Sunday, July 29, 2007

Giving Yourself The Best Chance Of A Good Life

I have been a student in the school of success for some time now. It’s been an interesting school. It’s a school that you never graduate from. You keep learning things everyday. There is something I have discovered. I don’t think it will be new to you, but please permit me to at least remind you. Here it is- The greatest and most persistent blockages to your progress in life usually come from a single source—yourself!

In the equation for success and progress in life, you are the most important factor. Let me share with you a few tips that will help you give yourself the best chance of a good life (I picked up most of these tips from books I have read and people I have listened to).

Make the time to work out what’s most important to you.

What’s so important you wouldn’t give it up, save in the most extreme circumstances? What feels like part of your deepest nature? What would really hurt you to have to abandon? All these are core values. The more you satisfy them, the more fulfilling your life will be. Only you can truly decide what a good life is for you. Other people will try to decide for you, but all they’re doing is pointing you towards their values, not your own. You may need to Ignore them.

Bet on continuous, incremental improvements, not sudden breakthroughs.

This is one of the biggest differences between Japanese and American ways of doing business. The Japanese tend to work away steadily at many small improvements, never making too much fuss about finding some huge leap forward. American businesses tend to favor the idea of sudden, dramatic breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are great when they happen, but depending on them is a high-risk strategy. A single breakthrough that fails or doesn’t come on time can set you back to square one. In life, as in business, lots of small steps often take you further than one or two huge leaps.
Spend as much of your time as you can doing things that need to be done.
Don’t worry too much what they are. Don’t worry about the order in which you do them. The old saying, “success breeds success,” is true. Most people spend far too much time thinking about what they’re going to do—then planning it out, allocating set priorities, and further polishing the plan—and far too little time doing things, even if they come in the “wrong” order. Don’t wait. Do at least something of what you need to do now. Then do some more. There’s no simpler or surer way to turn your dreams into tangible results.

Broaden your horizons.

Take an interest in something new. Try to meet different people. Explore something that you think isn’t interesting. Read challenging and stimulating books; that’s one of the very best (and cheapest) ways to spread your mental horizons wider. Travel as much as you to experience other cultures. Spend time with people who think very differently than you do. Dull, narrow-minded, parochial types are some of the most boring people that you can meet. Mostly they have boring, narrow lives and boring, conventional jobs too. Don’t join them.

Try out some unfamiliar options.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always had—or worse, since circumstances change and yesterday’s sure thing is tomorrow’s disaster. Consider fresh possibilities. Let go of your prejudices. Try something unfamiliar. If you don’t like it, stop. At least you’ve learned something. If you do like it, do it some more. If you habitually focus on mostly short-term, practical things, try focusing on something long-term and visionary. Dream a little. If you’re the strategic type, always looking years ahead, try limiting your focus to today—or, better still, to this very moment. Live in the now for a while. See what you can discover.

Whatever the problem or topic is, never assume that you already know all the answers.

Nothing shuts down your mental faculties faster. Once of the very worst aspects of today’s macho styles of management is the way that they continually put pressure on people to be right first time, every time, and as quickly as possible. All that leads to is playing safe and sticking with what is already commonest and most well-known.

In place of every human being’s natural curiosity and love of exploration, we are left with timid, risk-averse people who choose the most obvious answer, even if it’s wrong. I’ve seen it described as “management by in-flight magazine,” which describes it very well. Nobody knows all the answers; nobody gets everything right first time. Anyone who claims to is either a fool or a liar—mostly likely both.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

This is something that most people don’t do well. The live a life filled with complaints every single minute of the day. They complain about the weather, their boss, their customers and coworkers … just about anything! There is nothing that paralyses instincts faster. To progress in life, you need to develop a strong attitude of gratitude. You need to be grateful for small things. A wise man said this “If you are grateful, then you will be greatful”. What a counsel. Learn to count your blessings and not discount them (I recommend strongly that you read an earlier article I wrote on “Count your blessings, don’t discount them”).

You can from here get to anywhere you want to get to. Success is sold in the open market. Let anyone who is willing to pay the price go and buy!

See you at the top!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Take A Break!

Life is hectic and harried, but there are several ways you can jump off the hamster wheel of life to get some much needed respite. You only need to mentally commit to it and you can make it happen. It’s very difficult, especially in this part of the world (Africa) to get a break. It’s like every second is fully packed with activities- and so is every minute, hour, day, month and year. At the end of the day, you are completely burnt out! Do you wish you could slow things down especially in your mind? I wish. I did some studies and came up with a few ideas. May I share it with you?

Restroom Break

I am sure this sounds funny. You may laugh at this idea, but it isn’t called the rest room for nothing. For many of us, our day is a never ending stream of requests for our attention from others. When you find yourself hitting the wall, go take a bathroom break whether you need to go or not. Go into the stall and have a seat, close your eyes, take a deep breath (if it’s safe), and relax. Try putting your hands over your eyes and rubbing your temples. You’ll feel better even though this is a short break. Use the time to think about what you really need to do next instead of just reacting to every request.

Fix an appointment with yourself on a regular basis

I strongly recommend this especially for people who have to attend to several other people in the cause of the day. Fix a 30-60 minutes appointment with yourself on a regular basis (I recommend at least once weekly). Take this time to think about your dreams and what you need to do to make it reality. You could make use of any quiet place – store, library e.t.c

Change your perspective

Sometimes we can’t get our minds off our work, even when we come home from work. So how do you slow down your mind? Many turn to TV to help turn off our minds. But how about doing something totally different? You could: go to an art opening, do some volunteer work, visit a lecture at the local library, go see a live play or live music, or anything else that will help you forget about work for a while, but at the same time open your mind to other ideas instead of turning your brain off the way TV can.

Try a change of location

Another idea for freeing your mind is to go to a place you don’t usually visit. Or go to a place that you do go to frequently, but this time really takes notice of what’s going on around you. For example, a great place to go is simply out in nature - the woods, the beach, the mountains, and the park. As a child how did you feel when you were in these places? Can you notice those things again today as an adult? Go ahead and take some time to enjoy fond memories. Let them take you away from it all. Do the smells, sounds, and scenery of a place talk to you? What do they say? What do they motivate you to do differently going forward?

Take time to play!

Take some time to play some games, sing, or dance with your children or with friends or family. Make it a point to become really engaged. Tell yourself that all your worries and thoughts will still be there when you’re done playing. Commit to letting it all go while you do so. If it’s hard for you to do this, then schedule it with someone with whom you won’t be able to break the date. Have fun for a change. A good warm up is to play some music before to get your fun self moving and grooving and leave your work-a-holic self in the dust!

Get good sleep

At night, there are a couple things you can do to get off the treadmill of life. First be kind to yourself by going to sleep when you’re tired! Find a way to turn off the TV an hour or more before your target bed time. TV is a stimulant, even if you think it helps you fall asleep. Better yet, leave the TV off except for your favorite shows or educational TV. Don’t be afraid to be alone with yourself or alone with your spouse. When the TV is turned off you can begin to think, to unwind the day.

Say a “little” prayer

You will be amazed at what this can do for you. Commit your moments into God’s hand. When you are hard pressed on every side, take a time out to pray. It may not necessarily be long. You may not have time to pray for 10 minutes in your office but I am sure you can afford to do a minute prayer 10 times during the day. Committing your worries to God helps you unwind. It makes you more confident of your future

You deserve a break. So, take it
You are destined for the top of the topmost top! See you there!!