We all want the best for our kids. We want to give them the best of everything, including advice. The challenge for many is the advice we have grown up with, is not relevant in today's changed world, yet many are still giving this advice. Yes, there are some basics that never change, such as values, character, etc., however, the world of employment is a different world than when many of us grew up through the industrial age.
Students are following the path laid out by parents and education. Go to school, get a degree, and get a "good job". The challenge is, what worked in the industrial age, is not working for 21st century students.
Underemployment is at an all time, along with astronomical student debt. Some young people are being denied mortgages because their student debt is so high.
Think back to when you were in your early twenties...imagine how it must feel to have debt of $30,000-$50,000+, before you even buy a car or a home? Before you get married and have a family. And, topping it off, you can't even find work in that field to justify the debt.
This is something every parent should be thinking about as there is no longer such a think as "job security". Layoffs, downsizing, etc. over the past few years has clearly affected people in absolutely every sector. People are looking for work that never thought they would be.
It's been stated that over 65% of the work that will be done by today's youth hasn't been invented yet. With this in mind we must encourage youth to become the CREATORS of work....not the VICTIMS of underemployment.
This is a mindset that can be developed. Encouraging kids to do things that create work for themselves teaches them self reliance, personal responsibility, leadership, and to utilize their natural creativity.
Lemonade stands, newspaper routes, selling handmade jewellery, cutting grass, snow shoveling, yard clean up, watering gardens, babysitting, car washing, dog walking, pet sitting when people are away, go to garage sales and buy old pieces of furniture, paint it and sell it......there are tons of things kids can do to generate spending money. It teaches them to create something out of nothing. It teaches them to think out of the box, to find solutions....
Blame is put on government and education, and people tend to want someone to "solve" the issue....to bring about needed change. We must stop blaming and start acting. PARENTS can take a stand to BE the change and provide change for their kids. We don't have to wait for approval to start teaching our kids to think differently, embrace creativity, learn self reliance, personal responsibility and leadership. It starts in the home. If we don't want our kids to be the victims of a changed economy, we must show them there are alternatives and they can create anything they choose.
Many years ago I found myself working harder and harder and not getting the results I wanted. I got to the point where I realized I couldn't physically work any harder, but more importantly, didn't want to. Sound familiar?
This was a great lesson that I have been able to apply to all aspects of my life. I also learned that everyone and everything is our teacher. The key is to be open to the messages as they present themselves, and implement the knowledge you gain.
A powerful distinction to be aware of is:
WHERE YOU ARE TODAY, IS A RESULT OF YOUR BEST THINKING.
In order to grow in a new or better direction, you must continue to learn, and, be willing to let go of the best thinking that brought you to this point.....
Let's look at a couple of examples:
In that situation I was working about 80 hr/wk. I was tired, I was frustrated, and I was burning out. My belief was that if I just worked harder (which we are conditioned to believe is the solution), it would give me the result I wanted. However, I couldn't work harder, and didn't want to keep this pace up. It was only when I came to this realization, that I also realized my very best thinking was NOT working. This can be demotivating, or, actually inspire you. When you authentically admit to yourself your best thinking isn't working, you also open yourself up to new possibilities. This is where the lesson comes in - learn from those that are getting the result you want.
I had a conversation recently with someone struggling with their career. They were doing the best they knew (best thinking). What they hadn't considered was learning from a mentor, asking better questions, learning and implementing new ideas, leaving their old thinking behind, and being willing to embrace new ideas and principles. You could physically see the difference this made when this individual gained this new hope.
Several years ago, I had a conversation with someone that was concerned about their employment. At that time, their best thinking was they would be at the company until they retired (this was 20 years prior to retirement age). When the threat of downsizing became apparent, it brought out a new side of this person I had never seen. They decided to buy a business and create their own job security instead of being a "victim" of downsizing. This person is thriving personally, happier than they have ever been and thriving in this business. They decided to let go of their previous "best thinking" which was I need to have an employer and stay there until I retire because I can't do anything else at my age. They replaced their previous "best thinking" with a new way of thinking....a more SELF RELIANT way of thinking. "I am going to buy a business since my job is being eliminated". Such a simple shift in thinking, but has changed everything in a positive direction for them.
Another person I spoke to recently has a business, but it is very physical work. They are very experienced in this field and we talked about the knowledge they have that is very valuable in their industry. They have now found a new way to work that is branching out of their existing business, and utilizing the knowledge base they have to grow their business. Like the experience I had, they realize it isn't about working physically harder. It is about learning to think differently to bring about a different or better result.
As Einstein said...."The definition of insanity is doing the same things, expecting different results"
WHY Is This Important? What is potential? It is defined as "capable of becoming". We are all born with it....so why do so few reach it? There's a DANGEROUS spot where many reside.....called the Comfort Zone.
Many that reside in the comfort zone, belief this is safe. Many would also believe there is little to no risk inside the comfort zone, and believe they have "security" there.
Those in the comfort zone believe:
If you stay within your comfort zone you don't have to work as hard.
You don't have to challenge yourself.
Your don't have to learn new things.
You don't have to do things that you are unsure of.
Although some of these would be accurate (don't have to learn new things, challenge yourself or do things you are unsure of) in many cases staying in the comfort zone will actually require you to work harder because you are struggling. Struggling to keep anything from changing. However, change in life and in business is constant. If we are not growing and changing, we will struggle to maintain.
The problem with the comfort zone is it is like a drug that keeps us stuck. Those within the comfort zone don't realize the negative effect of it.
It leads you to just "surviving" and struggling to do so.
You may feel stressed over lack of results.
You may have a feeling of helplessness.
You may feel you are a victim of circumstances.
You don't have anything that excites you.
Life is dull.
You are unmotivated.
Others you care about may outgrow you.
Ask yourself, do you want to stay stuck just surviving in the comfort zone, or, do you want to take a step outside of what's comfortable to create more freedom in your life?
Taking a step out of the comfort zone is not as hard as most would imagine in their minds. Look at the X at the center of the diagram in the photo. This is where you are right now. To take a step outside of where you are right now, you must make a DECISION to do so, regardless of any fear or nervousness you may experience. So often people wish and hope and sit on the fence and can't decide on things. If you want to start living into more of your full potential, you must learn to make powerful decisions that lead you towards your goals, and then stick to those decisions, even if you feel fear. This is a temporary feeling that disappears when you take action, but you will not actually understand this until you take the action and can look back with your new perspective. Ask yourself if you want to spend your life in fear, struggling to stay "safely" in the comfort zone, or if you want to rid yourself of this feeling? Taking one small step outside of the inner circle expands the circle and makes it bigger, as demonstrated with the next X. Each time you do this, as you can see, the circle gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
The great thing you will experience is that although it can be scary to take that first step, once you do, you prove to yourself what you are truly capable of. This builds your self esteem and your confidence, and gives you the courage to do it again. When you do this continually and look back 6 months, 1 year, 5 years later, you won't believe how much you have grown, and also how stuck you were previously. You will feel more free than you ever thought possible.
Write down one small step you could take to step out of your comfort zone today. Regardless of how small it is, realize you have just widened your circle of comfort. Each time you have the courage to do this, that comfort zone will keep expanding. It's up to you to decide how far you will grow.....
WE HAVE ALL heard this phrase from reading Dr. Seuss books. How many actually took these words to heart and live them daily in their lives?
I know of a young man living these words. He works in a bank.
When he started at the bank, he started part time as a teller, and wanted to move up. He studied the company training manual on his lunch hour and after work. He spent the first year working in 5-6 different branch locations, going wherever he was needed.
He volunteers to fill in for employee’s that are sick or on holidays by driving to different cities to fill in for them. Whenever there is a need to be filled such as this, he is the first to volunteer to go.
He volunteers to represent his company at community charity events, by attending on his days off, getting up and speaking to the crowd about the company he represents. He does this to practice his public speaking to become more comfortable, as well as a way to give back to the community he lives in.
I saw a picture in our local newspaper of volunteers at one of the events. He was the only one, out of about 40 in the picture that was dressed up….everyone had t-shirts and casual pants on, he was in a suit because he wanted to professionally represent the company he works for. He stood out, not because he is 6’4″ and towered above everyone in the picture, but because he has this vibrant positive personality, great smile, and was dressed the part of who he is portraying.
He wears a suit and tie every day to work, even though it is not expected. On dress down day when everyone is wearing jeans, he wears a pair of dress jeans, shirt, tie and jacket.
It may seem like he is a more mature worker, however, he is 25 years of age. He does all of this not because he has to, because he wants to. He is going the extra mile because he understands this principle…why fit in when you were born to stand out. It is no surprise he is excelling at his career, and was promoted to assistant branch manager after the first year.
Clues for success in life and in business are all around us in everything we do. Many times, these clues seem so simple they are overlooked. Pull out a Dr. Seuss book, and share a quote that may have inspired you that other’s may have missed…..
Wait, wait, wait......it's not the right time! Many people live their life on hold. Always waiting for the right time. Never moving forward and taking the actions they "say" are important to them. Something has come up. They change their mind because something is more pressing. Start and stop...don't start at all. These are common patterns of those that are always waiting for the "right" time. It;s like being underwater searching for air. Eventually you are going to run out of time and if you don't learn to embrace the moment, you miss out on all life has to offer.
This affects every type of decision in all aspects of life. Every day you can hear people discussing timing. The time isn't right because_________. Interestingly, it can be boiled down to some of the same basic things.
-not enough time
-not enough money
-I don't know how
-the kids are too young, I will wait till they are older
-I'm too busy with the kids, they have sports, music, etc.
-It's too soon
-It's too late
-I don't have _________
What most don't recognize is these are all excuses, that come from a fearful mind, and not being clear on what you really want in life. This affects everything from how we eat, to fitness routines, to relationships, to the work we do. The interesting thing is that we use the same excuses for all of these. Let's look at an example.
"I need to lose weight" - I don't have time to go to the gym...I work F/T and am too busy with the family. Once the kids are older I will get to it.
A few years pass and the kids are now older - "It's too expensive to join the gym, I have too many expenses with the kids sports etc."
A few more years pass and the kids are now grown - "Those exercise classes are for the younger folks, I can't keep up"
This is just a brief run through of how something as basic as working out plays out over the years. This could be anything in life though. Let's look another situation.......
"I want to change jobs, I don't like what I'm doing" - I have too many bills, I can't risk it now.
10 years pass - "I've been here so long and now I have 4 weeks holiday I don't want to give up"
10 more years pass - "I can't change now, no one will hire me at this age"
You can take any situation and observe how this plays out in your own life, or by observing others. How many people are living a life of regrets? How many are over complicating the decisions they should be making? We often hear elderly people giving advice to "have no regrets". There is a huge clue in this - they clearly recognize they would do things differently if given a second chance....by why wait and put yourself in this position?
A simple formula I have used in my life is being very clear on what is important to me. This applies to my work, my relationships, my health and fitness, everything. Once you have the clarity, then ONLY make decisions that support what you want. Someone once said to me "I don't buy my own excuses, so I won't buy yours". That was a very powerful lesson for me and I took it to heart and started living my life by this principle. We cannot achieve what we want, if we are buying our own excuses.
I have learned if we are waiting for the "right" time for something, that usually never comes, because there is ALWAYS something else, another excuse that gets in the way. THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME!!!!!! The difference between those that create the desired result and those that don't, is not buying your own excuses and making the decisions and taking the actions necessary to support what you do want. People that achieve the desired result have all the same "timing" excuses, however, have learned not to buy those excuses and take action anyway, despite the timing not being right. Finding a way where there doesn't seem to be a way. It is a simple distinction but a very powerful one.
Do you have a tough time with decisions? We hear, or say, things like "I'm not sure what to do, or which way to go". We seek the advice and/or approval of those around us in order to make decisions and many do not have the confidence to make a decision without checking with someone else. Have you ever wanted to make a decision to go a certain direction but upon checking with someone else you took a totally different path because you found more confidence in the other persons opinion than your own? You don't need a crystal ball or a guru....you have the answers within your heart.
If you find yourself changing direction or not following through on what you want, this should be a "red flashing" warning light for you, and where many people steer wrong, and wonder why they are not feeling happy, fulfilled or successful in their lives. The reason is, you do not feel you are in control. You are living your life by someone elses agenda, ideas, rulebook or definition. Trusting your gut (or intuition) is vitally important for success. Our intuition is there to guide us in the right direction. The error many make is letting their heads get in the way of where their hearts are guiding them. This shows up in different ways, however, there are solutions that will help you get around it and become more proficient in your decision making.
-Someone close to you advises you to make a different decision - This is one of the biggest reasons people do not make effective decisions. Ask yourself is this person experienced in this particular area? Do they have the results in their own life to give them credibility in giving you advice? Thank them for their kind concerns, but understand they are not qualified to advise you.
-You are on the fence and don't know what way to go - Ask yourself what will change if you do make the decision, and what will change if you don't. You will most likely determine nothing will change if you don't make the decision. That is a sign to reassess if you want a new or different result. Nothing changes by continuing on the same path doing the same things, while expecting a different result. As Einstein said, this is the definition of insanity. You can also look at the reason you are hesitating - is it from fear or limiting beliefs, or are you allowing #1, someone close to you giving you advice and you are not trusting yourself?
-You feel anxious, worrying you will make a mistake - Stop looking for guarantees. We have the answers within our hearts. Trust yourself and then pull out all the stops to go forward in the direction your heart is telling you.
-You put off making the decision - This comes down to trusting yourself. It is one thing to sleep on something to weigh all the options, it is another thing to procrastinate and stay on the fence. Not making a decisions one way or the other, is making a decision to stay stuck.
-You trust others opinions more than your own - How can anyone know more about what is right for you, than YOU? A great exercise is to journal...get your thoughts on paper and be willing to be totally authentic with yourself. Journal about what you truly want in your life and then be willing to ask yourself what you need to do to create it. Then, be willing to leave your fears, limiting beliefs, past conditioning behind, make a bold decision that supports what you want, and take the action steps necessary to create it.
-You base your decision on other people's failures - You have heard "stories" about this or that happening to someone else, very often THROUGH someone else. We CREATE our own realities. It does not matter if someone else had a bad experience with something. Learn WHY they did, and use that knowledge to go forward without falling into the same errors. Usually it is a lack of commitment, planning, making effective decisions, their own fears and limitations they have put on themselves that has caused them to fail. They are not YOU. Learn from things others have done that are effective, don't give in to the excuses those that have failed use.
Looking at all the options and then trusting your gut based on that information is a great combination for decision making. A simple question that will assist with this is "will this decision bring me closer or further away from my goal?" If it would bring you further away, you are making the wrong decision, quite often a fear based decision. This is the time to course correct, and make the decision that brings you toward your goal. This simple question was life changing for me. It allowed me to shine the light on errors I was about to make so that I could make a conscious decision to course correct.
Something important to recognize is that making bold powerful decisions and trusting yourself does not totally eliminate the feeling you may not know what to do, and may have fear associated with it. It is part of the process. What you will learn though, is that when you are willing to make these type of bold, courageous decisions, trusting yourself, and take the next step that supports your goal, you will figure it out along the way.
BELIEF is necessary to succeed in all aspects of life. No matter what we are engaging in, without belief we will not have the desired result we are looking for.
-Selling a product or service - The most effective sales people are those that absolutely believe in what they are offering. Energy is transmitted throughout the dialogue a sales person has with a client. Two sales people can be saying the same words, even following a pre written script....those that actually believe in and are excited about what they are offering will always outperform those that are just selling to make a living.
-Relationships - Everyone has experienced a relationship that didn't work out. If someone is in a relationship with a person that does not have common goals, beliefs, values, etc., the chance of the relationship lasting dwindles as the belief in spending a lifetime together just doesn't seem possible. On the other hand, when you are in sync with someone, believing you will have a long term relationship is just automatic, you don't even have to think about it. It is effortless and just flows.
-Losing weight/getting in shape - This is an area of life so many struggle with. We hear phrases such as "it's in my genes", or "I've tried, but I can't lose weight", etc. If one does not believe they are capable of being in shape, they will find every excuse in the book to support that belief. On the other hand, those that believe they can reach their desired weight, will make decisions and take actions that support their goal. These people make sure they grocery shop responsibly and don't buy food that would temp them. These people think about what they are cooking, eating, they make conscious decisions to exercise regularly and don't buy their own excuses. They believe they are capable of reaching their ideal weight and then make decisions that support this.
-Sports - People engage in sports everyday, and then some don't. What is the difference? Some fully enjoy the sport they choose and regardless of how proficient they are, or how busy they may be, they believe it will bring them joy so they want to spend time engaging in it. On the other hand, someone that has no interest in sports, will have no belief in their ability to spend time participating in something they don't have interest in.
-Cooking - Would you invite someone over for a big fancy dinner? If you wouldn't you might believe you are not a good cook and are not capable of putting on a fine dinner for others. Those that throw dinner parties don't have to think about it...they just believe they will put on a great dinner.
If you are engaging in something and not experiencing the result you desire, ask yourself where your belief is? Do you actually believe in what you are doing? If not, it may be time to course correct, and either learn what it takes to be more proficient, or take a new direction. Getting authentic with yourself in this way removes a lot of underlying challenges such as stress, unhappiness, feeling inadequate, etc. Build your belief, and you build your results....
Have you ever had a great idea but didn't act on it? Have you ever looked back years later and recognized that you should have acted on your idea? Have you ever stopped to identify what actually stopped you from taking action?
Over the years, from personal experiences, and from studying this extensively, I have learned that FEAR is one of the top reasons people don't take action on their ideas.
You may have said one or more of these things....
-I don't want to make a mistake
-I don't want to look foolish
-I am afraid to take the risk
-What if it doesn't work out
-It's not normal, no one else is doing "it"
-What would other people think or say
-I don't know where to start
-I don't know how to do it
-I don't have what I need (money, time, knowledge)
FEAR negatively affects every single aspect of our lives. The problem is, most don't realize they are frozen in fear, that they are holding themselves back, and they are fully capable of creating what they desire. In addition, when we are surrounded by others that settle, we buy into the belief that it is just normal. We believe everyone "does it", and this belief comforts our conformity.
A very revealing exercise is to list some things that have cost you over the years and bring a awareness to how you are holding yourself back. I have a couple of personal examples I will share with you.
-Real Estate - When we bought our first piece of real estate, over 30 years ago, it was a 2 bedroom condo. We paid around $40,000 and everyone we knew thought we were crazy for spending that kind of money on what was actually a 2 bedroom high rise apartment. My husband and I had a conversation and discussed how we actually thought it was a great way to get into first time home ownership and discussed how it would be great to buy 10 condos as an investment "if we had the money". THIS is exactly what most do and stop right at that point, believing "if" the money was there you could take action. We did it....because we didn't know better and we were afraid of risk. The 2nd excuse we bought into was people already thought we were crazy to buy one, imagine what they would think of us if we bought 10! We put more value in the opinion of others, than in trusting our own intuition. Those condo's are now selling for a minimum of $175,000.
What if we had of figured it out, and realized that you don't have the money for something like that just sitting around. You think from an entrepreneurial perspective and figure out how you can raise the capital to make the investment. If we had of acted on this idea, and found a way to raise the $400,000 required, and rented those condos out over the last 30 years, we would have earned a minimum of $540,000 on EACH one, for a total of $5,400,000! In addition we could have sold them today for an additional $1,750,000 for a total of $7,150,000. Not a bad return for a $400,000 investment. That was our first lesson in not acting on a great idea.
-Creativity & Innovation - Around the same time, I had an idea about inventing a lawn chair with a hole for your face to fit through if you were lying on your stomach. I was recently at the beach with our family, and our daughter was attempting to read a book while lying on her stomach. I told her about the idea I had and how I didn't act on it, and have since seen this very thing somewhere in a magazine. Although I don't have a dollar figure, i can just imagine what this could have equated to.
AWARENESS is a powerful concept. What we were lacking in those days was awareness. We can now clearly see that we should have bought those condos. We cannot do better, or make better decisions if we don't have an awareness. The great news is, we can learn from other people's experiences and use to our advantage. Ask yourself what it is costing you play it safe and not take action on YOUR ideas? The idea might be in any area of life. Real estate, starting a business, relationships, creating something innovative. Ask yourself, are you going to give in to the fear like most do in society, or, are you going to actually find a way to figure it out now that you have created the awareness and realize you CAN find out a solution as long as you are not giving in to fear.
Remember, nothing great is achieved by playing it safe. You have to get in the game and go for your dreams.......
Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! On this Canada Day, I thought it appropriate to share some powerful inspiration from one of Canada's most successful people, Jim Carey.
One of the things about the truly successful, is the clear understanding of the personal responsibility of reaching back to help others. No matter what industry you are in, this principle applies. We often put celebrities and those that are in the limelight on a pedestal, and believe they possess some super human traits that most don't. The truth is, successful people have simply learned to take action on what they want to create. Successful people have all the same fears as anyone else, but push through despite those fears and take action. Most would be amazed at the fear, shyness, insecurities, lack of confidence, the uncertainties, etc., that successful people feel. However, despite all of this, those that create success push through and take action anyway. It is a choice, a choice anyone can make.
I came across this short 1 minute video of Jim Carey. I was curious to hear what he told the graduating class during his commencement address.
Jim has a way of teaching through humor, which is a powerful way to remember the message. Many times in life and in business, we spend so much time analyzing, and being serous, we complicate the process. Many of the most successful, understand the importance of enjoying the process, and having fun along the way.
For those interested, you can view the full 26 min version here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V80-gPkpH6M
At the beginning of his talk, Jim talks about planting a seed to move forward in life, with enthusiastic hearts and a sense of wholeness, and questions if the seed will have a chance to take root? There is a powerful distinction in this question.
Every experience we have contains seeds of possibility and opportunity. Successful people have learned to identify the seeds contained, and to take actions on ideas that grow from these seeds. This requires an individual to be willing to listen to their voice of intuition, their own hearts, and be willing to go against the mainstream popular "accepted" opinions of the masses. We are conditioned to "fit in". This is not where success is created. The most successful do not fit in. The most successful are willing to get outside of the box of what is considered "normal", and are not concerned about fitting in. Those that accept "fitting in" will experience the same type of results as those that have also accepted fitting in. A powerful concept that all successful people understand is the willingness to put this type of traditional thinking aside, and go against the perceived "norm" to create something different.
What a powerful message Jim gave by sharing an experience from his childhood and using himself as an example. When we are willing to share our authentic stories and adversities we have faced, we demonstrate through our actions how powerful the principles of success are, and how we can purposely create the mindset for success. This gives anyone that is willing to walk this walk, the opportunity to make a difference, to inspire others, just as Jim did in this speech. What an honor and a legacy to leave to touch lives in this way....this goes beyond the success experienced in the individuals chosen field.....
When what has been done in the past, isn't working, it's time to make different decisions and take different actions. As Einstein quoted, "doing the same things and expecting different results is the definition of insanity". Yet, this is exactly what many do....keep taking the same actions, doing the same things, making the same decisions, and wonder why nothing changes for them. Many believe "the way we've always done it", is a reason to keep doing something, even when it isn't working.
So, how does one come back from extreme adversity? When everything falls apart, there are TWO choices. Give into the adversity and become avictim of that adversity. The other choice, is to find seeds of opportunity within that extreme adversity to take a new innovative direction. We have all heard the phrase "when one door closes, another opens". Although most have heard this, those that play the victim role, can only focus on the closed door.
Most would be familiar with the economic situation that Detroit has been facing. Detroit is a great example of how to take the worst economic situation, and within it find new innovative opportunity. Detroit is setting many powerful examples of pulling out of adversity with new innovative solutions. One powerful example is within education. A charter school made up of innovative educators that are putting their hearts into making a difference to youth. Such a powerful example. As Ellen mentions, many of these children are poor and/or homeless. This is one of the most adverse situations anyone could be in, and would be very easy to accept the victim role. Because of vision, and caring educators, these children are beautifully clothed in uniforms, are excelling and beaming with authentic happiness. Take a look at this short video:
Another great example of seeing what many are resisting is in relation to business. Of course a massive number of individuals have been affected by the state of the economy and the closure of businesses that have been the main employment stream for many years. Through this adversity, Detroit sees the solution is entrepreneurship to create new opportunity and self reliance.
See article about what Detroit is doing:
Entrepreneurship is something that is often not considered through mainstreams "best thinking". Society is conditioned to play it safe, to need "security", and to not risk. What greater risk is there than putting your future in the hands of any employer, in a changed economy that no longer provides job security? Every single sector is being affected by this type of adversity. It's been stated that the work that will be done by today's youth, hasn't been invented yet. Detroit is coming back from adversity, and is leading the way by understanding the principle of finding opportunity within change and adversity. One of the greatest gifts we can give our youth, is to let go of the "best thinking" that brought us to this spot, and develop the mindset to be the CREATORS of their future through entrepreneurship, and not be the victim of a changed world. Well done to Detroit on walking the walk, and being the example.
I read an article recently, and there was a statement in the article that is the cause of many failed opportunities in all areas of life. "They cave in and join the herd".
"The herd" is the perceived"normal". The herd is the thinking that most in society have been conditioned to believe is the correct spot to be. If you think and take actions outside of the herd mentality, those within the herd question your thinking to such an extent, that it destroys your belief, confidence and personal certainty to move forward in a different direction.
Nothing happens within the herd. This is conforming to mediocrity, and in many cases, an example of an old saying, misery loves company. Society is conditioned to believe this is safe, when in fact, it is one of the biggest reasons people give up on the futures they truly want to create. You may have personally experienced this, or perhaps you have been a member of the herd that is holding someone back. How do you identify this?
-You have an idea and share it with someone important in your life - that person questions and squashes the idea to such an extent, you give up and don't pursue the idea, and conform back to "what is normal", or "traditional thinking". Although you have the agreement of others in the herd when you conform back, it doesn't feel right for you inside.
-You feel frustrated and a lack of personal control - people often feel unhappy and unfulfilled inside and can't identify why. Some may think they suffer from depression, and although that could be part of it, many times an individual is living their life by someone else's agenda. It may be working a job you don't like, spending time with people that you do not resonate with, or feeling like you don't have choice. This feeling of a lack of control in your life, leads to unhappiness, stress, anger, and feeling unfulfilled.
-Take a look at your life and your results - is it the same as everyone you know? Is it the way you want it to be? If it is the same as everyone you are surrounded with, and it's not what you want, it is a sign you are living in the herd.
-Are you guilty of holding someone else back? - has someone shared ideas with you and you have given them feedback on why it isn't a good idea? Perhaps someone you know wanted to go a new direction, start a new job, go back to school, write a book, end a relationship, start a business, get in shape, run a marathon, etc. If you feel you gave them advice that indicated they should not leave the "safety" of the job they hate, or the relationship that is abusive, or told them it's too late to go back to school because they have responsibilities, or it's too risky to start a business, or this is the way it is.....they have made their bed and now must accept it, then you are attempting to hold people back in the herd, because of your own insecurities. That may be hard to accept, but it is exactly what happens.
Once you identify if you are conforming to the herd, the next step is to learn how to take your own path.
-Surround yourself with new people that are supportive of the direction you want to take.
-Thank the "well meaning" people in your life that are giving you advice that does not resonate with the direction you want to take, and be willing to go against "popular opinion". Sometimes you have to love people from a distance to honor yourself and the new path you want to take.
-TRUST yourself. We have intuition for a reason. It is to guide us to make decisions that are right for our lives. The key is to trust and listen to this inner voice, and take the actions to support the direction you are being guided to take.
-Be willing to stand alone in your vision and know you will get negative feedback, it is simply part of the process that anyone that makes this choice does experience. Success is created by being willing to just push through it and not let it control or direct you. By being willing to take this stand for the life you want to create, you will meet and align with new people that see what you envision and will become part of your support system.
Listen and trust your inner voice. It is the key to breaking out of the herd and creating the life you truly want to be living.
HOW MANY TIMES have you been stalled in the action steps you should be taking because you are attempting to figure out every possible step and outcome in advance? A principle I learned is to always take the next step to bring you closer to where you want to be.
It is during this process that we often figure out the next step to take, as a result of something that may have happened during that process. For instance, we decide to contact someone as our next step and during the conversation with that person, you learn some valuable new information, that gives you a new step to take which you couldn’t possibly have known to take in advance. Sometimes, it is a course correction that you couldn’t have known to take, without this new information you gained from the last conversation.
As I have taken these steps consistently, I have often paused to look back and thought I couldn’t possibly have imagined these new steps would present themselves as opportunity. Some of the things that have happened have amazed me, and I didn’t imagine would have come along. Very often, I didn’t even know these new things I have come across existed until I got to that spot of learning and being introduced to the new idea. Understanding this concept takes the pressure off of pre planning and feeling like you have to have the whole picture figured out perfectly. And very often it turns out better than you even imagined when you first started out towards the goal. Just taking the next step with intention reveals the next step to take. So simple, it is often overlooked.
How have you seen this play out in your action steps?
Dan Roth, LI's Executive Editor, asked me to join others to share my thoughts to help guide the graduating class of 2014 in a series called #IfIWere22 . I am actually going to go back to when I was 19, because I distinctly remember something very important that will shape your life, if you take the lesson to heart.
When I was 19 I was engaged and about to marry, just days before my 20th birthday. There was a "moment" when I thought I was making a mistake and thought about not going through with the marriage. I quickly told myself it was just pre marriage jitters (which I had heard somewhere through my childhood). My father was an alcoholic, and if I called the wedding off, it meant I would still have to live in that environment, so I quickly gave my head a shake and told myself there was no other choice. Looking back, that was the biggest lessons of my life. Here are the first 2 lessons from that:
THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE - and it isn't just A or B. There are choices you haven't thought of in every situation. Learn to ask yourself better questions, such as what else could I do, what are other choices and solutions I haven't thought of, and what do I need to do to make the best choice happen.
2nd - That little voice, was the voice of intuition. It was right. 4 years later I was divorced, and so was my mom. The fear that I had wasn't real about living with my dad, because my mom ended the marriage, and I could have been there to help my mom through the challenges she went through. Follow your heart, our intuition is our own "internal guidance system." It is there to GUIDE you. The KEY is to listen, and follow the messages you hear when you get authentic with yourself. Really LISTEN to your intuition and allow it to guide you. Listen to your inner voice in relationships and in business. If either doesn't feel right, there is something better waiting for you. Have the courage to take a stand for what you deserve in your life.
-Don't be afraid to take risks - Society is conditioned to buy into fear and limiting beliefs. This is why so many in life struggle. Be willing to take risk - this is where the biggest rewards are and the least competition. On the topic of competition, it is only present when people think there is a lack of something. When you are willing to take risk and go after what you want, you will meet others on that same path, and it often leads to something bigger than you ever imagined, that hasn't even been created yet....there is no competition there.
-The most important thing you can do right now, is to reflect and get absolutely clear on your passions and what truly makes you happy. What do you love, what are you good at, what are you most interested in, what would you like to learn? Many people go through their entire lives searching for happiness, and waiting for the next ____ to "make"them happy. It doesn't work that way. Happiness is within you. It is YOUR job to discover it. The key is to listen to your heart and follow the path your heart is leading you.
-Consider self employment as a viable choice for your future. There is no such thing as job security...we are NOT in the industrial age any longer. The only job security there is, is your willingness to do what it takes to combine your ideas, skills, knowledge, education, passion, and combine with all the technology options available to create your own work. It has been stated that over 65% of the work that will be done by today's youth hasn't been invented yet - this is exciting!!!! GO AND BE THE CREATORS! There are choices out there for you in your career that no one has thought of yet.
-You are going to be working for a long time. Find a way to connect your passion to what you do for a living, you will never feel like you are working. Work for the meaning of the work and provide value - you will feel personally rewarded, and the financial reward will follow.
-Take personal responsibility for everything in your life, good and bad. Don't put blame on others. Have a high standard of ethics and integrity, because that will last long term and set you far above most others.
-Be the leader in your own life - don't wait for things to happen, go out and MAKE things happen. You have potential for a reason.....TO LIVE INTO IT.
-Don't give into fear. First, fear is not real, it is imagined in the mind, and will hold you back from what you want more than anything. YOU are driving your thoughts, and you have a choice whether your thoughts are based on fear or courage. Successful people have all the same fears, the difference is, successful people push through the fear. THAT is how fear actually disappears.
-Step out of your comfort zone consistently - Nothing great happens within the comfort zone. When you are willing to take a step out of your comfort zone, and do this continually in your life, you will grow more and accomplish more than you ever imagined.
-Keep learning and growing your knowledge - Nothing stays the same, change is constant. Be a life long learner and you will continually put yourself at an advantage.
-Embrace change and find opportunity within it - As I mentioned, change in life and business is constant. Don't resist change, instead embrace change and ask yourself what opportunities you can find within the change. It is very often the stepping stone to something incredible.
-Have more courage - This is the opposite of fear. By pulling out the courage from within, you will continue to raise the bar on what you are capable of.
-Surround yourself with like minded, positive, people, and let go of the negativity you come across in life - sometimes you have to love people from a distance.
-In business and in life, ONLY take advice from people that have the result you want and are therefore QUALIFIED to give you advice. Any other advice is usually from "well meaning" people, usually living inside the box of fear, conformity, theories, and mediocrity. They are NOT qualified to give you advice, no matter who they are and how much you may love them.
-Work hard, but play just as hard. It's important so you don't burn out.
-Remember as you build success, to reach back and help others to reach their potential. That is what true leaders do. True leaders are not threatened by the success of others....they reach back and help others succeed. This is one of the responsibilities of leadership.
-Know your parents did the best they could with what they knew. Good or bad, take the lessons and raise the bar to be a better parent yourself. When we know better we do better.
-Forgive - I learned to forgive my dad long after he passed away. Forgiveness is something you do for YOURSELF so that you are not carrying around the anger, the hatred, or any other negative emotion. Forgiveness allows you to let go and take that burden off your shoulders. You cannot be the best version of you, if you are carrying negative emotions inside of you.
-Marry your best friend - Why would you settle for spending your life with anyone less. Respect each other always. Do things you can both participate in. Share your dreams and goals together. Learn how to dance...you will be able to have a ton of fun with this as a couple for your whole lives:)
-When you have children remember to take time out as a couple - for date nights, and holidays....the kids will grow up and leave eventually. You want to have a great relationship with your partner still when they do. Don't hesitate to take the kids out of school to travel the world. They will learn more from this than anything they miss in the classroom.
I did manage to find the love of my life and have been happily married now for almost 29 years, with 2 grown successful kids. Ten years ago, I found my passion. It took that long because I didn't understand the relevance of identifying your passion, and had to go through all the stepping stones of challenge to find and identify it. People search their whole lives for happiness. Happiness is within us. Our job is to reflect and authentically identify our passion and then make sure all the decisions we make in our lives support it.When you are willing to do this, you will feel such a sense of control in your life, and will find that happiness within you. Life is a journey, not to a destination, but to be lived and enjoyed every moment of the ride!
"WOW, she is so lucky!" Have you heard someone make a remark about a business owner being lucky? Have you looked at the life they live and felt they have so much and you could never achieve this level of success? What does LUCK have to do with success?
There are some very specific things you can commit to, that will accelerate your success:
- Be willing to step out of your comfort zone - This is not a new concept, yet most people in society only stay within their personal comfort zones. We are conditioned to believe that staying with what we know and what we are "comfortable" doing is "safe". In fact, this is one of the most dangerous things you can do, if you want to move forward and create more success. Successful people have learned to continually step outside of what is familiar, and what is comfortable because this is the only way you learn and grow. Understand, if you are not learning and growing, you are regressing, so it is imperative to step outside of your comfort zone and learn and test new things.
- Understand change is constant - There is nothing in life or in business that doesn't change. Nothing stays the same. Those that resist change will be left behind. Instead, embrace change, learn whatever is necessary to work within change and you will find opportunity that was always there, but was not revealed until you embraced the change with a new attitude.
- Be consistent & persistent - Successful people do not give up. Successful people do not take action for a short period of time, and then give up if they don't have the result within X number of months. Successful people understand the importance of being consistent and persisting with their decisions and actions until the goal is met.
- Take personal responsibility for everything in your life - If you walk your dog, pick up after they do their business. If you drop something in a store, own up to it with the shop keeper. If you give someone the wrong advice, tell them you made a mistake. If you made a wrong decision, make it right. When you commit to doing something, keep the commitment. Personal responsibility is one of the most powerful concepts to implement to bring about life and business improvements.
- Realize you have choice - There are two types of people - those that play the victim who doesn't have choice, and those that realize there is ALWAYS new and better choices they can make. No one has to be in a job or relationship they don't enjoy. There are choices, there are always solutions. The key is to understand you DO have choice and to make better ones.
- Not afraid to risk - I talked about this in a previous article ..... Society has been conditioned to believe that we shouldn't take risk. Risk can be re-framed to Responsibly Implementing Specialized Knowledge. Anyone who achieves success understands risk is not something to fear, but to embrace, to put yourself in a position that most will never experience because they are stuck in fear. Understanding and living this concept can put you in the top percentage in your field, because most people simply will not do it. And guess what, the bonus is - there is no competition there!
- It is vital to be a continual learner - No matter what field you are in, there is always something new, and things changing. They way to stay ahead is to commit to raising the bar in your own development and continue to learn and grow. There is no such thing as staying right where you are....if you are not learning and growing, you are dying.
- Face your fears - One thing I have personally learned is that if we don't face our fears, our fears control us. When we feel controlled, we feel frustrated, stressed and unhappy, but often do not realize why we feel that way. No one wants to be controlled. Fear is not real, it is our mind creating imaginary outcomes from the conditioned beliefs we have. There is nothing more exhilarating than doing something you were afraid of, and proving to yourself how capable you are, and how you were holding yourself back by buying into the fear. This will open the door to a whole new world of learning and living into your potential, and is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It builds self esteem, confidence and certainty which are building blocks to success.
-Rest but don't quit - There will be times you are tired, burnt out, exhausted. This is the time to honor your body and your mind, and take a short rest to rejuvenate yourself. The key is rejuvenate - don't quit. Get back at it once you are rested, with a renewed enthusiasm, clearer focus and new ideas and give it everything you've got.
So, is it luck? I have found the harder I work on these things, the luckier I get.... If you are willing to commit to these things, you too can be a LUCKY entrepreneur.
Many parents find that they just can't get everything done they want to do because of conflicting priorities that come up with raising children. Although my kids are grown now, I definitely remember the days when there were conflicting priorities, which of course change as our families grow. We feel like we need more time in the day, and don't know where to get it. By the time the kids are in bed and you do have time, you are too tired to get to those priorities that got put on the back burner.
There are all sorts of time management articles written, that give you tips and tricks that are effective. The key of course is to implement what resonates with you.
A very simple solution I implemented many years ago, to give myself more time, was starting my day at 5 am. I had been resisting that idea for years, not being a morning person, and it took some time to adjust my internal clock, however, it is one of the best things I have implemented to get things done that were causing that stress. It is quiet, uninterrupted time that doesn't take you away from family or other business responsibilities and sets you up for the day feeling like you have accomplished so much before you even have breakfast. You are not tired out from the day, you do not beat yourself up because you finished the day too tired to do these tasks, and you get far more done with no interruptions.
The other important key is to keep the commitments you make to yourself. We wear many hats and have lots of priorities. We have careers, family obligations, personal fitness, etc. If you don't have a plan you follow to allocate your time, time does tend to get away from you. The best way I have found around that is use a daytimer, schedule every single thing that is a priority, and stick to my plan. If life happens to get in the way and you don't get to something, take the personal responsibility to reschedule it and don't let it fall through the cracks.
These are both very simple solutions but highly effective. Something else I have learned is to not overlook the simplicity of something...it is often where our solutions are found.
You know what you know. You know what you don't know. You don't know, what you don't know. You may need to read this sentence a couple of times....and you may not be fully clear on exactly what it means....yet.
This is a very important distinction about your mental awareness! People do the best they can with the knowledge and information they have. We have all heard the phrase "he/she doesn't know any better". How often though, have you questioned that? Why doesn't he/she know any better? What are they missing? What are they not up to date on? Could they learn it? Who could teach them, or where could they learn it?
Something individuals often do not understand, or have an awareness of is this:
1- There is awareness of knowledge we know - For example, an accountable knows their profession. The accountant most likely continues to read and study new tax laws, etc. to be sure they are keeping up to date on everything they need to know in their field of expertise (for the most part).
2- There is awareness of knowledge we don't know - The accountant knows he knows nothing about how to do heart surgery. The account has no pressing reason to learn anything about doing heart surgery and most likely doesn't see a need, or have an interest to learn about this topic area.
3- There is NO awareness of knowledge we don't know, we don't know - The accountant doesn't know there is a new field of employment being discussed called a "rewilder" - The rewilder's job will help undo the damage that humans have caused to the countryside. This means tearing down fences or ripping apart roads and replacing them with forests and natural greenery. The account has never heard of this, and didn't even have an an awareness that he didn't know.
Why does this matter? The fascinating thing about understanding these 3 areas of knowledge is this - If you put these 3 areas of knowledge awareness into a pie shape...the BIGGEST portion would be "what we don't know, we don't know".
Learning about a rewilder may not have any significance for you or your staff. Personally, I didn't know about this myself until recently, and I don't have an interest in this, other than I find it absolutely fascinating to continue to learn new innovative things and expand my knowledge, and think this is a needed and wonderful initiative. Consider this....how much more valuable, interesting, self motivated, fulfilled, happy and successful would someone be, if they regularly tapped into learning about new concepts in the category of what we don't know we don't know? And how could this be applied to the workplace? If you are a business owner, wouldn't it be great to have staff with this level of thinking and a curiosity to continue to learn and grow themselves? What could they bring to the workplace as a result of their continued curiosity for learning?
This whole concept is unknown to most in society and in the workplace. By taking on a leadership role and sharing this concept, stretching yourself, learning, growing, exploring new ideas, having an openness to learn new things, and challenging others to do the same, collectively you start to tap into the biggest piece of the knowledge pie. MASSIVE GROWTH lies in the area of what you don't know, you don't know.....what could this mean for you and the future of your workplace?
How many people enjoyed making speeches in school? There is a statistic that most people are more fearful of speaking in public than dying!!!
Were you a child that dreaded doing the "speech" in front of your class? I certainly was and had many a sleepless night anxiously worrying about having to get up in front of the class. How much does this hold us back in life down the road, and could it be handled better in schools to help kids embrace this rather than fear it?
Part of the problem with speeches that makes people uncomfortable is that there are too many rules around what is acceptable, and too much pressure is put on the individual. Choosing a popular topic, rehearsing, memorizing facts and data, etc. is very intimidating. In most cases children are asked to stand up in front of the class and deliver a memorized speech about something they have researched and really could care less about. They memorize the words but the words generally mean nothing to them as they are reciting the speech, and it is long forgotten once it is done.
It requires a different approach. Instead, what if we ask kids what they are interested in and ask them to share their thoughts with the class. Recognize them for the knowledge they have shared, and when the opportunity comes up, if there is more knowledge to be gained in the topic they have spoken about, ask them if there is anywhere they can find that out. Give them a job to do that helps them develop their leadership skills. Let them go research about something they are actually excited about and come back to the class with the answer. This builds confidence, leadership, and personal responsibility. Instead of filing in like sheep taking turns giving their speech during specific parts of the school year, this could be implemented throughout the entire school year, spontaniously, but very purposely. The goal being, every child will have the opportunity to speak about what they are most passionate about. No formality...but genuine passion and interest on behalf of the student, and embracing the new knowledge shared by the class and the teacher. Imagine what a different approach like this would bring about.
The best speakers in the world are not those that stand behind a podium with a piece of paper and deliver a memorized speech. It is those that walk around freely with no notes, and just talk to their audience about what they are passionate and knowledgeable about. This is how speakers connect with their audience and their audience connects with them. This confidence can be developed in any person to help them really tap into more of what they are capable of. Not everyone wants to be a speaker, but anyone can benefit from the confidence that is built through being comfortable speaking in front of a group.
I BELIEVE everyone is our teacher. We learn from every experience and every person we come in contact with…good or not so good. The key is to take the distinctions we find and ask ourselves how we can apply them to our lives to get the end results we want.
Here is an example. I have a friend who has a passion for fly fishing. He has been involved with this sport for several years now and absolutely loves it. He has all the best equipment, and has spent hours fishing every season. He makes his own flies and uses them when he fishes. Although he absolutely loves everything about the sport, he wasn’t catching any fish. He kept going out time after time, and coming back after braving freezing spring and fall weather for hours, without achieving the result he wanted.
During the last year, he met an individual that has been fly fishing for years, who took him under his wing and started sharing tips with him. This person then introduced him to his group of fly fishers that meet regularly to share ideas and talk about the sport. My friend learned a lot and started changing the technique he was using to tie flies and developed a way to test them. Yesterday, he caught two beautiful fish.
My friend has invested thousands of dollars, and years of his time to reach this result of catching his first two fish. Observing him through this experience, I noticed several things that relate to success in business and in life in general.
-Follow your passion
-Invest in the equipment you need to do the job
-Be willing to do what it takes for as long as it takes
-Find a mentor
-Mastermind and network with like minded people
-Keep learning and growing yourself
-Know when to course correct
-Test new ideas
-Don’t get discouraged…keep having fun following your passion
A second example….think about any profession that takes 6-8 years of schooling and then being in business for several years to see a profit. For instance, a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc all go to school for many years. They invest tens of thousands of dollars to learn their trade. Then they open a practice, or go to work for someone, while paying off their student debt. Years later, they actually are starting to earn money that stays in their pocket. This can take 10-15 years, depending on the situation.
Here is another example. I had a conversation recently with an individual that decided to start a business. A couple of months after she started the business, she decided she was going to close it. A couple of months, and a few thousand in investment and the doors were already closed. This individual believes she gave it her best.
THIS type of mindset is exactly why people don’t have the success they are looking for in life, and in business.
In business or in life, those that have the mindset of this fly fisherman are the ones that will create the result they desire. This is what a professional does. The fly fisherman, the doctor, lawyer, or engineer are committed for the long term, and are willing to do what it takes. They invest time, money, learning to achieve the result they want. Success is not created overnight. It takes time, commitment, a willingness to push through struggle and challenge for as long as it takes. A powerful distinction in thinking that anyone can choose if they are serious about creating the results they want to achieve.
People very often fear entrepreneurship believing it takes hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to start a business. We hear about the greatest success stories and it can often create a misconception about who can succeed as an entrepreneur. Although people like Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are all successful role models we can learn from, not everyone wants to create the level of business these individuals have created. Your hobbies, passions, interests and challenges hold clues for your entrepreneurial future.
The key is..... to learn the distinctions in thinking that self made successes have, and apply this thinking, the MINDSET to creating your own work.
Many individuals are not fulfilled in their day to day jobs. They crave more freedom and flexibility, want independence, and want to stop working for an employer, but, most are afraid to take that step due to the belief system of what they believe it takes, and instead, chose to be at the effect of their situation. Successful people do not play this victim role, instead, chose to be at cause in their lives and their careers.
To start on this path, ask yourself QUESTIONS. Everyone has interests and passions in their lives. So often we experience things we think we could do better. In fact, most people can identify a challenge they have in their own life, and actually could create a living providing a solution to THAT challenge. These are CLUES. This is where you have to break out of how the "masses" think, ask yourself questions, and make a decision to create a life on purpose.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not limited to starting an airline, a social media platform, or a technology empire. Many people have created a self reliant entrepreneurial life for themselves by following their heart and choosing something that is meaningful or of interest for them and their clients. In my local community there are two food trucks I see everywhere. One sells deep fried apple slices and deep fried mars bars, the other sells french fries. There is ALWAYS a lineup at both, despite all the health conscious messages we see daily. These are two local entrepreneurs that just made a decision to take action on an idea they had, knowing there is a market for what they offer. They have been around for years, and very successful.
What challenges have you experienced lately? Do you know of a solution that others would appreciate?
Have you noticed something people generally don't like doing themselves? Could you turn it into a service? How much could you charge for this service? Could you hire others to do the work, and you focus on the business development side? How many customers a week would you require to replace your salary? Could you grow this business idea by continuing to take on new clients and hiring staff to duplicate what you are doing? Think of hairdressers who own salons and hire other hairdressers as an example. Cleaning services, lawn care, junk removal, dog walking, grocery delivery, etc. are all services that started as an idea. Many of these have started as a small idea in a local community and have become multi million dollar businesses. What other services haven't people though of that you have noticed most don't like doing?
Have you thought of a creative way of doing something that others have admired? How could you turn that into a business? If people have admired your work, it is a clue there could be a budding business there.
Are you creative....could you turn that passion into a business? There may not be enough business to sustain your passion in your local community, especially if it is a unique niche market, but in today's world, you can expand globally. Today, with technology, there are many ways to create a global audience for your product or service.
Another option is freelancing....doing what you do for a living now for several businesses instead of just the one you work for. For instance, an office assistant could decide to start a business from home, providing this service for multiple clients. A computer, phone and whatever programs required, and you have a business that works around your own schedule. You are not limited to the clients in your own geographical area, and could be serving clients all over the world if you chose.
There is also the option of starting a franchise, starting with a direct sales company, or buying an established business. There are lots of options....the key is to identify what your best fit is and then take the action necessary to pursue it.
With students about to graduate, it seems like the right time to reflect and give the best advice we can. There have been some wonderful commencement speeches, one of my favorites was by Steve Jobs. We learn so much from our experiences, and many people if given a chance to go back and do things differently, would make some different choices and decisions. There are others that wouldn't change a thing and can give advice from real world experience on what was effective for them.
I have been an entrepreneur since 1986. I have learned, made some errors, and had success. There have been tough times, and glorious times.
The best advice I would give a new grad is to keep learning and working on themselves personally. People very often underestimate what they are capable of and have the belief that there isn't a need to continue learning after graduation. I believe it's vital to take time to identify their passions, and combine the knowledge, ideas, skills and education they have with all the technology available to start their own business so they are not relying on an employer for work. If you learn self reliance, you will never be the victim of lay offs, downsizing, or office politics etc. Do what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, you are going to spend a lot of time working. Surround yourself with great, inspiring, positive people. Prove to yourself what you are truly capable of, and don't let anyone squash your dreams. Only take advice from those actually qualified to give it...you will know by their own results in that area. Realize there will be bumps, challenges, and adversities....it is part of life, business, and simply part of the process. Find solutions in those moments, it can often be the stepping stone to future successes. And finally, make sure you have a balanced life...it's important to work hard towards your goals, but work equally as hard on your relationships, because that is the reason any of us work....we work to live, we don't live to work.
What advice would you share with young grads?
It isn't always smooth sailing when you are building a business! As an entrepreneur is building their business, there will be challenges, and times when you feel you need to make adjustments. This is a NORMAL part of the process! Very rarely do we hit the destination without a few bumps in the road along the way.
Reaching your business goals is somewhat like sailing....it's important to be able to adjust the sail when necessary in order to stay on course and reach the destination. Challenges can be compared to the wind blowing you off course. When you are sailing, it is actually the wind that you embrace to push you towards your destination....the key is to work with the wind (the challenge) to get you there.
Although it's important to have a plan to follow, successful people do not need every single detail to be known in advance, and have learned to be flexible when necessary. There will be times you set out in a specific direction, however, new things come up you may not have foreseen, or new information becomes available. It's important to know when to implement changes to get back on track. This can be compared to detours on a road when you are driving towards a destination. Sometimes you have to turn down a road that takes you around the construction. In sailing, sometimes the wind is blowing you off course and you have to adjust the sail to compensate.....you catch the wind and let it push you in the direction you want to go. These things are just part of the process. You may not have expected the detour, or the winds, however, it's there and you have to deal with it. So follow the new route, go around, make adjustments and get back on track.
Most important is to be solution oriented. One of the reasons that people fail in business is they are not solution oriented and able to overcome challenges that come along. Challenges become stop signs for these individuals. Instead of looking at challenges as a stop sign, ask yourself questions:
-How can you find a solution to get around this?
-What haven't you done?
-Who could you get advice from?
-What else can you do?
Let's take an example. You have a retail shop in a tourist town. You open at the beginning of the season, the tourists keep your shop humming. But then in the off season, you find sales are dramatically down, bills are high, and you are in the hole each month. First, why are you surprised? If walk in traffic dramatically decreases at the end of the tourist season, you should have been thinking ahead on a plan of action to compensate. It is not too late, though, as long as you are willing to make adjustments, innovate and test new things. So ask yourself, what are you going to do about it? This is where a lot of inexperienced entrepreneurs fail, however, this is THE exciting part of being an entrepreneur! This is where YOU can actually DO something about it! Realize that when you work for an employer and this happens, you have no control, and you would be laid off or downsized. When you are self employed, it is up to you to create the business solutions. So ask yourself the questions above.
Cash flow may be low or non existent. What are you gong to do about it? Ask yourself those questions.
What are you going to do to appeal to your local clients? Have you thought about this market or have you been caught up with the tourists?
It's easy to do business when things are flowing easily, clients are coming into your shop, and purchases are being made. Get creative and innovative when things are slower. you could offer a "local's loyalty program". Reach out to the local market and become your local's favorite place to do business. For instance, a restaurant could offer different specials, Monday through Friday throughout the non tourist months.
How about doing business globally? Is it possible to ship your products to people around the world? How can social media and all the technology options allow you to get the message out to create new clients? Are people likely to be repeat clients? How can you generate future business from those tourists that already loved the experience of buying from you? Could you offer a mail order or online special? ASK yourself questions!!!! This allows the creative side of your brain to get to work finding solutions that don't seem obvious, but could be the stepping stones to exploding your business in a direction you hadn't thought of.
The key is to have the attitude "failure is NOT an option". Be solution oriented. Think outside the box. Be willing to innovate, create and implement new ideas and don't just sit around waiting for people to come to you. It is your responsibility to do what it takes to make your business work. Remember, it rarely goes exactly as planned....it is often in the challenges that we have the biggest breakthrough ideas that take the business to a level of success that you never imagined!
Many years ago, I learned a powerful concept.... that everyone, and everything is our teacher. Good or bad, there are messages in everything we experience, and with everyone we meet. The key is to be open to the message. If you don't understand this concept, you will miss clues for success that are right in front of you....read on for some powerful messages....
Several months ago I was on vacation in Florida and was reintroduced to hula hooping at a drum circle on the beach. Hundreds of people come every Sunday night to drum the sun down on the beach. The play real and handmade drums...everything from children with their sandtoys, to older folks sitting and patting the sound on their knees, to millennials with beer kegs, and everyone in between. It's a massive gathering of so many diverse individuals. Many go in the middle of the circle and hula hoop, dance, juggle, etc. Quite a celebration!
I had made a new friend while there, that took me to the middle of the circle to hula hoop, which I hadn't done in about 40+ years, so saying I was awkward would be quite an understatement! I stayed out there and dropped it at least 100 times, over about 20 minutes. While I kept dropping it, I couldn't help think about how determined I was...I didn't care about the hundreds of people that might have thought I looked ridiculous. I just kept thinking, this can't be that hard, and I am going to stick with this until I get get it...even though my heart was pounding, I was sweating, and becoming exhausted.
When I came home, I decided to take this up as part of my exercise routine. The first week wasn't much better. I dropped it over and over and was huffing and puffing and could barely keep it going for 3 min. Clue #1 - I realized I was forcing it too much, and decided to relax, which helped immensely. Interesting...the less I forced it, the easier it became!
I then injured my neck and had to put it aside for a month. Clue #2 - this is where most people would give up.
I restarted a month later, and stayed at it for 5 min each day, even though I was still dropping it. Clue #3 - I was starting to make a bit of progress, because I didn't give up.
The second week was better, I was up to 10 min and not dropping it as much. Clue #3 - Sticking with something, although you are not getting the result, helps you figure out where you are steering wrong, and you can make corrections to improve.
The third week I increased to 12 min and was becoming more proficient. Clue #4 - The more you work at something and fix what wasn't working, the more you can focus on what is working....this is where things seem to just become easier.
The forth week, I increased to 15 min, and only dropped it once or twice during that whole time, barely broke a sweat and breathing was normal! Clue #5 - When you stick with something, you prove to yourself what you are capable of.
This has been a great experience and a powerful reminder of the lessons that are all around us that we can apply to running a business.
When you are first starting out in business, it can feel like you are a fish out of water, and you don't know what you are doing. You may feel like you are making mistakes. You may feel alone and to some extent feel like people are either not supporting you, or laughing at your idea. There will be times you question yourself, and feel like the road to success is too far. You may have something happen that would give you a perfect "excuse" to give up. You may be attempting to force the result, and learn that you need to relax and simply keep taking the actions, and make course corrections as you go.
This is all NORMAL and part of the PROCESS! The key is to keep pushing through, to keep believing in your dream, to keep finding solutions around what isn't working, to commit to the vision you have long term, and prove to yourself how capable you really are.
There is nothing like this feeling. It builds your self esteem, self worth, confidence, and personal satisfaction. I was fortunate to learn these things as an entrepreneur. However, the best part of learning powerful principles like this, is they don't just apply to business....I was able to use the same mindset to achieve my fitness goal, which of course is good for my health. Clue #6 - When you learn something that helps you improve the result in one area of life, it will also help you improve other areas of your life as well.
So, you want to be an entrepreneur, or perhaps you have already started a business? Have you shared that dream with other people in your life? You know, your friends, family, co-workers, all those people you love that you expect support from. Are they fully behind you, or, are they pointing out "reasons" why you shouldn't do what you have a dream to do. Are they supportive or unsupportive? Are they encouraging you to give up on your "silly" idea and go back to a "normal" job like "everyone else"? Do they have advice that is helping you move forward, or, are they instilling fear and limiting beliefs, causing you to question your goals?
It is not unique to you. Just like this photo (notice the foot climbing out of the water) you are leaving the "comfort zone" that many around you are still in, and they are swimming every direction, not really knowing where they are going.
Understand this IS part of the process. Every successful entrepreneur has gone through this to some extent. The key is to recognize that although those individuals may "mean well", they are NOT qualified to give you advice in this area. Very often this person/people will be "well meaning" friends, family, co-workers, etc. The very people you thought you could count on to encourage and support you. It can be very hurtful, even though they tell you they don't want you to "get hurt" or "see you fail". Does any of this sound familiar? Every successful person has gone through this process of people attempting to give them "well meaning" advice, and have learned how to effectively deal with it.
Too often one of these individuals will give you their well meaning advice on something they have no experience, no background, or not result in. You feel like you you need to take their advice because it is someone who cares about you. Understand they are coming from a place of fear and limiting beliefs and are attempting to instill that on you, although, they are often not aware they are. Sometimes, they do not want you to leave them behind, which might happen when you go a new direction. If you learn and grow and take a new direction, they feel threatened.
NEVER take advice on entrepreneurship from someone who has been an employee their entire life. They have no experience, no results, in this area and are speaking only from their own limited beliefs, fears, theories, and stories they have "heard".
A very basic tip that will assist with this is to ONLY take advice from those that areQUALIFIED to give it. How will you know if the person is qualified? They have the experience and results in their own life. They do not talk from theories. They don't put everything under labels and tell you it's never going to work. For instance, they might not personally have interest or been involved in a franchise, but for you it is the perfect solution, and they can see that. Just because something "similar" may not have been for them, doesn't mean it is not right for you. They have walked the walk and have real world experience, knowledge and success. They are open minded, and help you see possibilities.
An important distinction - it is not the person that "tried a business once" and failed. Although this person could provide some valuable distinctions in thinking about errors you could avoid, they have not had the result you are looking for. I believe everyone is our teacher, but be careful you are not buying into their lack of success.
These are powerful distinctions that will help you identify what type of conversation you are having with people....is the person qualified, or not qualified to give you advice? Be disciplined in your conversations, and don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of having entrepreneurial conversations with the unqualified. Meaning well, and actually being qualified are two very different things.
Is it half full or half empty? This is a question that has been around for many years and used to help individuals recognize what they are focusing on....the positive (half full) or the negative (half empty).
We live in a this or that type decision world. We are conditioned to believe there is a right and wrong answer, or, we must chose between this option or that option. We believe it can only be this or that...and believe we have to keep fitting within the walls of choices presented to us.
Instead, there are other options that many don't consider. What if the glass is both....and it is your choice what you chose to focus on. In addition, it is full...half with liquid or solid, and half with air. Or another approach, what if you measured the bottom half...it might be 47% full and 53% empty, but to the eye, it may look like half. Or, you could suggest that it can't be full to the brim because it would spill, so you lose a couple of percentages. There are all kinds of possibilities. This is innovative, thinking outside of the box, out of the norm choices. So often, people never even consider thinking outside the box, and thinking about solutions that haven't been presented.
The other day our daughter was making us BLT's. She asked if we wanted avocado on it? I have never been asked that....traditionally BLT's have mayo. For those that cook, it is common to use avocado as a healthier choice over mayo. Great new discovery!
Whether you are an entrepreneur, or an employee, to start thinking more innovatively, start asking yourself different questions.
-What is another way to do this
-Is there another way to solve this challenge
-What haven't I done yet
-Is there something I am missing
-Is there someone I could get advice from that has experience in this
-If I wasn't afraid to _____, what would I do
-Who is doing this differently that I could learn from
-Is there something new I can study that will help me learn more about this
-How can I get around this
-Why couldn't I ______
These are just a few examples to get you started. But there are literally hundreds of questions you can ask yourself in any situation, to start thinking more outside the box. We all have a creative side to our brains, some use this naturally, and some have to develop it. I used to be a very analytical thinker, very much in the box. I have learned to utilize the other side, that creative side of my brain. It is freeing and fascinating to tap into this side of the brain and discover new possibilities you have never considered. My first introduction to this, was reading a great book by Dan Pink called Drive. It opened up part of my brain that I didn't believe prior to reading this, I was capable of.
Individuals that take this thinking on, being innovative, solution oriented, developing ideas that others haven't considered will set themselves ahead of those that live in a limited, conformed mindset. It is a necessary skill to develop to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
We live in a very connected world through the internet. First impressions used to come from face to face interaction with people we met. Today that is done very differently through platforms like social networking and websites.
How do you want to be known? Do you see yourself as a professional? Do you understand the importance of branding yourself properly to make the first impression strong enough that someone would want to know you and what you have to offer?
Profile pictures are one way to start. A good headshot is necessary and should be congruent among all your different social networking sites so that when people visit different platforms they know for sure they have the right person. A headshot should be a close up from the shoulders up, looking directly and confidently at the camera with a great smile. A quick scan of profile photos on any social network will give you an idea. Pay attention to YOUR first reaction when you see the back of someone's head, a body shot so far back you can't see their face, a cartoon, or worse yet, no photo. Would you be excited to meet or do business with any of these people? It would be a shame to shoot yourself in the foot by not taking the time to put up a great headshot. Note, this is not about being handsome or beautiful. It is about looking the part of someone you would want to do business with.
Words used are often underestimated, in website copy, descriptions in about me sections, email addresses, etc. For instance, I once met a psychologist that had a hobby of belly dancing. Can you imagine her being taken professionally if her email address to clients was Janesbellydancing@gmail.com? Look at the difference here: Dr.Jane@gmail.com. Words can make a big difference.
In our technologically connected world, it's important to give yourself the best chance for success. We all know that first impressions are the starting point. If the first impression is not good, you will be overlooked even if you are the most qualified. It's really just about common sense. You have to sell yourself first before people will listen to the value you offer.
Debbie Ruston - Entrepreneur - International Trainer, Visionary Leader