Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

How to Overcome Your Fear of Rejection and Be Fully Yourself Every Day

“If you are fully yourself, the tribe may label you an outcast and you’ll never be included again.” -Kyle Eschenroeder

There is a great fear most people experience when they consider being “truly” themselves.

What if people reject me?

What if people laugh at me?

What if I’m permanently exiled from my community?

How could I ever overcome that shame and embarrassment?

These are real fears. When you choose to be fully yourself, you risk becoming an outcast and public humiliation.

I can keenly relate to this fear — maybe you can, too. I was dominated by the fear of rejection for most of my life growing up. In high school, I remember being constantly disgusted with myself for being such a doormat. I was a total pushover, because I was afraid if I said no, or stood up for myself, people would reject me.

needed to be chosen — by cute girls, by the basketball coach, by my teacher, by the guys in drum line. So I did things for people even when I knew I wasn’t being myself at all.

It’s only now, after 7 years of counseling, therapy, and maturity, that I’ve finally become comfortable being myself, and not what others — my family, friends, and society — wanted me to be.

Here’s how to overcome that terrible fear of rejection and be fully yourself…every day.

Want Freedom? Unlearn Your Constant Need to Be Liked and Chosen

“When we are not chosen, we feel bad. When we are chosen — even by idiots — we feel good. We need to unlearn this imprisonment. Not dissect and analyze it. Just completely unlearn it.” -James Altucher

Most people live their daily lives trying to please others.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was totally over those behaviors and the fear of rejection. I still get that familiar feeling of dread when someone laughs when I stutter or when someone leaves a hurtful comment on my blog. I don’t think I’ll ever be 100% rid of that.

But for the most part, I’m fully myself every day. I’m not afraid to cry in front of my wife anymore. I’m not afraid to say I love Les Miserables, fruity margaritas, or that I really don’t care about the NFL that much.

I got here by choosing to stop looking to other people to fill me up. Because as long as my focus was being “liked” and “chosen,” I’d never get to be fully myself. Because when you’re fully yourself, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people who want to see you help them more.

When you unlearn this limiting mindset, you allow your true self to start coming out. It will be scary and uncomfortable for many people, but it’s the only way to start moving away from the constant state of fear and dread most people wake up with.

Unlearn your need to be liked and chosen all the time. Trust me — it’s far better to be totally honest with yourself and others. It’s one of the most freeing things in the entire world.

“Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, half-assed, or fearful states.” -Tony Robbins

Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

Don’t Play “Not To Lose” With People…Play to Win

In sports, it’s easy for the winning team to begin playing “not to lose”; being defensive, rigid, and focused on escaping with victory and withstanding their opponent’s comeback.

But when you play “not to lose,” you play weaker, softer, and worse. When you play not to lose in your life, you become defined by:

  • Risk-avoidance
  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Panic
  • Desperation
  • Anger

But if you play to win…

  • You will cultivate a standard of excellence that will upgrade every other area of your life.
  • You will reach new levels of mastery and endurance.
  • You will see your old limits…and break them.
  • You’ll be braver.
  • You’ll be more relaxed, entering in flow states and deep focus.
  • You’ll be more confident and self-assured.

Are you playing “not to lose” — avoiding rejection, fearing failure, trying to get through the day unscathed?

Or are you playing to win — confident, focused, determined, full of action and strategy as you reach towards your biggest goals?

A lot of people are playing “not to lose” right now. They’re not actively trying to move forward, they’re just trying with all their might not to get left behind, rejected, or forgotten.

The problem is, this strategy was a bad one from the beginning. When your focus is being defensive and your actions rooted out of fear and risk-avoidance…you greatly increase your odds of failure.

In a letter to his friend, Bruce Lee wrote:

“Alive, a man is supple, soft; in death, unbending rigor. All creatures, grass and trees, alive and plastic, are pliant, too, and in death all feeble and dry. Unbending rigor is the mate of death, and yielding softness, the company of life.”

Stop focusing on “not losing.”

Start focusing on winning, every single day.

“The stiffest tree is readiest for the ax.” -Bruce Lee

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

True Happiness Only Comes in Living the Way You Were Designed

“If your lifestyle does not add to your healing, it will subtract from it.” -Benjamin Foley

If you are tempted to begin acting like everyone wants you to, remember this:

You can never be happy as long as you’re living your life for other people.

In his book As a Man Thinketh, James Allen wrote:

“A man’s wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.”

What Allen is saying is simple: you can’t achieve your goals or reach your dreams until your thoughts and actions are aligned. If you’re always thinking about how you want to live as you watch yourself live an entirely different way, you’ll always be stuck.

You need to realign your thoughts and behaviors to allow growth, well-being, and fulfillment.

You were born with specific needs, desires, goals, and wants. You’ll never be truly happy until you start living the way you were designed.

  • A car doesn’t run on soda, it runs on gasoline and oil.
  • A tree can’t grow if you pour paint on it; it needs water and sunlight.
  • You can’t grow if you stay in an environment dictated by others.

You can’t be yourself if you keep living in ways you weren’t designed to live — no matter what lies you tell yourself.

What are some behaviors you know you need to stop doing? Who are some people you should stop hanging out with?

What are some behaviors and activities that you know you should start doing instead?

One of the greatest pivotal moments in my life was when I decided to go to counseling and therapy.

Until that point, I had a severe addiction to pornography. I was a chronic people-pleaser. My self-worth was terribly low. I hated the ways I acted.

After counseling, I started to behave very differently. No more night-long Internet binges. No more hanging out with vulgar, negative people. No more tolerating merely “surviving” — I was determined to thrive and grow.

Start living the way you were designed to live.

“One of the greatest turning points in my life occurred when I stopped casually waiting for success and started to approach it as a duty, obligation, and responsibility.” -Grant Cardone

It’s Not “How Can I Make Everyone Happy?”…It’s About “How Would I Like to Live?”

“People are always asking me about the secrets and tricks I use to get results. Sorry if this disappoints you: there are no secrets. There are no tricks. It’s simple: ask yourself where you are now, and where you want to be instead.” -Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s personal trainer

A lot of people wake up every day focusing on one thing:

How do I please other people?

I’m not talking about service and loving sacrifice; I’m referring to the constant feeling that you need to please everyone around you to be alright.

For me, this desire seemed to stem from childhood, and since I never addressed it (I chose to binge on pornography, video games, and mental fantasy for all those years instead), it blooms into a powerful negative mindset that left me resentful, fearful, and exhausted.

When you face your familiar cycle of avoiding rejection, ask yourself:

How do I want to live?

This was the driving force behind my eventual move to leave my 9–5 desk job to travel the world and become a writer.

I worked in corporate America for 5 years, all the while wishing I could work for myself, and not have to deal with dysfunctional bosses, pointless meetings, and long commutes in rush hour traffic.

I had finally had enough, and after the 5th year, I couldn’t ignore that question any longer: how did I want to live? Simple: I wanted freedom, meaning, and control over my life.

I saw where I wanted to go, and I did the work to get there.

Now, I’m doing what I was meant to do — write. I own my own business. I work from home, helping people achieve meaning, clarity, and focus in their lives.

The truth is, there isn’t any “secret,” no magical trick that will get you to where you want to be. Stop asking yourself what others want, and ask yourself how you want to live.

Then, take the steps necessary to get there.

Stop letting other people lead your life.

“Many people think in terms of ‘I have to do what my colleague/neighbor/family member is doing’ instead of ‘I have to do what’s best for me.’” -Grant Cardone

In Conclusion

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” -ancient proverb

The fear or rejection is real. I know.

Those feelings you have aren’t silly, but they are holding you back. The way to overcome them? Do the thing you fear.

Afraid to paint? The solution is simple: go paint.

Afraid to write that book? The solution is simple: write that book.

Afraid to be yourself?

Then just be yourself.

Everything you want and desire is on the other side of fear. Whether you take the steps you know you need to take depends entirely on you.

But being fully yourself is something you can do, every single day — if you choose to.

Live Your Dreams

How To Know If You’ll Live Your Dreams

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” — The Alchemist

The Alchemist is among the top 25 most selling books of all time. If you haven’t read it yet, do so immediately.

In the book, a young boy meets an African King who teaches the boy how to live out his “Personal Legend,” or life purpose.

Most people are content simply dreaming about their dreams — that is enough for them. Only those who are willing to pursue their dreams will see the “omens” along the way — what most consider luck or coincidence.

When you become willing to sacrifice everything to discover and live your life’s purpose, as The Alchemist relates, “all the universe will conspire to make it happen.”

38 time NYT-bestselling author, Richard Paul Evans, has a concept he calls the “Five Kingdoms.” Kingdom One is reserved for only yourself and your connection to your higher power (or whatever you prescribe to). No other human being is allowed in your First Kingdom. The problem, Evans’ explains, is that people allow their spouses, friends, and others into their First Kingdom.

This clouds and confuses everything. It sends you on a path of conformity.

You must live in alignment with yourself, first and foremost. Otherwise, you have no powerful, conviction, or clarity to offer your relationships. You’re just a clone of whatever others want you to be. You have no sense of being and no clear purpose in life. The only way to truly live congruently in life AND in your relationships is to be congruent with yourself.

In order to fully live out your dreams, you must understand and embrace the following truths:

Both Success And Mediocrity Take The Same Amount Of Energy And Time

“The boy could see in his father’s gaze a desire to be able, himself, to travel the world — a desire that was still alive, despite his father’s having to bury it, over dozens of years, under the burden of struggling for water to drink, food to eat, and the same place to sleep every night of his life.” — The Alchemist

Whether you live out your dreams or not, life will be a struggle. It may be more convenient to settle-in to a life of mediocrity, but even still, life will be a struggle.

You’ll have to struggle through jobs you hate.

You’ll have to struggle through relationships that crumble due to lack of confidence, clarity, and openness. The only way to truly be powerful and present in your relationships is to live in congruence with yourself. Otherwise, you always appear and act in weakness in all of your relationships. You can’t fake it. It’s subconscious and energetic.

Deep inside of you will be a gnawing regret for the life you could be living and the person you could be. Even more, you’ll realize the negative impact your lack of congruence is having on those around you. To quote Dr. Stephen R. Covey, “We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”

Similarly, the famed surgeon and religious leader, Russell Nelson, said “Decisions you first thought to be purely personal virtually always impact the lives of others… You must be mindful of the broader circle of family and friends who will be affected by the consequences of your choice[s].”

If you’re a parent, your children are intensely affected by your choices. If you’re out of alignment with yourself, how do you expect them to live a life of alignment?

If you’re out of alignment, how do you expect them to truly respect you? Of course they’ll love you. No matter who you are, you deserve love. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, you need other people to help you. The opposite of addiction is connection. Rather than judgment, what people need to get out of their dark hole or negative pattern is compassion. You can’t punish the pain out of people.

Similarly, you can’t punish yourself for not living in alignment with yourself. That won’t help you. What you need is connection — with yourself and other people. The longer you attempt to fight a silent battle through grit and willpower, the deeper you’ll bury yourself in your own negative cycles. You’re as sick as your secrets. You need to vulnerable and honest. Otherwise all relationships and situations around you are artificial.

Is there challenge and pain in living your dreams?

Are you often clueless as to what you’re doing and where you’re going?

Does it sometimes feel you’ve sacrificed too much?

Of course. But even in the midst of enormous difficulty, you’ll be living congruently. And nothing external is more important or powerful than being at peace with yourself.

You Can’t Be Overly Attached To Your Money Or Possessions

“‘If you want to learn about your own treasure, you will have to give me one-tenth of your flock.’… The treasure is at the Pyramids; that you already knew. But I had to insist on the payment of six sheep because I helped you make your decision.’” — The Alchemist

The attachment of what you presently own will stop you from making a concrete decision and commitment to pursue your dreams.

“Here I am, between my flock and my treasure, the boy thought. He had to choose between something he had become accustomed to and something he wanted to have.”

The act of decision and commitment is generally tied to the donating of money (or possession) in some form of fashion. When you begin giving your money away, it starts to flow back to you much more powerfully. Because you’re not holding on to it so tightly. You realize you can have as much of it as you want. You begin being far more generous.

“Giving as you get acknowledges the Universe as truly abundant. Giving taps into the spiritual dimension that multiplies us, our thinking, and our results. There is an ocean of abundance and one can tap into it with a teaspoon, a bucket, or a tractor trailer. The ocean doesn’t care.”— The One Minute Millionaire

If you haven’t yet committed to making the decision to live your life in congruence — it’s because you’re still holding on too tightly to what you have. You need to being willing to give it all away.

What you’re holding on to is the price of what you could have. Your scarcity mindset is keeping you stuck. You’ll know you’re ready when you start giving away what you’ve got to a cause you believe in — or to other people in need.

Once you start mindfully giving your money away, you’ll open yourself up getting much much more. The reason is simple, it is the act of donating your money that cements within you the DECISION to live your life more powerfully.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness… The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” — William Hutchison Murray

You Must Be Willing To Risk It All

“If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.” — Admiral William McRaven

In the book, MAKE YOUR BED, Admiral William McRaven tells the story of training to become a Special Operations Officer for the Navy Seals. The most intense training program imaginable.

According to Admiral McRaven…

At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net and a barbed wire crawl, to name a few. But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three-level 30-foot tower at one end and a one-level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot-long rope. You had to climb the three-tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.

The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977. The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life head first. Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.

It was a dangerous move — seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training. Without hesitation the student slid down the rope perilously fast. Instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.

If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

According to the Biopsychological Theory of Personality, all behavior is either triggered by your “Behavioral Activation System” (BAS) or “Behavioral Inhibition System” (BIS).

Your BAS activates your behavior and moves you forward, despite risks. Your BIS inhibits your behavior and stops you from moving forward, because of risks.

According to the Strategic Principle of War, “The best defense is a good offense.”

In his book, When Violence Is the Answer: Learning How to Do What It Takes When Your Life Is at Stake, Tim Larkin explains that when you’re in a hostile situation, if you’re hesitant, you’ll lose.

If you’re retreating backwards, that’s exactly what a perpetrator wants you to do.

If you hold your arms up in a fighting position — you’re also in a position of weakness, because you don’t know what you’re going to do. You’re acting socially — being reactive — and you’ve given your power of choice to them.

The only way to successfully win in a hostile situation is to aggressively move forward on the offensive. This is exactly the opposite of what a perpetrator is expecting. And it’s the only truly powerful defensive.

When you’ve committed fully to living in complete congruence, despite the risk — when you’ve passed your point of no return — you will often be in positions where you’re required to risk it all. To go on complete offensive.

Of course, you likely won’t be required to risk it all. But you must be willing to. It must be YOUR decision, not indecision that determines what happens. And if you’re in alignment with your First Kingdom, you’ll follow your gut and know what to do — and you won’t let the opinions of others cloud your final decision.

You will likely be very misunderstood. The cost will seem too high to most people. They aren’t operating at the same level as you. They don’t realize that your security is internal, and that you’re no longer tied to the outcome. You’re simply tied to living in congruence with what you believe you should do.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” — The Alchemist

Sometimes, you’ll have lots of money coming your way and be required to give it all back to what you’re trying to accomplish. Consider Elon Musk, who was willing to sink all of his money into his companies. Had he not been willing to do that, he probably wouldn’t be where he is today.

Money for him is a tool. Not something he’s attached to. He doesn’t work to make money. He makes money to do more work. He makes money to fuel the mission.

Let Go Of The Need For A Specific Outcome

In an interview with SuccessMagazine, actor Jeremy Piven explained that as an actor, the only way to work is to go out and audition for specific roles.

The challenge most actors/actresses face is that they get in their own way. It doesn’t matter how much homework they’ve done. If they’re too tied to a specific result, they can’t be present in the moment. They can’t truly perform their art. They come off as desperate. They get in their own way. Their performance isn’t what it could have been.

Jeremy said that when he quit worrying about a specific result, he was able to be present during his auditions. He was able to be completely who he wanted to be. He wasn’t trying to be what he thought others wanted him to be. He performed his art.

If he didn’t get the gig, either they didn’t get it or it just wasn’t the right fit. So he moves on to the next. In this way, he’s able to get the jobs he’s supposed to have. He’s not just trying to get anything he can get.

According to Robert Kegan, Harvard Psychologist, the only way to truly experience the highest levels of transformation and “conscious evolution” is to detach from the need for specific outcomes.

THIS specific outcomes isn’t what matters. THIS outcome, regardless of what it is — win or lose — has no bearing on what you’re committed to doing and being. You’re fully committed and invested. You’ve already made the decision. And in your mind, you already know what you are. So THIS outcome doesn’t affect any of that.

You won’t be derailed by success nor defeat — as most people are. You’ve already made a decision. You’re committed to that decision. And you will move forward regardless of what happens here.

Conclusion

“The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being.” — The Alchemist

Living your dreams is available to everyone. Whether you choose to live your dreams or not, your life will be a struggle and a challenge.

Joe Polish, founder of Genius Network often says, “Life is easy when you live it the hard way, and hard when you live it the easy way.”

However, you will age yourself much quicker due to internal conflict if you choose the struggle of fear, conformity, indecision, and selfishness.

You have the option of evolving to very powerful places and having transformative experiences if you’re willing to. You won’t regret it. Your life will be far fuller and more powerful. The relationships you have will be deeper and more meaningful.

You’ll have a sense of purpose — and other people will respect you for tha

Build Powerful Mental Strength

Man Lifting Barbel

Using mantras to build powerful mental strength

“You stupid, dumb fool! What have you done?”

How often do you talk to yourself like that?

We can get so used to talking this way, we don’t notice how often we do it.

Most of us are so brutal to ourselves in thought over so many years, we lose touch with what it’s like to be genuinely at ease in our souls.

You’ve heard of all the ‘cures:’

Meditation, affirmations, exercise, hypnosis, pills, sleeping more, and therapy.

 

Let’s keep it simple.

When we spend our lives thinking things that put us down; when we replay ugly memories and focus on what isn’t working, our reality is literally being moulded into a colourless form of hell.

We become what we repeatedly think. We put into motion on what we dwell.

Those thoughts, obsessively replayed, and revisited, dictate how you behave, how you hold yourself, and how you experience the texture of life.

Do you repeatedly think of the world as a terrible, frightening place? Then your visions will be granted.

How would you act in such a world?

This is a two-way system. Your environment will respond to how you behave within it, reinforcing your running theme.

Be a positive life force, and your world will wobble itself into alignment with you, appearing vivid and joyful.

Think of yourself as inept, and reality will impose itself brutishly.

Bleak thoughts cloud your mind and your world in darkness.

But you cannot turn OFF darkness. The dark is merely the absence of light.

In the same way, negative thinking cannot be forced shut. It is the absence of thinking about what’s good.

The solution lies in focusing on what is good.

Mantras are repeated phrases used in meditations, and they can be adopted into everyday consciousness.

“I love myself.”

“I believe in myself.”

“I am more connected to others than I think.”

“I am a good person.”

We can obsessively think about what isn’t good, or we can obsessively think about what is good. That is the choice that can change everything. It’s so simple, and it holds the solution for so many.

The more obsessive your negative thoughts, the more obsessive we need to be in the positive.

Flood your thinking with good thoughts continually. Whenever you remember, say your mantra or various phrases. That is how to lift yourself out of a shadowy world.

I was reminded of this idea in Kamal Ravikant’s book: ‘Love yourself like your life depends on it’. He’s one of the few people who has dared to show us the almost comical simplicity of the solution.

Tell yourself you love yourself. That’s all you need. Experiment with other encouraging phrases.

Mantras become visions that get absorbed into your reality-defining subconscious. Do it repeatedly. Be unreasonable and ridiculous with how you pile the light onto the dark.

Repeat good mantras and positive affirmations to yourself whenever you can. Out loud and silently.

Read Kamal’s book.

You might be thinking — like I did — that doing this is ludicrous, and not natural. Well, neither is thirty-plus years of calling yourself an idiot. That negative self-talk needs a counter-weight. And we do this with positive self-talk.

Telling yourself that you love yourself will be a challenge to start because you’re not used to it. And it will feel stupid. It will also be challenging to keep it going. That will be the hardest. Doing it every hour of every day. Difficult yet supremely simple.

‘Being positive’ gets a bad rap because some see it as deluded and unrealistic.

There is a difference between being ‘positive’ to the point of neglecting your issues and being positive to lift yourself and others up to better deal with a problem.

Think about those who comforted the men beside them during the Great War. Were they deluded, or were they brave in the face of unimaginable terror?

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Nothing has changed in this regard. Monsters encroach all of us. All we have is the choice to lift ourselves up or to succumb to victimhood — to letting those monsters in.

Choose to lift yourself up.

Reverse the painful and distressing pathways you’ve built for yourself in the tapestry of your mind.

Say enough good things to yourself, and new pathways will form. Don’t worry when you slip. Just start with self-warmth now. Like any habit — those actions will become more and more automatic.

When you fill your consciousness with positive ideas, you will deny negative thoughts the opportunity to emerge and be ruminated on.

And — like with any habit — the warning is the same: don’t stop. You will do this when you’re in a low place and feel lifted. But don’t stop when you’re high again. This is the time you need to repeat your mantras more than any.

I did this years ago and then stopped, and then got depressed. This happens when things go well, and you don’t feel as much urgency. But like any habit, it must be done all the time.

Many of us suffer when we don’t do things that seem too risky. We are filled with shame and regret. Most of our excuses are unfounded. We become avoidant, and we lose out on many of life’s better moments.

This is unacceptable. I have missed out on a lot this way. All because of my own self-imposed barriers.

What we need if we are struggling, lifting ourselves out of our ‘sunken place,’ is a cushion — something to give us a sturdier baseline that helps us see what we are capable of — something that helps us feel — even if fleetingly — that there is magic in this world.

Use the simple tool of speaking good things to yourself, even if you don’t believe the words. And do it a lot. It is a continual practice. With persistence, you will start to feel it.

You will sense a new strength running through you. This is how to build that cushion.

With time, you will wonder how you were so blind to bliss.

LIFE – This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

This Is How to Stop Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Just follow rule number 6

“The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” — Frank Zappa

If you follow just one rule in life, choose rule Number Six.

Two prime ministers were having a casual conversation. One was intrigued about this rule that seemed so simple. The other man has just recommended it on two occasions with an immediate positive outcome.

First, a subordinate came to see him. He was upset, banging his fist on the desk. Then, a hysterical woman who was gesticulating wildly. After their boss reminded them of rule number 6, they both left the room in a positive mood.

The other prime minister was intrigued, “What is rule number 6?”

“Rule number 6 is don’t take yourself so damn seriously.”

The first prime minister laughed. He wanted to learn more, “So, what are the other rules?”

“There are no other rules,” was the answer.

The secret of life requires following one single rule. If you want to succeed and be happy, don’t take yourself too seriously.

The Center of the Universe

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” — Mark Twain

When we take ourselves too seriously, we believe everything revolves around us. That’s why we fear being ridiculed — we don’t want to face we are not so special.

The fear of shame kills our drive — we censor our desires to avoid being laughed at.

The paradox of shame is that, by looking for approval, we turn others into our judges. The fear of rejection makes us desperate for pleasing others. We become prisoners of other people’s judgment.

The fear of ridicule is anticipation — we worry about something that mighthappen.

As Brené Brown explains in his book Daring Greatly, seeking approval disconnect us from our desires. Women are expected to be naturally perfect. Men live under the pressure of not being perceived as weak. The author captures the need for worthiness in the sequence “pleasing, performing, and perfecting.”

External expectations are a moving target, as I wrote in this column. By trying to please everyone, we end pleasing no one — ourselves included.

Our self-worth is tied to how our audience receives our performance. If they love it, we are worth it. If they don’t, we feel worthless. Living our lives as an endless performance is exhausting — we are always playing a part.

Perfectionism is the enemy of change. The bar is so high that we never rest to have fun. We want to do everything the right way — one single mistake could ruin everything we’ve built.

When we take ourselves seriously, we take others seriously too — that’s why their opinions hurt us. You let their judgment define your identity — you accept the labels people give you.

The solution lies in finding balance: take life seriously, but not yourself.

As Alan Rickman said: “I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.”

Goodbye Measurement World

“The notion that leaders need to be in charge and to know all the answers is both dated and distracted.” — Peter Sheahan

I consider myself a serious person — I take life seriously.

However, my peculiar sense of humor has allowed me to cope through turbulent times. A long time ago, I learned to stop looking for other people’s approval. If something goes well, I enjoy it. If it doesn’t, I move on.

I’m not immune to other’s people influence, but I’ve learned to own my actions. I do what feels right and take full ownership — there’s no room for blaming others or myself.

I feel comfortable being uncomfortable — vulnerability is recognizing my perfect imperfections. I learned to take life seriously, but not myself.

In the Art of PossibilityRosamund and Benjamin Zanders share 12 rules for bringing creativity into all human endeavors — rule Number Six is the best. The authors invite us to take a distance from our serious and heavy selves.

Our inner-self has been trained to ‘measure up’ in a competitive world — we look for external references to define our performance.

We live in a measurement world. Everything we do is measured against others. How much money we make. How beautiful our partners are. How happy we are. Our identity is relative to what other people have or do.

“The frames our mind create define and confine what we perceive to be possible. Every problem, every dilemma, every dead end we find ourselves in life, only appear unsolvable inside a particular frame or point of view.” — Rosamund and Benjamin Zanders

Change your outlook. Move from measurement to possibilities.

When others laughed at you, they measure you against their expectations. But if you focus on achieving what you wish, regardless of what people think, you will reach your full potential.

Take leaders, for example. Those who feel superior try to suppress other to look even better. Those who feel inferior try to make others suffer too. When you stop measuring yourself against other’s expectations, you are not only free, but you don’t feel the need to change others.

We have two selves, according to the Zanders, our Calculating-Self and our Central-Self.

The Calculating-Self it’s us in survival mode — it sees everything as an attack on us. The Central-Self represents the generative, prolific, and creative nature of ourselves and the world. Instead of putting us at the center of everything, it appraises reality without an agenda.

The Central-Self is a softer, brighter, and lighter version of ourselves — it’s ego-less.

Rule Number 6 is a reminder to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously! It releases us from selfish and self-limiting views — instead of trying to be appreciated we stop giving a damn.

The Power of Humor

“You can’t deny laughter. When it comes, it plops down in your favorite chair and stays as long as it wants.” — Stephen King

Do you consider yourself a serious person? Do you find it hard to let go?

There are two types of people. Those who find it easy to laugh at themselves. And those who take themselves too seriously. Laughing at yourself is more than a positive mindset — it improves our health also.

Research links laughing at oneself with having an upbeat personality and good mood. It’s at the foundation of having a sense of humor. However, laughing at oneself is not easy — it represents the most difficult (humor) level.

Those who laugh at themselves regularly are less prone to chronic stress too.

Adaptive humor — cheering people up or seeing the humor in adverse events, is connected to well-being and psychological health. It increases resilience, diminishes the risks of heart attacks, and helps us manage pain better.

Humor gives leaders an edge too. Employees mentioned “sense of humor” and “work ethic” twice as much as any other phrases to define what makes a good leader, according to a study by Bell Leadership Institute.

Taking ourselves with a grain of salt gives us perspective — we can learn from mistakes by observing from a distance.

Tips to Take Yourself Less Seriously

“Don’t push the river, it flows by itself.” — Chinese proverb

1. Confront the fear of being ridiculed:

End the vicious cycle — fear fuels more fear. Face it and get over it. As Seth Godin said, “Dance with fear. As you dance, you realize that fear is, in fact, a compass — it’s giving you a hint that you are onto something.” Use that fear as energy to leap forward.

2. Drop the ball on purpose:

I don’t mean metaphorically, just let something fall through the cracks. This will not only help you realize that one mistake won’t kill you — but it will also help you regain control. If someone complains, smile and tell them you did it on purpose. Erring on purpose prepares you for unexpected mistakes.

3. Change the tone, change the conversation:

The best way to overcome pressure from perfectionists is not taking them too seriously. Perfectionists tend to think in right-or-wrong terms — either you succeed or fail. Use humor to disarm their approach: show them life’s shades of grey.

4. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

This simple question can help you, and others, put things in perspective. I’m not telling you not to aim high, but to find balance. Write everything that comes to your mind. Are you worried about real things? Or are you taking small things too seriously? Reflect and separate worries from facts.

5. Become shame-resilient:

Learn to acknowledge the voice of shame when it’s calling your name. Face that emotion. Brené Brown suggests talking to your shame, “This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not values that drive me. My value is courage. You can move on, shame.”

6. Add more humor to your life:

Surround yourself with funny people. Turn off the news and violent shows; watch a comedy instead. Use self-deprecation instead of nasty labels. Smile. Especially, when you feel nervous or upset. Find the humor in something serious. Getting used to laugh at yourself will make you immune to your audience’s laughter.

7. Let go of your reputation:

Your image is not you. It’s just what people perceive. Don’t let your self-worth depend on your audience’s applause. When your self-worth is not on the line, it’s easier to take more risks and be courageous. You stop thinking if you know how to dance or not. You just start swaying.


Life’s too short. Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. I know, it sounds easier said than done, but trying to impress others requires more energy. Learn to see the opportunity hidden within challenges.

Don’t take others too seriously either. Free yourself from the Measurement World. Be okay being vulnerable. Take life seriously, not yourself.

LIFE – Habits are the Compound Interest of Self Improvement

“person wearing black-and-white Nike low-top sneaker” by SJ Baren on Unsplash

People struggle to develop and maintain new habits because they make their efforts unsustainable.

  • They work out like crazy for a few days (usually at the beginning of the year), and never go back to the gym.
  • They try to meditate for 30 mins one day and don’t give it another shot until 10 days later
  • They try to build an empire fueled by a burst of inspiration on a random Saturday afternoon.

When people attempt to make a change this way, they overlook the profound power of consistencyWhen it comes to developing and maintaining a new habit, frequency matters more than intensity. If you do something frequently, a compounding effect will start to take place.


Build the Identity of the Person You Want to Become

To build the identity of the person you want to become, ask yourself what the behavior of a person who has the habit you want to develop is?

  • What is the behavior a person who is in shape? They go to the gym consistently
  • What is the behavior of a prolific writer? He or she cracks open a notebook every day.

James Clear refers to this as identity-based habit formation. In An Audience of One, I shared a story James told me on the Unmistakable Creative podcast about one of his readers who lost over 100 lbs. Instead of setting a goal to work out, he set a goal to drive to the gym, and he would only allow himself to stay for 5 minutes. After a certain point, he realized that he might as well work out. If you take the first step towards a habit, the inertia is often enough to carry you to the next one.

Note: I was fortunate to get a sneak peek at James’ New book, Atomic Habits(available for pre-order on Amazon). An interview with him, which will air next wee inspired the idea for this post.


Take Minimum Viable Actions

Sometime last year we launched an online course called Finish What You Start. In the process of developing that course, our copywriter Kingshuk Mukherjee came up with the term minimum viable action. In the same way, a startup can launch a minimum viable product; you can take minimum viable actions to develop a new habit.

  • If you want to develop a writing habit, your minimum viable action could be sitting down at your desk or cracking your notebook open
  • If you want to read more, it could be sitting down in a specific chair with a book in your hands

When you take a minimum viable action, the inertia is often enough to carry you to the next step. You build momentum and the identity of a person who has your desired habit until you become the next best version of yourself.


Raise Your Level of Intensity Gradually

In a recent episode of the Unmistakable Creative, I asked Chris Bailey how people can get better at managing their attention. And he said the following:

If you’re not on a deadline, you’re going to work on something until you feel no resistance to it. Could I write for an hour today? No the thought of it puts me off. What about 45 minutes? Thirty-two? Twenty fifty? Yeah, I can do 15. Then refocus for 15 minutes. You find that resistance level to tame distractions and then over time as you ritualize this idea you block off periods in your calendar to get into this mode. Over time you lower that default level of stimulation the amount of dopamine coursing through your brain because of this novelty bias that’s embedded within us and you become better able to think more deeply about your work.

When something becomes effortless for you, raise the level of intensity. In the same way, you’d never go from lifting 25lbs to 100lbs in one day, you want to increase the level of intensity to the point where you can get there without too much resistance, but it’s still somewhat challenging. To put it more concisely, bend but don’t break.


What if You Miss a Day?

After 7 years and 2 books, I still miss the occasional writing day. Sometimes it’s because I’m in bed with someone (a good reason to miss a writing day). Other times it’s because I’m hungover, and occasionally I need a break. One way to handle this is to reduce the scope but stick to the schedule. Instead of writing a 1000 word, I write 500. Many people quit altogether after they miss one day. But if you make your goal progress instead of perfection, you won’t be so demoralized by missing one day.


Develop a Keystone Habit and Stack More

When you try to change too many habits at once, none of them stick. If you try to become a person who reads every day, writes every morning, goes to the gym 3 times a week, and meditates daily all in the span of a week, none of those habits will stick.

But if you start with one keystone habit, it will create a ripple effect into every other area of your life.

  • One of my first keystone habits was surfing. When I got into the habit of surfing almost every other day, I started drinking less when I went out. I valued being up in the morning because that’s when surf conditions are usually best.
  • After I developed the keystone habit of writing 1000 words a day, what followed was reading every day, and eventually a consistent meditation habit.

The best time to stack a second habit is after you’ve maintained the first one with consistency. If you go through this process of stacking, eventually you’ll find yourself making the impossible possible.


The Compounding Effect of Habits

Every now and then I have a friend who will tell me they want to learn how to surf. I share a story with them that I mentioned in my previous book, Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best.

A few weeks after my first three attempts to surf, I went to happy hour at a bar in La Jolla. The guy sitting next to me had been a long time surfer who gave me a simple piece of advice that made the difference between me quitting and becoming a surfer. He told me to go 50 times because by that point I’d be too invested to quit.

While he didn’t state it explicitly, he understood that every surf session would have a compounding effect. It took more than 15 sessions before I stood up on a wave. Eventually, I worked my way down from the Costco Wavestorm to riding a 6-foot shortboard and found myself surfing at a skill level that seemed impossible when I started. I had a similar experience with snowboarding. After two seasons and close to 30 days on the mountain, I got to a point where I was able to get down a black diamond.

The progress we experience from the compounding effect of any habit isn’t immediately visible. As a result, people give up quickly. They don’t realize that every day the show up they’re building momentum. They are moving closer and closer to a breakthrough or inflection point.


Systems Vs Goals

I’ve said before that having a system is essential increasing your creative output. Having a system allows you to focus on progress instead of perfection and put your energy and effort into what you control. A system also will enable you to experience visible progress, which in turn increase your motivation. In the picture below you’ll see three jars of marbles. Each jar represents a system that’s tied to a specific goal.

  • Jar 1: I put one marble in for each hour I spend doing deep work like reading and writing, and another for each article I publish. It’s the system that is aligned with my goal of growing our email list to 50,000 subscribers.
  • Jar 2: I put one marble into the jar for each sales call I make or email I send to people who might be able to hire me as a speaker or advertise on the Unmistakable Creative. It’s the system that’s aligned with my revenue goal.
  • Jar 3: I put one marble into the jar for each day I go to CrossFit, surf or exercise. It’s the system aligned with my goal to lose the little bit of a gut that I have before my sister’s wedding in February.

It’s my personal adaptation of the paper clip method.


Purpose and Meaning

It’s worth considering why you want to develop some habit. People read articles like this one and think that’s the reason to develop a habit. They treat guidance like gospel and make decisions that aren’t aligned with their essential priorities. There’s nothing that everybody should do, even though there are plenty of people who will tell you there are. (Most of them they also sell products for how to do that thing they say everybody should do). The goal isn’t to live a life that’s just efficient, but rather a life that’s meaningful.

From writing 1000 words a day to learning how to surf, I’ve seen the compounding effect of habits over and over in my life. As I said in An Audience of One, habits are at the building blocks of all creative work and for that matter just about every goal you’d ever want to accomplish.

Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

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10 Small Habits That Have A Huge Return On Life

habits return on life

Over the years, I’ve adopted many different “positive” habits.

To me, a habit is positive when it improves the quality of my life. A lot has been written about forming habits.

How hard is? How long does it take? What’s the best way to break habits? How do we adopt new habits?

My experience is that everyone can adopt any habit they want. There’s only one condition though: You need a good reason to make a change (I talk about that in-depth on this podcast episode).

And in 99% of cases, the reason to change comes from personal suffering, sadness, and hurt. At some point, you can’t stand your current behavior anymore.

Don’t worry about how you will change. Focus on what habits you want to form and why.

After one of my friends recently asked me about my current habits, I decided to share them here—with a brief explanation of what the habits are good for.

1. Do a full-body workout with weights 3 times a week

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Strength training has several benefits. It protects bone health, muscle mass, keeps you lean, increases energy levels, and prevents injuries.

I’ve been lifting weights since I was 16. It’s the only habit on this list that I’ve been doing for that long. Like many people who lift weights, I started with split routines.

That means you work out different muscle during every session. With most routines, you’re training a specific muscle only one time per week. It turns out that muscles need more stress to become stronger.

Ideally, you want to train all your muscles, 3 times a week. That’s why I’ve been doing full body workouts. It’s simple, practical, and it works.

2. Set 3-4 daily priorities

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This is one of the best productivity strategies there is. We all know that focus is what brings us results.

No focus? No results. So how do you focus? By limiting your options and tasks. Elimination is the key.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve every single day, week, and year.

Every day, work on 3-4 essential (and small) tasks that will bring you closer to your weekly and yearly goals.

3. Read 60 minutes a day

Woman Sitting on Grey Concrete Pavement Reading Book

I get it, you’re too busy to read. Or maybe you just don’t like to read.

Well, you’re not getting off that easily.

Reading is essential for your cognition. But you already knew that. How about this? Reading will also turn you into a better thinker and writer.

“But I still don’t like to read.” Well, there are many things in life we don’t like, but we still do them. Instead of telling yourself you don’t like to read, learn to enjoy it by doing it every day.

And like magic, one day, you’ll love to read.

4. SLEEP 7-8 HOURS A DAY

Photo of a Woman Hugging a Blue Pillow

I never sacrifice my sleep for anything. I recently canceled a meeting in the morning because I slept late. The night before, I was reading a good book that totally consumed me.

After reading, I started taking notes. And before I knew it, it was 2 am. I had to wake up at 7 am to make the meeting.

I canceled the meeting. I’m not going to sleep for 6 hours so I can make a meeting when I know that I’ll be tired the whole day.

Some people can perform well with 5 hours of sleep. But most of us need more. If you’re part of the latter group, make sure you get enough sleep. And be dead serious about it. If you’re not in a position to cancel meetings etc, sleep early.

5. Walk 30 minutes a day

Three Women Walking on Seashore Under Blue Sky

If you can’t MAKE the time to go for a daily walk, you’re not in control of your life. I don’t even walk for the health benefits. Sure, walking keeps the body moving and is good for you.

But I go for a daily walk because it breaks the pattern of our mundane lives. Look, we can’t deny that life is routine. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you walk outside, you’re forced to be one with the world. It heightens your senses. You can go alone or with someone else. You can have a good conversation. Or you can simply enjoy the surroundings.

6. Follow the intermittent fasting eating pattern

Woman in Brown Classic Trench Coat Eating Mcdo Fries during Daytime

 

I don’t eat anything after my dinner. And I skip breakfast. That means I “fast” for 15-16 hours every day.

There are some health benefits associated with intermittent fasting. But we have to be careful with making claims.

The reason I like it is that it makes me feel and look better. Plus, I can eat whatever I want during the day without gaining any weight.

I don’t eat junk food. I stick to whole foods with high nutritional value. Also, my first meal contains a lot of unsaturated fat and protein. And finally, make sure you consume the calories your body needs to operate (2000 for women, 2500 for men, on average).

7. Be present

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We’re so focused on our goals that we forget to enjoy the present moment. This is one of my biggest pitfalls.

I really need to remind myself EVERY SINGLE day that I should enjoy the now.

We’re always waiting until we achieve something. “I will be happy then.”

Nope, you won’t if you’re always stuck in the future. Find a trigger that brings you back to the present moment.

For example, I recently bought a new watch. During the same time, I was reading a lot about this spiritual stuff. Now, every time I look at my watch, I say, “What time is it? NOW.”

8. Practice kindness & love

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We all treat our love like it’s a depletable resource. That’s false. Love is unlimited and never runs out. You can give it away as much as you like.

But your ego stops you from doing that. You always want something in return.

So give this a try. Realize that you have an unlimited resource. Give some of your love and kindness away every day. Don’t worry about keeping score. You have enough love anyway.

9. Journal or write 30 minutes a day

Free stock photo of woman, hand, notebook, pen

I need to get my thoughts in order every day. I do that by writing. That helps me to focus on what matters to me. That’s why I journal.

Even when I’m not writing articles, I sit down and journal—only for myself. I don’t write in my journal for others. Journaling is also an excellent tool to become a better thinker and person.

10. Save 30% of your income

Ballpoint Pen on Top of White Printer Paper Beside 100 U.s. Dollar Bill

If you can’t save 30%, save 10%. Saving is not so much about how much. It’s about how often.

You save by cutting out useless things you do daily or weekly. You don’t need to buy a latte every day. You also don’t need to buy “organic” cashew nuts for $10.

Save on the small things. They will turn into big lumps of cash in time. Especially if you invest that extra cash.

And that is also the secret to these 10 habits. They are all small. And the daily progress you make seems insignificant.

You will only see the return it has on your life over time. You must stick to these habits until your life gets better.

And when that happens, you’ll keep going—not because you have to, but because you want to.

Speculation is a dangerous pastime

How to Avoid Wasting Your Time and Missing Life

Speculation is a dangerous pastime

Photo by Seth Macey

“Time destroys the speculation of men, but it confirms nature.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Certainty is a dangerous game.

A poisoned arrow hit a man. Though a doctor was there to assist him, the man didn’t want the arrow to be removed. He was looking for answers first.

“Before you take this arrow out, I want to know if the shooter was a prince, a merchant, or a priest? What’s his name and where does he live? What kind of bow he used? Was the arrowhead an ordinary one or an iron one?” — he kept on and on.

The wounded man would rather die than not having all the facts.

Life is short. It must not be spent in endless speculation.

Worrying about possible ‘what ifs’ not only keeps your mind busy; it makes you focus on the wrong problem as it happened to the man who was shot.

Speculation doesn’t just steal your time; it drains your mental energy too.

The Time Thief

“There are two times in a man’s life when he shouldn’t speculate: when he can afford to and when he can’t.” — Mark Twain

When predicting the future, everyone claims to have the perfect answer. However, when looking in retrospective, very few can acknowledge that things didn’t go as they anticipated.

Perspective destroys certainty — that’s the effect of time on our speculations.

Oxford Dictionary defines speculation as “the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.”

Speculation is not just limited to predicting the future; this inefficient pastime also drives rumination about present or past events.

The hunger for certainty is one of the brain’s five functions. Uncertainty generates a strong alert response in our limbic system; that’s why we worry. Your brain doesn’t like not being in control — uncertainty is a pain that we try to avoid at all cost.

That’s why we love to speculate — we’d rather create a theory without evidence than not knowing what will happen.

The problem with certainty is that we adopt a scrutinizing mode — we are looking for evidence to prove our theory.

Dickson Watts, author of “Thoughts on Life” aphorisms, said: “Make your theories fit your facts, not your facts your theories.”

That’s the driver of financial speculation — people want to win big to be right big time. There are few things more unbalancing to the mind than the act of suddenly winning (or losing) large sums of money.

No one has explored the strange behavior of the American investor with more authority than Robert Shiller. In his book, ‘’Irrational Exuberance,’’ he departs from most economists’ assumptions that people are rational and fully informed.

The Yale University economist describes the group pressures and herd behavior that sustain investment — the amplification mechanism, as he calls it. People are prodded into the market, for example, by the ego-diminishing envy stirred by others having earned more in the market than on paychecks.

Speculation, in every aspect of life, is an irrational pastime. It’s much better to be vulnerable than to be right.

Jonah Lehrer coined the term ‘Information Craving’ to define our addiction to facts. We crave information for the sake of it. We don’t care if it will make us more effective or adaptive — it just reduces the sense of uncertainty.

A great example of speculation gone wild can be found on the talk shows. Rather than inform or report the news, they stray into guessing what might happen. The need to fill the void before real news unfold drives hosts to share their opinions and hypotheses as if they were factual.

The Danger of What Ifs

Speculation turns one fact into infinite facts.

Something happens (what) and we start asking ‘why?’ We fill the void with as many possibilities as we can create in the form of ‘what ifs?’ Finally, we end worrying about all the possible answers — one ‘what’ becomes infinite ‘whats.’

Counterfactual thinking is a concept in psychology that involves our tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred. Most of the time, something that is contrary to what actually happened.

That’s the paradox of speculation — our desire to find certainty creates more uncertainty and worry.

What if speculations open up the past by demonstrating myriad of possibilities. However, we cannot change what happened. Speculation turns us into a prisoner of counterfactual — we get trapped by all the infinite chances that never happened.

The same happens when we get stuck trying to understand events in the present.

The dangerous side of speculating is that it keeps us busy while accomplishing nothing — rehashing every possibility prevents you from enjoying life.

John Lennon said it better: “Life is what happens when we are busy making others plans.”

Maybe you are waiting for feedback on a job interview. Or your best friend is not replying to a text you sent hours ago. Or your client unexpectedly cancels an important meeting without any explanation.

Your mind starts playing tricks — you get into an spiral of endless negative potential explanations.

When we don’t know, rather than wait for things to happen, our mind starts creating our version of what might have happened. Speculation turns into rumination — we can’t get past our thoughts.

Your mind gets stuck when you think about every possible ‘what if?’

Living in the ‘here and now’ is one of the most distinctive lessons from Buddhism. Western education, on the contrary, promotes speculation. We are told to analyze the past to learn lessons from it; we are encouraged to create hypotheses and use those learnings to predict future behavior.

What’s the point about worrying about the future if, when you get there, you will be worrying about some other future moment?

Buddhism invites us to recover the value of living in the present. Instead of being obsessed about what you don’t know (what if?), understand that life is in permanent transition. You cannot change the past; you can’t control what will happen in the future. Live the present.

When sharing his secret to happiness, the great philosopher Jiddhu Krishnamurti said, “Do you want to know what my secret is? I don’t mind what happens.”

Letting go of this addictive pastime is the first step towards recovering your time and stop wasting your life.

When in Doubt, Ask

“Confrontation is better than speculations.”
― Sunday Adelaja

Speculation is not knowledge — it’s just a waste of your time.

Knowledge doesn’t show up unannounced; you have to earn it — it requires dedication and sacrifice.

If you want to know what happened you have two options: ask or wait for things to unfold. Speculation creates imaginary problems; it’s the opposite of knowing.

We take an interview cancellation as bad news, but we don’t ask why — we fear a negative response. Ironically enough, we let our mind speculate about every possible negative explanation. We choose self-torturing ‘what ifs’ over confrontation.

Forming infinite hypotheses adds more complexity to a situation. Focus on what you know or what’s under your control.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?”

Rumors are another form of speculation. What makes one person’s gossip go viral is the desire to avoid uncertainty — that’s why everyone wants rumors to be true. The brain prefers an adverse, yet certain, outcome to not knowing what will occur.

It’s your call to fuel rumors or to wait until things really happen.

I’m not saying uncertainty is easy to deal with. However, trying to understand all possible routes will derail you from your destination. The way to solve complex problems is to get simpler perspectives.

Henry Thomas Buckle said: “To simplify complications is, in all branches of knowledge, the first essential of success.”

When we look at life in retrospective, nothing is as harsh as we speculated. Worrying makes things more complicated.


Embrace a maybe mindset

Nothing in life is permanent; even our worries change. Understanding that the future is out of your control is liberating. Focus on what you can manage. Experience events as they happen. To enjoy the present, you must empty your mind of what ifs.

maybe mindset will help you accept life as it comes and goes, as I explain here.

Most of all, we need peace and time to enjoy life. As Henry Thomas Buckle said, “In practical life, the wisest and soundest men avoid speculation.” Every time I found peace, is because I was focusing on the ‘here and now’ instead of speculating.

Please take a deep breath, put all your ‘what ifs?’ aside, and enjoy your life (not what might happen).

Start-ups – Real Entrepreneur

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12 Ways To Know If You Have What It Takes To Be A Real Entrepreneur

Successful entrepreneurship often involves certain personality traits. While some of these entrepreneurial traits can be learned, or at least improved upon, the most successful entrepreneurs tend to be those who are born with these traits.

Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Go ahead, ask yourself if you have the following traits.

1. You Have A Never Ending Passion

Man In White Dress Shirt And Maroon Neck Tie Shaking Hands With Girl In White Dress

Successful entrepreneurs almost always have a visceral passion about what they are doing. In fact, it often consumes them to the point they are thinking about it all the time and working on it even when they sleep.

Moreover, it’s almost never just about making money.

 

2. You Serve As a Fountain Of Ideas

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The best entrepreneurs are those that continuously spawn great ideas. This is because relatively few ideas, even great ones, actually pan out to be great money makers.

Does anyone remember the Lisa computer? This was a complete flop by none other than the great Steve Jobs! While this genius’s hardware and software failures are rarely mentioned, there were many of them. The point is, your creations aren’t always going to be perfect but if you are able to weave a lot of ideas, some are bound to be a success.

 

3. You Aren’t Afraid To Work Hard — Really Hard

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Having great ideas is not enough. It takes an enormous amount of work to turn a great idea into a profitable endeavor. Appropriately, Thomas Edison, one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time, is famous for saying,

“Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

 

4. You Never Like To Give Up

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Successful entrepreneurs tend to be people who easily recover from failure and just keep on persevering until they ultimately succeed! There are almost always significant snags and hurdles in any project. Most people get so discouraged by these, they end up discontinuing the project before they finish it.

Entrepreneurs are so motivated they find a way to solve these no matter how difficult.

 

5. You Have a Willingness and Ability To Learn From Everyone

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Entrepreneurs tend to be people who are good active listeners. They are open to ideas from anyone regardless of their background or training. They don’t tend to be people who think you have to have a college degreeor special training to figure something out. Some of the best ideas for equipment used in water have come from fishermen, not engineers.

 

6. You Are Often a Calculated Risk Taker

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Entrepreneurs understand that no idea is a “sure thing” and taking a calculated risk, whether that be an investment of money or time, or both, is almost always necessary to carry forward great ideas. When Jeff Bezos quit his cushy high paying job on Wall Street and made his famous 3000 mile car trip from New York to Seattle to found Amazon, he took a calculated risk… and we all know how well that one turned out!

 

7. You Are Able To See the Big Picture

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Henry Ford represents this trait well. While the car and the assembly line had already been invented, Henry Ford was able to see the big picture and knew that the real profit would come from using an assembly to mass produce cars so they would be affordable to a much wider demographic.

In other words, under his guidance, the car went from a tiny niche market to one of great mass appeal.

 

8. You Can Keep Up With The Times

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Entrepreneurs are always on the look out for the next big trend so they can meet the needs of that growing market.

While Apple did not develop the first mp3 player, it was the first company to fully realize the marketability of it and understand the features users would most want.

 

9. You Are Intelligent

 

WhPerson's Playing Chessile you don’t need an IQ to match Albert Einsteinthe most successful entrepreneurs tend to be people with well above average intelligence. This doesn’t mean you can’t be “ordinary” in other ways and it doesn’t mean you need a college degree.

In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs are college dropouts, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to name just two.

 

10. You Are Not Afraid To Ask For Help

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Most entrepreneurs know when to ask for help. They can self-identify their strengths and weaknesses and know how to surround themselves with people who will complement their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses.

This also often extends into their personal life since it often takes a very supportive significant other and/or family and friends to succeed.

 

11. You Have The Ability To Finish Things

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Many people have great ideas and start developing them but never seem to finish them.

Entrepreneurs have an exceptionally high will, drive, and ability to get things done.

 

12. You Have An Infectious Excitement

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In order for an idea to turn in a profitable venture, other people must buy into it. This potentially includes investors, partners, and employees. It always includes buyers. Therefore, the best entrepreneurs seem to know how to let their infectious excitement for the project rub off on other people.

 

While having the 12 traits described above are not absolutely mandatory to successful entrepreneurship, they are traits shared by many of the most famous and most successful entrepreneurs of all time.

About the Author: 

Joel Brown is an Australian Born Speaker, Coach, Author and Founder of Addicted2Success.com, the #1 Motivation website with over 125 Million Views Worldwide. His Podcast “Addicted2Success” has received over 1.5 Million Downloads featuring 100’s of the worlds most successful thought leaders. Joel also features in the new hit movie “THINK: The Legacy of Think & Grow Rich” and the Documentary Film “RiseUP” alongside Tony Robbins, The Dalai Lama, Jack Canfield, Dwight Howard, Alanis Morissette and many more.

Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Hollywood Movies

7 Life Lessons That We Can Learn From Hollywood Movies

I was recently reading a book titled ‘Writing Screenplays that Sell’ by Michael Hauge and was fascinated to see how psychologically informed screenwriters need to be to create engaging stories with meaningful plots and entertaining characters.

Although Hollywood sometimes gets bad press for promoting materialistic and unrealistic goals for the audience, I do believe that some valuable life lessons can be learnt from dissecting the common elements of screenplays that result in successful movies.

Here are eight insights that I believe are important:

#1 – Be the hero of your story

Every movie has a hero that we identify with and develop empathy for. Screenwriters do this deliberately because we are likely to care more about the story and become involved in the movie if it focuses on one character and their perspective and challenges more than the other characters.

In real life, the person whose perspective we are able to most tune into is ourselves, and we feel the emotional impact of our experiences whether we like it or not (even though a lot of people try to tune these out). It, therefore, makes a lot of sense to ensure that we are the hero of our own life.

Unless you believe in reincarnation, it is generally accepted that we only have one life. Once we become adults, no one else is entirely responsible for the direction that our life goes in except for us. We are the screenwriters, directors and the main character in our story – unless we give that power up to somebody else. This is a scary thought, but also a potentially liberating one.

Although there are limitations to our abilities and dreams and it is essential to have realistic expectations, there are too many people that I see that put up roadblocks and barriers where they don’t need to be.

So if we are free to do what we want with our lives, and responsible for how they turn out, what do we want to do? Live the life that someone else wants or expects of us, or follow our dreams and hopefully achieve our goals.

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#2 – Challenge yourself if you would like to grow

Screenwriters are taught that a movie should start slowly, and build pace as the film progresses through increasing the magnitude and difficulty of challenges that the hero faces until the climax of the film. A resolution is then typically achieved, and all of the loose ends are tied up before the movie concludes with the hero being a much better person than they were at the beginning of the film. It is from overcoming bigger and bigger adversity throughout the film that the hero develops and grows. Without challenges or difficulties to master, this growth and character development would not be possible, and people would find the movie dull or boring.

In real life, I see a lot of clients who want a life free of challenge. They strive for a life of inner peace without stress or anxiety and believe that this can be achieved by consistently remaining in their comfort zone. In their comfort zone, they do the same thing each day, don’t take any risks and generally feel okay. A lot of them will tell you that something is missing, however.

We need to push beyond what feels comfortable to grow, and with this comes a certain amount of stress and anxiety. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be a good indication that you are sufficiently challenging yourself so long as you are not feeling completely overwhelmed. Just remember to start small with tasks that feel a little scary but are also achievable, and as you build up confidence move onto more significant challenges. As long as the challenges are consistent with changes that you would like to bring about in your life, you will feel more energetic and alive than you ever could by remaining in your comfort zone. Even if you don’t succeed.

The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

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#3 – Conflict leads to more intense emotional experiences

Screenwriters are taught to create conflict in every scene where possible, usually by having two characters in the scene who have different views and objectives. This is because conflict creates emotional involvement far more than general exposition ever could, leading to a more engaged audience.

In real life, especially in relationships, this isn’t always a good thing. We might feel a more significant attraction or more intense emotional experience with someone who is actually opposed to us in what they want. I see it all the time when individuals who are anxiously attached (like being close to their partner and worry when they are apart) end up in relationships with individuals who are avoidantly attached (like their independence and autonomy and then feel trapped and smothered if they are too close). Each time it leads to an emotional rollercoaster ride, with lots of conflicts, big ups and downs, and greater emotional involvement. It keeps both parties occupied and interested, but will do more harm than good in the end.

Finding someone who wants the same things that we do may be less exciting initially, but can also lead to greater satisfaction and well-being in the long run. Be aware of the emotional trap, and use your head as well as your heart when determining if a relationship is suitable for you.

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#4 – Have clearly defined goals

All heroes will have the primary goal or external motivation that they will pursue throughout the film. Screenwriters are encouraged to make this evident to the audience so that they will cheer on the hero as they make their journey through their challenges in pursuit of their goal. In a horror movie, it may be to escape from or kill the bad guy. In a heist movie, it may be to steal the money and get away with it. In a romantic comedy, it is to win the affection of the love interest. In a coming of age story it is to learn something, and in a sports movie, it is to win.

In real life, it is essential to think of the big picture at times, and ask yourself where you would like to be in 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 years from now? How would you want to be spending your days? Whether it is owning a business, buying a house, getting married, having children or running a marathon, these external, observable goals help keep us motivated and focused on our destination, or where we would like to see ourselves in the future. Once these goals have been achieved, they can be ticked off the list. It then becomes vital to elicit and develop further goals to pursue.

Believe big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success. Remember this too! Big ideas and big plans and often easier – certainly no more difficult – than small ideas and small plans.” — David Schwartz

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#5 – Understand why you want to achieve these goals – clarify your values

It may not always be explicitly stated, but a hero in a movie will still have an internal motivation or reason why they are pursuing a goal, otherwise, it wouldn’t be worth them overcoming all of the obstacles that they face to achieve the goal at the end of the movie.

Two people may want to buy a house or run a marathon, but their reasons for doing so could be completely different. One home-buyer may want security and a place to call home, whereas the other person is wanting to make their parents and family proud of them (to gain love, approval or acceptance). One marathon runner may decide to enter the race to become healthier and lose weight, whereas another may do it to spend more time with their friend or partner that loves running (for greater connection or intimacy).

Values, unlike goals, can never be ticked off the list, but are guiding principles that can either be followed or not from moment to moment or day to day. If honesty is an essential value to you, you can be honest whenever you tell the truth, and dishonest whenever you lie. By living honestly, you will be feeling more fulfilled, and by being dishonest, you will likely feel dissatisfied or guilty. Firstly clarify which values are most important to you, and then set short, medium and long-term goals that are consistent with the guiding principles that you choose. 

To be truly rich, regardless of his fortune or lack of it, a man must live by his own values. If those values are not personally meaningful, then no amount of money gained can hide the emptiness of life without them.” — John Paul Getty

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#6 – Have mentors that can help you to achieve your goals

Screenwriters call these characters reflections, and they are there to help the hero to learn and grow along with their journey towards their ultimate goal. This is Robin Williams to Matt Damon in ‘Good Will Hunting’, Mr Miyagi to Daniel-son in ‘The Karate Kid’, and Morgan Freeman in most movies (‘The Shawshank Redemption’, ‘Bruce Almighty’, ‘The Dark Knight’). They usually don’t have a big character arc themselves, because they are already evolved in the areas that the hero is trying to improve. This is how they can know what the right thing to do is and help guide the hero on their path.

In real life, it is important to have mentors or people that have done what you would like to do, that you can turn to for help when you get stuck, have questions, or need advice. By seeking support through individuals who are more knowledgeable and experienced in the areas that you are hoping to build skills, it is possible to learn from their insights and mistakes without having to repeat them yourself, leading to a more effective learning and growth process. If they are able to be honest and direct in their feedback of your strengths and weaknesses, they can also help you to see the real you and guide you towards what is right, authentic and true, even if you don’t exactly want to hear it. Mentors can be friends or relatives, or can even be paid for or hired too. It is why people have psychologists, personal trainers and life coaches. It is also why I obtain regular external supervision so that I can keep improving towards becoming the best psychologist that I can be.

The way for you to be happy and successful, to get more of the things you really want in life, is to study and emulate those who have already done what you want to do and achieved the results you want to achieve.” — Brian Tracy. 

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#7 – It is our actions that define who we become

In his book ‘Story’, Robert McKee, a famous screenwriter, says that the hero’s character is truly revealed not in the scenes when everything is relaxed and calm, but in the choices that they make when the going gets tough and they are under pressure. The greater the pressure, the more revealing the scene is of the hero’s essential nature. Notice it is not their intentions, or things that they may speak about doing earlier in the film, but what they actually do when it really counts.

How will you react in the most significant moments in your life? With courage and persistence in spite of fear or challenge, or with avoidance, excuses or procrastination? With compassion, generosity and respect, or criticalness, selfishness and contempt? Will you talk about all of the great things you want to do or the things that you could have been, or focus on what you can still do and get out there and do it? It doesn’t just have to be big moments either.

Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great” –Orison Swett Marden

 

Dr Damon Ashworth

Clinical Psychologist

START-UP – How to end the busy-brag

Stop that 80-hour hustle

How to end the busy-brag and take back your freedom

Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

“Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”

Maybe you’ve already seen this quote from serial entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Lori Greiner. If not, I bet you’ve heard a version of it.

Startup founders are infamous for busy-bragging. Sometimes it even feels like a competition:

Who can work the longest? Who can sacrifice the most? Who will sleep at the office and go a full week without natural light?

Yes, starting a business is hard work, and Greiner’s dedication has clearly paid off (she’s created over 700 products and holds 120 patents).

But the “willingness” she describes is really about freedom.

Whether they’re chasing a big idea or solving a real problem, most founders also want to call the shots; to make their own money, set their own hours, and to create something they care about.

So, why are we all trying to outwork each other?

I don’t believe in the 24/7 hustle-and-grind. It’s not productive. And it’s starting to kill us.

I also know first-hand that starting a business is not easy. I’ve been on a 12-year entrepreneurial journey, slowly building JotForm into a global company with 3.7 million users and 110 employees.

So, where is the balance? How can you fulfill your vision without sacrificing yourself?

Instead of logging more hours, the answer is to make the most of the hours you work.

If you’re smart about time management, you might be amazed by how much you can achieve in a sane, focused week.

Here are five strategies that help me to avoid overwork — even when there’s always more to do.

1. Minimize your active projects

Time management is attention management. Controlling your work is a matter of focus, not creating a crazy-strict schedule.

When you focus your attention, you maximize your time, which increases your motivation. It’s a productive cycle that feels really, really good.

Take me, for example. At any given time, I have no more than three core goalsor active projects. That’s it. I say “no” to everything else. I delegate or save any outside tasks for later.

You can also try a more sophisticated approach. For example, in a recent Fast Company articleGoogle for Work director Thomas Davies describes the problem with most time management strategies:

“Managing time starts from the premise that your workload is going to be what it’s going to be, and the best you can do is keep it ‘manageable.’ But what if you could design your work day instead?”

Davies decided to create a new strategy. He divided his work responsibilities into four quadrants: people development, business operations, transactional tasks, and representative tasks.

Then, he slotted every task into one of the four quadrants.

Once he had a high-level view of what actually occupied his time, he could decide what mattered most — and what made him feel most energized. Now, he tries to maximize his work in those “high-value” quadrants.

If this method speaks to you, give it a try. As Davies explains, you’ll soon realize that not all tasks are created equal. Armed with that knowledge, you can be mindful of where to dedicate your attention.

No matter how you choose your focus areas, make an active choice. Then be ruthless about eliminating distractions.

2. Monotask, don’t multitask

Establishing core priorities will narrow your focus.

You also need to perform just one task at a time. That’s because, as Phyllis Korkki writes in the New York Times, multitasking is a biological impossibility:

“Your brain may delude itself into thinking that it has more capacity than it really does, but it’s really working extra hard to handle multiple thoughts at once when you are switching back and forth between tasks.

Your ability to get things done depends on how well you can focus on one task at a time, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour.”

To create a monotasking environment, Korkki suggests that you remove all temptations — even if that means installing anti-distraction programs like Freedom or FocusMe.

Also, use just one screen. Work in set chunks of time, and if you lose focus, get up and walk around.

You can also try the popular Pomodoro Technique, which breaks the day into 25-minute, highly focused intervals, followed by a five-minute break.

After four intervals or “pomodoros,” you take a 15-minute break — ideally away from all screens and mobile devices.

3. Cut back on meetings

Meetings have become a contentious topic in entrepreneurial circles.

Tesla founder Elon Musk recently told his staff to “walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it’s obvious you aren’t adding value.”

And Basecamp’s Jason Fried says “it’s hard to come up with a bigger waste of money, time, or attention than status meetings.”

Some meetings are critical, but many are not. Unless the meeting can remove a roadblock or it’s essential for team cohesion, find another way.

Send an email and follow up later. Say “no” and protect your time. You’ll be helping colleagues and co-workers to regain their focus, too.

I’m honored to receive a lot of requests for coffee and casual get-to-know-you meetings. I mentor some young entrepreneurs, but I politely decline everything from speaking invitations to networking events as well.

I wish I had time to accommodate everyone, but I just don’t. I have to draw a firm boundary — and you should as well.

4. Make quick decisions

I recently wrote about how every decision you make is wrong and shared strategies on how to make better decisions.

As I mentioned, hording decisions creates stress. When your mind is buzzing with many different choices — from what to eat for lunch to which job candidate to hire — it’s almost impossible to have a productive workday.

Now, imagine your brain is a white board. Every time you make a decision, you’re wiping off more scribbles. Soon, it’s clear and ready for creative thought.

When it comes to decision-making, speed is the goal here. There are very few decisions that can’t be made quickly. I know that goes against conventional wisdom, but give it a try.

If you’ve already gathered enough information, combine that data with your personal instincts and make a choice — now.

Don’t have enough data? Then forget the decision and gather what you need.

Once you have the right information, make your choice and move on. Repeat as needed.

5. Make the most of your work time — then step away

Vacations and downtime are essential for success. There’s just no way around it.

You can hustle with the best of them, but at some point, your body is going to say “no.”

The mind will rebel, too. You’ll be less analytical, way less creative, and your emotions will eventually overrule all logical thoughts.

I’m currently spending the summer in Izmir, Turkey. We have a small office here. It’s also a beautiful city by the sparkling Aegean Sea. So, I’m going to work four-day weeks and explore the nearby beach towns with my family.

I realize this is a great privilege — and I know you might have a few more questions:

1 — Don’t you feel pressure to show your face in the office — i.e. do you worry that your team will lose morale and slack off if you’re not there?

Honestly? I’m just not concerned about it. I guess some employees might slip into “relaxation” mode if I’m not in the office, but I also know that our teams love their work.

They’re knee-deep in meaningful projects, and I have great respect for what they contribute to JotForm.

I encourage our employees to take time off, too. If you don’t take vacations, you’ll burn out and eventually produce less.

As the CEO, my job is to ensure our teams are motivated and they don’t hit roadblocks. Our employees won’t function well if they don’t take care of themselves.

2 — How on earth can I ease up when I’m just launching or growing my business?

I promise it’s not impossible. Even during the early days of my company, my wife and I took three months off to travel across Europe.

It’s a matter of planning and sticking to your priorities.

For example, if you’re working IN your business, it doesn’t function without you. When you work ON your business, you can develop systems and processes that let you step away.

You build a company that doesn’t break if you’re not answering every email or performing every single task. Even as a solopreneur, you can plan to hit pause — if it matters to you.

I know the details can be tricky, and this is a far easier proposition with an online business. But ultimately, life isn’t all about work.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t to want to work, work, work, and then retire for a couple years before I die. I want to enjoy my life and my freedom — which is also why I bootstrapped my business in the first place.

So, be strategic.

Ask for help.

Develop systems and safety nets that allow you to step away, even for a short time.

You and your business will be so much better for it. Soon, you won’t even dream about using the word “hustle.”