Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

Taking initiative; the art of seizing opportunities.

Personal initiative is a critical differentiator between highly competent people who take charge of their destiny and those who are not. Having initiative goes hand-in-glove with being successful.

Research conducted found that highly initiative people are said to be better able to find a new one if they ever lose their jobs. They are also said to be more likely to offer more suggestions at work and in relationships.

What does it mean to have initiative? A study by researchers interested in high and low initiative people provides a clue.

“In their research, they offered people training in computer skills, which they also video recorded. Afterward, the scientists went back and watched how the most enterprising people behaved and how this differed from those who lacked initiative. The latter group frequently interacted with the trainer. Specifically, they asked—over and over—whether they were using their new skills correctly. They were not merely interested in feedback; they invested in getting reassurance. 

Rather than taking the reigns of their learning, they demanded a disproportionate amount of the instructor’s attention. By contrast, the folks with the highest initiative were more likely to engage in trial and error, if they could solve their problems, and only asked for feedback once they were truly stuck.”

Taking initiative is about being first. It is a willingness to act.

Three critical elements of taking initiative 

1. Taking Action.

People who are high in taking initiative are willing to act. Recall all those times that you considered speaking with a stranger on an elevator or wish you had spoken up when there was a mistake at work. Folks with initiative do something in those situations—they introduce themselves to strangers or speak up about problems.

2. Self-Starter Attitude.

Importantly, the actions taken by people high in taking initiative are self-motivated. These people don’t wait for permission, or for everything to be clearly explained, or for conditions to be completely safe.

3. Seeing Opportunity.

Critically, one of the reasons that people high in taking initiative are self-starters and are willing to act is that they see opportunity. They see opportunity where others overlook it, or worse, where others see threats. 

Where do you stand with taking initiative?

Are you a play-it-safe type of person, or are you bold? 

Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener created an unscientific checklist to help you gauge how you fare about taking initiative. Give yourself a point for each “yes” answer with the idea that the more points, the more initiative:

       _____ When an emergency happens, I rush to help 

       _____ If I get stuck, I try to solve the problem before asking for help

       _____ If I see a problem, I will speak up and let others know

       _____ I have a history of taking the first step in new social relationships

       _____ I rarely regret missed opportunities

       _____ I volunteer for new duties and opportunities at work

       _____ I like to try new things

       _____ I am on the lookout for an opportunity

How did you fare? 

See, here is something I’d like you to keep in mind – we are all a mixed bag of stepping forward and opting out. 

“There are times when we wish to act but—for one reason or another—can not bring ourselves to do so, that’s called procrastination. There are times when we wish to act but do not muster the will (like wanting to meet a stranger but holding back instead) that’s called being reserved. And there are also actions we take without much thought or intention, these are called habits. Initiative, however, occurs when we take action.”

How to increase your  “Initiative Quotient.”

Dr. Robert asserts that initiative can be learned and if you are interested in increasing your “Initiative Quotient,” he suggested that you consider the following exercises:

  • Be First. People spend a lot of time waiting for other people to take the first step or for conditions to be “just right” before taking action. I recommend making a little private competition out of being first. This might mean being the first to smile and say “good morning” to a stranger you pass on the street. It might be that you are the first to volunteer or the first to offer an idea. To do this effectively, use “be first” as a mantra. When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself that you will look for opportunities to be first in a wide range of ways. See what happens. 

 

  • Be Brave. Understand this simple fact: Being brave does not guarantee success. Some gambles pay off, and others don’t. But choosing to take a risk at least puts you in the game. I am not suggesting taking foolish risks but rather permitting yourself to try even though you aren’t sure how it will all work out. 

If you try these for a week,  you will notice changes in your life. Your confidence will improve; you will seize more opportunities and will be well-positioned to become more successful. 

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Cheers

 

Sources:

High-Performance Institute Blog: Taking Initiative: A Key to Success is Seizing the Opportunity

Two-science backed lessons on perfect timing

Do you know that simply knowing how to accomplish your goal isn’t sufficient for achieving top performance?

Well, it isn’t. And that’s according to new research that revealed another critical factor that often goes overlooked when considering how to achieve our desired results: timing. 

“In his book, When: The Scientific Principles of Perfect Timing, Dan Pink synthesizes cutting-edge research into a compelling narrative that highlights the power of leveraging timing to amplify performance. 

On a day-to-day basis, we face a never-ending stream of “when” decisions – when to change jobs, when to buy a house, when to exercise or even, when to end a relationship. Most people make these decisions by relying on unsubstantiated systems like intuition or guesswork. Worse, most tasks are scheduled based on nothing more than our availability; we give minimal thought to the kind of task we’re doing and how timing might affect our performance, and instead pencil in our to-dos whenever our schedule allows. In so doing, we are undoubtedly leaving peak performance on the table.”

Timing is everything, and it will always be a crucial part of our lives. So, here are two lessons from Dan Pink’s book that will guide you in making better when-to decisions: 

Lesson 1: Honor your chronotype 

Everyone has a chronotype, that is, a person’s natural inclination about the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic.

Knowing your chronotype is key to understanding how you experience the day and when you are most active at various tasks. 

Each day is divided into three experiential stages: a peak, a trough, and a rebound. Larks and third birds experience the day in precisely that order, while owls experience the reverse. Use the research-backed chart below to determine better when to take different types of action:

To determine your chronotype, take the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire at https://www.danpink.com/mctq.

Lesson 2: Use Restorative Breaks to Boost Your Performance

Something happens during the trough, roughly seven hours after waking, that makes it far more perilous than any other time of day. For example:

  • Sleep-related vehicle accidents peak twice a day: between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. (middle of the night, makes sense) and between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (middle of the afternoon, hello trough!).
  • Taking a test in the afternoon without a break produces scores that are equivalent to spending less time in school each year, and having parents with lower incomes and less education.

Becoming more aware of the trough is an essential first step in learning to avoid making poor decisions due to bad timing. 

Research shows that the best way to combat the dangers of the trough is by taking restorative breaks. While there’s no single answer on precisely what those breaks should look like, Pink says science offers five guiding principles:

  1. Something beats nothing: Even short breaks from a task can help us maintain focus and reactivate our commitment to a goal if our motivation is waning. 
  2. Moving beats stationary: “Microbursts of activity” like hourly 5-minute walks have been shown to boost energy, sharpen focus, increase concentration, enhance creativity and improve mood. 
  3. Social beats solo: It is believed that spending time alone can recharge us, but much of the research points toward the higher power of being with others, particularly when we’re free to choose with whom we spend time. 
  4. Outside beats inside: Although people can recognize they’d be happier taking a break outside, they underestimate how much happier being close to trees, plants, rivers, etc. is a powerful restorative and allows people to return to their tasks in a better mood (Nizbet and Zelenski, 2011).
  5. Fully detached beats semi-detached: Resist the urge to multitask. Step away from all work-related material and engage in something completely different (all of those office ping pong tables are starting to make sense—they’re social, active, and fully detached!)

We spend countless hours researching and strategizing about how to tackle our daily tasks, but so rarely do we strongly consider when we tackle our tasks. When we fail to use timing to our advantage, we short-change ourselves and limit our potential.

How to be more productive and focused on Success.

In this information age, most people live in a state of near constant distraction. Time and focus are at a premium, with many devices and platforms competing for our attention, and making it more difficult to achieve optimal focus. 

Anyone who wants to achieve great success in all areas of his life must be at alert for productivity drains. 

Earlier in the year, I talked about how to make 2019 count as a great year. Now, the year is halfway gone, but many are yet to achieve half their goals because they have allowed things in life to distract them and deflate their energy levels. 

These distractions come in varying forms. 

In Digital Minimalism (2019), Cal Newport, a computer scientist turned productivity expert, notes that part of the problem is that our computers, phones, and tablets, by their very nature, are tools that mix productivity with distraction—and sometimes distract under the guise of productivity. 

Great benefits have come with great harm, I guess. 

 

For some of us, who hide under the guise of being busy, we must keep in mind that perpetual busyness is bad for wellbeing and worse for productivity levels, and there is a cost both on a personal level and in terms of money and opportunities that are lost. 

Let me share the productivity system  I learned from Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus. It consists of three simple steps; stop, cut, and act. 

Step 1

The first step requires leaders to pause and assess. During this phase, leaders will formulate their goals, evaluate their current level of productivity, and learn to set healthy work-life boundaries. As leaders examine their situation, they should consider all the work they do in terms of proficiency and passion. Preferably, most of the work should rate high in both categories. Leaders need to be perfectly clear, not just on their mission, but also on which parts of the work mean the most to them.

 

Step 2 

Cutting is at the heart of productivity. People often think of their work in terms of to-do lists when they should be thinking more about what not to do. Time is not a renewable resource. Sometimes, people, have difficulty saying no to other people’s demands on their time, but when they say yes to those demands, they are also saying no to other, perhaps more important, demands. People who are overcommitted don’t have time to do anything well. And low energy levels can negatively impact how time is used. Leaders who have too many tasks have too little time and too little energy, which is a self-defeating combination.

In cutting tasks, there are three main approaches. One is to remove the task from the workflow entirely. Another is to delegate the task, preferably to someone who’s both passionate about and proficient in the subject. A third cutting method is automation

Step 3

This is where all the productivity planning from the first two steps is put into action. The first element, consolidation, requires looking for ways to batch together with similar types of work. For example, meetings can be relegated to one or two days of the week, or a month’s worth of podcasts can be recorded in a single day. The second element, designation, requires scheduling work on a calendar such that chunks of time are blocked off for critical tasks alongside deadlines and meetings. Finally, the element of activation is about minimizing distraction. For an overly busy person, every task can feel like a miniature emergency. Productive people know how to set boundaries so that tasks are handled calmly and clearly, if not right away.

Leaders who have too many tasks have too little time and too little energy. Yes, it can be difficult to find time for long term planning when there are perpetually too many things on the task list, but people who are most overwhelmed are the most in need of a change. 

To have a productive and meaningful work-life balance, we must minimize distractions and be intentional about our focus. Remember, attention is a limited resource. 

The Mindset That Can Make You Fail in Life.

Do you want to be successful in life? Then, you must understand that having the right mindset is crucial to attaining greatness.

Yes, hard work, effort, and persistence are all important, but not as important as having that underlying belief that you are in control of your destiny.

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr. Carol Dweck uncovers the differences between two core mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Dweck examined the two mindsets and discusses why a fixed mindset leads to an unsuccessful and unfulfilling life.

No one wants a horrible and unfulfilling existence, but that is some people’s reality. They are stuck and unable to achieve success because of their fixed mindset.

Hold on, but what is a fixed mindset? How do you identify and break yourself from its shackles?

I’d share a few tips, but first.

What is a growth mindset?

A growth mindset is a belief that you are in control of your destiny and your ability to learn and improve.

Simple, right. So.

What is a fixed mindset?

A fixed mindset is the opposite; it is the belief that individual traits are innate and cannot be changed or developed.

If you think about that for a second, you’d realize that having either of these mindsets all gets down to one’s belief.

In the growth mindset, one believes that intelligence, creativity, and artistic ability can develop over time with practice, hard work, endurance, and a willingness to learn.

Whereas a fixed mind believes that intelligence, creativity, and other abilities does not, or can not change regardless of opportunities for learning and growth.

Honestly, this way of thinking is terrible for anyone, and you must beware of it.

It is the path of failure that you don’t want to tread.

It leads to trouble with self-esteem and personal development, particularly in the face of mistakes and failures.

People with a fixed belief hold themselves in an unchangeable position, where they have to prove themselves always, and where mistakes or failures are unacceptable.

On the other hand, people with a growth mindset see mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and improve themselves. They know that is the only way to progress.

So, this is my point: a fixed mindset will make you out of date and unsuccessful. If you are successful by your terms, don’t let it hinder your greatness.

Read the signs, when you see that you are beginning to settle for less, when you begin to stop seeking knowledge.

When you give up, and not set higher goals. When you stop working out your plans, and not learning new ways of doing things.

Beware, it is the fixed mindset.

Instead, live with a growth mindset by pushing away your fears and inadequacies. Embrace the evolution of your abilities, and go with courage that everything is possible if you commit to growth.

 

How to Make 2019 Count…

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Congratulations…

We all made it to 2019.

I’m so excited about this brand new year. It is another 365 days of opportunities for you and me.

This year, I will be sharing ideas that will make 2019 a great one for you. But today, I want to challenge you to be grateful for everything that you have.

8 Simple Ideas to make 2019 an amazing year.

1. BE EVER GRATEFUL

Be grateful for this New Year 2019, because many did not make it to this year, but you and I did. Learn to be grateful every day of your life for everything, and to your creator until you take the last breath.

Gratitude has its blessings.

You’ve got another 365 days, so use this wisely.

2. DREAM BIG

I need you to dream big this year.

Don’t make small dreams, because you don’t need little dreams.

You can dream Big!

Create an empire in your mind, believe God for the miraculous, and nothing will be impossible.

Also, make sure to be crystal clear of what you want in this year 2019, and aspire for something great that you haven’t experienced before.

3. BUILD GREAT RELATIONSHIPS

Make sure to build great relationships by identifying and belonging to new tribes.

Iron sharpens iron, look for people going where you are going and join them whether it’s a professional group or association, find people who are doing great exploits, people you can reach out to when you need a guide.

4. INVEST IN YOURSELF

Invest in yourself by feeding your mind with great ‘nutrients’ from books, seminars, training, online videos on YouTube, audiobooks from Audibles, coaching programs, mentorship and so on.

This is how to grow.

If you do not invest in yourself, your income cannot increase, so this year 2019, don’t forget to invest in yourself.

5. BE AN ACTION TAKER

Take actions.

Whatever your goals are this year, make sure you’re taking baby steps one after the other. Start doing what you want to do.

Keep moving, don’t stay static. This year is going to be an amazing year, and it’s going to be a challenging year, but it is going to reward action takers.

The ones who make plans and execute them, because doing and not just planning is what will differentiate you from others in 2019.

6. GIVE BACK.

Identify two, three, or four people you can be a blessing to this year, it could be a charity organization or an individual, just make sure to give back. Invest in them because the young shall grow so whatever you know, deposit this in them.

7. DECIDE TO CHANGE

In 2019, nothing will be different from 2018…but the only thing that can change is you. If you don’t change, nothing is going to change.

The year is going to move so rapidly, so put your mind to changing for the best. Appraise 2018 and identify areas where you didn’t do well, but don’t see those things as failures but as experience needed to navigate 2019.

8. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF THIS YEAR

Your health is important.

As you have heard, health is wealth. So do not joke with your well-being. Make sure to see the doctor occasionally or regularly depending on your need. And be aware of things like your blood pressure level, cholesterol level, your weight and all.

Also, make sure to always eat and sleep well. As you do all these I believe God that there would be a tremendous change in your life and you will be a success story that I would want to talk about this year.

God bless you!

Why You Should Stop Chasing Perfection and What to Do Instead.

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In existence, who amongst men have attained perfection?

If you haven’t thought about that question before, I suggest that you give it a minute or more; especially if you are one of those called perfectionists.

Even if you don’t think that you are a perfectionist – because most people won’t agree that they are – this will help you understand the myth of perfectionism with regards to achieving your goals or purpose in life.

You see, the truth is you don’t have to be perfect to succeed in life because history is made up of imperfect men whose achievements still hold the world in awe.

Benjamin Franklin the world’s most influential advocate for self-improvement, was a womanizer as reported by The Chicago Tribune.

It was even said that he fathered a son out of wedlock, but Franklin’s lust didn’t destroy his impact because he recognized his problem and admitted it.

Albert Einstein was also an imperfect man despite possessing a great I.Q. Einstein lacked a relational discipline causing him to divorce after ten years of marriage to marry his cousin – Elsa.

He was quoted saying to a young man that…

“What I admire in your father is that, for his whole life, he stayed with only one woman. This is a project in which I grossly failed, twice.”

He admitted that he couldn’t be a perfect husband even though it was his wish but it didn’t deter him from succeeding in other areas of his life.

Let me say again, you do not have to be perfect to do great things, achieve your purpose or succeed at anything in life – you only have to be good enough because perfection is a myth.

So Why do Men Chase Perfection?

Perfection is an idealist point of view to life where we build a world in our imagination and want it realized. We want to please everyone so that we become likeable.

We want wealth, good health, peace, less stress and all the good things of life with ease.

We want to be the one who knows it all. We want everything at home to be spanking clean, in short, we want to be an example of a perfect gentleman or lady.

Wake up my friend, you will never be perfect and you don’t have to be to achieve greatness in life. No.

Walt Disney was brilliant but he smoked too much and we could say that was his imperfection.

Henry Ford was said to be a stubborn micro-manager who didn’t take orders from anyone but his own. It was written that…

“Workers disliked the monotonous, mind-numbing repetition of their tasks, made worse by the fact that Ford believed that total discipline was necessary to prevent chaos. Employees received a 15-minute lunch as their only break, and they were not allowed to talk, sing, whistle, sit down or lean on machinery. Even smiling was discouraged.”

Yet, these men achieved greatness.

I do not mean that men should not strive to be better at every area of their lives, and neither do I mean that bad habits should be harboured. I am only saying that while we go about our journey in life, we should not focus all our energies on trying to be perfect or waiting for the perfect time before attempting to do great things.

What You Should Do Instead of Pursuing Perfection

As Brené Brown said; “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”

Stop trying to be perfect because the brutal truth is that you will never attain perfection – not in this life, but you will be good enough and can even be great.

Focus instead on perseverance and let nothing beat you on your journey to greatness.

If you admit your weaknesses and commit to your goals in life, you will also achieve greatness like every imperfect man who has been great.