questions shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone who wants to put Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less into practice.

 

Productive minimalism, or: why less is more

In just a few years, Babauta has become a guru of productive minimalism. Babauta – once an unhappy, overweight, chain-smoking “Jack of all trades, master of none” – is now a living paradigm of minimalism, practicing yoga, eating healthily, writing, and spending time with his family. His success speaks for itself, and happiness seems to literally ooze out of him. His advice sounds as simple as it does plausible:

Living without restrictions is like shopping without a credit limit. Because the only way we end up concentrating on what’s truly important is when we’re forced to budget. In short, budgeting helps us stop wasting time and energy on things that aren’t actually worth it. By consciously limiting ourselves, we create space for important things and get rid of the unimportant ones. For example, by not taking on unimportant projects, we give ourselves time to spend with our loved ones.

In summary, we recognize that people can only truly be geniuses or achieve success if they work hard and consciously choose certain options over others. Veering off the paths of mediocrity and taking drastic measures is worth it, as Ariely describes in his book Predictably Irrational:

In 210 BC, after the Chinese commander Xiang Yu had ferried his army across the Yangtze River, he set fire to his own ships. He did this to show his troops that retreat was not an option. In response, they fought so ferociously that they won nine battles consecutively.

 

Think about it, have you ever made such a gutsy, all-or-nothing decision or do you know someone who has?

If so, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Your story just might inspire someone else to take action!

Sebastian Klein. Sebastian Klein is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Blinkist.com. He lives in Berlin and holds a Master degree in psychology with a focus on teaching psychology. Sebastian has invented "blinkist" - a made for mobile format to learn the most important insights from non-fiction books on-the-go and he's dedicating his time to think of new ways of presenting content that better fits into today's reading habits.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Arvind Bhakar

    Mar 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

    This is truly an inspiring article. Right now i m struggling from this problem of not focusing on a single thing at a time. I am trying to do too much and end up doing nothing. I would love to follow this advice and get rid of unimportant projects.

  2. Joseph Mutori

    Jul 3, 2015 at 3:23 am

    Excellence speaks for itself, great article. Everybody needs to prioritise and get rid of everything else that does not take them to their dream.

  3. justo

    Jun 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    i packed my bag with a one way plane ticket to miami to do some acting work. one shirt one pare of pants. it was all or nothing to get my dream going.

    • Nandini

      Jul 4, 2014 at 3:45 am

      hi, this is my all time fav website, seems like just out of my mind, persistence and hard work is all it is required to be successful in life,thanks! ..good work

  4. Everyday Power

    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Great post! I love recognition that success varies depending on who you ask. I also love the reoccurring theme of persistence and effort! Thanks !

  5. Ravi Makhija

    Jan 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Hi, m following ur articles from sometime now and it has made me more stronger and more go getter.Thans with due rispect Sir.

  6. Casey

    Jan 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this, and everything on this site! 4 years ago when I was 16 I left school, moved away from home in Australia to the UK and worked my butt off to achieve my dream of being an international dressage rider. The sacrifice was worth it and within a year I was representing Great Britain in Under 21s competitions 🙂
    That success doesn’t last though, I am constantly motivating myself to make more decisions to get to the next level, giving up everything that isn’t going to help me get to where I want to be.

    • Chris

      Mar 2, 2014 at 5:20 am

      Great article. As I read this, I have just sacked my boss (2 weeks ago) to start a letting agency. And I’m so happy. However I am scared too because I don’t know how things are going to pan out. Never been out of work and always had a pay cheque at the end of the month! I’m giving it my all because I will never go back! #mindtrepreneur.

  7. David Akomitipoju Onyendi

    Jan 13, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Fantastic article… Its clearer to me what I should drop. Less clutter this year 2014.

  8. JohnOvan

    Jan 8, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Just, awesome. I finally feel like I am on the right path, and your article just helped me realize that. I burned a significant bridge behind myself, so to speak. Thanks for the good read!

  9. Naomi@startbizquitjob

    Jan 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Sebastian,

    This post is truly amazing for anyone wanting to progress at anything (so properly 99.9% of the worlds population!).

    I really enjoyed Efficiency vs. Effectiveness – This is where many new start-ups go wrong and the owner never feels like they have accomplished anything. Proper prioritizing changes everything.

    Thanks for mentioning some really interesting books too

    Naomi

  10. Keef (@KeithPMilburn)

    Dec 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I literally just stopped in my tracks when I read “Keeping all your options open is the road to mediocrity.” That has really resonated with me. Thank you.

  11. arucker

    Dec 22, 2013 at 12:59 am

    how funny….i decided a month or so ago that 2014 would be my yr to simplify my life…and here comes this article with resources to do just that….crazy cool….

  12. joe mulwa

    Dec 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I have read this blog for 1 year now and I have never commented….

    But today, I just did because this is the realest article I have ever come across. It resonates with exactly where I am at in my life. Thank you for this great article!!

    • Joel

      Joel

      Dec 19, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks for leaving a comment Joe. Enjoy the site 🙂

  13. Michel

    Dec 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    It is true that I wanna keep my options open. But that is because I have old tasks, which I haven’t been able to finish and new ones waiting in line, which take the bigger chunk in my thoughts.

    Anyways life is a journey and I want to live without regret, even when that means to remain mediocre for a while.

    • Dominik

      Dec 18, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Because of the old tasks, left incomplete, we are forced to live a mediocre life. That is why we have to finish them or let them go, in order to have a clear mind. With this clear mind we are able to do great things and live a life beyond our thought capabilities. No excuses, everything is possible or how Bruce Lee said: ” Be water my friend.” ^^

      to Sebastian: Great idea of lettings things go. Minimalism rocks !!!

  14. tnybo24

    Dec 12, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I up and moved to CHina a month after graduating from college. It was a crazy decision now that I look back on it. I spoke no Chinese, I couldn’t use chopsticks and I had never even been farther than Mexico.

    Well here I am 4 years later and the owner of 2 international companies. But, it really comes down to patience and failing, being comfortable taking risks, and developing a clear mindset of what you are doing and where your going. The later is a really tricky thing to nail down.

    • Binyam

      Dec 12, 2013 at 4:56 am

      I like that well explained.

    • Mike

      Dec 14, 2013 at 4:53 am

      What kind of companies do you own?

    • Eswar

      Mar 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Small but really nice, thanks for bringing the essence of having clear mindset and being comfortable taking risks.

  15. Sebastian

    Dec 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I like how you introduced the concept of minimalism.

    I can literally name every little single thing in my room. I hate clutter and I hate having anything I don’t use.

    If I haven’t touched it for a month it’s gone.

    I just donated more than a grand in clothes cause I haven’t used it in the last couple of months.

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Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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Success Advice

5 Productivity Shifts You Need to Make to Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

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Everyone wants more time, that is something almost all of us share. Time is the most valuable resource and when you learn how to make your time work for you and how to get the most out of it – you experience life differently.  

Improving how you manage your time is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself – it’s a real game changer in your business and personal life. There are many ways that you can get more productive and get the right things done sooner; but not all of them are obvious or bring the same results.

Here are 5 productivity shifts you want to make if you are trying to make the most out of 2019:

1. Ditch your to do list

Productive people don’t keep to-do lists, they schedule everything they need to do in their calendar and work directly from their calendar!  To-Do lists are just ineffective and they are impeding your productivity. A never ending list of items only leaves you overwhelmed and with a false sense of ‘productivity’.  

If you schedule your To Do’s directly into your calendar at a time to get them done, you commit to it and you are more likely to get it done. Less is more – you don’t need a separate list to remind you what you need to do.

“Productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about how you run your mind.” – Robin Sharma

2. Give up on motivation

Productive people don’t always have to be motivated before starting something. They balance discipline with motivation and do what they need to do, regardless of motivation. When we come up with resistance to take action on what we have planned, we might tell ourselves that we are not motivated and we believe that we need to be motivated to complete any task.

If you want to increase your productivity, you need to challenge yourself more in the moment to take action and give up on motivation sometimes. Do what you need to in order to get the results you want in the future. Don’t make decisions based on how you feel now, make them based on what result you are really after.

3. Master your mornings

Wake up early and get yourself into the productive mindset with your routine and diet! Productive people start the day with some sort of routine, whether it’s meditation, exercise or visualization, etc. AND they have a healthy breakfast to fuel them for the day. Your health is everything when it comes to productivity, what you eat directly affects your productivity.

We can just no longer ignore the direct connection any more. Get in the right mindset to start your day and fuel your mind and body to get the most out of it. Starting your day off in any other way undermines your success – there is no doubt.

4. Schedule according to energy

Productive people know their energy cycles and they plan tasks around their energy levels. Why plan something at a time when you know it will be hard to rise to the challenge? Schedule tasks that require focus and concentration for those times of day that you feel the best and you will find it’s easier to follow through and you will be at your best to perform. Identify your filler tasks and complete those when your energy drops. Be more realistic when scheduling your tasks and set yourself up for wins.

“Productivity is never an accident it’s the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning & focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

5. Working backwards

Productive people always focus on those activities that will take them to the next level. They plan backwards, they look at their goals, then identify the tasks they need to do to support those goals. Those tasks get broken down into weekly actions. That’s how they plan.

Don’t only plan on tasks that come in or those which you ‘feel’ or ‘think’ you should be doing. Your day needs to consist of at least one activity that directly supports your longer term objectives, your big project. What sounds like common sense is definitely not common practice.

Create the right habits to achieve your goals, work on adopting easy tips and techniques so you can manage your time and yourself better to get things done.

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Success Advice

You Need to Grow Your Memory in Order to Grow Your Life

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We all have access to the most powerful computer ever created in the universe…our brain. Unfortunately, few of us have ever been taught how to use our minds efficiently, and even fewer have learned how to develop a fabulous memory. Thankfully, like any skill, memorising can be learned and using the correct strategies, your memory can be improved in only days.

One of the best coaches on memory is Dominic O’Brien the eight-time world memory champion. Self-taught after watching Creighton Carvello memorise a pack of cards on the BBC’s Record Breakers programme. Dominic, through his work on memory, has given us many tools and techniques for improving memory.

Below are 5 rules that will help you develop a better memory:

1. The Rule of Five

Probably seen as one of the most significant contributions to the body of knowledge on memory is O’Brien’s Rule of Five. This rule details how to remember things using a strategy of regular staged repetition.

These stages are as follows:

  • First Review:Immediately
  • Second Review:Twenty-four hours later
  • Third Review:One week later
  • Fourth Review:One month later
  • Fifth Review:Three months later

Utilising stage repetition at these intervals ingrains the memory for the long term.

2. The Dominic System

The Dominic System is a system for remembering numbers. The system is a Person Action system where the association between two sets of paired numbers is the person with the action of the next person.

1139 would become Andre Agassi doing a roundhouse kick which is the action of Chuck Norris. This system combined with the journey method allows for long random numbers to be easily recalled without error. The fantastic thing about this system is that you get to customise for yourself with memorable people and unique actions which when combined really make it easy for you to recall numbers. The table below associates each number to a letter.

Number     0     1    2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9
Letter     O     A     B     C     D    E     S     G     H     N

Creating a simple document with pairs of numbers in one column, the letter pairs in the next and an action column will help you learn this system quickly.

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” – Andre Agassi

3. The Link Method

This method relies on two essential elements of memory, association and exaggeration. Utilising these two elements, it is possible to link together unrelated objects to allow you to remember them.

Trying to remember a list of five separate words such as: balloon, papaya, gold, football and hat, might go something like this. You imagine seeing a giant balloon and inside the balloon you can see a small papaya, in bursting the balloon the papaya falls out and as it hits the floor a gold football bounces into a large sombrero.

4. The Journey Method

Using location has been a fundamental part of mnemonics almost since time began. Before humans, writing elders would pass knowledge to others using stories of journeys, with each piece of knowledge being associated with a location on the journey.

O’Brien’s system utilises journeys that you would undertake on a daily basis, like your commute to work or train stations on well-known line. Items are then associated and exaggerated along the journey, so for instance if you were trying to remember a list of ten random things you would associate each piece along with a unique ten stop journey and utilise exaggeration to make the items more memorable.

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge…Anything’s possible.” – Dominic O’Brien

5. The Story Method

To remember groups of information, create a story that links them together. Remembering the planets of the solar system and their position relative to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Imagine that Mercury was hitting the nineties as Venus tossed the tennis ball into the air, striking the ball it soared over the net striking the earth and bouncing high into the air, knocking the mars bar out of Jupiter’s hand, and so on.

Developing a good memory will assist markedly in all of your personal development goals as well as assisting greatly in your daily life. The methods above are tried and tested by one of the leading memory champions. Whether you want to become the next World Memory Champion or just improve your recall, the techniques outlined above will assist greatly.

Combining the various elements will create an exponential improvement in your memory that you will find hard to believe, and you will be kicking yourself for not applying them sooner. The best part about using these methods is that they are fun, so enjoy using them.

Which one of these memorizing methods sounds most interesting to you? Share with us below!

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Life

The Guide to Coping With Stress, Anxiety and Failure

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Instead of complaining about the ebb and flow of tough times, we need to learn how to overcome them. We often let bad news cast a pall on our day, but taking it in and moving on with life is what we need to do and that’s a challenge. (more…)

David Lim is a Private Tutor at ChampionTutor. And he is very willing to discuss how to live a stress-free life.

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Arvind Bhakar

    Mar 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

    This is truly an inspiring article. Right now i m struggling from this problem of not focusing on a single thing at a time. I am trying to do too much and end up doing nothing. I would love to follow this advice and get rid of unimportant projects.

  2. Joseph Mutori

    Jul 3, 2015 at 3:23 am

    Excellence speaks for itself, great article. Everybody needs to prioritise and get rid of everything else that does not take them to their dream.

  3. justo

    Jun 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    i packed my bag with a one way plane ticket to miami to do some acting work. one shirt one pare of pants. it was all or nothing to get my dream going.

    • Nandini

      Jul 4, 2014 at 3:45 am

      hi, this is my all time fav website, seems like just out of my mind, persistence and hard work is all it is required to be successful in life,thanks! ..good work

  4. Everyday Power

    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Great post! I love recognition that success varies depending on who you ask. I also love the reoccurring theme of persistence and effort! Thanks !

  5. Ravi Makhija

    Jan 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Hi, m following ur articles from sometime now and it has made me more stronger and more go getter.Thans with due rispect Sir.

  6. Casey

    Jan 14, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this, and everything on this site! 4 years ago when I was 16 I left school, moved away from home in Australia to the UK and worked my butt off to achieve my dream of being an international dressage rider. The sacrifice was worth it and within a year I was representing Great Britain in Under 21s competitions 🙂
    That success doesn’t last though, I am constantly motivating myself to make more decisions to get to the next level, giving up everything that isn’t going to help me get to where I want to be.

    • Chris

      Mar 2, 2014 at 5:20 am

      Great article. As I read this, I have just sacked my boss (2 weeks ago) to start a letting agency. And I’m so happy. However I am scared too because I don’t know how things are going to pan out. Never been out of work and always had a pay cheque at the end of the month! I’m giving it my all because I will never go back! #mindtrepreneur.

  7. David Akomitipoju Onyendi

    Jan 13, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Fantastic article… Its clearer to me what I should drop. Less clutter this year 2014.

  8. JohnOvan

    Jan 8, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Just, awesome. I finally feel like I am on the right path, and your article just helped me realize that. I burned a significant bridge behind myself, so to speak. Thanks for the good read!

  9. Naomi@startbizquitjob

    Jan 6, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Sebastian,

    This post is truly amazing for anyone wanting to progress at anything (so properly 99.9% of the worlds population!).

    I really enjoyed Efficiency vs. Effectiveness – This is where many new start-ups go wrong and the owner never feels like they have accomplished anything. Proper prioritizing changes everything.

    Thanks for mentioning some really interesting books too

    Naomi

  10. Keef (@KeithPMilburn)

    Dec 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I literally just stopped in my tracks when I read “Keeping all your options open is the road to mediocrity.” That has really resonated with me. Thank you.

  11. arucker

    Dec 22, 2013 at 12:59 am

    how funny….i decided a month or so ago that 2014 would be my yr to simplify my life…and here comes this article with resources to do just that….crazy cool….

  12. joe mulwa

    Dec 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I have read this blog for 1 year now and I have never commented….

    But today, I just did because this is the realest article I have ever come across. It resonates with exactly where I am at in my life. Thank you for this great article!!

    • Joel

      Joel

      Dec 19, 2013 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks for leaving a comment Joe. Enjoy the site 🙂

  13. Michel

    Dec 14, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    It is true that I wanna keep my options open. But that is because I have old tasks, which I haven’t been able to finish and new ones waiting in line, which take the bigger chunk in my thoughts.

    Anyways life is a journey and I want to live without regret, even when that means to remain mediocre for a while.

    • Dominik

      Dec 18, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Because of the old tasks, left incomplete, we are forced to live a mediocre life. That is why we have to finish them or let them go, in order to have a clear mind. With this clear mind we are able to do great things and live a life beyond our thought capabilities. No excuses, everything is possible or how Bruce Lee said: ” Be water my friend.” ^^

      to Sebastian: Great idea of lettings things go. Minimalism rocks !!!

  14. tnybo24

    Dec 12, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I up and moved to CHina a month after graduating from college. It was a crazy decision now that I look back on it. I spoke no Chinese, I couldn’t use chopsticks and I had never even been farther than Mexico.

    Well here I am 4 years later and the owner of 2 international companies. But, it really comes down to patience and failing, being comfortable taking risks, and developing a clear mindset of what you are doing and where your going. The later is a really tricky thing to nail down.

    • Binyam

      Dec 12, 2013 at 4:56 am

      I like that well explained.

    • Mike

      Dec 14, 2013 at 4:53 am

      What kind of companies do you own?

    • Eswar

      Mar 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Small but really nice, thanks for bringing the essence of having clear mindset and being comfortable taking risks.

  15. Sebastian

    Dec 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I like how you introduced the concept of minimalism.

    I can literally name every little single thing in my room. I hate clutter and I hate having anything I don’t use.

    If I haven’t touched it for a month it’s gone.

    I just donated more than a grand in clothes cause I haven’t used it in the last couple of months.

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Success Advice

Stop Denying Your Negative Thoughts and Start Embracing Them

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Over the years, many of the talking heads and pundits in the personal development and success science industry have talked about the immediate replacement of negative thoughts with positive thoughts. The logic behind that particular behavioral strategy seems to make sense on the surface. Think about it, when a negative thought rears its ugly head, we should immediately dive into the repository of positive thoughts that we have available to us so that we could immediately begin to dwell on it.

Even further, some gurus of the genre suggest removing any chance of having a negative thought by the constant repetition of affirmations. Again, tried-and-true motivational technology that is very workable and still useful. I would suggest, however, that you view the above behaviors as tactics more than strategies.

I will further suggest to you that you do not abhor your negative thoughts but rather embrace them, examine them, and place them under a spotlight. My reasoning behind this goes back over 100 years into psychology with stimulus/response, that is, the cause and effect of certain behaviors. Many individuals look at a negative thought as a causative driver. The negative thought exists as a cause, and our behavior toward that cause will determine the effect.

So, following this logic, if an individual has a negative thought which makes them feel sad, and that sadness causes them to binge drink, by removing the negative thought you’ll have removed the motivation for binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound kind of silly? The suggestion here is to turn off the negative thought so that it will turn off the consumption of alcohol.

Of course, this makes sense if we view the negative thought as a primal force in behavior. So, what if we started to think of the negative thought more as the result of something else? It means that the “something else” must change first. What if we took a different approach? What if we looked at a negative thought as an effect of some larger causal factor?

“You’re going to go through tough times – that’s life. But I say, ‘Nothing happens to you, it happens for you.’ See the positive in negative events.” – Joel Osteen

By reversing the cause-and-effect motion of negative thinking (saying that the negative thought is an effect), we now can ask a deeper, more penetrative question: Why are we thinking that negative thought? What is the underlying cause of that specific train of thinking? By reversing the cause-and-effect relationship of negative thinking, it allows the negative thinker to assume the role of diagnostician!

Below is a three-step process you can use to examine your negative thoughts, the role of it in your life, and how you can get rid of them:

1. Simply acknowledge the negative thought

Recognize the fact that there’s a negative thought in your mind instead of trying to go through a process of emotionally overlaying positive thoughts on top of it. Can you see how this exacerbates the issue? You have a negative thought, you immediately recognize that it must be changed, and you frantically scurry through the museum of your mind to find a positive thought to replace it.

In the meantime, while you are trying to find that positive thought, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, and guilty! When you finally find a positive thought to replace that negative thought, the normal process is to squash it. But you can’t! It’s like trying to get rid of weeds by covering them with rocks.

They will always find another way around the rock. It is the same with negative thoughts. Consequently, try acknowledging the negative thought.

2. Affirm the negative thought

It is a part of you. Instead of denying its existence, accept that it is there in front of you and that you are now willing to deal with it. If any of you reading this are dog lovers, you will know that the best way to get a dog next to you is by attempting to push it away from you. Every time you push the dog away it gets closer. This is the same with negative thinking because the harder you push the closer it gets.

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” – Michael Jordan

3. Acquit the thought

Give it permission to leave you. Thank it for its past importance in your life and allow it to be on its way! At this point feel free to replace the negative thought with a positive thought. What will begin to happen when you place the negative thought under the spotlight is that you will see how insignificantly small it actually is.

This is a process I’ve been using for quite some time, and it works! Oh sure, I still use affirmations on a daily basis; as a matter fact I have them right here in front of me. I find that affirmations are a tremendous way to stay positive because it doesn’t allow any room for bad things to grow. But since the average person thinks 60,000 to 65,000 thoughts per day, let’s face it, a few negative thoughts have to squeak in there!

The best advice that I can give is to not freak out over a negative thought. Acknowledge it, affirm it, and acquit it! This is magic. Watch what happens!

How do you handle negative thoughts? Let us know your tips below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

One Thing I Can Teach You About Life That Will Help You Forever.

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I used to be a very anxious person.

I was embarrassed by what I couldn’t do and every day was a struggle. From the moment I would wake up to the moment I’d go to bed, everything felt impossibly overwhelming. It’s a battle I’ve dealt with most of my life.

This daily struggle with mental illness taught me that the satisfaction didn’t lie in beating it; the satisfaction was in helping other people beat mental illness through my success in fighting it.


Recently, I was at work. It was a pretty standard day — nothing too exciting. I then had a catch up with one of the leaders I worked with.

She said something that got my attention: “One of our colleagues is battling a mental illness.”

I really wanted to help. My eyes lit up. There was no need to uncover my plan with anyone else. I knew that staying discrete was fundamental.

I approached the person in question and asked for a few minutes of their time.

I didn’t ask them to admit their mental illness struggle; I just shared my story.

I talked about the anxiety stopping me from having a normal life, eating the right foods, going on dates with girls, having the career I wanted and traveling the world.

I wasn’t sure if any of it was sinking in or even helping. I felt compelled to go on. One thing I knew was that he was paying attention. I could see it in his eyes.

I then went on to talk about how I beat mental illness. Strategies such as:

  • Creating fear lists
  • Seeking professional help
  • Working on myself
  • Books I read
  • Events I attended

Out of nowhere, he started opening up about his own struggle. I was shocked.
It wasn’t pretty. He had an extreme case of mental illness that I certainly couldn’t diagnose or give professional advice on.

All I could do was show him through my own story that there was hope

I offered him access to all the resources I had. I told him that he had my full support and I’d be happy to help in any way I could. He then said:

“What was your psychologist’s name?”

I told him I’d look it up and send it to him. I didn’t have the answer in front of me, but I was determined when I got home to find it.

At the end of the catch-up, he smiled. I don’t think he’d smiled like that in a very long time.

That smile gave me so much satisfaction. It made my own struggle with mental illness worth it. All those sleepless nights, times spent vomiting into the toilet and dark days where I didn’t want to go on made sense.


“It took more than seven years for me to understand that my own battle with mental illness actually had a benefit”

That benefit was the satisfaction in seeing someone beat their mental illness because I was able to defeat mine.

It’s probably the greatest satisfaction of my entire life.

That’s one thing I can teach you about life that will help you forever.

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Success Advice

5 Productivity Shifts You Need to Make to Make 2019 Your Best Year Yet

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Everyone wants more time, that is something almost all of us share. Time is the most valuable resource and when you learn how to make your time work for you and how to get the most out of it – you experience life differently.  

Improving how you manage your time is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself – it’s a real game changer in your business and personal life. There are many ways that you can get more productive and get the right things done sooner; but not all of them are obvious or bring the same results.

Here are 5 productivity shifts you want to make if you are trying to make the most out of 2019:

1. Ditch your to do list

Productive people don’t keep to-do lists, they schedule everything they need to do in their calendar and work directly from their calendar!  To-Do lists are just ineffective and they are impeding your productivity. A never ending list of items only leaves you overwhelmed and with a false sense of ‘productivity’.  

If you schedule your To Do’s directly into your calendar at a time to get them done, you commit to it and you are more likely to get it done. Less is more – you don’t need a separate list to remind you what you need to do.

“Productivity is less about what you do with your time and more about how you run your mind.” – Robin Sharma

2. Give up on motivation

Productive people don’t always have to be motivated before starting something. They balance discipline with motivation and do what they need to do, regardless of motivation. When we come up with resistance to take action on what we have planned, we might tell ourselves that we are not motivated and we believe that we need to be motivated to complete any task.

If you want to increase your productivity, you need to challenge yourself more in the moment to take action and give up on motivation sometimes. Do what you need to in order to get the results you want in the future. Don’t make decisions based on how you feel now, make them based on what result you are really after.

3. Master your mornings

Wake up early and get yourself into the productive mindset with your routine and diet! Productive people start the day with some sort of routine, whether it’s meditation, exercise or visualization, etc. AND they have a healthy breakfast to fuel them for the day. Your health is everything when it comes to productivity, what you eat directly affects your productivity.

We can just no longer ignore the direct connection any more. Get in the right mindset to start your day and fuel your mind and body to get the most out of it. Starting your day off in any other way undermines your success – there is no doubt.

4. Schedule according to energy

Productive people know their energy cycles and they plan tasks around their energy levels. Why plan something at a time when you know it will be hard to rise to the challenge? Schedule tasks that require focus and concentration for those times of day that you feel the best and you will find it’s easier to follow through and you will be at your best to perform. Identify your filler tasks and complete those when your energy drops. Be more realistic when scheduling your tasks and set yourself up for wins.

“Productivity is never an accident it’s the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning & focused effort.” – Paul Meyer

5. Working backwards

Productive people always focus on those activities that will take them to the next level. They plan backwards, they look at their goals, then identify the tasks they need to do to support those goals. Those tasks get broken down into weekly actions. That’s how they plan.

Don’t only plan on tasks that come in or those which you ‘feel’ or ‘think’ you should be doing. Your day needs to consist of at least one activity that directly supports your longer term objectives, your big project. What sounds like common sense is definitely not common practice.

Create the right habits to achieve your goals, work on adopting easy tips and techniques so you can manage your time and yourself better to get things done.

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Success Advice

You Need to Grow Your Memory in Order to Grow Your Life

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We all have access to the most powerful computer ever created in the universe…our brain. Unfortunately, few of us have ever been taught how to use our minds efficiently, and even fewer have learned how to develop a fabulous memory. Thankfully, like any skill, memorising can be learned and using the correct strategies, your memory can be improved in only days.

One of the best coaches on memory is Dominic O’Brien the eight-time world memory champion. Self-taught after watching Creighton Carvello memorise a pack of cards on the BBC’s Record Breakers programme. Dominic, through his work on memory, has given us many tools and techniques for improving memory.

Below are 5 rules that will help you develop a better memory:

1. The Rule of Five

Probably seen as one of the most significant contributions to the body of knowledge on memory is O’Brien’s Rule of Five. This rule details how to remember things using a strategy of regular staged repetition.

These stages are as follows:

  • First Review:Immediately
  • Second Review:Twenty-four hours later
  • Third Review:One week later
  • Fourth Review:One month later
  • Fifth Review:Three months later

Utilising stage repetition at these intervals ingrains the memory for the long term.

2. The Dominic System

The Dominic System is a system for remembering numbers. The system is a Person Action system where the association between two sets of paired numbers is the person with the action of the next person.

1139 would become Andre Agassi doing a roundhouse kick which is the action of Chuck Norris. This system combined with the journey method allows for long random numbers to be easily recalled without error. The fantastic thing about this system is that you get to customise for yourself with memorable people and unique actions which when combined really make it easy for you to recall numbers. The table below associates each number to a letter.

Number     0     1    2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9
Letter     O     A     B     C     D    E     S     G     H     N

Creating a simple document with pairs of numbers in one column, the letter pairs in the next and an action column will help you learn this system quickly.

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work. I had to put in the time to get back. And it was a grind. It meant training and sweating every day. But I was completely committed to working out to prove to myself that I still could do it.” – Andre Agassi

3. The Link Method

This method relies on two essential elements of memory, association and exaggeration. Utilising these two elements, it is possible to link together unrelated objects to allow you to remember them.

Trying to remember a list of five separate words such as: balloon, papaya, gold, football and hat, might go something like this. You imagine seeing a giant balloon and inside the balloon you can see a small papaya, in bursting the balloon the papaya falls out and as it hits the floor a gold football bounces into a large sombrero.

4. The Journey Method

Using location has been a fundamental part of mnemonics almost since time began. Before humans, writing elders would pass knowledge to others using stories of journeys, with each piece of knowledge being associated with a location on the journey.

O’Brien’s system utilises journeys that you would undertake on a daily basis, like your commute to work or train stations on well-known line. Items are then associated and exaggerated along the journey, so for instance if you were trying to remember a list of ten random things you would associate each piece along with a unique ten stop journey and utilise exaggeration to make the items more memorable.

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge…Anything’s possible.” – Dominic O’Brien

5. The Story Method

To remember groups of information, create a story that links them together. Remembering the planets of the solar system and their position relative to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Imagine that Mercury was hitting the nineties as Venus tossed the tennis ball into the air, striking the ball it soared over the net striking the earth and bouncing high into the air, knocking the mars bar out of Jupiter’s hand, and so on.

Developing a good memory will assist markedly in all of your personal development goals as well as assisting greatly in your daily life. The methods above are tried and tested by one of the leading memory champions. Whether you want to become the next World Memory Champion or just improve your recall, the techniques outlined above will assist greatly.

Combining the various elements will create an exponential improvement in your memory that you will find hard to believe, and you will be kicking yourself for not applying them sooner. The best part about using these methods is that they are fun, so enjoy using them.

Which one of these memorizing methods sounds most interesting to you? Share with us below!

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