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What I Learned In My 20’s: The Advice That Will Give You Massive Success

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Lessons From My 20's On Addicted2Success

Your 20’s are one of the best times of your life, but actually, your whole life should be that way. As I hit another birthday, which means nothing to me, I reflect on what I have learned in my 20’s with the hope that people from around the world can learn from my experience.

My life can be divided up into three phases so far: the music phase, the entrepreneur phase, and the phase I am in now to inspire the world through personal development and entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, that’s it.

When you chunk it down these three phases of life, have taught me so much, and I promise you there is some real value if you take the time to read to the end of the article.

Below are the 10 life lessons from my 20’s that will lead you to massive success:

 

1. Success is rare

My number one tip without a doubt is that success is rare. That’s right, most people will fail miserably in life and will never know why. I don’t say that to get you down; I say it because it doesn’t have to be that way for you.

My twenties showed me what the world wanted me to believe was success, but I learned in the last few years that this was all wrong. When you’re happy, passionate and filled with purpose, only then will you be successful. Everything outside of these three areas is BS and will guarantee you of failure.

 

2. Purpose equals success (find your freakin why)

Every day in your 20’s you wake up and do a series of things. When you do those things and have no idea why you’re doing them, you become like a zombie. You operate your mind on autopilot and become numb the majority of emotions. Any emotion that you have is further numbed through alcohol, junk food, drugs, mindless entertainment, your phone, and outside stimulants.

When you find your why your 20’s can setup the rest of your life. If you don’t, that’s fine, but at least try and get in the direction of your why. If you end up nowhere near the direction of your why in your 20’s, your probability of failure increases. That said, you can change your life at any moment in time.

 

3. You are only three contacts away from a global influencer

It’s easy to think that it can be hard to reach people like Richard Branson, but it’s really not. Throughout my twenties, I have learned that we are around three contacts away from reaching anyone we want. Global influencers all have big networks, and all you need to do is find someone who is close enough to them.

If your reason for reaching out is compelling enough, and you try and give value back to the person who is going to introduce you, then you will have no problems getting a hold of a global influencer. Make sure, though that you use the opportunity to do something amazing in the world!

 

4. Anything can be learned

In our teens we are told that we have to learn a specialty and that we are then stuck with it for the rest of our life, so we should choose our education and career wisely. THIS IS A MYTH! Anything can be learned at any stage in life and thanks to the internet; anyone can have whatever knowledge they want.

“It’s not the learning, but the action we take from the learning, that really matters. I would almost go as far as saying the less you know about something, the more you are likely to succeed” – Tim Denning

Naivety is a great thing that causes disruption and creates companies like Uber.

Forget about how hard you think something is and pick up the basics so you can learn in your 20’s what you will make your life’s purpose about.

 

5. No amount of money will make you happy

We are somehow led to believe in our 20’s that money will solve all our problems. What I learned in my 20’s through being an entrepreneur is that money means nothing. It’s what you do with your resources such as money that will give you massive success.

The fewer resources you have, the more creative with your approach you have to be. Creativity equals entrepreneurship, which equals starting a business, which equals purpose. Purpose equals fulfilment.

So get your fancy luxury car and give it to a friend!!! That’s right; you will feel better by doing this and save lots of money in depreciation. The people that you know who brag about the money they have are doing so because they are insecure. Money gives them status, which allows them to hide from life.

 

6. We all want attention

Whether we are willing to admit it or not, we all want attention even me. The difference is that I believe we should want attention (eyeballs) to do something good with it and inspire others. Most of what you see people do on social media is for attention.

Attention seekers without a good enough reason for the attention will ultimately fail. In your 20’s your goal should be to build some level of influence so you can use it in a positive way and create value for others. As you create value, you will feel fulfilled. Then, sit back and be grateful for what you have created.

 

7. Change is guaranteed

The next few years are going to be the years of biggest change thanks to our friend (my best friend) technology. Your 20’s need to set you up for life to be able to deal with change like it’s not a problem. When you see change; tragedy, failure or loss, as a bad thing, you will reward yourself with massive pain. Pain equals unhappiness followed my negative emotions that create a toxic inner world.

If you create a toxic inner world, then your outer world becomes miserable. Use your 20’s to try lots of things and to become comfortable with how remarkable change can be.

“Use significant change in your life as a turning point towards success and see it as a doorway to everything you ever wanted” – Tim Denning

Walking away from a business for me was a massive change. If I hadn’t done so, then I wouldn’t be here right now writing this advice for you with a big fat smile on my face. I would never have been able to understand my true purpose and find my ideal happiness. That’s how crucial change is for you.

 

8. Everyone’s has got their problems

It’s easy in our 20’s to be tricked into thinking the people around us don’t have the same problems we do. The reality is that everyone has the same problems in their 20’s and no one, just like me, has got any clue what the hell they are doing.

The whole point of your 20’s is to understand that problems are common, and no one is perfect. Your sexy friend on Instagram with the flawless skin, nice car, and that’s covered in tattoos is probably more unhappy than you. Tattoos can often be a sign of unresolved pain and the past. Live in the present and stop looking at your pain that’s tattooed on your body, or your mind, or both.

 

9. Look after the inside or the outside will suck

In my 20’s I learned later on that success is about the inside of you. By inside I mean your health and what you put into your body each day, and your mind. When you conquer your health and unlock the power of your mind, you get two vital things: boundless amounts of energy and a clarity and focus that not many people have.

How do you look after these two parts of you? You feed your body alkaline foods and liquids, and you feed your mind positive thoughts, emotions, and information. The combination of these three things will set you on a path for massive success and help make your 20’s phenomenal.

 

10. Stop Giving A *&^%$!

My final lesson from my twenties is to stop giving a *&^%$! about things that don’t matter. Stuff is going to go wrong, and people are going to judge you no matter what. Instead of caring about everything that happens, focus on caring about things that matter to you like your purpose or your passion.

In your 20’s, the more you get distracted by the little things that don’t matter and that you can’t change, the less time you will have to change the world with your sheer brilliance that is locked away inside of you. We are all brilliant if we will just get out of our own way and let our light shine brightly.

 

***Final Thought***

Even though I have passed another birthday, I don’t care because I feel younger than ever before. Time will always pass by, but I refuse to let that time be wasted. We all have a limited amount of time on this planet so forget whether you are in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 100’s and concentrate on what matters.

I feel like I will always be like Peter Pan and live forever because my world will live on through generations and yours can too if you focus your mind on the right activities. Put the cell phone down, bring yourself back to the present, and enjoy life man!

What are or what were your 20’s about for you? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments section below or on my website timdenning.net or my Facebook.

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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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Rawlings Lyson

    Nov 29, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    lm passionate about business thank you for the article

  2. Cecelia Jernegan

    Nov 17, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Great article. I am a 65 year young retired grandma and you nail it! Good job. Keep up the great work.

  3. Apoorv Sharma

    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Very inspiring article Tim , and very much true . I have observed most of the things mentioned here .
    I believe everyone should aim in their 20 s to be the best version of themselves and improve on daily basis. I won’t say i’m “killing it” in this aim, but i’m not ready to give up until i become the person i want to be.

    Such Article , like yours motivates me to skyrocket my enthusiasm and double my efforts .
    Keep up the great work . Cheers .

  4. Rob Malone

    May 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Great article. I wish I would have learned all this in my twenties.

    I think you point about money can’t buy happiness is huge. People just don’t understand this until they have money and think “why am still miserable”. It is finding your “why” and pursuing it that will bring happiness.

    Also your perspective on tattoos was really interesting. I always felt that tattoos represented something hidden down deep and I find your analogy very plausible.

    Thanks for sharing the article.

    • Tim Denning

      May 27, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Rob thanks for the kind words. Money is always something that mankind will struggle with but I hope the message eventually get’s out there – money will not make you happy. Glad you liked the tattoo’s piece of the article. I am not someone that likes tattoos but I respect people’s right to choose what they do with their body.

  5. shahwc

    May 22, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Thanks for your article Tim! This is really inspiring as me myself in my 20’s. Hope my 20’s will bring something in my life and my family.

    • Tim Denning

      May 27, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Shah I am sure your 20’s will be successful. Make sure you enjoy them and don’r look back. Thanks for reading!

  6. Kat

    May 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I just turned 20 and graduated with a Marketing degree! Deciding what to do now is driving me crazy! Thanks for this article!!

    • Tim Denning

      May 20, 2016 at 3:27 am

      No problem Kat. Best of luck with your marketing degree and don’t overthink it.

  7. Aleksandra

    May 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I’m 24 now and I must say that this article is like winning in a lottery. Thank you Tim for this great motivation and inspiration to continue to reach my goals and dreams and just enjoy life, focus on present and be happy and wealthy.
    I have many small and big goals for myself and I know that this is a great period to successfully reach them all!
    Stay cool and I’m waiting for a new great article from you! 🙂

    • Tim Denning

      May 17, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Wow thanks Aleksandra for the massive compliment. Plenty more articles to come so stay tuned.

  8. Toño

    May 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    As I have approached my another B’day as well month ago I can tell my 20s have been the craziest time and full of events I would never wished or imagined. I haven’t achieved any success during that time, but through all the struggle, hustle and tragedy I was able to grow and become a better, new person. It was a preparation for a big journey I am now. If to describe my 20s in one sentence it has to be my favourite quote by Thomas Edison: ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’ 🙂

    Now I can take those lessons of yours to turn my 30s into something big. I don’t count the age, as Time is a man-made concept which most often does not define thyself.

    You’ve listed amazing lessons which will help me on my journey, and I’m going to use them well. I want to highlight those lessons I will the most attachemnt with at the moment:

    #1. The very first lesson. Success is rare, and that not everyone will reach it, taste it and experience it. It got me deep. I am still don’t quite know yet what success really is and whether I’m going to achieve it. You are right about it rarity, and that most people will fail, I’ve been there and know what it is and it gives me another reason to appreciate things more and value my time. I have to define success first, and I am still not quite there yet. I may never learn it, but I will never give up.

    The next lesson is to find your freaking why, man. Exactly! Just few days ago I have been thinking exact same thing, like what is the reason behind most of my daily actions and routine and how to overcome some stress if you really have to do something? Find you WHY, that’s how!
    And then your article comes up with like the same line. Yeah, eyeballs. Amazing!

    For a long time I was convinced you should be young, talented and awesome to do special and particular things, but slowly I realized it does not have to be that. I have been limiting myself out for so long that it seems like I just started to re-learn some regular stuff now. Taking another lesson, anything can be learned, I now can fully agree with you. We have to try multiple things out to find out what it’s like and what we are here to do, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Back to the Monk WHo Sold His Ferrari story, I have been emptying my cup so I can fill it with new knowledge.

    Oh, and I have watched ‘In pursuit of Happyness’ (this time I spelled it right) as I’ve finally found it in English (surprisingly through my old xbox 360 account!). I think this movie reflect perfectly well on the sunject and on some of the lessons of yours. Thank you SO very much for suggestion, my friend, it was amazing experience and I enjoyed this movie so much. Still feel the emotion, what a beautiful story and what an amazing actors play. I will show it to my sister, she will greatly appreciate it I am sure!

    My gratitude and much love for this article, Tim, you tought me well! Speak with you soon, have a great day and stay healthy!

    • Tim Denning

      May 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Toño we always seem to be on a similar journey my friend. I love how you practice what you learn and the fact you are beginning to empty your cup. The Pursuit Of Happyness is my all time favourite movie. It’s what success is all about. The struggles are where all the beauty lies and it’s what will make you successful .

      Keep in touch my friend.

  9. Sophia

    May 16, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Hi Tim,
    Wished you wrote this peace a decade ago and I had a chance to read it. I would have changed scripts that were installed by my culture, surrounding, and myself.
    I would add additional point to the list: choose carefully who are you friends and how much your family can influence you. On subconscious level we always want to fit, be excepted by others, and be part of a tribe. Our social environment affects our mindset, which directly result in our choices for actions. Unless we have good role models, we will fall in trap of following tribe habits which may not be in our personal best interests.
    Thanks again

    • Tim Denning

      May 16, 2016 at 4:52 am

      Sophia I wish I wrote this a decade ago as well…lol, although it’s taken me a while to gain the knowledge Your points are spot on and your environment is very important although not as important as your internal environment that governs everything you do.

      Thanks for reading Sophia.

  10. france

    May 15, 2016 at 9:08 am

    thank you for this inspirational article.greets from grom germany

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Not a problem France and thanks for reading 🙂

  11. Rayon

    May 15, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Hey Tim,

    Firstly this line “I would almost go as far as saying the less you know about something, the more you are likely to succeed.” I agree with this 100%.
    In fact a friend and I were having a conversation about this just the other day. We both came to the conclusion that knowing too much sometimes hinder one from getting off the ground and doing the epic. Sometimes even to the point where you’ve dug so deep that you talk yourself out of a very good idea.

    Next, “The fewer resources you have, the more creative with your approach you have to be.” This is a must.
    I remember in high school’s Technical Drawing I had one pencil that I used for every type of line and my drawing table was an enamel stove top that I drew on at home, however, those drawings always stood out to the point where students wanted me to draw for them.
    We can’t allow lack of resources to hold us back. Use what is available to do what we must, eventually all the resources required will show up and whenever they break down and they usually do, working without them won’t be an issue.

    Lastly, “Walking away from a business for me was a massive change.” I’m curious to know how you managed this. Would love to hear more.

    You’ve dropped great points here and this article is definitely worth sharing. Thanks for another great post man.

    Rayon.

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Rayon thank you for sharing what you took away from the post. I love your story about your technical drawing experience it highlights my point perfectly.

      The part where I mention the business is something I am happy to share with you. Feel free to drop me a line on Facebook or through my website.

  12. Chipokota

    May 15, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Wow. Beautiful article. As I turn 28 at the end of the year I have so much to reflect on. I couldn’t have read a better article of encouragement that I have lived my twenties not too badly! And should continue making the most out of life! Biggest of all for that comment that I am just three contacts away from a global influencer. I agree totally and I see it all the time in my life! The world is not as big as it seems. Let’s do this!

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Chipokota glad to see you are also doing some reflecting. I’m sure you have done fine thus far in life. The global influencer point will serve you well my friend if you use it. Take care!

  13. Gabriel DoCarmo

    May 14, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Great article Tim, thank you so much for writing. For me, my 20s are freakin awesome! I’m extremely happy with the man I’m becoming and the direction I’m headed in life. I’ve learned that You determine your Reality 100%, nothing happens to you everything happens BECAUSE of You. If you want something you go get it, period. Nobody is coming to the rescue. We live in the best Possible time in the history of the world and country with huge amount of abundance and Opportunity (US) I’m turning 22 next week and looking forward to learning much much more! Life is Awesome
    -Gabriel DoCarmo

    • Tim Denning

      May 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks for the inspiring message and I’m sure the rest of your 20’s will be outstanding. Technology and the internet are brining us so many opportunities. Exciting times!

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
Image Credit: Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

1. Set a target and work towards it

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

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

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

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

2. Raise your standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Maintain your self-confidence

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

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

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

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

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

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

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

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

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

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

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

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

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

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

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

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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decision making
Image Credit: Unsplash

How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

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

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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Success Advice

Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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10 Lessons for Bootstrapping Your Startup to $1M Annual Revenue

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In an entrepreneurial landscape dominated by headlines of unicorn startups and billion-dollar acquisitions, getting a company to $1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) may sound like small change. Let’s be real, though, hitting $1 million ARR is an aspirational milestone most young companies can relate to. And it’s not that easy, especially if you’ve secured modest investments or no investment at all. (more…)

Kenneth Burke is the Marketing Director at Text Request, a business texting software company.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Rawlings Lyson

    Nov 29, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    lm passionate about business thank you for the article

  2. Cecelia Jernegan

    Nov 17, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Great article. I am a 65 year young retired grandma and you nail it! Good job. Keep up the great work.

  3. Apoorv Sharma

    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Very inspiring article Tim , and very much true . I have observed most of the things mentioned here .
    I believe everyone should aim in their 20 s to be the best version of themselves and improve on daily basis. I won’t say i’m “killing it” in this aim, but i’m not ready to give up until i become the person i want to be.

    Such Article , like yours motivates me to skyrocket my enthusiasm and double my efforts .
    Keep up the great work . Cheers .

  4. Rob Malone

    May 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Great article. I wish I would have learned all this in my twenties.

    I think you point about money can’t buy happiness is huge. People just don’t understand this until they have money and think “why am still miserable”. It is finding your “why” and pursuing it that will bring happiness.

    Also your perspective on tattoos was really interesting. I always felt that tattoos represented something hidden down deep and I find your analogy very plausible.

    Thanks for sharing the article.

    • Tim Denning

      May 27, 2016 at 9:37 pm

      Rob thanks for the kind words. Money is always something that mankind will struggle with but I hope the message eventually get’s out there – money will not make you happy. Glad you liked the tattoo’s piece of the article. I am not someone that likes tattoos but I respect people’s right to choose what they do with their body.

  5. shahwc

    May 22, 2016 at 3:39 am

    Thanks for your article Tim! This is really inspiring as me myself in my 20’s. Hope my 20’s will bring something in my life and my family.

    • Tim Denning

      May 27, 2016 at 9:35 pm

      Shah I am sure your 20’s will be successful. Make sure you enjoy them and don’r look back. Thanks for reading!

  6. Kat

    May 18, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    I just turned 20 and graduated with a Marketing degree! Deciding what to do now is driving me crazy! Thanks for this article!!

    • Tim Denning

      May 20, 2016 at 3:27 am

      No problem Kat. Best of luck with your marketing degree and don’t overthink it.

  7. Aleksandra

    May 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    I’m 24 now and I must say that this article is like winning in a lottery. Thank you Tim for this great motivation and inspiration to continue to reach my goals and dreams and just enjoy life, focus on present and be happy and wealthy.
    I have many small and big goals for myself and I know that this is a great period to successfully reach them all!
    Stay cool and I’m waiting for a new great article from you! 🙂

    • Tim Denning

      May 17, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Wow thanks Aleksandra for the massive compliment. Plenty more articles to come so stay tuned.

  8. Toño

    May 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    As I have approached my another B’day as well month ago I can tell my 20s have been the craziest time and full of events I would never wished or imagined. I haven’t achieved any success during that time, but through all the struggle, hustle and tragedy I was able to grow and become a better, new person. It was a preparation for a big journey I am now. If to describe my 20s in one sentence it has to be my favourite quote by Thomas Edison: ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’ 🙂

    Now I can take those lessons of yours to turn my 30s into something big. I don’t count the age, as Time is a man-made concept which most often does not define thyself.

    You’ve listed amazing lessons which will help me on my journey, and I’m going to use them well. I want to highlight those lessons I will the most attachemnt with at the moment:

    #1. The very first lesson. Success is rare, and that not everyone will reach it, taste it and experience it. It got me deep. I am still don’t quite know yet what success really is and whether I’m going to achieve it. You are right about it rarity, and that most people will fail, I’ve been there and know what it is and it gives me another reason to appreciate things more and value my time. I have to define success first, and I am still not quite there yet. I may never learn it, but I will never give up.

    The next lesson is to find your freaking why, man. Exactly! Just few days ago I have been thinking exact same thing, like what is the reason behind most of my daily actions and routine and how to overcome some stress if you really have to do something? Find you WHY, that’s how!
    And then your article comes up with like the same line. Yeah, eyeballs. Amazing!

    For a long time I was convinced you should be young, talented and awesome to do special and particular things, but slowly I realized it does not have to be that. I have been limiting myself out for so long that it seems like I just started to re-learn some regular stuff now. Taking another lesson, anything can be learned, I now can fully agree with you. We have to try multiple things out to find out what it’s like and what we are here to do, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Back to the Monk WHo Sold His Ferrari story, I have been emptying my cup so I can fill it with new knowledge.

    Oh, and I have watched ‘In pursuit of Happyness’ (this time I spelled it right) as I’ve finally found it in English (surprisingly through my old xbox 360 account!). I think this movie reflect perfectly well on the sunject and on some of the lessons of yours. Thank you SO very much for suggestion, my friend, it was amazing experience and I enjoyed this movie so much. Still feel the emotion, what a beautiful story and what an amazing actors play. I will show it to my sister, she will greatly appreciate it I am sure!

    My gratitude and much love for this article, Tim, you tought me well! Speak with you soon, have a great day and stay healthy!

    • Tim Denning

      May 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

      Toño we always seem to be on a similar journey my friend. I love how you practice what you learn and the fact you are beginning to empty your cup. The Pursuit Of Happyness is my all time favourite movie. It’s what success is all about. The struggles are where all the beauty lies and it’s what will make you successful .

      Keep in touch my friend.

  9. Sophia

    May 16, 2016 at 2:32 am

    Hi Tim,
    Wished you wrote this peace a decade ago and I had a chance to read it. I would have changed scripts that were installed by my culture, surrounding, and myself.
    I would add additional point to the list: choose carefully who are you friends and how much your family can influence you. On subconscious level we always want to fit, be excepted by others, and be part of a tribe. Our social environment affects our mindset, which directly result in our choices for actions. Unless we have good role models, we will fall in trap of following tribe habits which may not be in our personal best interests.
    Thanks again

    • Tim Denning

      May 16, 2016 at 4:52 am

      Sophia I wish I wrote this a decade ago as well…lol, although it’s taken me a while to gain the knowledge Your points are spot on and your environment is very important although not as important as your internal environment that governs everything you do.

      Thanks for reading Sophia.

  10. france

    May 15, 2016 at 9:08 am

    thank you for this inspirational article.greets from grom germany

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Not a problem France and thanks for reading 🙂

  11. Rayon

    May 15, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Hey Tim,

    Firstly this line “I would almost go as far as saying the less you know about something, the more you are likely to succeed.” I agree with this 100%.
    In fact a friend and I were having a conversation about this just the other day. We both came to the conclusion that knowing too much sometimes hinder one from getting off the ground and doing the epic. Sometimes even to the point where you’ve dug so deep that you talk yourself out of a very good idea.

    Next, “The fewer resources you have, the more creative with your approach you have to be.” This is a must.
    I remember in high school’s Technical Drawing I had one pencil that I used for every type of line and my drawing table was an enamel stove top that I drew on at home, however, those drawings always stood out to the point where students wanted me to draw for them.
    We can’t allow lack of resources to hold us back. Use what is available to do what we must, eventually all the resources required will show up and whenever they break down and they usually do, working without them won’t be an issue.

    Lastly, “Walking away from a business for me was a massive change.” I’m curious to know how you managed this. Would love to hear more.

    You’ve dropped great points here and this article is definitely worth sharing. Thanks for another great post man.

    Rayon.

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Rayon thank you for sharing what you took away from the post. I love your story about your technical drawing experience it highlights my point perfectly.

      The part where I mention the business is something I am happy to share with you. Feel free to drop me a line on Facebook or through my website.

  12. Chipokota

    May 15, 2016 at 6:27 am

    Wow. Beautiful article. As I turn 28 at the end of the year I have so much to reflect on. I couldn’t have read a better article of encouragement that I have lived my twenties not too badly! And should continue making the most out of life! Biggest of all for that comment that I am just three contacts away from a global influencer. I agree totally and I see it all the time in my life! The world is not as big as it seems. Let’s do this!

    • Tim Denning

      May 15, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Chipokota glad to see you are also doing some reflecting. I’m sure you have done fine thus far in life. The global influencer point will serve you well my friend if you use it. Take care!

  13. Gabriel DoCarmo

    May 14, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Great article Tim, thank you so much for writing. For me, my 20s are freakin awesome! I’m extremely happy with the man I’m becoming and the direction I’m headed in life. I’ve learned that You determine your Reality 100%, nothing happens to you everything happens BECAUSE of You. If you want something you go get it, period. Nobody is coming to the rescue. We live in the best Possible time in the history of the world and country with huge amount of abundance and Opportunity (US) I’m turning 22 next week and looking forward to learning much much more! Life is Awesome
    -Gabriel DoCarmo

    • Tim Denning

      May 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Thanks for the inspiring message and I’m sure the rest of your 20’s will be outstanding. Technology and the internet are brining us so many opportunities. Exciting times!

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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

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

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

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

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

1. Set a target and work towards it

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

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

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

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

2. Raise your standards

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Maintain your self-confidence

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

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

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

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

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

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

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

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

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

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

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

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

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

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

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

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

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

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high performers
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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Success Advice

Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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leadership
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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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