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The 7 Keys To Incredible Life Success

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The 7 Keys To Incredible Life Success

There was a time in my life, the majority of my youth, when I was a slacker whose primary skill was to find new ways to avoid anything worthwhile. I vividly remember one semester in school that summed up those years: I took only 9 credit hours and played Halo 3 for the whole semester. Literally, I did little else besides play that game. It was just a terrible waste to devote that much time to a video game. I justified it because I was “making progress” by being in college.

I’ve changed so much since then, and my internal change has created a very different set of results in business and in my personal life.

I’m relatively young at 29 years old and I’ve written two books, one of which has become an international bestseller. My book, Mini Habits, has been the #1 selling self help book in the United States and South Korea, and it’s being translated into a dozen languages.

This bit of success means so much to me because of where I came from. And if the guy who lived to play Halo 3 for several months straight can actually contribute something useful to the world, I believe everyone can improve!

These 7 things are the specific changes I made that created more success in my life:

 

1. Don’t ask what you feel like doing, plan to do things and do them

We naturally like to do what we are motivated to do, but when our motivation is lacking, it requires willpower to overcome that and do it anyway.

Everyone loves and prefers motivation. If you could have an unlimited amount of one or the other, motivation would be the choice. Wanting to scrub the toilet? Wanting to organize your tax papers? Wanting to go to the gym? Wanting to do grueling research for a project? Fantastic! …but it’s not going to happen every time or even very often. You can never count on feeling like doing challenging things. I’ve seen that successful people are those who do their work even on “down” days.

The way in which you “self-talk” reveals deep-seated beliefs. Do you find yourself thinking of what to do based on what you feel like doing? If you come into some free time, do you “float” into what’s most appealing? If so, you’re relying on motivation. If, however, you think about what tasks you plan to do without much thought given to how “ready” you feel to do them, you’re relying on willpower.

Motivation is a fantastic thing, but you shouldn’t require it of yourself to do things that matter. Do things that matter for their own sake!

The best part about relying on willpower is that it’s like a muscle. Psychologist Roy Baumeister has observed this in multiple studies. Use your willpower more, and it will get stronger. With practice, you’ll develop humanity’s most important skill: being able to do what you really want to do.

 

The rock quotes
 

2. Trust in proven processes; ignore circumstances and results

What has happened (results) and where you are now (circumstances) are irrelevant. What you do next matters. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of submitting to your environment and letting it push you around, or the self-fulfilling trap of assuming that the past will repeat itself. Thankfully, it’s also somewhat easy to not do this and follow proven processes instead.

My best personal example of this was when I started doing one push-up a day (my first mini habit). Circumstantially, I was out of shape, lazy, and felt defeated. I had poor results from prior efforts to change. I was stuck in every way. But the process of doing one push-up a day was powerful beyond its appearance—it changed my brain as it became habitual. It pulled me out of my lazy funk and gave me a foundation for exercising that enabled me to go to the gym consistently. Today, two years later, I exercise almost every day.

This is the power of process: I’m still getting results more than two years after those one push-up days! Processes, when repeated to become habitual, can last you a lifetime. So trust in the good ones like mini habits! Don’t listen to thoughts like “one minute of piano practice every day won’t accomplish much,” because it WILL.

 

3. Take smart risks with low downside and high upside

When you’re young, take risks. When you’re old, still take risks. We’re on this planet for a very limited time, and not taking risks means you’re living a boring life if nothing else. Not all risks are equal, however, so it’s important to distinguish between playing roulette and investing in a winner.

It’s simple: choose risks with high upside and low downside. This is also the basis for smart stock investments. If you choose a strong company with a stock that appears undervalued, its apparent upside seems greater than its apparent downside because the market has already undervalued it. It’s like a compressed spring: it could be pushed down further, but it’s more likely to go higher.

Here are examples of high upside and low downside risks:

  • Ask for something: Will you go to dinner with me? Will you publish my book? May I have a free foot massage? Hearing “no” is nothing to fear, and hearing yes will have you and your just-massaged feet smiling. Yes, feet can smile, but only after being massaged.
  • Bootstrap a business: We have the internet! Starting a business no longer requires massive amounts of starting capital. You can “bootstrap” your business, which means you find inexpensive ways to accomplish your business goals. Marketing is a key example; it’s “free” for me to write this post… other than the blood I sweat in the writing process. I spent less than $1,500 to create my first book, which has earned me well over 100 times that amount (one wouldn’t expect this kind of return, but this is the high upside potential I’m talking about). If you don’t want to quit your job to risk entrepreneurship, why not bootstrap a business on the side and see what happens? Wouldn’t that be exciting? If it fails, you still have a job! The “I quit my job, started a business, and it took off” story is romanticized. For most people with families to feed, that’s an example of unacceptable risk.
  • Talk to people: Much of life involves networking with others for personal and business relationships. We may avoid speaking to others if we think they won’t like us. But hey, some people might not like you if you keep to yourself. I remember in high school I was told a particular person whom I had never spoken to thought I was “stuck up,” but I was just shy. You’ll be surprised at the friends and business connections you can make by just being a bit more outgoing.
  • Create things: I’m a writer, so I love to create books and blog posts. It only costs my time, so the downside (if the world hates it) is minimal. Actually, the downside is zero, because I enjoy writing and it’s beneficial for me to practice it. The upside has changed my life! For you, maybe it’s attempting to create furniture, music, or new clothing styles. When you create something, you only pay with your time and the cost of materials for a potentially high reward; one of the best parts of creating something is the feeling of accomplishment, a reward you’ll get every time!
  • Try something new: I get it. You already know watching Seinfeld reruns and eating ice cream is fun. But what if you explored the maze that is Venice? What if you ate crocodile meat? What if you spent a whole day complimenting people? What if you tried pilates or archery or a combination of the two? We all have dormant passions that are waiting for us to find them!

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.” – George S. Patton

4. Be consistent, and good things will happen

I used to aim for the most impressive goals, and I was below average. Everything changed when I started my unimpressive mini habits of doing one push-up a day, writing 50 words per day, and reading two pages per day. Practicing these small behaviors allowed me to be remarkably consistent. No single day was mind-blowing, but every day was a success that built upon the last.

Anyone and everyone can write 50 words a day, which is about a paragraph. If you do that for 2 years, you’d have a short book of 36,500 words! And that’s only if you never decide to do more than that. This goes along with showing up on the “down” days. Successful people always show up, even if they know they’re not at their best.

 

5. Know when to bunt and when to swing for the home run

Learn to bunt before you try to hit home runs. In other words, mastering the basics first can fuel grander efforts later.

I started a blog and practiced writing over 200 articles before I wrote a book to sell. Now that I have more followers and improved writing skills, I’m better equipped to swing for home runs, which in this case means investing more money (taking more risk) and making products. Don’t be afraid to bunt while you’re learning and then when you’ve honed your craft, swing for the fences!

 

6. Accept that your success isn’t 100% up to you

I love people, but I have been as much as a lone wolf as you can be when it comes to my career. That is to say, I’m terrible at networking! I’ve been fortunate enough that some people have networked with me, and have greatly helped me. And without people to read my blog posts and books, I would have nothing. It’s humbling.

This goes for every person alive. What if nobody cared to watch Michael Jordan play basketball? What would happen to Chipotle if people didn’t need to eat anymore? I’d probably still eat there, but that’s beside the point. Success is impossible without the assistance or interest of other people.

I find this perspective is helpful in two ways. First, it points to the importance of seeking help when you need it (useful for business and personal life). Second, it keeps you grounded in good times and bad times. Back when I was an unemployed college graduate and nobody would hire me, I realized that it wasn’t completely my fault that nobody would give me a chance, which helped me feel like less of a failure in what was a difficult time. Now that times are better, I understand that I had help getting here and will need more if I am to continue to ascend.

So whether you’re at the bottom, the middle, or the top of the mountain, knowing that you need others to reach or stay at the top can help you in all phases of your journey.

 

7. Build up your self-efficacy

As one of the most underrated self-improvement concepts, developing a healthy sense of self-efficacy can change your life. If you don’t already know, self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to influence outcomes. It’s a combination of self-confidence and trusting in the process: it means you believe in yourself and that your efforts will be the difference between winning or losing.

Self-efficacy can be explained in a mindset:

  • Low self-efficacy -“Going to go to the gym today won’t make much of a difference.”
  • High self-efficacy – “If I consistently go to the gym, I will improve my health and physique!”

High self-efficacy means you trust yourself. You trust what you’re doing will matter. Without it, life is hopeless. With it, you can do amazing things. The old me playing Halo? He didn’t really think his behavior mattered. He just existed and tried to enjoy it. The new me has learned that my decisions, especially the small ones, create vastly different results.

If you’ve been a serial goal quitter, you will struggle to have self-efficacy. Every time you fail to reach a goal, your self-efficacy naturally drops. Why? A failed goal pursuit is a piece of evidence that you do not influence outcomes in your life. You tried to do something and not much happened. It’s hard to argue with that when it happens repeatedly. Successfully completing a goal shows that you do influence outcomes.

What is the best way to build self-efficacy, then? Rather than setting goals that you might not reach, try setting goals that you can absolutely crush. Repeat this often! It’s smarter to attempt two push-ups 50 times than to attempt 100 push-ups one time because it’s a high chance at 50 wins versus a much lower chance at one win. At first, your self-efficacy might be like this: “I can meet this requirement every day with just a bit of effort.” Later, it will grow into something more significant: “I actually feel a bit stronger from doing these push-ups every day. This is working!” And from that point, it can snowball further into even better things.

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This doesn’t mean to dream small. I aim to redefine entertainment, but I employ these small steps as my productivity weapon of choice.

These 7 factors have been the difference between “Halo 3 Stephen” and “Bestselling Author Stephen.” I hope you found something useful in this to apply to your life and I wish you great success in your pursuits.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! What is the one thing that is stopping you from being successful?

Check out my book "Mini Habits" to discover the life-changing strategy of taking small, daily actions. Mini Habits has sold 80,000+ copies worldwide. I'm Stephen Guise, the founder of Deep Existence, a blog about focusing, habits, and the power of small steps. Join Deep Existence to gain access to more than 50 exclusive articles, download 40 "focus wallpapers," and read my stress management book for free!

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Ryan Jones

    Jun 16, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Been in the internet marketing business for a while myself and there is definitely a learning curve for new marketers online. Will have to share these tips with my readers too.

  2. Ahmed Ali

    May 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you Stephen! This article is exactly what I need to hear at this chapter of my life.

  3. Sachin

    Dec 27, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Very well said. I will apply this in my life too. 🙂

  4. Jay Sifford

    Dec 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    This is a great read. Thanks so much. I realized that I’m already doing these things and, believe me, my life is great… not perfect, but great. I enjoyed the reinforcement. While reading this, I thought back to conversations between my brother and my mother. She told me that he would ask “Where did Jay come from? He’s not like us.” I took that as a compliment.
    After several “false starts” in careers, by doing the things you’ve outlined here, I’m successful and happy with my landscape design profession. I’ve also been writing for several years now. I always wanted to, but just didn’t know how to start. I wouldn’t trade those painful “false starts” for anything, because, even though they appeared to be dead ends, they provided lessons and building blocks for me that I use today.
    I could go on, but won’t. Again, thank you.

  5. aspecialist

    Nov 8, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    This is really interesting to read. Hitting goals and achieving success depend on our course of actions and thinking. You will not know what you can achieve unless you give a shot and really work for it. There are lot of meaningful things that we can do and goals that we can achieve, and we were given the power to choose our path .

  6. Samantha Driscoll

    Sep 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I found your article really interesting, from the perspective I am embarking on a new journey setting up my own business which has been a learning curve. Thank you

  7. Deepanshu

    Sep 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

    One of the best post I have ever read. I have read huge no of self help post. But this one is my favorite post.
    Thanks

  8. Stephen Guise

    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:44 am

    You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!

  9. Matt

    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:11 am

    The description for #6 actually contradicts the headline. You are in fact responsible for your success or failure by making the effort to network. So while the people you network with will help you get to where you want to go, YOU are still responsible for going out and meeting those people.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

      There is no contradiction.

      Understanding that your success isn’t 100% in your hands gives you a superior perspective: it makes you more resilient and more willing to network or ask for help. If you believed success was 100% up to you, you’d be far more likely to get discouraged (such as when your best effort fails) and less likely to ask for help when you need it most.

  10. Linda Salloum

    Sep 8, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Hi stephen ,
    Thank you for a great article . I really do hear you and like yourself I was that young person who was lazy and shy and every day make plans to do something productive but never got round to it. I will try your mini habits because I am desperate to change my life before its too late. Lilly

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:29 am

      Mini habits turned my life around. Most of the 7 keys I listed are in line with the mini habit strategy. My big turnaround started with one push-up per day! Good luck, Lilly!

  11. Lonell M. Holliday

    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Great article! Steve.. Very great artical.
    I had to read it twice and take down notes. 50 Words a day! self-efficacy. Man I got it..

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:30 am

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. Give it a try!

  12. Ernie A

    Sep 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Beautiful! You have an awesome story man and these are great pearls of wisdom. I’m in the process of writing my first book and your advice has been key in making progress.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:31 am

      I appreciate that, Ernie! I’ve written two books, and I wrote them both by aiming for 50 words a day. It’s more powerful than it seems. 🙂

  13. A

    Sep 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    This is a very interesting article.

    At the moment I am trying to establish a business which I know there is a lot of potential and have put some good hours into it. Had some knock backs but not gave up on it

    However I also have something else that I would like to do. That are not related .

    If my business does kick on then I can in some capacity do what I really desire in some aspect. If it doesn’t then I have to walk away from one.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

      Best of luck with your business. If this one doesn’t work out, you can always try again. I had a failed business before I started writing books.

  14. Roxanne

    Sep 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Wow Stephen, I’m so grateful I read your article. I am the queen of the non “Follow Through”. I fail repeatedly to finish anything I start. Or I have great plans in my mind but never start them. after reading and rereading your article, it makes complete sense to me, my behavior that is.. I also love words, I love to write, I have started the same idea for a book several times, I get 2 pages written and I’m so critical of my writing that I quit..writing is only one example of many things I have quit, a lot do to being so critical about myself and the feeling that “it should have been better”, so if I can’t get it perfect what’s the point of continuing,this kind of self defeat talk going on in my head… but you have really opened up my mind to my real issue’s of what I call the “Failure of Follow Through. ” Thanks so much for getting it and putting yourself out there to help others….I’m going to read your book Mini- Habits asap…. thanks

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Roxanne, you might actually benefit more from my second book! It’s called, “How to Be an Imperfectionist” and it directly addresses the issue you’re describing. The solutions I suggest in the book are in Mini Habit form. If you’re interested to read both books, it works best to read Mini Habits first.

      Mini Habits works as a general solution for perfectionism, and How to Be an Imperfectionist has direct solutions for the different aspects of it, such as unrealistic expectations, need for approval, concern over mistakes, and so on.

  15. Psimatupang

    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Wow.. This is so wonderful. Thank you.

    Well, what stopping me from success (reaching my dreams) is something that happening inside me. I am a student, when others talk about something i have no idea what or something i haven’t learnt it kinda makes me feel small..

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:41 am

      There’s nothing wrong with ignorance. We’re all ignorant of certain things. I used to be afraid to ask questions because it would expose my ignorance, but I realized the more I asked questions when I didn’t know things, the less ignorant I’d be. The slight potential embarrassment is definitely worth bearing, and people are usually happy to teach you what they know.

  16. Steve Jordan

    Sep 8, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Excellent article, thank you.

  17. Ankur Agarwal

    Sep 8, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Hi Stephen, its a good article and its nice to read your thoughts.
    Just to share, I have been going through the low self efficacy phase. I tried few things but didn’t work out.
    so going by your words, I will start on doing mini habits of writing 50 words a day because I also like to write.
    Will surely share my thoughts with you.

  18. Nikolai Westall

    Sep 8, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Thank you! Awesome stuff 🙂

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Success Advice

The 4 D’s to Guaranteed Success From Maglite Founder Anthony Maglica

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Anthony Maglica
Image Credit: Alchetron

I caught an inspiring story online recently about an incredible gentleman with a unstoppable work ethic. His name is Anthony (Tony) Maglica and he’s the inventor of the famous Maglite, i.e. a flashlight that revolutionized the industry. With it’s variable-focus beam light, varying sizes to fit the job and an array of accessories, the Maglite has been at the top of the heap for a long time. And widely preferred by law enforcement. Talk about servicing a large, niche market!

Tony, an 87-year-old entrepreneur, came from humble Croatian beginnings to build a thriving, worldwide business in America. He insists his success is due to using only quality American labor and resources in a time when most people outsource to improve their bottom lines. But that’s not the story. The story is Tony’s mantra. Tony Maglica lives by the 4 D’s: Desire, Determination, Dedication and  Discipline.

So let’s dissect that and see how much of Tony’s 4 D’s principle you live by in your life and business:

1. Desire

What are your talents, interests, capabilities? The dictionary says desire is: “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen”. Are you in a career or business that you enjoy? Do you take your ideas to fruition or teeter off distracted by your next venture or a shiny object? Perhaps you’ve gone to school, learned a profession, only to figure along the way it’s not really what you want.

Without a strong desire to do something, you may have created for yourself just a “job”. So whether you have a strong desire in a particular field or knowing the money makes it all worthwhile, what gets you pumped and jumping out of bed in the morning? In other words, what’s your “why”?

“If you have a burning ambition and desire, absolutely anything can be achieved.” – Jahangir Khan

2. Determination

Tony’s staff says when he has an idea for a product to enhance his line, he stops at nothing to create it. Even if he has to create the machinery to create that extra component, he’s all in. Determination is what drives him. At 87, most think of retirement. Not Tony. He lives for this business he built from scratch.

The dictionary says determination is “firmness of purpose; resoluteness”. So what are you resolved in doing? Are you resolved to be successful? Are you resolved to do whatever needs to be done? To have a standard of excellence?

Are you determined to win? To get training; to stop at nothing; to course correct when needed? Have you thought of a mission statement? What kind of “company” culture would you like to build? Even solo-preneurs benefit from mission statements and company cultures just as much as a Fortune 500 corp.

3. Dedication

How committed are you to your success? And how does that commitment show up? The dictionary says dedication is: “the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose”. If you’re on a deadline but it’s a beautiful day to surf, which would you choose? Honestly, the answer could be both. Figure out the time that the surf is best and do whatever you have to do to work around that to meet your deadline. With deadlines, i.e., commitments, taking priority, of course.

Dedication often goes hand-in-hand with passion. It’s easy to be committed to something when you’re passionate about it. In contrast, if you’re heart’s not in it, you may not be happy. Master marketer Seth Godin, committed to write a blog post each day. And he’s done so, religiously, for something like the past couple of decades. He also says he never commits to a project unless he’s determined to complete it. He’s very cautious of where he puts his time and effort. His motto: “Ship or it doesn’t count”.

“I have not idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.” – Ayrton Senna

4. Discipline

Tony Maglica starts each day at 5:00 a.m. and doesn’t stop until his body tells him to. Similarly,  “Rambo” star Sly Stallone, says he wakes up at 4:00 a.m., readies himself for his daily morning regimen of writing (from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) before jumping into other endeavors. He says he approaches writing with the same discipline as working out.

Even Shark Tank’s Daymond John, boasts he starts his day at around 6:00 a.m., gets in some form of exercise, and keeps his calendar booked with meetings and shows until evening.

Tony Maglica, inventor, entrepreneur, employer and success role-model maintains: “If you have that (the 4 D’s), you have everything you want to succeed. Doesn’t matter if you use it in your job, your home, your family. Anything you want to achieve. Use this recipe for anything in life and you will make it. Guaranteed!”

  • So I wonder: what’s your success regimen look like?
  • What time do you hop out of bed? (And in what condition?)
  • What are your convictions? Are your actions true to your dreams?

Success isn’t created in a vacuum, it comes from motion. Forward-motion gets us closer to our goals. Stagnation causes atrophy – in our body, and in our business. So whatever you’re going through, whatever level of “stuck” you may be at at any given moment, take a deep breath, maybe a walk to clear the cobwebs in the brain and recall Tony’s Four D’s: Desire, Determination, Dedication and Discipline.

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Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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perseverance
Image Credit: Unsplash

I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience. Nine times out of 10 (if not more) the answer is going to be no.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Success Advice

Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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dress for success
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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creativity
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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

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15 Typical Life Problems And How To Solve Them.

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All of our problems are the same. This is the 156th time I’ve written this fact (for those of you counting).

Problems are forever and we can’t avoid them. You’ll wake up tomorrow and have problems for breakfast. You’ll jump on the train and read a problem in your email inbox.

You’ll get to the office and get a problem smack bang in your pretty face!

The typical problems we face can be solved.

Here are 15 typical life problems and how to solve them:


You didn’t reach your goal.

Just because you set a goal, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Many of life’s toughest goals take lots of attempts. Some of the goals I missed are:

• Dream careers

• Girls I wanted to date

• Saving enough money to build a school in Laos

• Reaching 100k followers on LinkedIn

People who talk about success and personal development (and even write for a site called Addicted2Success like me) also don’t reach their goals.

The best feeling about reaching a goal is the journey it took to get there. If all your goals were easy, then you’d feel nothing at the end of the process.

Solution:

Take the goal you didn’t achieve and try a different approach. Doing the same thing over and over to achieve your goal is the definition of insanity.

Your heroes miss their goals tooWhat makes them stand out is that they don’t give up. The fun of goal-setting is knowing that you’ll fail.


Someone criticized you.

If you want to make a dent in this world, then the critics will come out of the closet. The bigger your aspirations are, the more you’ll be criticized.

The number of critics you have is in direct proportion to your success.

“I had an entire blog post written about me saying how stupid I was. It felt like crap on day one. By day seven I’d made peace with the criticism and kept writing”

Solution:

You can’t please everybody that you meet in life.

When you speak on a stage, for example, 25% of people will like you, 25% won’t know who you are and 50% of people will think you’re an asshole even though you’ve probably done nothing wrong.

Critics are not all bad. You can learn things about yourself from them too. The solution is to learn from criticism, not be afraid of it.


Your career got messed up.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a happy-go-lucky office worker, your career is going to get messed up at some point.

The definition of business is this: Moving from one problem to another and making money in the meantime to fuel your mission. Business is really just problem-solving.

  • Redundancy could right hook you in the face.
  • The business you founded could go backwards and even bankrupt.
  • Your career skills could become outdated.
  • You could get fired for making a mistake.

Your career is going to get messed upThings you can never predict in your career are going to happen.

Solution:

See career challenges for what they are: an opportunity to try something different. If your career never got messed up, then you’d probably stay in your comfort-zone for your entire life and never try something different.

The solution is to see your career getting messed up as chance to grow.Getting made redundant could be the one reality that makes you want to create your own startup.

Having a customer leave could decrease your workload and create space for clients who won’t drain your time and make you no money.


You have financial troubles.

That crazy little thing called money will let you down at some point.

I’ve personally been rich and poor multiple times”

Upon reflection, the time I’ve been the happiest has been when I’ve had the least amount of money.

Countless studies have shown that money isn’t what your life’s about. As humans, we seek meaning, love and our own version of happiness.

Money won’t give you any of those human needs.

That doesn’t mean money doesn’t matter; it just means that it shouldn’t be your main focus or something you obsess over.

Solution:

Lack of money is a gift. When you don’t have money, you become resourceful and creative at the same time.

Lack of money helps you decide on what matters and what doesn’t.

If things get really bad, then you’ll likely prioritize feeding your family over buying another useless car that will never make you happy. You’ll take joy in the simple things in life.

The solution to financial problems is to see them as a gift and choose a meaning for your life instead.


You’re unhealthy.

Our health has become a real problem. We wonder why we feel tired, sick and get headaches. We’ll all experience health challenges at some point in our life.

How many health challenges we experience in our younger years will come down to food and exercise. The strategies for being healthy haven’t changed.

There’s no mystery around being healthy it’s just that we’ve become lazy.

Convenience powered by apps has overtaken our ability to do basic tasks and not binge watch Netflix every night.

Solution:

Take ownership. Quit feeling sick and do something about itHave some blood tests. Change your diet to be more plant-based.

Drink more water. Get your lazy ass to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Stand up from your desk every now and then so you’re not sitting for the whole day and messing your spine/neck up.

Whatever you do, take ownership of your health and quit being ignorant.


A relationship ended.

There’s less than 1% of people who met ‘The One,’ lived happily ever after, and never experience a breakup.

Even that 1% will have that relationship end at some point when either side passes away.

For the majority of us who don’t strike gold the first time around, we’re going to have to deal with breakups and the trials and tribulations of romance.

We’ll probably find ourselves in a toxic relationship for too long.

We’ll probably get cheated on at least once.

We’ll probably have our hearts smashed into a million pieces when we discover that someone ‘No longer loves us anymore.’

These are the realities of the human condition and our need to reproduce and keep our species alive.

Solution:

Finding love is about understanding what love is not. You need relationships to end to find out what love really is. All breakups suck in the beginning until you grow and move on. Then, the solution to this problem is to find yourself.

Once you find yourself, the heart will be ready for love again. How you move forward from there is up to you.

You can try the good old fashion nightclub scene. You could go to Meetups. Or, you could start swiping left and right on a few dating apps.

Have your heart broken just don’t let it stay that way


You made a dick of yourself.

Geez, this one is an ugly truth for me.

I’ve made an ass of myself more times than I’ve had protein and veggies for dinner. Here’s a few just for laughs (and your entertainment).

• There was the time I tried to pretend I could be the Wolf of Wall Street and got laughed out of the interview due to not being able to explain derivatives

• There was the time I thought this girl liked me and tried to hug her while we were walking only to have her hate my guts

• There was the time I went out with friends and threw up on my friend’s couch after having a single shot of Tequila

• There was the time I did my first public speaking gig and messed up a speech about my own life which I’d rehearsed over 100 times

We could talk for days about how I’ve embarrassed myself over the years. We could even compare epic fails to see who’s are worse. This is not a game though.

We’re all going to go into situations with the best of intentions or all the experience in the world and still screw up.

Solution:

Making a dick of yourself is a sign of courage. Courage is what is found in leaders and those who are doers.

Making a dick of yourself is an acceptance that you might fail in the short-term.

Those who fail in the short-term will eventually win in the long-term with practice.

The opposite of making a dick of yourself is perfection.That’s a life where you think your shit doesn’t stink and you spend your entire day trying to impress everybody to eventually impress nobody

Making an idiot of yourself is perfectly fine. What’s not fine is being perfect


Someone messed your *shit* up.

Car, home or insert other material possession that doesn’t matter. None of these material things that got messed up are joining you in the afterlife.

You can’t bury the Bentley with you (although someone tried) so you can drive around with your great, great, great grandpa and do burnouts in the afterlife.

The stuff that is going to get messed up doesn’t matter.

Solution:

What matters is that you don’t get messed up. What matters is that you take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Maybe when your junk gets messed up, you’ll realize that you didn’t need it in the first place.


You feel like your life has no meaning.

These moments where nothing makes sense is where you get to explore. We’re not born with a meaning for our life. Meaning comes from learning who we are and growing as a person.

The meaning for your life when you’re 19 will probably change from when you’re 51 and got three grown-up kids.

The quickest way to destroy your life is to believe that life has no meaning. A lack of meaning leads to depression, carelessness, drug taking and even crime at an extreme level.

Solution:

If you feel like your life has no meaning, then it’s time to experiment.Standing still is not how you find the answer.

Being intensely focused on one’s self only leads to more suffering

A short-term solution to this problem is to experiment with helping those who have nothing. Spend time with people who’d kill to be in your position and get some perspective.

I’ve found in my life that the greatest meaning for your life is normally tied to finding something you’d be happy to do for free that helps others.


You feel like you can’t go on.

We’ve all had those days. Those deep and sometimes dark thoughts can lead to a place you’ve never visited.

Some failures in life hurt more than others. Some failures can’t be solved through a listicle post such as this one with a dose of inspiration.

If you truly feel like you can’t go on, then there’s another way.

Solution:

Seek real help. These dark thoughts must be treated and sometimes the best medicine is to seek professional help through counseling, or for an extreme case, by calling Lifeline.

While I’ve never had suicidal thoughts personally, I have dealt with mental illness.

There is a way to come out the other side, but you have to put aside your pride and seek help

Please don’t become another victim of suicide by doing nothing.


Every day feels the same.

You wake up. You eat. You go to work. You eat. You come home. You eat. You go to bed.

Life can feel the same if you do nothing. It’s up to you to create variety and shape your habits into something more than a fixed schedule which makes you feel bored.

Days feel the same when there’s no purpose behind anything you’re doing.

Solution:

You must find joy in the repetition. You do that by taking those reps and making them mean something. Add some variety in by breaking your comfort zone. Set a goal to do something wild during your day every so often.

• Travel to another country

• Talk to someone new

• Try learning a new skill

Even after trying something new, you have to get used to some level of repetition. Let that repetition become habits that serve something which can help others.


Your friends are screwing your life up.

Dump them. Divorce them. Delete their number.

Every relationship you have in your life is a choice. The people around us often hold us back. They fill our minds with limiting beliefs, stories and goals that give us no sense of meaning.

Friends can kill our dreams or make us believe something we never thought was possible.

Solution:

Everyone deserves a second chance. Start by telling your toxic friends how you feel. Give them a chance to change with the new you.

If they refuse, take a break from them for a while. Ask yourself whether you want them in your life long-term.

‘Fitting in’ is what we’re taught to do. What I’d advise you to do is be you instead and that will attract the right people into your life.


You feel stressed.

77% of people in the US alone experience regular stress.

This young, previously blonde blogger has also recently learned about the effects of stress. I had a cortisol test and the doctor found the levels to be twice the normal range.

This stress led to brain fog, tiredness and a lack of mental clarity. Stress is also caused by what you let into your life. Having options can be a bad thing.

Solution:

We don’t need more; we need less to destress

• Declutter your home and office

• Say no to more meetings

• Say yes to invites from people that make you feel like saying “Hell Yes!”

• Buy less material things

• Have fewer people in your life

• Listen to one podcast instead of many

• Read fewer books instead of every one that’s recommended on a podcast

• Have less recurring subscriptions

• Invest and save more money so you can stress less about unexpected bills

• Take regular breaks (quarterly has worked for me)


A fear is standing in your way.

There are so many common fears — fear of spiders, flying, public speaking, dying, career change, heights and maybe even a fear of expressing yourself.

Fear is a concept of the mind. Nothing is scary or not scary. Our mind makes that choice for us and provides meaning to everything.

Fear can be overcome and that’s why we love stories of battling with fear. I’ve famously spoken about creating fear lists and then knocking them off one at a time.

Solution:

Smash the fear into tiny little pieces. Don’t avoid it. Don’t let it stand in your way any longer. Make a decision to overcome each fear you have and you’ll be unstoppable by the end.

Don’t let nerves trick you into thinking you’re fearful. We all get nerves, but we can still keep moving forward with nerves — I’ve even learned to use nerves to my advantage by using them as an extra energy source.

Nerves tell me I’m on the right track.

I’ve overcome my fear of public speaking and my fear of flying — my fear of spiders remains, but I’m working on that one 🙂

Real fear can be overcome through deliberate practice.


Dealing with the concept of death.

Last but not least, the old chestnut of death. Death is the one life problem we all have in common and can’t solve. Sorry for the bad news.

Death is going to take us eventually and it will take people you love through your life too.

The solution to dealing with death is not to overcome it but to accept it

Death can be our greatest motivator if we let it. Once you understand what death means in all of its darkness, you’ll understand life.

You’ll see death, not as a problem but a fact. That fact will change the way you see everything going forward. For me, it took several near-death experiences (almost being murdered and a cancer scare) to see death for what it is.

Death is not an easy pill to swallow. No short blog post like this is going to give you all the answers you’re probably wanting to know.

The only way I see of dealing with the reality of death is to go out there and live the best damn life you can, while you can!

Use your life to do something that gives you meaning and then you’ll no longer see death as a problem when it comes upon you.

Peace, love and respect — thanks for reading.

<<<>>>

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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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Ryan Jones

    Jun 16, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Been in the internet marketing business for a while myself and there is definitely a learning curve for new marketers online. Will have to share these tips with my readers too.

  2. Ahmed Ali

    May 29, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you Stephen! This article is exactly what I need to hear at this chapter of my life.

  3. Sachin

    Dec 27, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Very well said. I will apply this in my life too. 🙂

  4. Jay Sifford

    Dec 26, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    This is a great read. Thanks so much. I realized that I’m already doing these things and, believe me, my life is great… not perfect, but great. I enjoyed the reinforcement. While reading this, I thought back to conversations between my brother and my mother. She told me that he would ask “Where did Jay come from? He’s not like us.” I took that as a compliment.
    After several “false starts” in careers, by doing the things you’ve outlined here, I’m successful and happy with my landscape design profession. I’ve also been writing for several years now. I always wanted to, but just didn’t know how to start. I wouldn’t trade those painful “false starts” for anything, because, even though they appeared to be dead ends, they provided lessons and building blocks for me that I use today.
    I could go on, but won’t. Again, thank you.

  5. aspecialist

    Nov 8, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    This is really interesting to read. Hitting goals and achieving success depend on our course of actions and thinking. You will not know what you can achieve unless you give a shot and really work for it. There are lot of meaningful things that we can do and goals that we can achieve, and we were given the power to choose our path .

  6. Samantha Driscoll

    Sep 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I found your article really interesting, from the perspective I am embarking on a new journey setting up my own business which has been a learning curve. Thank you

  7. Deepanshu

    Sep 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

    One of the best post I have ever read. I have read huge no of self help post. But this one is my favorite post.
    Thanks

  8. Stephen Guise

    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:44 am

    You’re welcome! Thanks for reading!

  9. Matt

    Sep 9, 2015 at 12:11 am

    The description for #6 actually contradicts the headline. You are in fact responsible for your success or failure by making the effort to network. So while the people you network with will help you get to where you want to go, YOU are still responsible for going out and meeting those people.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 11:25 am

      There is no contradiction.

      Understanding that your success isn’t 100% in your hands gives you a superior perspective: it makes you more resilient and more willing to network or ask for help. If you believed success was 100% up to you, you’d be far more likely to get discouraged (such as when your best effort fails) and less likely to ask for help when you need it most.

  10. Linda Salloum

    Sep 8, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    Hi stephen ,
    Thank you for a great article . I really do hear you and like yourself I was that young person who was lazy and shy and every day make plans to do something productive but never got round to it. I will try your mini habits because I am desperate to change my life before its too late. Lilly

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:29 am

      Mini habits turned my life around. Most of the 7 keys I listed are in line with the mini habit strategy. My big turnaround started with one push-up per day! Good luck, Lilly!

  11. Lonell M. Holliday

    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Great article! Steve.. Very great artical.
    I had to read it twice and take down notes. 50 Words a day! self-efficacy. Man I got it..

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:30 am

      Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. Give it a try!

  12. Ernie A

    Sep 8, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Beautiful! You have an awesome story man and these are great pearls of wisdom. I’m in the process of writing my first book and your advice has been key in making progress.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:31 am

      I appreciate that, Ernie! I’ve written two books, and I wrote them both by aiming for 50 words a day. It’s more powerful than it seems. 🙂

  13. A

    Sep 8, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    This is a very interesting article.

    At the moment I am trying to establish a business which I know there is a lot of potential and have put some good hours into it. Had some knock backs but not gave up on it

    However I also have something else that I would like to do. That are not related .

    If my business does kick on then I can in some capacity do what I really desire in some aspect. If it doesn’t then I have to walk away from one.

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:34 am

      Best of luck with your business. If this one doesn’t work out, you can always try again. I had a failed business before I started writing books.

  14. Roxanne

    Sep 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Wow Stephen, I’m so grateful I read your article. I am the queen of the non “Follow Through”. I fail repeatedly to finish anything I start. Or I have great plans in my mind but never start them. after reading and rereading your article, it makes complete sense to me, my behavior that is.. I also love words, I love to write, I have started the same idea for a book several times, I get 2 pages written and I’m so critical of my writing that I quit..writing is only one example of many things I have quit, a lot do to being so critical about myself and the feeling that “it should have been better”, so if I can’t get it perfect what’s the point of continuing,this kind of self defeat talk going on in my head… but you have really opened up my mind to my real issue’s of what I call the “Failure of Follow Through. ” Thanks so much for getting it and putting yourself out there to help others….I’m going to read your book Mini- Habits asap…. thanks

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:37 am

      Roxanne, you might actually benefit more from my second book! It’s called, “How to Be an Imperfectionist” and it directly addresses the issue you’re describing. The solutions I suggest in the book are in Mini Habit form. If you’re interested to read both books, it works best to read Mini Habits first.

      Mini Habits works as a general solution for perfectionism, and How to Be an Imperfectionist has direct solutions for the different aspects of it, such as unrealistic expectations, need for approval, concern over mistakes, and so on.

  15. Psimatupang

    Sep 8, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Wow.. This is so wonderful. Thank you.

    Well, what stopping me from success (reaching my dreams) is something that happening inside me. I am a student, when others talk about something i have no idea what or something i haven’t learnt it kinda makes me feel small..

    • Stephen Guise

      Sep 9, 2015 at 12:41 am

      There’s nothing wrong with ignorance. We’re all ignorant of certain things. I used to be afraid to ask questions because it would expose my ignorance, but I realized the more I asked questions when I didn’t know things, the less ignorant I’d be. The slight potential embarrassment is definitely worth bearing, and people are usually happy to teach you what they know.

  16. Steve Jordan

    Sep 8, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Excellent article, thank you.

  17. Ankur Agarwal

    Sep 8, 2015 at 4:03 am

    Hi Stephen, its a good article and its nice to read your thoughts.
    Just to share, I have been going through the low self efficacy phase. I tried few things but didn’t work out.
    so going by your words, I will start on doing mini habits of writing 50 words a day because I also like to write.
    Will surely share my thoughts with you.

  18. Nikolai Westall

    Sep 8, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Thank you! Awesome stuff 🙂

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Success Advice

The 4 D’s to Guaranteed Success From Maglite Founder Anthony Maglica

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Anthony Maglica
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I caught an inspiring story online recently about an incredible gentleman with a unstoppable work ethic. His name is Anthony (Tony) Maglica and he’s the inventor of the famous Maglite, i.e. a flashlight that revolutionized the industry. With it’s variable-focus beam light, varying sizes to fit the job and an array of accessories, the Maglite has been at the top of the heap for a long time. And widely preferred by law enforcement. Talk about servicing a large, niche market!

Tony, an 87-year-old entrepreneur, came from humble Croatian beginnings to build a thriving, worldwide business in America. He insists his success is due to using only quality American labor and resources in a time when most people outsource to improve their bottom lines. But that’s not the story. The story is Tony’s mantra. Tony Maglica lives by the 4 D’s: Desire, Determination, Dedication and  Discipline.

So let’s dissect that and see how much of Tony’s 4 D’s principle you live by in your life and business:

1. Desire

What are your talents, interests, capabilities? The dictionary says desire is: “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen”. Are you in a career or business that you enjoy? Do you take your ideas to fruition or teeter off distracted by your next venture or a shiny object? Perhaps you’ve gone to school, learned a profession, only to figure along the way it’s not really what you want.

Without a strong desire to do something, you may have created for yourself just a “job”. So whether you have a strong desire in a particular field or knowing the money makes it all worthwhile, what gets you pumped and jumping out of bed in the morning? In other words, what’s your “why”?

“If you have a burning ambition and desire, absolutely anything can be achieved.” – Jahangir Khan

2. Determination

Tony’s staff says when he has an idea for a product to enhance his line, he stops at nothing to create it. Even if he has to create the machinery to create that extra component, he’s all in. Determination is what drives him. At 87, most think of retirement. Not Tony. He lives for this business he built from scratch.

The dictionary says determination is “firmness of purpose; resoluteness”. So what are you resolved in doing? Are you resolved to be successful? Are you resolved to do whatever needs to be done? To have a standard of excellence?

Are you determined to win? To get training; to stop at nothing; to course correct when needed? Have you thought of a mission statement? What kind of “company” culture would you like to build? Even solo-preneurs benefit from mission statements and company cultures just as much as a Fortune 500 corp.

3. Dedication

How committed are you to your success? And how does that commitment show up? The dictionary says dedication is: “the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose”. If you’re on a deadline but it’s a beautiful day to surf, which would you choose? Honestly, the answer could be both. Figure out the time that the surf is best and do whatever you have to do to work around that to meet your deadline. With deadlines, i.e., commitments, taking priority, of course.

Dedication often goes hand-in-hand with passion. It’s easy to be committed to something when you’re passionate about it. In contrast, if you’re heart’s not in it, you may not be happy. Master marketer Seth Godin, committed to write a blog post each day. And he’s done so, religiously, for something like the past couple of decades. He also says he never commits to a project unless he’s determined to complete it. He’s very cautious of where he puts his time and effort. His motto: “Ship or it doesn’t count”.

“I have not idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.” – Ayrton Senna

4. Discipline

Tony Maglica starts each day at 5:00 a.m. and doesn’t stop until his body tells him to. Similarly,  “Rambo” star Sly Stallone, says he wakes up at 4:00 a.m., readies himself for his daily morning regimen of writing (from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.) before jumping into other endeavors. He says he approaches writing with the same discipline as working out.

Even Shark Tank’s Daymond John, boasts he starts his day at around 6:00 a.m., gets in some form of exercise, and keeps his calendar booked with meetings and shows until evening.

Tony Maglica, inventor, entrepreneur, employer and success role-model maintains: “If you have that (the 4 D’s), you have everything you want to succeed. Doesn’t matter if you use it in your job, your home, your family. Anything you want to achieve. Use this recipe for anything in life and you will make it. Guaranteed!”

  • So I wonder: what’s your success regimen look like?
  • What time do you hop out of bed? (And in what condition?)
  • What are your convictions? Are your actions true to your dreams?

Success isn’t created in a vacuum, it comes from motion. Forward-motion gets us closer to our goals. Stagnation causes atrophy – in our body, and in our business. So whatever you’re going through, whatever level of “stuck” you may be at at any given moment, take a deep breath, maybe a walk to clear the cobwebs in the brain and recall Tony’s Four D’s: Desire, Determination, Dedication and Discipline.

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Success Advice

3 Life Lessons in Perseverance to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

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I have two careers as an actor and a marketer with each having its own unique challenges. However, the number of parallels I continue to find in my chosen professions never ceases to amaze me. Of these lessons, perhaps one of the most valuable is that of persistence, and the mental resilience I’ve had to learn. You can’t be an actor without resilience. Nine times out of 10 (if not more) the answer is going to be no.

Acting is a lesson in endurance, not a sprint. When you think about it though, doesn’t that apply to any career? It’s not easy to “Keep on keeping on.” No matter what path life has led you down, I’m sure you’ve experienced plenty of bumps. Sometimes, those bumps turn into potholes that the universe seems to refuse to fix.

As an actor, rejection is par for the course. Thankfully, I’ve learned how to persevere in spite of it. When life gets especially challenging, and you are dealing with change, disappointment or missteps, make use of these life lessons and continue pressing on towards your goal.

Below are 3 lessons in perseverance which will help you achieve your wildest dreams:

1. Know when it’s time to recalibrate

Goals are an important and necessary tool to reach our full potential. They keep us focused to help make small decisions on a daily basis such as if I should get up for that 8 a.m. run along with bigger decisions such as if I should take a new job offer. While setting goals is essential, don’t let them overpower you.

Tunnel vision in reaching your goals adds unnecessary pressure. This causes us to make mistakes we wouldn’t have made otherwise. Get too obsessed with a goal and you’ll forget the big picture, such as why you chose this course to begin with. Take a lesson from one of my favorite casting directors, Dave Newman of McSweeney Newman Casting.

Forget trying to “make it big” as an actor. It is normal to wait years before booking work with a decent paycheck. If you’re in the room with Dave, it’s hard not to let the pressure take over your performance.

In the words of Dave, as soon as those words from A Chorus Line enter your head, “God, I hope I get it!” it’s time to adjust your mindset. Dave advises taking a step back, refocusing, and doing anything that isn’t acting. Sometimes the best way to reach a goal is by shifting your gaze just for a moment. Take the pressure off and recalibrate your thoughts. You’ll come back recharged with a fresh perspective to pursue your objectives.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

2. Appreciate the journey

Perseverance requires a heaping dose of appreciation. This means acknowledging all the wins in your life, both big and small. Even if you haven’t yet met your goal, remember that you are moving towards it and that alone is an achievement.

As Linda Gillum, Casting Director at Chicago theatre Remy Bumppo explains, “With everything you do, you’re planting seeds.” It takes time for the seeds of success to grow. As an actor, my seeds take a lot of sunshine, water, and gratitude for the little things. A win can be as simple as improving my technique or getting an audition; I can’t base my happiness on booked jobs.

Persistence becomes much easier when you notice your achievements despite those potholes surrounding you. Celebrate the small wins; they’re what milestones are built on. Even if your manager or co-workers don’t recognize your work, give yourself that pat on the back.

To stay motivated, make a mental highlight reel of your achievements. Afterwards, be ready to hit the play button whenever you need a quick pick-me-up.

3. Embrace mistakes or at least be okay with them

No matter how much you hate mistakes, they’ll keep happening. Some people seem to move on from mistakes quickly, letting them roll off their backs. For others, that’s not the case (If you’re fighting to be perfect or gain confidence I’m talking to you!). The fear to avoid mistakes can be crippling.

This is also true in acting, where you work and wait years for a five-minute audition that could change everything. However, my best work won’t come unless I live in the moment and trust my instincts. And you know what that means, things can go wrong in an instant. But guess what? I still have to dive in, and I mean all in. If I don’t risk it all, my audition will suck, and I’ll lose before I even walk through the door.

We all recognize that positives, including life lessons, come from mistakes. However, that doesn’t stop the nosedive mistakes caused on emotions and confidence. Sometimes, we do everything in our power to avoid that feeling.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.” – Janet Fitch

Remember that there’s truth in the statement, “The biggest mistake is not making mistakes.” One way to get over your fear of failure is to make your focus on continuous improvement, not perfection. Teaching yourself to be okay with mistakes takes time but is necessary to maintain resilience.

You can allow yourself a learning curve, but it is essential to work on letting go of missteps. It takes practice to let go of the could have or would have statements. The good news is practice and persistence go hand-in-hand.

Take stock of what makes you happy in life, and turn to those things when mistakes happen. Little by little, as you learn to turn your attention elsewhere when missteps occur, you’ll train your brain to move on. This is how mistakes lose their power over you and enable you to pursue your goal with confidence.

Persistence is a state of mind. In the end, it means being kind to yourself. Know when to give yourself a break and pat on the back as you recharge your batteries. Then, you’ll find yourself able to maneuver whatever twists and turns life throws your way.

How do you remain determined in reaching your goals when it seems like the day won’t come? Let us know your advice and tips for your fellow entrepreneurs below!

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Success Advice

Dress for Success: 4 Small Fashion Choices That Make All the Difference

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

When it comes to succeeding in business, making a good impression is just as much about your inner qualities as it is about your outer presentation. The fact of the matter is that your clothing and color choices, affect others’ perception of you. Believe it or not, you can achieve fashion-inspired success without splurging on a pair of Louboutins or shelling out $1000 for a designer suit. Just a few striking accessories can often complete the picture.

It may sound ridiculous that small accessories can affect the vibe you give off. It’s true, and certain accessories can even send certain messages. A recent study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire found that well-dressed male figures (whose faces were not shown) were perceived to be more confident, trustworthy, and well-to-do. Even minor adjustments to their clothing, such as adding on an accessory or more closely tailoring the suit, impacted these impressions.

However, our clothes not only impact the way others perceive us, but the way we perceive ourselves. A study conducted by the Scientific American, found that those who “suit up” performed better in cognitive tests. It suggests that being well-dressed releases more testosterone, which in turn increases confidence.

This allows well-dressed professionals to negotiate better deals, and in the long run, potentially make more money. So, maybe you’ve got the clothes, but what are the finishing touches you can put on your outfit to send an even stronger message? See below!

1. Wear a watch

A beautiful watch makes all the difference – and this goes for men and women. Even a simple button-down and jeans, or plain-colored dress, can be exponentially stylized by a standout watch. Charismatic individuals tend to talk more with their hands, too, as this captivates their listeners. Wearing a flashy wrist accessory like a watch will make your points even more engrossing. Furthermore, wearing a watch sends a subconscious message: you’re always on time. Individuals who wear a watch can always keep track of time and therefore, will never be late to a meeting.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – There are hints about who you are in what you wear.” – Marc Jacobs

2. Tie it off with a tie pin

The one criticism of men’s business fashion is that it lacks variety. Let’s face it, while women have an infinite number of patterns, dress lengths, colors, and sleeve styles to choose from, men are pretty much locked into one outfit: the suit. You can buy one in suede, another in navy blue, throw in a paisley tie, but it’s simply not enough.

Adding on a tie pin will make a significant difference. Not only does it add a little shimmer to an otherwise dull suit, but it adds personality too. The kind of tie pin you choose says a lot about you. Maybe you’re a simple guy who just likes sterling silver, or you may choose to tout your school pride by wearing the colors of your alma mater (which, by the way, can also make a great conversation starter).

You can also create custom tie pins that feature the name of your company, or perhaps a saying that you’re fond of. The options are limitless.

3. A quality briefcase

It doesn’t even matter if you have nothing to carry around, the key is to never show up empty-handed. A quality leather briefcase is an important asset for men and women. Backpacks and most handbags don’t signify professionalism. A briefcase, on the other hand, symbolizes professionalism and importance. After all, what else would you carry in a briefcase except for a load of important documents and files, right?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if all you have in your briefcase is a Kit-Kat Bar. All that matters is that it’s by your side and contains the essentials – a beautiful silver pen (perhaps with your name engraved), a notepad or iPad, and business cards that can be pulled out in a flash without having to rummage through your pockets.

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

4. Nice sunglasses

It’s a sunny day and you’ve got a working lunch across town. Rather than squinting your way from Point A to Point B, top off your look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Not only do these send a more casual vibe when tucked in your pocket, but the right sunglasses can give you a sleek aesthetic (think 007, but with business lunches). Wayfarers a la Audrey Hepburn and aviators a la Tom Cruise are the go-to choices for business professional sunglasses. You can’t go wrong with either of these styles.

The bottom line is that you choose how you wish to be viewed. The lesson here is much akin to the old adage: “don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.” And if you have the job you want, don’t send your fashion choices to the sidelines. Not only can clothes/accessories indicate our knowledge and experience, but also our authority.

How has a nice outfit helped you in your professional career? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

How Creativity Leads to a More Successful Life

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Human beings are curious, inquisitive and creative. We have a deep desire to make meaning of our world and each other by creating. Each culture brings new ideas and meaning to gain a sense of belonging and purpose. Success comes from understanding your contribution to the world and the spark of this contribution comes from a creative place. Understanding the power that comes from creativity can help to elevate you in many ways.

Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun.” Having fun is part of the human experiment that not only provides a sense of purpose, but builds our humanity and scales our ability to succeed. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves a creative outlet or space because we don’t see the value in it if it doesn’t lead to a specific outcome.

Creativity is ever more important in today’s connection economy, because it is the outcome. As the world continues to race toward innovation, faster, cheaper, and quicker, are what distinguishes us from the crowd in terms of individual creative contribution. The more we share and create, the more we find out how valuable this concept is. Creativity cannot be outsourced, it must be cultivated, challenged, and inspired by human curiosity.

Below are 4 ways in which creativity leads to a more successful life:

1. Creativity Creates Deeper Connection to Work

Creativity is the act of experimenting and learning about what works and what may not. When we see creativity as a part of our work and not something left to a small artistic elite then we can create a deeper connection to the work we are meant to do in the world. If we see work as a part of our bigger purpose then our success will increase when we spend time being creative.

The more your creative footprint can be seen, understood, and felt, the more impact you will have. If you see an opportunity to think outside of the box in a particular situation because you see the world differently than your peers, then you have the edge to provide value that no one else can. And, guess what? Each one of us sees the world differently as part of our own uniqueness.

You already possess that special edge even if you were unsure of it before now. If you constantly avoid sharing your creative thoughts you are resisting your inner talents and hiding from the possibilities that lie within the power of your creativity.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” – Dorothy Parker

2. Incorporate More Creativity into Your Life

One of the ways you can grow in your ability to bring creativity in your life is to spend time having a “What if” mentality. Spending quality time wondering, dreaming and not stressed about the consequences of being wrong can be freeing.

If what we created wasn’t judged or had no real consequence beyond an act of wonder, we might dream up new solutions to old problems. Elon Musk allowed this “What if” mentality wondering what if he created a company that would make commercial space flight possible? His company is built not around what is, but what might be.

By bringing this sense of wonder and playfulness into our work, life and contribution, we can let go of some of the self-imposed limits we have placed on our own success. If we treat our work and life a bit more like play, we will see a growth in our ability to perform and contribute even more to the already exciting and wonderful world we live in.

3. Opportunity for New Thinking

Sometimes when we are working on a project, either in a team or solo, we might find that we are hitting a wall with a project or in finding a solution to a problem. Instead of looking for the answer, sometimes we need to allow our creative brain to play and search for answers that might be hidden.

By hidden, I mean not yet created. Take some time to remove yourself from the work at hand and just wonder. Consider ways that might seem impossible to do but might spark new ideas. New learning can come from adding two crazy ideas together or taking an old idea and making a wild new way of thinking about it.

For example, posing a question and just wondering about a solution might spark a solution that was not seen. How might we improve the passenger boarding process at the airport so that we can foresee new ideas that were not there before.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

4. Create New Learning Pathways and Increase Brain Activity

When we are creative, we start to open our minds to new thinking. We begin to see new thinking and opportunities that we didn’t notice before. We also silence our amygdala or our lizard brain that is often in fight or flight mode to protect us.

When we are in a state of creative flow we silence the need to protect ourselves and find more peace and openness to new ideas and success. Try drawing on paper using colors, images and textures to visually create and noodle over ideas.

By using colors and a variety of mixed media aside from computers, smartphones and other electronics, you will invite a playful, often semi-dormant, part of your subconscious mind to work in upping your creativity game. The subtle connections and associations that occur in our brains when we use visualization can lead us to embark on new discoveries and success.

How has using your own creativity helped you succeed? Let us know in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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