Posts Tagged ‘winning’

My belief is stronger than your doubt

July 2, 2014
Breaking free of self doubt

Breaking free of self doubt

I had a very interesting weekend away recently. A friend, who I suspected was going through a difficult time, spent almost the entire two days putting me down. Enthusiastically, aggressively, relentlessly, maniacally: finding the correct description of the gusto he brought to the task is difficult.

The putdowns started with my recent modest weight gain. I admit that I’m somewhat touchy about it; it’s the chink in my armour. My friend pounced. All good-natured ribbing? Not really. After more than a hundred references to it (yes, really!) my wife uncharacteristically told him to drop it. He didn’t. His wife told him to stop it. He didn’t. So another description: obsessive.

At first I laughed, then I got annoyed, became weary and finally just felt sorry for him.

We love to think that what others say or think about us doesn’t matter. We say that it’s their problem, not ours. But it’s not true. I did care. Why? Because it questioned my self-belief and my carefully crafted perception of myself.

It made me doubt myself. And that was depressing.

The paradox is, the more we say it doesn’t matter, the more it does. We’ve all questioned our self-worth. That’s normal. So how do we maintain our self-belief in the face of sometimes relentless and overwhelming criticism? By understanding who we are and what we’ve achieved. Accept that we will, at times, have a bad day. Bounce back. Believe in yourself, overcome doubt and carry on.


The strawberries and cream of life

May 29, 2013
Working for the strawberries and cream of life

Working for the strawberries and cream of life

Have you wondered how top athletes became successful? Is it some form of genetic advantage? Do they just turn up? Are they naturally brilliant?

In the majority of cases the answer is no. They may have a predisposition towards the sport and may have physical characteristics that help, but in this competitive world that’s not enough.

The best way to create spectacular results in any area of your life is determination, commitment and practice. We marvel at sporting successes but we only see the game; we don’t see the daily hours of hard slog training and practice.

A tennis professional may win millions at a single tournament but are they being paid for only that match? No. It’s the years of training, practice, coaching and mental preparation required to get to that level. Top athletes know that practice is how you achieve success.

Similarly, in the business world you don’t just turn up and wander into the CEO’s office and assume the position. Personal and professional success takes work. It’s not reasonable to expect you can achieve all of your goals without having to make some sacrifices along the way and pay the price in terms of dedication and persistence.

Those that are the most vocal on how others ‘had an easy ride’ or ‘had an unfair advantage’ are usually the ones that prefer to take the easy path every time. It’s difficult for them when elite performers make it look easy.

There would be very few successful people who’ve made it without setbacks along the way. The difference is that their dedication and momentum helps them ride over the bumps rather than being derailed. If you want the ‘strawberries and cream’ of life you must be prepared to work for it.

Success doesn’t just show up; you need to create it. Work out what you need to do to move forwards and do it consistently. Set milestones so you have success along the way and keep your eye on the prize.

Breaking free of average

May 13, 2013
Breaking free of the pack

Breaking free of the pack

I speak to many people about success and its meaning to them. Many feel they just can’t break free to create momentum for real progress. Breaking free of average; when those around us prefer not to challenge the status quo and actively dissuade us from trying.

How do we set our sights higher and repel negativity?

It’s not an easy question and the answers are elusive. That’s what this post is about; being aware of the problem is the first step.

Life’s like a bell curve where the majority of people are happy to fit right on the top of that curve; right there with everyone else in the average zone. For many this is the safe zone, with the majority, hiding in the pack.

There’s always been safety in numbers but in terms of happiness and success what does that middle ground mean? Exactly where is being average taking you?

Well, did you know that depression rates are ten times higher than they were in 1960, the average age of the onset of depression is half what it was 50 years ago, we have teenagers taking antidepressants and job satisfaction is less than 50% with longer hours and less security.

Perhaps you’ve also heard the following:

‘Don’t try too hard because if you become successful you’ll lose your friends … Tall poppy; poke your head up and have it cut off … If you have money you must have taken advantage of others to get it …It’s is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven …The meek shall inherit the earth’.

Society likes average because it’s easy to manage. It provides an excuse for mediocrity. Rather than achieve on our terms we’re told that it’s perfectly acceptable to be average. We have a readymade excuse for not trying.

In other words, does this sound familiar?

‘If everyone else is overweight then it’s okay for me too, I’m not as fat as those people. No one in our office works too hard so it’s okay for me to coast along too. But everyone speeds along here,Officer! Very few adults ever read a book so I really don’t have to either. Everyone is watching the latest reality show so I will too. I want to fit in; I want to be part of the in-crowd…’

Are you prepared to be an outlier or will you allow society to statistically smooth your journey? What happens when average is a failing grade in life? Do you want something better? What are you prepared to do for it? Will you accept society’s excuses and justification for laziness or will you be better than that?

It’s your life and your choice. Will you allow the majority to rule or are you prepared to step outside the average and live your best life?

Minding your mindset

March 18, 2013

A positive approach to life

A positive approach to life

Do you remember a time when everything was wonderful and you were in love with the world? Perhaps you convinced the object of your desire to agree to a date, you won your dream job, finally got that new car, had a baby or achieved one of your major goals. How good did that feel, and how great was everything in your world?

Nothing could bring you down; you were happy, excited and walking on air. Your good mood changed how you processed the world, and in turn changed how you reacted to it. Life was seen through a lens of gratitude, optimism, excitement and meaning.

Everything that happened that day was relative to your positive feelings. Things that would normally make you annoyed were shrugged off without a second thought. At that point, your reality was your relative understanding of the world based on where and how you were experiencing it.

Of course, it can flow the other way as well; a day, week, month or lifetime of negativity with every experience building on that negative mindset. People who get caught in this downward spiral look for the worst and usually find it. They’re life’s victims – seemingly always a day late and a dollar short.

It may not be practical to wake up every morning in a state of bliss, although some people do achieve that; our reality is far more variable than we may think and far more dependent on the way in which we view it.

With the right mindset, our power to influence and dictate our reality, and in turn the results of our actions, increases significantly. The key is that a positive mindset just doesn’t change how we feel about an experience, it can change the actual results of that experience.

A positive mindset can give you a competitive advantage, have you operating at a higher level and contribute in a meaningful way to your success and happiness. Anyone for an attitude adjustment?


March 12, 2013
Happiness and success

Happiness and success

Is it possible that average can be the new successful?

Society pushes us towards average. A pass mark is enough to get through, where are you on the bell curve, how do you compare to others? You don’t have to try too hard, every child wins a prize, near enough is good enough in our sanitised world that rewards underachievement.

If we target average we will only ever achieve average. We define happiness in relation to success but have we set success at average or something more challenging? Can mediocrity really make us happy?

So we’re told that average is OK. Then we’re taught to focus on the negative rather than the positive. The habit of focusing on the negative pervades society. Bad news sells. We take notice of it, the news bulletins are full of it, gossip is based on it, and many people seek the attention that tragedy provides.

The point is, what we spend our time and mental energy effort focusing on can become our reality. And society pushes us towards average and mediocrity. We can reject that and push ourselves towards success. What does that look like?
The fact that we need to push ourselves towards success indicates that it’s not our natural state, so it requires effort to break free and seek something more.

We can collect degrees, jump at career opportunities and ‘network’ the right people to get ahead. We can stay busy multitasking our way through a checklist of carefully scripted career building experiences, often at the expense of real experiences. We can be paralysed by the tyranny of expectation we place on ourselves. All of this is playing society’s game, staying busy striving for a sanitised version of success.

We might learn how to get along in the world but miss the one real lesson; how to find meaning and happiness in our lives.
Ironically we sacrifice happiness for this version of success, which ultimately prevents us achieving the very goals we had defined as success: to be happy, content and free.

Positively successful

August 7, 2012

Glass half full or half empty?

We create success or failure according to our most prominent thoughts. When thinking about ourselves, our lives and future prospects, which is stronger – success or failure, positive or negative, optimism or pessimism?

Everybody runs the spectrum of positive and negative thoughts. With everything that goes on in our lives and the myriad of external influences over which we have limited or no control, it would seem impossible to maintain a permanent state of happiness and positiveness. We enjoy moments of euphoric joy and excitement and moments of depression and disappointment.

Taking away the extremes, it’s possible to determine whether a person is generally positive or negative in their thoughts, behaviour and composure. Some see the bad side to everything, refuse to try because they will most certainly fail and struggle through each day with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Others have a positive outlook on life and face the world with enthusiasm and excitement. Each day is an adventure with the probability of moving towards their goal, achieving something significant and learning from their experiences.

If your mind is usually in a negative state, the occasional positive thought isn’t sufficient to attract success. Negativity and scepticism can be a habit that’s hard to break. It appears to be socially unacceptable to many to admit happiness or enjoyment of work and life.

How are you? Not bad (a double negative), alright for a Tuesday I guess, fair to middling, could be better, will be better next week, not real well … and many other similar negative sentiments. Misery enjoys company and if you’re not careful will drag you down into a mire of negativity that kills motivation, creativity and achievement.

This results in feeling sorry for yourself or blaming the world or others for everything that has ever gone wrong in your life. This leaves an undertone of helplessness and hopelessness that precludes taking responsibility for yourself and what happens to you. You become a victim at the whim of circumstance and taken advantage of by others.

We all know people that appear to attract such negative results that just about everything seems to go wrong. They embrace failure with enthusiasm and find great solace in telling others about it and having them feel sorry for them. A self-perpetuating cycle of negativity; the glass isn’t just half empty, it’s smashed on the floor.

Others appear to be ‘blessed’ and everything they touch turns to gold. They’re happy and positive and seek the best from life and usually get it. When things go wrong they see this as a setback, not a failure; there’s a positive correlation between attitude and success.

Taking responsibility for ourselves, our actions, attitudes and results is one of the fundamental keys to success. If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

Be careful what you wish for

July 25, 2012

Enjoying today

We spend so much time trying to set up our lives to provide our future selves with the things that we think we’ll want, that we miss out on moments we should enjoy today. When we get ‘there’ we find ourselves disappointed and wanting more, even if our past selves delivered what we promised.

What we do get are things we never thought we wanted. We feel happy but somehow unfulfilled. We now want more for our next future self. Someday we’ll be satisfied and someday we’ll enjoy life, whenever that will be.

As teenagers we may have hated the thought of ending up as boring adults. We wanted to live the fast, self-indulgent life forever. When we became boring adults, those ordinary things like buying a house and having children were milestones more meaningful than our teenage selves could have imagined.

Today is a transition zone to tomorrow, where we’ll be satisfied and happy.

We can have anything except extra time.

What are you wishing for?

More importantly, what action are you taking?

With a little help from my friends …

July 15, 2012

With a lot of help from my friends …

In my last post I gave you what is, in my opinion, the formula for success. I also made the point that no one said it would be easy, and it isn’t. What I can tell you from my own experience is that it’s worth it and the benefits, ultimately, far outweigh the cost. The energy and time you invest is the currency exchanged for the satisfaction of achieving your personal version of success.

As much as we’d all love to win the lottery or have a distant relative leave us a fortune, changing our lives for the better, there’s an unsurpassed feeling of satisfaction and pride when we achieve something of significance for ourselves.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we have to do it all by ourselves. We would be foolish not to use the resources, contacts, hard work and progress we’ve built up over our lifetime. Take assistance where it makes sense, and in turn openly help others with the experience you’ve gained. This is the law of reciprocity and is a wonderful way to supercharge your success and satisfaction – we’ll discuss it in detail in a later post.

For now, here’s an example to show you why it’s smart to accept help. If you’ve been to university, college, trade school or completed any form of study, you know how good it feels to gain a qualification or accreditation and excitedly look to the benefit this can provide in future.

You feel a great sense of satisfaction because you have achieved something worthwhile. It took time and effort and, without doubt, required work when there were events you may have missed or things you’d rather have been doing. Some call this sacrifice, but I prefer to look at it as prioritising your life for success. If someone handed you an ‘honorary qualification’ I doubt it would feel as satisfying.

When you study, you set a goal (a qualification) and work toward it. Generally, the goal is broken down into distinct and achievable steps – a series of subjects or units for example. If you happen to fail at one step, usually you can try it again, without the need to start over. These are progressive short-term goals toward the final achievement of your ultimate goal.

But even further, with each of your subjects you take lectures or classes. This is the learning process, also a fundamental requirement of success. You didn’t turn up on the first day thinking that you knew it all and could do it by yourself. You receive help and guidance from your teachers, who help you and prepare you to succeed. If you get stuck you can ask for assistance; teachers won’t do it for you, but can point you in the right direction.

In martial arts the journey to black belt is made up by a predetermined number of steps (belts) to get there. In music you can sit exams that demonstrate your growing mastery. As a parent, you guide your child through the steps of life and into adulthood. In business you move up the ladder of increasingly difficult and demanding roles with increasing levels of authority and accountability. At each step you have teachers, mentors and friends. Use them.

Life’s a journey. Enjoy it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way.

Why we put things off

May 24, 2012

Why don’t we?

This post, the next in the series on beating procrastination, explores why we put things off when we know we shouldn’t.

It’s easy to postpone the things you should be doing and fill your time with easier and less important activities. And it’s often a difficult task that you know is there but can’t quite get to it.

Procrastination causes stress – it’s that line on your to do list that never gets crossed. It nags away at you causing tension, anxiety and fatigue. It can also keep you from reaching your goals, the ones you say you’d do anything to achieve. It stifles personal growth and can keep you from living a happy, healthy and prosperous life.

So why do we do it? There are lots of reasons. You can be afraid of failure or success, feel insecure, feel unable to cope with things that are difficult or simply be put off by effort and concentration that you can’t or won’t apply now.  Sometimes the dream is better than the reality, and if you never try you can’t fail.

When it comes down to it, there is a cost for everything; time to write a book, application to gain a qualification, pain and exertion to lose weight and money to start investing. Often the cost of doing something is perceived to be higher than the benefit. I really want to lose weight but I just love food so much and I’m too tired to exercise. Then sometimes the rules of the game change. You have a mild heart attack and suddenly eating those foods and not exercising has a much higher cost.

Then the benefit, living, is more important than the cost and you find the time to make the changes in your life. Deadlines can do the same thing. You can put things off until the price of not doing it – failing or being reprimanded – is higher than the pain of doing it – so it gets done at the last possible moment. Unfortunately that is rarely a recipe for the best possible outcome.

Clearing your inbox of 30 urgent but not important messages may provide a sense of satisfaction but it doesn’t achieve anything meaningful. Tackling the difficult task is more difficult, requires sustained activity and has consequences if not done properly. So we stick to the easy, the quick and the unimportant in the illusion of productivity.

But no one thanks you for that. And you aren’t getting closer to achieving your goals. So you’re stuck in a rut feeling bad about yourself. What’s your priority for the rest of today? Will you waste the day on irrelevancies?

How big are your goals?

April 30, 2012

Are your goals big enough?

We’re frequently reminded that we must set goals. Have you ever considered why? It’s fine to begin with the end in mind and understand that we require a clear destination, but what is the deeper purpose, the one that provide the impetus for action? And how high should we aim? To the stars and hit the moon, or something a bit closer to earth?

Let’s make sense of goal setting.  A goal:

–           Stimulates excitement, energy and effort.

–           Creates focus, motivation, momentum and purpose.

–           Builds anticipation of a future positive state.

–           Drives action to take you there.

Having a definite major purpose is satisfying, even before you’ve taken action, because it makes the journey as good as the destination. And the result is personal growth.

Committing to a goal helps find the courage to stretch and take calculated risks outside your comfort zone and to overcome the fear of failure. It creates a life of its own where, ideally, the outcome is never in doubt. You keep going until you get there. Starting is often the most difficult.

The scope of your goal must be reasonable and attainable. Setting impossible goals sets you up for failure and makes committing almost impossible. If you don’t believe it, how can you achieve it?

You can break down larger goals into smaller steps, treating each as a milestone. Then want each step enough to create emotional energy. Losing weight, gaining a promotion, winning at sport, finding the perfect partner, starting a charity; what are the first steps you can take today?

So how high should you aim? The answer is higher than you usually do and high enough to stimulate your imagination and innovation. Be clear on what you want and decide that you will achieve it. The removal of indecision and doubt sets your course and creates energy to get you there.