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Success Advice

Why Real Is The New Black

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fear is the new real

I grew up believing in this societal myth that you have to be fearless. That in order to make it in life, you have to develop thick skin. Be afraid of nothing. If anything goes wrong, just throw some dirt on it.

It’s all bullsh!t.

This year alone, I’ve interviewed over 50 entrepreneurs who are truly living on their own terms. They are some of the bravest and most prolific people I’ve come to know. In deconstructing their stories to determine what drove them to succeed, we uncovered one underlying theme that finally debunked this myth for me.

They all had fear, and lots of it.

In the words of Mark Twain,

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

If fearlessness is a myth, then why in the world are we still scared to death of failing?

 

Fear of Being Found Out

We’ve been told all our lives to fake it till we make it. Whatever it takes. Follow the rules. Don’t let them see you sweat. Instead of admitting your fear or coming clean about not knowing what you’re doing, we cover it up. In the process, we end up becoming a 75th rate edition of everyone else.

The more we imitate and emulate, the further we move away from who we are at our best. We end up losing confidence about whether we can truly deliver the goods at all.

Fear itself is not the problem.

In fact, we should worry if we’re not afraid. The bravest people in the world know this to be true. The disparity between who we portray ourselves to be and who we truly are is the real issue.

 

Keep It Real

So what is this new black we’re talking about here?

The key to reconciling who you are with how you show up in the world is all about keeping it real. Yes, I realize this is an abstract idea, this whole “keeping it real” thing.

To help you wrap your head around what I mean, here are three simple mantras you can incorporate into your life and work every single day to keep it real: doing things from the heart, living your own narrative and telling your unmistakable story.

pound get some graffitti

 

Whatever you do, do it from the heart.

I interviewed Bryson Andres, a 22-year-0ld electric violinist whose Spokane street performance covering OneRepublic’s Secrets went viral on YouTube and got him picked up by a major brand. I asked him what inspired him to keep performing on the streets especially during the times he had no money, no real support from his estranged parents, and no guarantee he would be ever discovered.

“My grandparents told me I sucked. I was only 12 or 13 at the time but I thought to myself, I don’t care. I’m just going to play the violin and play it from the heart… when I became an adult, something tragic happened in our family. When you lose somebody very important in your life, you want to live the way they’d want you to live. I decided I really needed to live my life to the fullest. I didn’t want to look back 10 or 15 years from that point and find myself sitting in a chair without having gone anywhere.” – Bryson Andres

 

Live your own narrative.

I also talked to nomadic entrepreneur and humanitarian, AJ Leon, who gave up his six-figure salary and corner office in Manhattan just four days before his wedding to nomad around the world. If you’ve ever felt stranded on your lone island trying to unlearn the things you felt compelled to do while chasing someone else’s dream, it’s refreshing to find others out there like AJ who understand how scary it is to leap out of your perceived security net into a world of the unknown.

“I try to look at fears that in the past would have had their foot on my throat and I just let them stand there; I try to not do that now. That dude was always afraid. I know there are people like that dude out there. That’s who I’m writing to. The 22-year-old version of myself. I’m telling that guy he doesn’t have to listen to everybody else and he has much more choices than he thinks he has… when you recognize this is not your practice life. This is all you have. Everything changes when you really get that because your choices become more urgent and that fear of ‘Am I gonna make it?’ is much less relevant. This is my life. This is my art project.” – AJ Leon

 

Tell your unmistakable story.

Another interview with Srini Rao, the host and co-founder of BlogcastFM, left many ripples with me. After 10 years of failed jobs and relationships, he felt like a big disappointment to his parents. In recent years, Srini realized that every job he was fired from actually moved him closer to his purpose and the revelation that he was a corporate misfit. A badge he’s proud to wear.

“If you look at people who are successful, it appears that they have these massive platforms. That if you have all the numbers they have, that you’ll have all the success they have. Not quite. You have a unique story. You have a unique angle. That’s what actually matters. That’s the kind of thing that makes you unmistakable. The whole point of the art of being unmistakable is that you tell a story in a way that only you can. What I call the no bullshit version. You start shedding.” – Srini Rao

When you’re doing things from the heart, living your own narrative and telling your unmistakable story, being found out is a very good thing. #realisthenewblack

 

Feature Image Credit: BoostInspiration.com

Berni Xiong is Chief Kicker of Shins at BerniXiong.com and Co-Shut Up'er of Making Shit Happen at TheShutUpShow.com. As a coach, strategy consultant, speaker, web show host and writer, she helps six-figure salaried career professionals, start-ups and seven-figure small businesses unleash their roaring misfit heart and live on their own terms.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Oct 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Wow great examples of people.

    It seems like the main message is don’t be afraid of being yourself and constructing your own unique path in life.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Dave Conrey

    Oct 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I fully endorse this message… as I’m sure you knew I would. Nice one, B.

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG)

      Oct 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Thanks D-Con! It’s wonderful what happens when you write your heart out and keep it real… of course you would know that well 🙂

  3. Linda Esposito (@TalkTherapyBiz)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Awesome work Berni! (And love the title :P).

    50 interviews last year–whoa. That’s less vacay time than the average cube monkey gets.

    And not to disrespect Bryson’s grandparents, but I want to kick their asses. He should compose a violin concerto in their callous honor called “F@#k-this-Sh*t-O’clock.”

    TY for embracing/mobilizing fear.
    #realisthenewblack

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

      Oct 4, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Haha you know what’s funny Linda… if you watched the interview I did with Bryson, you’ll see how emotional he got. And I actually got soft eyed for him when he told his story. But it’s that struggle and pain that really fueled his desire to succeed and be so damn good at the violin. I am actually glad things turned out as they did. He’s rockin’ it now!

  4. Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Robert! I used to get teased as a teen when I’d overuse “keep it real” and now, much much older and wiser, I finally get what it really means. 🙂

  5. Robert Seay

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Great article!! Thank you so much!!

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Success Advice

2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

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This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

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

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Success Advice

7 Steps to Conquering the Fears That Are Holding You Back From Success

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how to conquer your fears

I remember the day in vivid detail. I was on a weekend trip visiting my girlfriend at the time in Arizona. She had decided that we should join her friends to go “cliff jumping.”  We were early on in our dating and she obviously had no idea that I was not fond of heights. So “cliffs” and jumping off of them… No thanks!

I inevitably found myself on the edge of a 40-foot cliff peering down at a vast blue canvas of water. Then I realized if I didn’t jump, I’d have to start the walk of shame back down the cliff. This was a lose-lose situation for me.

Fear had me. I didn’t want to jump, but I also didn’t want to look bad in front of my girlfriend’s friends. So I jumped and in that moment, I had defied my brain and my neurochemistry.

Our brains are wired to protect us, not to push us towards our goals. Our brains are wired to look for anything that could be potentially dangerous or threatening and keep us as far away from it as possible by using fear. The problem is not all situations warrant fear.

There is a saying in neuroscience that says, “the brain wires the way it fires”, meaning the more you do a certain activity, the more the brain lays down wiring to make that action or activity easier.

‘Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.’ – Karl Augustus Menninger

When we let fear keep us stagnant and we continue to do the same things that are comfortable, our brain gets “hardwired” to stay comfortable. We become “stagnant.” This can become debilitating for some of us and prevent us from encountering the very experiences we need to grow and succeed.

When we, in spite of our fear, do the challenging things that are outside our comfort zone, we begin to hardwire into our brain change, adaptability, creativity, growth, perspective, and happiness because we stretch the boundaries of our brain’s capabilities and force it to adapt rather than “playing it safe.”

An elite athlete didn’t make it where they are today by going into their training and never pushing past their comfort zone. They constantly pushed their limits of comfort to force their bodies and minds to grow to that of a top performer. The same principle applies to our brains. If we let fear dictate our actions in any area of our lives, it will stunt your growth in that area.

So what’s the first step? How do we go about conquering our fears whether it’s public speaking, starting a business, or launching the product or service? See below:

1. Journal Your Fears

Write down all the fears you have, big or small. Contrary to opinion “size does not matter.” Your brain still operates the same with all types of fear. The key is to first acknowledge what you are fearful about and bring it to light. Be as specific as possible.

2. Prioritize Your Fears

I then rank my fears from highest to lowest in terms of how often I think about this fear and/or how much it disrupts my life. You may find some fears combine into a broader category and that’s ok — we’ll get to that. So for now identify your biggest fear.

3. Support Your Belief in Yourself

I don’t mean just “believe in yourself.” What I mean is to build in support systems that will support your belief in yourself, so that when you start taking action, your support systems will solidify those new experiences and form deeper, more meaningful, and lasting beliefs in yourself.

It may look like building a list of affirmations that you say every morning or a meditation. Whatever it is, it needs to be uplifting and empowering you towards conquering your goals.

4. Take Action & Start Small

Look at your list and identify what your biggest fear is. That’s the beast we’re going to tackle long term, but for some that may seem like a big stretch at first. So instead, see what your 5th biggest fear is, and that’s where you’ll start.

What we will then do is build our way up and take a ride on the “Momentum Train.” Starting small with taking actions toward your lower priority fears and then building up helps your brain build momentum, which provides your brain with plenty of courage and motivation to tackle the #1 fear on your list.

‘Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.’ – Helen Keller

5. No Time Limit, Just Consistency

Most goals should be limited to a time domain. For the goal of tackling a fear, time can be a challenging factor to set. Some of these fears may have been unknowingly building up for decades without your knowledge. So I don’t recommend setting a time on when you are “going to conquer your fear.”

Instead set appointments to regularly meet and address your fear. If you’re fear is public speaking, then go to a local Toastmasters once a week. The more consistent you can be, the better.

6. Reframe and Reinforce

As you begin to address these fears, make sure you are reinforcing the experiences you have in a positive perspective. For instance, if you want to be less fearful of public speaking and decide to try out a local toastmasters group, your first time speaking to the group might feel like a train wreck, but when you look back on the situation you can acknowledge that that actually pushed past your fear and accomplished your goal.

7. Rinse and Repeat

This isn’t a quick fix. It may take some time. There’s always a new fear or challenge awaiting us. The key is to have systems like this in place to address those challenges properly rather than allowing ourselves to succumb to fear and derail our lives from their fullest potential.

How do you handle your fears? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

30 Straightforward Reminders to Help You Supercharge Your Life in 2018

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how to supercharge your life

This time of year it’s easy to be overwhelmed by well-meaning advice. Everyone seems to have a solution to your procrastination or a remedy for your lack of motivation. Unfortunately, most advice is either too general or irrelevant because it doesn’t address your main concerns.

I’ve spent the last year trying to hone in on some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned to stay ahead and maintain a positive mindset.

Here are 30 straightforward reminders and tips to help you supercharge your life in 2018:

1. Get the basics right. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. Make a list of what you know is good for you and what you know is bad for you in each category. Consider ways to reduce the bad and increase the good.

2. Reduce distractions that sap your energy. When you’re planning big changes, it’s easy to get pulled into many different directions. You get excited about a certain idea which pulls you down the rabbit hole into numerous other directions. Focus on one thing at a time.

3. Make a new friend. Start a conversation with a stranger in the elevator. Compliment someone. Provide some positive reinforcement. Do something without expecting anything in return.

4. Smile more. Smiling takes less effort than frowning. It’s also scientifically proven to make you feel better even if you don’t necessarily feel like smiling.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you stimulate your immune system, increase your metabolism and improve your mood.

6. Do one push-up for every year old you are. Or do twice as many sit-ups for every year old you are. Making sure you work the muscles in different parts of your body stimulates hormone production and helps increase fat burning.

7. Find your intrinsic drivers. Intrinsic drivers are what inspire you based on internal motivation, rather than external motivation. Find something you think of as beautiful, peaceful, relaxing. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Try to understand why you like it

8. Speak to an old friend. Reach out in an email, a text, a phone call. Check in and just let them know you’re thinking about them.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

9. Invest in your health. Join a gym. Buy some type of sports equipment or clothing that is comfortable and that you enjoy being in. Consider joining a pick up sports team.

10. Study something that interests you. Buy a book about someone you admire. Pick a time period that you’re fascinated with. Make a point of becoming an expert on something that matters to you.

11. Teach someone something. Take a topic, any topic, and try to break it down into its component parts so that you can teach someone how to do it. The concentration and the effort it takes to teach someone something is often exactly the kind of effort that is required to truly understand it for yourself.

12. Delegate to someone. Find a task that needs to be done that you could do. Don’t do that task. Instead, look for someone you can ask to help you. Pay them or ask them for a favor. The key is to learn to delegate actions to others.

13. Meditate. Mindfulness and meditation are trending right now, but that’s not the reason you should consider adopting a meditation practice. The real reason is that meditation will help you focus on your key goals while cutting out the noise in the world around you.  

14. Learn to manage your personal finances. One of the biggest causes of stress that we as humans experience is the pressure to make money and control our finances. There are tons of free resources available online to help you learn about finances and help get your money in order.

15. Read more. No, I’m not talking about reading your Facebook News Feed. Read more books. Try to read a book a month, either fiction or nonfiction. At the beginning of the month choose a book and break down the number of pages. See how many you have to read a day to finish… then get started.

16. Cook at home at least 5 days a week. Cooking at home is cheap, easy and fun. You can hone skills in creativity and planning all at once, and it’s a great way to save money.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stick to a good workout plan that will keep me healthy and happy.” – James Lafferty

17. Sell someone. No, not into human bondage. Sell someone on an idea or a product. Learn to market yourself and your skills. Everyone sells as they move through life, but most of us are average salespeople.

18. Hone your principles. What principles define your life? What are your strongly held beliefs? Be honest with yourself and what principles you feel you must uphold.

19. Embrace the power of positive thought. Listen to positive audio tapes, surround yourself with positive people. Look at the positive side of life. Easier said than done, but truth be told one of the best ways to improve your mood is to look for sources of positive mood and inspiration.

20. Practice willpower. Habits are formed over time. Willpower is one of the most important habits you will ever build, so it is integral you continue to practice it through all aspects of your life. Look to the stoic philosophers for a primer on how to tackle this.

21. Write better hooks. A hook is the bit of a song that catches a listener’s attention and repeats your core message in an intriguing way. Similarly, in writing a hook is the quirky or fascinating intro that makes readers want to continue to read. Think about your own hooks and how you can get people interested in what you have to say.

22. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We often become obsessed with daily minutiae and avoid thinking about the big picture. Don’t let yourself worry too much about the small day-to-day struggles. Instead, put your head down and get to work.

23. Don’t overthink the big stuff. Too often we avoid taking leaps of faith because we’re worried about making a mistake on something big. We don’t buy the new house. We avoid marrying the person we love. We put off going to the doctor for that regular scan. Try not to overthink the big decisions (or seemingly small decisions) that may have larger ramifications. If it’s not overly dangerous or illegal, take the plunge and go for it.

24. Learn a new word a day. Increasing your vocabulary helps you see the world in different ways and makes you rethink your core beliefs.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

25. Become a moderate. Extremists are divisive and often at odds with a large portion of the population. Look for ways to bring people together through collaboration and consensus rather than through division.

26. Think big(ger). Many self-help books talk about setting big goals or envisioning massive success in your lifetime. If you want to become a true leader and attain greater fulfillment. Look for ways to think beyond creating success in your lifetime. Think about the legacy you’ll leave for future generations.

27. Learn universal processes. Assess how you work best and find ways to carry standardized processes over into other aspects of your life.

28. Develop support structures. What do you do if things aren’t going according to plan? Do you reach out to friends for support, meditate on the problem alone, or use some mixture of different coping mechanisms? Be aware of what works for you, and what doesn’t.

29. Don’t compare yourself to others. We fall into this trap far too often. We use others as a benchmark for our own progress, but we must remember that it is unhealthy to put too much weight on comparisons, as everyone has their own background and their own perspective.

30. Know when to let go. At the end of the day, you must try your best and let the cards fall as they may. All you can do is put your heart and soul into your effort and learn from the results.

Which one of these things are you going to implement into your life immediately? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

5 Things Generation Z Needs to Know in Order to Succeed

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generation z success tips

If you were born from 1995 through 2012, you are part of a special demographic—Generation Z. Congratulations! You are a very important person. First, you make up the largest percentage of the US population at 25.9 percent. Second, you’re an iGeneration kid, which means people like you write product reviews, click web ads, and build online businesses. In short, you run the Internet show.

Finally, you contribute $44 billion to the American economy. You have great potential, but your Internet addiction and reckless behavior are your biggest roadblocks to success. How do you limit the time you spend on Snapchat, focus on building a career, and break through the bars that block your way to success?

Try these five hacks for success:

1. Have a bold vision

Your life is your business. If you’re serious about making it profitable, you’ve got to have a bold vision and work tirelessly to achieve it. Start by redefining yourself. Just because you grew up with Snapchat and YouTube, doesn’t mean you have to use them carelessly. Of course, you can watch the dancing cats on YouTube, but you’ll have to find time for that.

Be a doer, not a chatter, watcher, or browser. Great visionaries are doers, not chatters. If you want success, examine your purpose in life, just like a CEO spends time crafting his company’s mission, then start doing.

Create your vision. Once you make sense of your goal in life, you can set a vision so high that it scares you. Finally, keep working—not chatting—to realize your vision.

2. Never dilute your vision

When I was in high school, I always had the highest grades in my class. However, a new student came to my school, and she began to outshine me in class, answering every question and making me look dumb. One night, I told my mom that I had disappointed her.

I told her that I had new competition, and didn’t have the intellectual capability to face the new girl in the arena. My mom’s response? She laughed out loud before saying anything. She then reminded me, “You told me, remember, that you’ll always be the top student. Why let this girl, a stranger that I believe is no match for you, change your mind?”

Those few words changed my mindset completely. I ended up taking the first position for that year. The moral of the story? Never dilute your vision. It’s scary to face competitors or naysayers who laugh at your idea, but bear in mind that all masters were laughed at before they were revered.

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” – James Broughton

3. Win big with small tasks

How do you keep winning and moving closer to realizing your vision? You win the small tasks. I get it, you truly want to create your own app making you the next success story in your industry. In addition, you want to start blogging and profit in the gig economy.  

However, accomplishing these things, all of them, is not possible. They are bigger projects that you can’t accomplish all at once. What is possible is to pick only one thing and work fiercely on it. Deconstruct the dream job.

If you have decided to become a successful blogger, break down that blogging job into smaller tasks. Determine your niche, buy a domain name, design your WordPress site, and start writing and publishing your posts. Successful people move from zero to hero by accomplishing the smaller tasks first. So, get each task done, one step at a time.

4. Stay laser focused on one task

Focus is the secret key that will unlock the code for your success. Unfortunately, for post-millennials living in the world of instant notifications, staying focused is hard. How can you stay focused, for one whole hour, on the single most important task of your day?

Well, here are some simple tips that worked for me:

  • Dedicate certain days to your work. These are your creative days. Whether it’s weekdays or weekends, whatever you choose, just make sure that you do nothing but work on those days.
  • Go tech-free on your creative days. Turn off your Wi-Fi. Power off your Smartphone (or leave it in another room on silent). Divorce the Internet before you sit down to work because too much online activity is dangerous for your physical health, mental faculty, and productivity.
  • Pick one task, only one task, and work on it for an hour.

Of course, you can’t get it done flawlessly when you first start. You’ll feel the urge to look at your phone and possibly check your social media feed or play a game. However, you must keep focusing on the task at hand over and over until it becomes a habit. Consider limiting your Internet time on your non-work days, too.

“The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” – Alexa Hirschfeld

5. Stay consistent

One of the most crucial success hacks is consistency. The rule is to show up every day and do the work required if you truly want to succeed.

Learn from the former American tennis champion Andrea Agassi. Before he made a name for himself, Agassi’s father instructed him to hit 5000 balls every day. Just lace some sneakers, show up at the court, hit 5000 balls, and go home to relax.

Show up and do the same tomorrow. This consistent routine was what elevated Agassi to becoming “the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” If you want to achieve that level of success, set down your smartphone and get to work. “The doing,” as Arthur Ashe beautifully puts it, “is more important than the outcome.”

Which one of these tasks is more challenging for you? How will you improve on it this year? Let us know so we can help!

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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls. (more…)

Vladimir Yakimenko is a CEO, Investor and Founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite. Kanbanchi is one of the fastest growing add-ons for G Suite and has over 80,000 active users. Our work has been featured on Today.com, Lifehacker, Lifehack and more.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Sebastian

    Oct 12, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Wow great examples of people.

    It seems like the main message is don’t be afraid of being yourself and constructing your own unique path in life.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Dave Conrey

    Oct 7, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I fully endorse this message… as I’m sure you knew I would. Nice one, B.

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG)

      Oct 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Thanks D-Con! It’s wonderful what happens when you write your heart out and keep it real… of course you would know that well 🙂

  3. Linda Esposito (@TalkTherapyBiz)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Awesome work Berni! (And love the title :P).

    50 interviews last year–whoa. That’s less vacay time than the average cube monkey gets.

    And not to disrespect Bryson’s grandparents, but I want to kick their asses. He should compose a violin concerto in their callous honor called “F@#k-this-Sh*t-O’clock.”

    TY for embracing/mobilizing fear.
    #realisthenewblack

    • Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

      Oct 4, 2013 at 3:46 am

      Haha you know what’s funny Linda… if you watched the interview I did with Bryson, you’ll see how emotional he got. And I actually got soft eyed for him when he told his story. But it’s that struggle and pain that really fueled his desire to succeed and be so damn good at the violin. I am actually glad things turned out as they did. He’s rockin’ it now!

  4. Berni Xiong (shUNG) (@BerniXiong)

    Oct 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks Robert! I used to get teased as a teen when I’d overuse “keep it real” and now, much much older and wiser, I finally get what it really means. 🙂

  5. Robert Seay

    Oct 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Great article!! Thank you so much!!

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Success Advice

2 Ways To End Suffering Forever.

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This year I have learned so much. I’ve learned that we all suffer no matter what. No one can avoid it. That’s not what I want to share with you though. What I want to tell you is that you have the power to end suffering.

I have proven it in my own life. We don’t need to suffer. We can end it all and the silly thing is it’s so simple. I do not want you to avoid this advice any longer. I want you to use it even if you think it’s a load of mumbo-jumbo.

Here are the two ways I’ve found to end suffering forever:

 

1. Find a way to give to other people.

You only suffer when life is all about you and your success. Once you move from being all about you, into a state of mind that is focused on giving, your problems become insignificant.

I had a couple of situations this year that have nearly knocked me flat on my ass. One was my romantic life falling to pieces and the other was my career collapsing. When both these events occurred, I used giving to other people as the way out of the maze that my mind created.

The moment suffering begun, I went straight to finding ways to serve other people. I helped friends with their businesses, I spoke at events to inspire people, I did some volunteering and I doubled down on my blogging so I could inspire as many people as possible.

Shifting the focus away from what was wrong and using my focus to give to others ended the suffering.

“There wasn’t time to suffer because the purpose of my life during those months was far bigger than me and my stupid life challenges. Giving to others gave me a way to find happiness when I probably would have hidden away and suffered in silence”

Seeing the solutions to other people’s problems and sharing them, gave me a way to put my career and relationships into perspective.

Giving is the example you need when times get tough and things get complicated. You suffer the most when you get stuck in your head and repeat the pattern of telling yourself how wrong your circumstances are.

Suffering can make you depressed, feel lonely, become selfish, go into a downward spiral and take away everything that’s good in your life.

Finding ways to give on the other hand, can cure all of those problems. I know it sounds so cliché what I’m saying but it surprises me how many people never use this strategy. Like I always say: the answers we seek are right in front of our nose.

Next time you feel yourself suffering, get out of your head and try this strategy.

 

 

2. Practice gratitude.

Okay, I thought this strategy was so dumb when I discovered it. It’s so obvious and it sounds way too easy. I mean how can writing down a few things you’re grateful for really end your suffering?

I mean you could lie to yourself and pretend that you’re grateful for something when you’re not. Well, that’s exactly what I did at the beginning. When I was suffering this year, I started writing down three things each day that I was grateful for.

In the first week, I lied about things I was grateful for and found the exercise completely ridiculous. This advice is so common that I decided to persist with this ridiculous self-help hack anyway.

What I found as I kept doing it was that your brain makes a shift subconsciously. Instead of being pissed off and suffering, your brain has to work extra hard to find three things every day to be grateful for.

To make this habit work even better I forced my brain to describe in detail each thing I was grateful for and ideally why. Some days sucked so bad that I thought I would never find three things. Once the challenge became a must, I spent my days working my butt off trying to find things I was grateful for.

While doing various activities during the day, I’d find moments when I was grateful for something and stop. I’d stop and see how I felt at that moment and I would have a mini celebration because I knew I had something for my gratitude list.

Then I tried to aim for five things each day instead of three. This shifted my focus even more. I should have been suffering but because I was forcing myself to see good things that were happening to me, I was distracted.

As I said earlier, this new habit seemed so dumb at the beginning. Once you really do it for a while, you see how it has the power to end suffering. You can’t be pissed off and be grateful at the same time. So, choose gratitude and then your suffering will be sidelined, and in my case, forgotten about.

 

***Life doesn’t need to be full of low points***

The suffering that we all experience is a choice. It probably doesn’t seem like that but these two hacks will demonstrate this to you. Your decision-making power is incredible and all you need to do is select one of these hacks to end suffering.

Don’t let the quality of your life be jeopardized by your default human mode to suffer. You’ll find these two hacks will not only end your suffering; these two hacks will give you purpose.

Here’s what I learned: most people are pissed off and suffer because they have no purpose. Once you find a purpose for your life, you’ll become addicted.

Now that’s a huge win don’t you think? You can end suffering and find purpose, all by using these two hacks. That’s the best gift I can give you.

Don’t just read this advice. Try these two hacks yourself.

It’s time to end suffering forever.

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

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Success Advice

7 Steps to Conquering the Fears That Are Holding You Back From Success

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how to conquer your fears

I remember the day in vivid detail. I was on a weekend trip visiting my girlfriend at the time in Arizona. She had decided that we should join her friends to go “cliff jumping.”  We were early on in our dating and she obviously had no idea that I was not fond of heights. So “cliffs” and jumping off of them… No thanks!

I inevitably found myself on the edge of a 40-foot cliff peering down at a vast blue canvas of water. Then I realized if I didn’t jump, I’d have to start the walk of shame back down the cliff. This was a lose-lose situation for me.

Fear had me. I didn’t want to jump, but I also didn’t want to look bad in front of my girlfriend’s friends. So I jumped and in that moment, I had defied my brain and my neurochemistry.

Our brains are wired to protect us, not to push us towards our goals. Our brains are wired to look for anything that could be potentially dangerous or threatening and keep us as far away from it as possible by using fear. The problem is not all situations warrant fear.

There is a saying in neuroscience that says, “the brain wires the way it fires”, meaning the more you do a certain activity, the more the brain lays down wiring to make that action or activity easier.

‘Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.’ – Karl Augustus Menninger

When we let fear keep us stagnant and we continue to do the same things that are comfortable, our brain gets “hardwired” to stay comfortable. We become “stagnant.” This can become debilitating for some of us and prevent us from encountering the very experiences we need to grow and succeed.

When we, in spite of our fear, do the challenging things that are outside our comfort zone, we begin to hardwire into our brain change, adaptability, creativity, growth, perspective, and happiness because we stretch the boundaries of our brain’s capabilities and force it to adapt rather than “playing it safe.”

An elite athlete didn’t make it where they are today by going into their training and never pushing past their comfort zone. They constantly pushed their limits of comfort to force their bodies and minds to grow to that of a top performer. The same principle applies to our brains. If we let fear dictate our actions in any area of our lives, it will stunt your growth in that area.

So what’s the first step? How do we go about conquering our fears whether it’s public speaking, starting a business, or launching the product or service? See below:

1. Journal Your Fears

Write down all the fears you have, big or small. Contrary to opinion “size does not matter.” Your brain still operates the same with all types of fear. The key is to first acknowledge what you are fearful about and bring it to light. Be as specific as possible.

2. Prioritize Your Fears

I then rank my fears from highest to lowest in terms of how often I think about this fear and/or how much it disrupts my life. You may find some fears combine into a broader category and that’s ok — we’ll get to that. So for now identify your biggest fear.

3. Support Your Belief in Yourself

I don’t mean just “believe in yourself.” What I mean is to build in support systems that will support your belief in yourself, so that when you start taking action, your support systems will solidify those new experiences and form deeper, more meaningful, and lasting beliefs in yourself.

It may look like building a list of affirmations that you say every morning or a meditation. Whatever it is, it needs to be uplifting and empowering you towards conquering your goals.

4. Take Action & Start Small

Look at your list and identify what your biggest fear is. That’s the beast we’re going to tackle long term, but for some that may seem like a big stretch at first. So instead, see what your 5th biggest fear is, and that’s where you’ll start.

What we will then do is build our way up and take a ride on the “Momentum Train.” Starting small with taking actions toward your lower priority fears and then building up helps your brain build momentum, which provides your brain with plenty of courage and motivation to tackle the #1 fear on your list.

‘Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.’ – Helen Keller

5. No Time Limit, Just Consistency

Most goals should be limited to a time domain. For the goal of tackling a fear, time can be a challenging factor to set. Some of these fears may have been unknowingly building up for decades without your knowledge. So I don’t recommend setting a time on when you are “going to conquer your fear.”

Instead set appointments to regularly meet and address your fear. If you’re fear is public speaking, then go to a local Toastmasters once a week. The more consistent you can be, the better.

6. Reframe and Reinforce

As you begin to address these fears, make sure you are reinforcing the experiences you have in a positive perspective. For instance, if you want to be less fearful of public speaking and decide to try out a local toastmasters group, your first time speaking to the group might feel like a train wreck, but when you look back on the situation you can acknowledge that that actually pushed past your fear and accomplished your goal.

7. Rinse and Repeat

This isn’t a quick fix. It may take some time. There’s always a new fear or challenge awaiting us. The key is to have systems like this in place to address those challenges properly rather than allowing ourselves to succumb to fear and derail our lives from their fullest potential.

How do you handle your fears? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

30 Straightforward Reminders to Help You Supercharge Your Life in 2018

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how to supercharge your life

This time of year it’s easy to be overwhelmed by well-meaning advice. Everyone seems to have a solution to your procrastination or a remedy for your lack of motivation. Unfortunately, most advice is either too general or irrelevant because it doesn’t address your main concerns.

I’ve spent the last year trying to hone in on some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned to stay ahead and maintain a positive mindset.

Here are 30 straightforward reminders and tips to help you supercharge your life in 2018:

1. Get the basics right. Take care of your body, your mind and your soul. Make a list of what you know is good for you and what you know is bad for you in each category. Consider ways to reduce the bad and increase the good.

2. Reduce distractions that sap your energy. When you’re planning big changes, it’s easy to get pulled into many different directions. You get excited about a certain idea which pulls you down the rabbit hole into numerous other directions. Focus on one thing at a time.

3. Make a new friend. Start a conversation with a stranger in the elevator. Compliment someone. Provide some positive reinforcement. Do something without expecting anything in return.

4. Smile more. Smiling takes less effort than frowning. It’s also scientifically proven to make you feel better even if you don’t necessarily feel like smiling.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you stimulate your immune system, increase your metabolism and improve your mood.

6. Do one push-up for every year old you are. Or do twice as many sit-ups for every year old you are. Making sure you work the muscles in different parts of your body stimulates hormone production and helps increase fat burning.

7. Find your intrinsic drivers. Intrinsic drivers are what inspire you based on internal motivation, rather than external motivation. Find something you think of as beautiful, peaceful, relaxing. Embrace it. Appreciate it. Try to understand why you like it

8. Speak to an old friend. Reach out in an email, a text, a phone call. Check in and just let them know you’re thinking about them.

“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

9. Invest in your health. Join a gym. Buy some type of sports equipment or clothing that is comfortable and that you enjoy being in. Consider joining a pick up sports team.

10. Study something that interests you. Buy a book about someone you admire. Pick a time period that you’re fascinated with. Make a point of becoming an expert on something that matters to you.

11. Teach someone something. Take a topic, any topic, and try to break it down into its component parts so that you can teach someone how to do it. The concentration and the effort it takes to teach someone something is often exactly the kind of effort that is required to truly understand it for yourself.

12. Delegate to someone. Find a task that needs to be done that you could do. Don’t do that task. Instead, look for someone you can ask to help you. Pay them or ask them for a favor. The key is to learn to delegate actions to others.

13. Meditate. Mindfulness and meditation are trending right now, but that’s not the reason you should consider adopting a meditation practice. The real reason is that meditation will help you focus on your key goals while cutting out the noise in the world around you.  

14. Learn to manage your personal finances. One of the biggest causes of stress that we as humans experience is the pressure to make money and control our finances. There are tons of free resources available online to help you learn about finances and help get your money in order.

15. Read more. No, I’m not talking about reading your Facebook News Feed. Read more books. Try to read a book a month, either fiction or nonfiction. At the beginning of the month choose a book and break down the number of pages. See how many you have to read a day to finish… then get started.

16. Cook at home at least 5 days a week. Cooking at home is cheap, easy and fun. You can hone skills in creativity and planning all at once, and it’s a great way to save money.

“My New Year’s resolution is to stick to a good workout plan that will keep me healthy and happy.” – James Lafferty

17. Sell someone. No, not into human bondage. Sell someone on an idea or a product. Learn to market yourself and your skills. Everyone sells as they move through life, but most of us are average salespeople.

18. Hone your principles. What principles define your life? What are your strongly held beliefs? Be honest with yourself and what principles you feel you must uphold.

19. Embrace the power of positive thought. Listen to positive audio tapes, surround yourself with positive people. Look at the positive side of life. Easier said than done, but truth be told one of the best ways to improve your mood is to look for sources of positive mood and inspiration.

20. Practice willpower. Habits are formed over time. Willpower is one of the most important habits you will ever build, so it is integral you continue to practice it through all aspects of your life. Look to the stoic philosophers for a primer on how to tackle this.

21. Write better hooks. A hook is the bit of a song that catches a listener’s attention and repeats your core message in an intriguing way. Similarly, in writing a hook is the quirky or fascinating intro that makes readers want to continue to read. Think about your own hooks and how you can get people interested in what you have to say.

22. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We often become obsessed with daily minutiae and avoid thinking about the big picture. Don’t let yourself worry too much about the small day-to-day struggles. Instead, put your head down and get to work.

23. Don’t overthink the big stuff. Too often we avoid taking leaps of faith because we’re worried about making a mistake on something big. We don’t buy the new house. We avoid marrying the person we love. We put off going to the doctor for that regular scan. Try not to overthink the big decisions (or seemingly small decisions) that may have larger ramifications. If it’s not overly dangerous or illegal, take the plunge and go for it.

24. Learn a new word a day. Increasing your vocabulary helps you see the world in different ways and makes you rethink your core beliefs.

“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” – Richard Branson

25. Become a moderate. Extremists are divisive and often at odds with a large portion of the population. Look for ways to bring people together through collaboration and consensus rather than through division.

26. Think big(ger). Many self-help books talk about setting big goals or envisioning massive success in your lifetime. If you want to become a true leader and attain greater fulfillment. Look for ways to think beyond creating success in your lifetime. Think about the legacy you’ll leave for future generations.

27. Learn universal processes. Assess how you work best and find ways to carry standardized processes over into other aspects of your life.

28. Develop support structures. What do you do if things aren’t going according to plan? Do you reach out to friends for support, meditate on the problem alone, or use some mixture of different coping mechanisms? Be aware of what works for you, and what doesn’t.

29. Don’t compare yourself to others. We fall into this trap far too often. We use others as a benchmark for our own progress, but we must remember that it is unhealthy to put too much weight on comparisons, as everyone has their own background and their own perspective.

30. Know when to let go. At the end of the day, you must try your best and let the cards fall as they may. All you can do is put your heart and soul into your effort and learn from the results.

Which one of these things are you going to implement into your life immediately? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Success Advice

5 Things Generation Z Needs to Know in Order to Succeed

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If you were born from 1995 through 2012, you are part of a special demographic—Generation Z. Congratulations! You are a very important person. First, you make up the largest percentage of the US population at 25.9 percent. Second, you’re an iGeneration kid, which means people like you write product reviews, click web ads, and build online businesses. In short, you run the Internet show.

Finally, you contribute $44 billion to the American economy. You have great potential, but your Internet addiction and reckless behavior are your biggest roadblocks to success. How do you limit the time you spend on Snapchat, focus on building a career, and break through the bars that block your way to success?

Try these five hacks for success:

1. Have a bold vision

Your life is your business. If you’re serious about making it profitable, you’ve got to have a bold vision and work tirelessly to achieve it. Start by redefining yourself. Just because you grew up with Snapchat and YouTube, doesn’t mean you have to use them carelessly. Of course, you can watch the dancing cats on YouTube, but you’ll have to find time for that.

Be a doer, not a chatter, watcher, or browser. Great visionaries are doers, not chatters. If you want success, examine your purpose in life, just like a CEO spends time crafting his company’s mission, then start doing.

Create your vision. Once you make sense of your goal in life, you can set a vision so high that it scares you. Finally, keep working—not chatting—to realize your vision.

2. Never dilute your vision

When I was in high school, I always had the highest grades in my class. However, a new student came to my school, and she began to outshine me in class, answering every question and making me look dumb. One night, I told my mom that I had disappointed her.

I told her that I had new competition, and didn’t have the intellectual capability to face the new girl in the arena. My mom’s response? She laughed out loud before saying anything. She then reminded me, “You told me, remember, that you’ll always be the top student. Why let this girl, a stranger that I believe is no match for you, change your mind?”

Those few words changed my mindset completely. I ended up taking the first position for that year. The moral of the story? Never dilute your vision. It’s scary to face competitors or naysayers who laugh at your idea, but bear in mind that all masters were laughed at before they were revered.

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” – James Broughton

3. Win big with small tasks

How do you keep winning and moving closer to realizing your vision? You win the small tasks. I get it, you truly want to create your own app making you the next success story in your industry. In addition, you want to start blogging and profit in the gig economy.  

However, accomplishing these things, all of them, is not possible. They are bigger projects that you can’t accomplish all at once. What is possible is to pick only one thing and work fiercely on it. Deconstruct the dream job.

If you have decided to become a successful blogger, break down that blogging job into smaller tasks. Determine your niche, buy a domain name, design your WordPress site, and start writing and publishing your posts. Successful people move from zero to hero by accomplishing the smaller tasks first. So, get each task done, one step at a time.

4. Stay laser focused on one task

Focus is the secret key that will unlock the code for your success. Unfortunately, for post-millennials living in the world of instant notifications, staying focused is hard. How can you stay focused, for one whole hour, on the single most important task of your day?

Well, here are some simple tips that worked for me:

  • Dedicate certain days to your work. These are your creative days. Whether it’s weekdays or weekends, whatever you choose, just make sure that you do nothing but work on those days.
  • Go tech-free on your creative days. Turn off your Wi-Fi. Power off your Smartphone (or leave it in another room on silent). Divorce the Internet before you sit down to work because too much online activity is dangerous for your physical health, mental faculty, and productivity.
  • Pick one task, only one task, and work on it for an hour.

Of course, you can’t get it done flawlessly when you first start. You’ll feel the urge to look at your phone and possibly check your social media feed or play a game. However, you must keep focusing on the task at hand over and over until it becomes a habit. Consider limiting your Internet time on your non-work days, too.

“The biggest challenge is to stay focused. It’s to have the discipline when there are so many competing things.” – Alexa Hirschfeld

5. Stay consistent

One of the most crucial success hacks is consistency. The rule is to show up every day and do the work required if you truly want to succeed.

Learn from the former American tennis champion Andrea Agassi. Before he made a name for himself, Agassi’s father instructed him to hit 5000 balls every day. Just lace some sneakers, show up at the court, hit 5000 balls, and go home to relax.

Show up and do the same tomorrow. This consistent routine was what elevated Agassi to becoming “the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history.” If you want to achieve that level of success, set down your smartphone and get to work. “The doing,” as Arthur Ashe beautifully puts it, “is more important than the outcome.”

Which one of these tasks is more challenging for you? How will you improve on it this year? Let us know so we can help!

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