Tim Ferriss does a fabulous job of collating what he calls the tactics, routines and habits of 101 billionaires, icons and world-class performers. Few patterns emerge.
Whenever I read about people who have cut-over from good to great, one thing always jumps out at me - that the journey to good is an intellectual one, though journey from good to great is an emotional and a spiritual one, an inner journey to come home to our own self. By spiritual, I mean sourced in loving kindness, abundance and joyous freedom; instead of being trapped in survival, scarcity and fear. One steps up to a Good life creating external success, by being a Fighter - fighting the fears within by pretending they don't exist and fighting people and circumstances outside, which we don't realize are merely a reflection of what's inside. Emotionally, we feel empty and hollow inspite of all the professional and material success we have created. We usually call that point midlife crisis, which in fact is a gift of the Universe calling us to step up to our real purpose to undertake our Hero's journey from good to great.
The Journey from Good to Great is a step-up to Graceful Existence, when one abandons the Fighter stance to find another path, another way to be - a Peaceful Warrior, accepting with grace, gratitude and vulnerable authenticity the unacceptables, the unmentionables, the fears within, which for so long were our blind spots holding us to ransom and not allowing us to move forward to become the greatest version of ourselves.
Few other observations:
1. The good to great journey is available to everyone. What makes it possible for some is the unwavering belief you will get there.
2. Fundamentally, the journey is about Habits which is what distinguish those on the Good journey and those on the journey to step up to Great, professionally and personally.
3. The default circuitry of the human mind is trapped in evolutionary fear because of which Survival instinct plays out to hold us in the domain of good. Re-training the brain and trans-form-ing (transcending the default limiting form of the mind) is required for us to transcend limiting habits (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) to embrace growth habits.
4. Professional and personal greatness march together. One without the other is not possible.
5. The journey to Good and the journey from Good to Great are in opposite directions.
Few excerpts from the book laying out key ideas:
1. It is not true that I am self-made. Like everyone, to get to where I am, I stood on the shoulders of giants. My life was built on a foundation of parents, coaches, and teachers; of kind souls who lent couches or gym back rooms where I could sleep; of mentors who shared wisdom and advice...
So how can I ever claim to be self-made? To accept that mantle discounts every person and every piece of advice that got me here. And, it gives the wrong impression - that you can do it alone.
I couldn't. And odds are, you can't either. We all need fuel. Without the assistance, advice, and inspiration of others, the gears of our mind grind to a halt, and we're stuck with nowhere to go.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
2. The quality of your questions determined the quality of your life.
3. These world-class performers don't have superpowers. The rules they've crafted for themselves allow the bending of reality to such an extent that it may seem that way, but they've learned to do this, and so can you. These "rules" are often uncommon habits and bigger questions.
4. Thirty minutes of stream-of-consciousness journaling could change your life.
5. More than 80% of the world-class performers interviewed have some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice. ... It is a "meta-skill" that improves everything else.
6. ... information without emotion isn't retained.
7. When I let go of what I am, I become what I might me. - Lao Tzu
8. I assume the best in people, I assume I can trust them until they prove me wrong.
9. If I had to prescribe two things to improve health and happiness in the world, it'd be movement and play. Because you can't really play without movement, so they're intertwined.
10. Going 16 hours without eating generally provides the right balance of autophagy (body's way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells) and anabolism (muscle building).
11. ... the most important type of exercise, especially in terms of bang for your buck, is going to be really high-intensity, heavy strength training. Strength training aids everything from glucose disposal and metabolic health to mitochondrial density and orthopedic stability.
12. Calm is contagious.
13. Of 10,000 successful couples studied, there's only one thing that everybody had in common, no matter what the dynamic. What is it? The man respected the woman. The number one thing.
... more times than not, if the woman can refrain from trying to change or mother her partner, she has greater opportunity of putting herself in a position where the guy will respect her.
14. As a woman, we are taught as young girls, 'Hey, be nice. Nice girls act like this,' so it takes a long time to get to a place of 'I'm going to do things, say things, and believe in things that people aren't going to like, and I'm going to be okay with that.' Men do that much more easily, and it takes women a very long time.
15. If you can't squat all the way to the ground with your feet and knees together, then you are missing full hip and ankle range of motion.
... if you can't breathe in a given position, you haven't mastered it.
16. Sleep hygiene - Dark means DARK. ... You cannot have your mobile in your room. You cannot have a TV in your room. It needs to be black, black as night.
17. Kids don't do what you say. They do what they see. How you live your life is their example.
18. When I landed, I would check into the hotel. The second we checked in, I'd ask them: 'Is the gym open? Can I go train? Even if it was to get on a bike and ride for 15 minutes to reset things. I learned early that it seemed anytime I did that, I didn't get jet lag.
19. Why would I be wound up? I'm either ready or I'm not. Worrying about it right now ain't gonna change a damn thing. Right? Whatever's gonna happen is gonna happen. I've either done everything I can to be ready for this, or I haven't.
20. .. if you don't do something well. don't do it unless you want to spend the time to improve it. ...
What I am continuing to do myself that I'm not good at? - improve it, eliminate it, or delegate it.
21. ... you should never publicly criticize anyone or anything unless it is a matter of morals or ethics. Anything negative you say could at the very least ruin someone's day or worse, break someone's heart, or simply change someone from being a future ally of yours to someone who will never forget that you were unkind or unfairly critical.
22. For grounding, he convinced me to start making my bed.
23. We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training. - Archilochus
24. Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I'll spend the first hour sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln
25. We suggest finding a "mindfulness buddy" and committing to a 15-minute conversation every week, covering:
i. How am I doing with my commitment to my practice?
ii. What has arisen in my life that relates to my practice?
iii. How did this conversation go?
26. 5-Minute Journal
To be answered in the morning
i. I am grateful for ... a. _________ b. _________ c. _________
ii. What would make today great?
a. _________ b. _________ c. _________
iii. Daily affirmations
a. _________ b. _________ c. _________
To be filled in at night:
i. 3 amazing things that happened today ...
a. _________ b. _________ c. _________
ii. How could I have made today better?
a. _________ b. _________ c. _________
27. Dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path towards excellence. ... If the pursuit of excellence was easy, everyone would do it. Infact, this impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. ... Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. The secret is to show up, do the work, and go home.
... accept that quality long-term results require long-term focus. No emotion. No drama. No beating yourself up over small bumps on the road. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the process. This is especially important because you are going to spend far more time on the actual journey than with those all too brief moments of triumph at the end.
Certainly celebrate the moments of triumph when they occur. More importantly, learn from your defeats when they happen. In fact, if you are not encountering defeat on a fairly regular basis, you are not trying hard enough. And absolutely refuse to accept less than your best.
Throw out a timeline. It will take what it takes.
If the commitment is to a long-term goal and not to a series of smaller intermediate goals, then only one decision needs to be made and adhered to. Clear, simple, straightforward. Much easier to maintain than having to make small decision after small decision to stay the course when dealing with each step along the way. This provides far too many opportunities to inadvertently drift from your chosen goal. The single decision is one of the most powerful tools in the toolbox.
28. If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success. - James Cameron
29. Good stories always beat good spreadsheets. ... we are all still emotionally driven human beings. ... We don't act because of equations. We follow our beliefs. We get behind leaders who stir our feelings.
30. Cultivate a beginner's mind. ... Experience often deeply embeds the assumptions that need to be questioned in the first place.
31. Empathy isn't just good for life, it's good for business. As a builder, as an entrepreneur, how can you create something for someone else if you don't have enough glancing familiarity with them to imagine the world through their eyes?
32. I think authenticity is one of the most lacking things out there these days. ... Be your unapologetically weird self.
33. Raise prices. ... They don't charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won't pay more for it?
34. Be so good they can't ignore you.
35. To do original work: It's not necessary to know something nobody else knows. It is necessary to believe something few other people believe.
Andy Grove had the answer: For every metric, there should be another 'paired' metric that addresses adverse consequences of the first metric.
Every billionaire suffers from the same problem. Nobody around them says, 'Hey, that stupid idea that you just had is really stupid.'
- Marc Andreessen
36. I am a big believer that if you have a very clear vision of where you want to go, then the rest of it is much easier.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
37. If more information was the answer, then we'd all be billionaires with perfect abs. ... It's not what you know, it's what you do consistently.
38. Ricardo Semler, CEO and majority owner of the Brazil-based Semco Partners, practices asking "Why?" three times. This is true when questioning his own motives, or when tackling big projects.
39. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.
40. Once you have some success - If it's not a 'Hell, Yes!', it's a 'No'.
41. 'Busy' = Out of control
... Lack of time is lack of priorities.
42. We are whatever we pretend to be.
43. One of his questions for founders who apply to Y Combinator: What are you doing that the world doesn't realize is a really big deal?
- Alexis Ohanian
44. Being busy is a form of laziness - lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.
45. Everyone is interesting. If you are ever bored in a conversation, the problem's with you, not the other person.
46. If we do X today, what does that result in tomorrow, a year from now, ten years from now? ... the dog is chasing the car. What does the dog do if he catches the car? He doesn't have a plan for it. So I find it just as often on the entrepreneurial side. People don't plan for success.
47. ... clarity of writing indicates clarity of thinking.
48. Nelson Mandela's answer when Tony Robbins asked him, "Sir, how did you survive all those years in prison?" - I didn't survive. I prepared.
49. Life is always happening for us, not to us. It's our job to find out where the benefit is. If we do, life is magnificent.
- Tony Robbins
50. Investing in yourself is the most important investment you'll ever make in your life.
- Warren Buffett
51. If you let your learning lead to knowledge, you become a fool. If you let your learning lead to action, you become wealthy.
- Jim Rohn
52. The reason you are suffering is you are focussed on yourself.
53. It is impossible to be angry and grateful simultaneously. When you are grateful, there is no fear. You can't be grateful and fearful simultaneously.
54. Commonality across the best investors - almost all of them were real givers, not just givers on the surface... but really passionate about giving...
55. Morning pages (journaling) are spiritual windshield wipers. It's the most cost-effective therapy. ... Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts (nebulous worries, jitters and preoccupations) on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes. ... There are huge benefits to writing, even if no one - yourself included - ever reads what you write. In other words, the process matters more than the product.
56. Reid Hoffman responding to an insult with "I'm perfectly willing to accept that" and moving on.
57. The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
58. I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And, actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem.
- Reid Hoffman
59. In doing an 80/20 analysis of your activities (determining which 20% of activities / tasks produce 80% of the results you want), you typically end up with a short list. Make 'easy' your next criterion. Which of these highest-value activities is the easiest for me to do?
60. On a daily basis, Reid Hoffman jots down problems in a notebook that he wants his mind to work on overnight.
61. Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious. - Thomas Edison
62. How do you know if you have A-players on your project team? You know it if they don't accept the strategy you hand them. They should suggest modifications to the plan based on their closeness to the details.
63. What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. That you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere. - Peter Thiel
64. So I think, every day, it's something to reflect on and think about 'How do I become less competitive in order that I can become more successful?" - Peter Thiel
65. Peter Thiel
What do people agree merely by convention, and what is the truth?
Tell me something that's true that very few people agree with you on?
What problem do you face every day that nobody has solved yet?
What is a great company no one has started?
What do you believe that other people think is insane?
The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity others don't see?
The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
66. Seth Godin
It's always the hard part that creates value.
You are more powerful than you think you are. Act accordingly.
... the goal isn't to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.
... a simple theory of marketing that says: tell ten people, show ten people, share it with ten people; ten people who already trust you and already like you. If they don't tell anybody else, it's not that good and you should start over. If they do tell other people, you are on your way.
To create something great (or eventually huge), start extremely small. My suggestion is ... to ask yourself: What's the smallest possible footprint I can get away with? What is the smallest possible project that is worth my time? What is the smallest group of people who I could make a difference for, or to? Because smallest is achievable. Smallest feels risky. Because if you pick smallest and you fail, now you've really screwed up.
We want to pick big. Infinity is our friend. Infinity is safe. Infinity gives us a place to hide. So, I want to encourage people instead to look for the small. To be on one medium in a place where people can find you. To have one sort of interaction with one tribe, with one group where you don't have a lot of lifeboats.
If you spend 2 hours a day without an electronic device, looking your kid in the eye, talking to them and solving interesting problems, you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn't do that. That's one of the reasons why I cook dinner every night. Because, what a wonderful semi-distracted environment in which the kid can tell you the truth. For you to have low-stakes but super important conversations with someone who's important to you.
... we need to teach kids two things -
i. how to lead, and
ii. how to solve interesting problems
The way you teach your kids to solve interesting problems is to give them interesting problems to solve. And, then don't criticize them when they fail. Because kids aren't stupid. If they get in trouble every time they try to solve an interesting problem, they'll just go back to getting an A by memorizing what's in the textbook. ... And what we can say is: I really don't care how you did on your vocabulary test. I care about whether you have something to say.
You need to be clear with yourself about what you are afraid of, why you are afraid, and whether you care enough to dance with that fear because it will never go away.
67. James Altucher
James recommends the habit of writing down 10 ideas each morning in a notebook. This exercise is for developing your "idea muscle" and confidence for creativity on demand, so regular practice is more important than the topics.
What if you just can't come up with 10 ideas? Here's the magic trick: If you can't come up with 10 ideas, come up with 20 ideas ... You are putting too much pressure on yourself. Perfectionism is the ENEMY of the idea muscle ... it's your brain trying to protect you from harm, from coming up with an idea that is embarrassing and stupid and could cause you to suffer pain. The way you shut this off is by forcing the brain to come up with bad ideas.
I then divide my paper into two columns. On one column is my list of ideas. On the other column is the list of FIRST STEPS. Remember, only the first step. Because you have no idea where that first step will take you. One of my favourite examples: Richard Branson didn't like the service on airlines he was flying, so he had an idea: 'I am going to start a new airline.' How the heck can a magazine publisher start an airline from scratch with no money? His first step: He called Boeing to see if they had an airplane he could lease.
No idea is so big that you can't take the first step. If the first step seems too hard, make it simpler. And don't worry again if the idea is bad. This is all practice.
On the value of Selective Ignorance, After Working at a Newspaper - You are basically told, 'Find the things that's going to scare people the most and write about it.' ... It's like everyday is Halloween at the newspaper. I avoid newspapers. ... Many productive people do the same.
68. Have the founders ever had crappy service jobs, like waiting tables or bussing at restaurants? If so, they tend to stay grounded for longer. Less entitlement and megalomania usually means better decisions...
Commit, within financial reason, to action instead of theory.
69. Scott Adams
Losers have goals. Winners have systems.
On the odd effectiveness of affirmations - All you do is you pick a goal and you write it down 15 times a day in some specific sentence form. And you do that every day.
First, I said I would become a number-one best selling author. This was before I'd ever written a book, and I'd never taken a class in writing, except a 2-day course in business writing, and that was it. The Dilbert Principle became the number one best-selling book.
There was a period ... where I lost my voice beginning in 2005 due to spasmodic dysphonia. I couldn't speak for three and a half years. That was the next time I used affirmations. And the affirmation was: I, Scott Adams, will speak perfectly. (PS: He now speaks perfectly after a surgery.)
... I'm positive the exact method doesn't matter. I think what matters is the degree of focus and the commitment you have to that focus. Because the last affirmation (about speaking perfectly) I mentioned was primarily done in my head while driving, but continuously for years, for about 3 years. At first, the way I did it back in those times was I used a pencil or a pen and a piece of paper, and I wrote the same sentence 15 times, once a day, I think. Here's why I think it seems to work, and there are several possibilities. One is ... 'reticular activation'. It's basically the idea that it's easy to hear your own name spoken in a crowd.
... Basically, your brain isn't capable of processing everything in its environment, or even coming close. So the best it can do is set up those little filters. And the way it sets its filters is by what you pay attention to. It's what you spend the most energy on ... That's how you set your filter.
... you can use these affirmations ... to focus your mind and your memory on a very specific thing. And, that would allow you to notice things in your environment that might have already been there. It's just that your filter was set to ignore, and then you just tune in through this memory and repetition trick until it widens a little bit to allow some extra stuff in. No, there is some science to back that ...
Eventually, I decided to start the affirmation - I, Scott Adams, would become a famous cartoonist. The odds of becoming a famous cartoonist ... very rare. In fact, Dilbert was probably the biggest breakout, or one of the biggest, in 20 years.
Listening to the Body instead of the Mind - I am looking at a new problem, I am thinking of a new idea. But then you've got to find out where in that flood is the little piece that's worth working with. That's where I use the body model. ... Your brain can't find good contact, not directly in an intellectual sense. Obviously, the brain is involved, but what I mean is that as I am thinking of these ideas and they are flowing through my head, I am monitoring my body; I am not monitoring my mind. And when my body changes, I have something that other people are going to care about, too.
If you want an average, successful life, it doesn't take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:
i. become the best at one specific thing
ii. become very good (top 25%) at two or more things
The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. ... The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I'm hardly an artist. And, I am not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I'm funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It's the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it. ...
At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. ... you'd be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn't have about three skills in the top 25%.
70. If you can't be first in a category, set-up a new category you can be first in.
When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not 'How is this new product better than the competition?' but 'First what?'. In other words, what category is this new product first in?
When you are the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer, not a DEC minicomputer.
71. Chase Jarvis
I don't create art to get high-dollar projects, I do high-dollar projects so I can create more art.
Creativity is an infinite resource. The more you spend, the more you have. ... creativity and meditation are similar.
On going premium from Day One - I wanted to do less stuff, and do high-end stuff.
Good Content is the best SEO.
72. ... don't be afraid to do something you are not qualified to do. ... just copyright your faults.
73. 'Success' need not be complicated. Just start with making 1,000 people extremely, extremely happy.
A true fan is defined as 'a fan who will buy anything you produce'.
It's always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans. ... you must have a direct relationship with your fans.
True fans are not only the direct source of your income, but also your chief marketing force for the ordinary fans. ... the high-touch 1,000 true fans who act as your most powerful unpaid marketing force for 'crossing the chasm' into the mainstream. If you don't build that initial army, you are likely to fail.
You just need to create a great experience and charge enough.
74. Alex Blumberg
Ask the dumb question everyone else is afraid to ask.
... pseudo-commands are sometimes more effective than questions:
i. Tell me more about ...
ii. Describe ...
iii. Explain that a bit more ...
Follow-up questions when something interesting comes up:
i. How did that make you feel?
ii. What do you make of that? ...
iii. What did you learn from that?
When you do X (or when Y happened to you), what does your internal self-talk sound like? What do you say to yourself.
75. Not only am I not going to say anything negative about the situation I am in, but I am not going to let myself think negative about it ... It took a long time and I wasn't perfect at it ... not only did replacing those thoughts helped me start moving my life in a better direction, where I wasn't obsessing about what was wrong ... it also made me not feel physical pain so much, which is very liberating and kind of necessary if you want to do anything.
- Tracy DiNunzio
76. ... every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.
How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don't want?
- Phil Libin
77. That's something I certainly hope to instill in my son: Don't worry about what your job is going to be ... Do things you are interested in, and if you do them really well, you are going to find a way to temper them with some good business opportunity. - Chris Young
78. Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake-up. There are 10 goals around health, family, business etc. with expiration dates and I update them every 6 months.
My parents always taught me that my day job would never make me rich. It'd be my homework.
- Daymond John
79. Don't try and find time. Schedule time. On Tuesdays, from 10 am to 12 noon, Noah schedules nothing but 'learning'. This is a great reminder that, for anything important, you don't find time. It's only real if it's on the calendar. My Wednesdays from 9 am to 1 pm are currently blocked out for "Creation - writing, podcast recording, or other output that creates a tangible 'after' product. I turn-off Wifi during this period to be as non-reactive as possible.
...most of their students started gymnastics as sedentary adults.
- Noah Kagan
80. The value of "I don't understand" ... try experimenting with saying 'I don't understand. Can you explain that to me?'
- Luis Von Ahn
81. Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command. - Lord Mahon
If you want great mentors, you have to become a great mentee. If you want to lead, you have to first learn to follow.
It's not about making someone look good. It's about providing the support so that others can be good.
Benjamin Franklin saw the constant benefit in making other people look good and letting them take credit for your ideas.
Bill Belichick, the four-time Super Bowl winning head coach ... thrived on what was considered grunt work, asked for it, and strove to become the best at precisely what others thought they were too good for.
Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you are the least important person in the room - until you change that with results.
Say little. Do much. ... Be lesser, do more. Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefitted them and not you? The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You'd learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You'd develop a reputation for being indispensable. You'd have countless new relationships. You'd have an enormous bank of favours to call upon down the road.
82. Neil Strauss
... not accepting the norm is the secret to really big success and changing the world.
Writer's Block - Whether it's ideas or writing, the key is temporarily dropping your standards. One of the best pieces of advice I've received for writing was a mantra: 2 crappy pages per day. ... Draft ugly and edit pretty.
Be vulnerable to get vulnerability.
Be open to whatever comes next. - John Cage
No matter what the situation may be, the right course of action is always compassion and love. - Barbara McNally
83. Be the silence that listens. - Tara Brach
What would this look like if it were easy?
83. Scott Belsky
Sometimes, you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.
... the dirty little secret is that every success was almost a failure.
84. Travel isn't just for changing what's outside, it's for reinventing what's inside.
85. Peter Diamandis
I talk to CEOs all the time, and I say, 'Listen, the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea. If it wasn't a crazy idea, it's not a breakthrough; it's an incremental improvement. So where inside of your companies are you trying crazy ideas?
A problem is a terrible thing to waste. ... The world's biggest problems are the world's biggest business opportunities.
When 99% of people doubt you, you are either gravely wrong or about to make history.
The best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.
His affirmation mantra, which he repeats a number of times is: I am joy. I am love. I am gratitude. I see, hear, feel and know that the purpose of my life is to inspire and guide the transformation of humanity on and off the Earth.
Before bed, Peter always reviews his three "wins of the day."
If you haven't connected with what your purpose and mission in life is, then forget anything I've said. That is the number one thing you need to do: Find out what you need to be doing on this planet, why you were put here, and what wakes you up in the mornings.
The benefits of thinking 10X instead of 10%. When you go after a moonshot - something that's 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger - a number of things happen ...
First of all, when you are going 10% bigger, you are competing against everybody. Everybody's trying to go 10% bigger. When you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you are there by yourself.
The second thing is, when you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently.
The third thing is when you try to go 10 times bigger versus 10% bigger, it's typically not 100 times harder, but the reward is 100 times more.
Is there a grand challenge or a billion person problem that you can focus on?
How would you disrupt yourself?
When given a choice... take both.
The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
If you can't measure it, you can't improve it.
86. Sophia Amoruso
I like to make promises that I'm not sure I can keep and then figure out how to keep them.
A day that ends well is one that started with exercise.
87. Get the long-term goal on the calendar before the short-term pain hits.
Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can't back out when you are in a low-energy state.
I find that being in a good mood for creative work is worth the hours it takes to get in a good mood.
- BJ Novak
88. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials - Lin Yutang.
Discipline equals freedom. - Jocko Willink
Are you doing what you are uniquely capable of, what you feel placed here on Earth to do?
Saying yes to less is the way out.
Large, uninterrupted blocks of time - 3 to 5 hours minimum - create the space needed to find and connect the dots. And one block per week isn't enough. ... For me, this means at least 3 to 4 mornings per week where I am in 'maker' mode until atleast 1 pm.
What blessings in excess have become a curse? Where do you have too much of a good thing?
Life favours the specific ask and punishes the vague wish.
All of my biggest wins have come from leveraging strengths instead of fixing weaknesses.
In practice, strictly making health # 1 has real social and business ramifications. That's a price I've realized I MUST be fine with paying or I will lose weeks or months to sickness and fatigue.
Making health #1 50% of the time doesn't work. It's all or nothing. If it's #1 50% of the time, you'll compromise precisely when it's most important not to.
89. If you are suffering from a feeling of overwhelm, it might be useful to ask yourself two questions:
i. In the midst of overwhelm, is life not showing me exactly what I should subtract?
ii. Am I having a breakdown or a breakthrough?
90. As Marcus Aurelius and Ryan Holiday would say, The obstacle is the way. This doesn't mean seeing problems, accepting them and leaving them to fester. Nor does it mean rationalizing problems into good things. It means using pain to find clarity. If pain is examined and not ignored, it can show you what to excise from your life.
Step one is always the same: Write down the 20% of activities and people causing 80% or more of your negative emotions.
Step two is doing a 'fear-setting' exercise on paper, by answering 'What is really the worst that could happen if I stopped doing what I am considering? And so what? How could I undo any damage?'
91. The struggle ends when the gratitude begins. - Neale Donald Walsch
92. There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way. - Thich Nhat Hanh
93. What you seek is seeking you. - Rumi
94. Maria Popova
If you are looking for a formula for greatness, the closest we'll ever get, I think, is this: Consistency driven by a deep love of the work.
Life is a continual process of arrival into who we are.
The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day. He is only earnest to secure the kernels of time, and does not exaggerate the value of the husk - the outer accoutrements of productivity like busyness, or a full calendar, or a clever auto-responder - not mistaking those for the kernel, the core and substance of the actual work produced. .... Those who work much, do not work hard.
- Henry David Thoreau
95. Jocko Willink
Discipline equals freedom. ... if you want freedom in life - be that financial freedom, more free time, or even freedom from sickness and poor health - you can only achieve these things through discipline.
Most who've been successful for decades also have methods to cultivate gratitude.
If you want to be tougher mentally, it is simple: Be tougher. Don't meditate on it. ... Being tougher was, more than anything, a decision to be tougher.
What makes a good commander?
The immediate answer that comes to mind is 'humility'. Because you've got to be humble, and you've got to be coachable. ... Later, when I was running training, we would fire a couple of leaders from every SEAL (The United States Navy Sea, Air and Land Teams) Team because they couldn't lead. And, 99.9% of the time, it wasn't a question of their ability to shoot a weapon, it wasn't because they weren't in good physical shape, it wasn't because they were unsafe. It was almost always a question of their ability to listen, open their mind, and see that, maybe, there's a better way to do things. That is from a lack of humility ... Stay humble or get humbled.
...step back and observe. ... detaching yourself from the situation, so you can see what's happening, is always critical.
96. Practice for mental toughness - ... push yourself harder than you believe you are capable of. You'll find new depth inside yourself.
97. Think about how old you are right now and think about being a 10-year older version of yourself. Then think, 'What would I probably tell myself, as an older version of myself?' If you do this exercise and then start living the answers, I think you are going to grow exponentially faster than you would have otherwise.
98. What are actually my ultimate goals in life, and how can I optimize toward them?
99. What are your top 2 or 3 handicapping (limiting) beliefs?
a. What has each belief cost you in the past, and what has it cost people you've loved in the past? What have you lost because of the belief? See it, hear it, feel it?
b. What is each costing you and people you care about in the present? See it, hear it, feel it?
c. What will each cost you and people you care about 1, 3, 5 and 10 years from now? See it, hear it, feel it.
After you feel the acute pain of your current handicapping beliefs, you formulate 2 or 3 replacement beliefs to use moving forward. This is done so that 'you are not pulled back into old beliefs by old language patterns. One of my top 3 limiting beliefs was 'I'm not hardwired for happiness,' which I replaced with 'Happiness is my natural state.' Post this, I used Scott Adam's affirmation approach in the mornings to reinforce it. I experienced a huge shift in my life in the subsequent 3 to 4 weeks. Roughly a year later, I can say this: I've never been consistently happier in my entire adult life.
100. With boys, there is an active encouragement - despite the possibility that they could get hurt - and guiding the son to do it, often on his own. When a daughter decides to do something that might have some risk involved, after cautioning her, the parents are much more likely to assist her in doing it. What is this telling girls? They are fragile and they need our help. This is acculturated so early. So, of course, by the time we are women and in the workplace or relationships, that's going to be a predominant paradigm for us: fear.
... I would say it's time to adopt a paradigm of bravery instead of a paradigm of fear. So, when you have a boy and a girl, or a man and a woman, facing the exact same situation, facing the exact same situation, there will be two emotional reactions to it that are sort of opposite. The man will be trying to access his bravery, and the woman will be accessing her fear.
- Caroline Paul
101. Courage takes practice. It's a skill you have to develop.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. - Anais Nin
Named must your fear be before banish it you can. - Yoda, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
- Benjamin Disraeli
Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
Conquering Fear = Defining Fear
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.
- Mark Twain
Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, the conversation, whatever the action might be - it is the fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it. ... A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing everyday that you fear.
102. Kevin Kelly
Productivity is for robots. What humans are going to be really good at is asking questions, being creative and experiences.
In a world of distraction, single-tasking is a superpower.
Write to get ideas, not to express them - What I discovered, what is what many writers discover, is that I write in order to think. I'd say, I think I have an idea but when I begin to write it, I realize, 'I have no idea', and I don't actually know what I think until I try and write it ... That was the revelation.
103. There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth. Suffer a little regularly and you often cease to suffer.
104. Whitney Cummings
If something offends you, look inward ... That's a sign that there's something there.
Perfectionism leads to procrastination which leads to paralysis.
I think ultimately, sometimes when we judge other people, it's just a way to not look at ourselves; a way to feel superior or sanctimonious or whatever. My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, 'I love you' before you have a conversation with them, and the conversation is going to go a lot better. ... just assume everybody is doing the best they can with what they have ...
... the way you do anything is the way you do everything.
105. Bryan Callen
Happiness is wanting what you have.
The difference between the people you admire and everybody else is that the former are the people who read.
106. Alain De Botton
When people seem like they are mean, they are almost never mean. They are anxious.
Ultimately, to be properly successful is to be at peace as well.
The more you know what you really want, and where you are really going, the more what everybody else is doing starts to diminish.
107. Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence, or a vice: It is as indispensable to the brain as Vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration - it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
Life is too short to be busy.
108. Cal Fussman
Aim for the heart, not the head. Once you get the heart, you can go to the head. Once you get the heart and the head, then you'll have a pathway to the soul.
Listening is about being present, not just being quiet.
We all know the feeling of wanting to do something so well and so badly that we try too hard and can't do it at all.
109. Rick Rubin
How does Rick help artists who feel stuck? "Usually, I'll give them homework - a small, doable task. I'll give you an example. There was an artist I was working with recently who hadn't made an album in a long time, and he was struggling with finishing anything. He just had this version of a writer's block. But I would give him very doable homework assignments that almost seemed like a joke. 'Tonight, I want you to write one word in this song that needs five lines, that you can't finish. I just want one word that you like by tomorrow. Do you think that you could come up with one word?' "
So much of the job is more emotion and 'heart work' than it is 'head work'. The head comes in after, to look at what the heart has presented and to organize it. But the initial inspiration comes from a different place, and it's not the head, and it's not an intellectual activity.
Going to museums and looking at great art ... Reading great novels ... seeing a great movie ... reading poetry ... The only way to use the inspiration of other artists is if you submerge yourself in the greatest works of all time ...
(JG: A Business is a Work of Art. Those who lead it are artists. You will lead yourself and your business from good to great if you play the game like that.)
110. ... 80% of the world-class performers I've interviewed meditate in the mornings in some fashion. But what about the remaining 20%? Nearly all of them have meditation like activities.
111. Paulo Coelho
The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.
I don't have researchers, no. No, no ... If you overload your book with a lot of research, you are going to be very boring to yourself and to your readers. Books are not here to show how intelligent and cultivated you are. Books are out there to show your heart, to show your soul, and to tell your fans, readers: You are not alone.
112. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, putting thoughts on paper is the best way to:
a. develop ideas
b. review and improve your thinking
The benefits of even 30 minutes a week of scribbling can transfer to everything else that you do.
113. Two words for conflict resolution - Say less. That's it. Just say less.
Honor those who seek the truth, beware of those who've found it.
- Amanda Palmer
114. The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Don't keep stuff to yourself. You are surrounded by smart people. Bring them in, Get other people's opinions. Share it with them. And most importantly, emotions is what matters. It's an emotional journey ...
Blind belief in yourself.
115. It's very, very hard to stay silent, and it's very, very important to have that self-control.
Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You'll avoid the tough decisions, and you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted. - Colin Powell
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. - Epictetus
Sometimes, the best way to defuse or defeat attackers is to ask short questions and keep them talking - Why do you say that?, Why do you ask?, Why would you say something like that? ...
... it is so much less work just to be yourself.
Cynicism is a disease that robs people of the gift of life.
You have to believe in your capacity. You have to believe that your capacity is greater than you could probably imagine. ... God has given us talents and faculties, and it's up to us to discover them, expand them to their maximum, and use them for maximum service in the world.
Believe in yourself more deeply. You are bigger than that. Dream bigger.
116. Naval Ravikant
The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It's just like building muscles.
Reading (learning) is the ultimate meta-skill and can be traded for anything else.
Earn with your mind, not your time.
Total honesty at all times. It's almost always possible to be honest and positive.
Watch every thought. Always ask - Why am I having this thought?
All greatness comes from suffering.
Love is given, not received.
Mathematics is a language of nature.
Every moment has to be complete in and of itself.
117. What you are is good enough for whatever it is you are doing.
You are smart enough. You can do it. ... there's something stupid in us that just makes us feel like we are not good enough, we are not smart enough.
- Glenn Beck
118. Tara Brach
There's a mystic who says there's only one really good question, which is, 'What am I unwilling to feel?'
Inviting Mara to Tea
This being human is a guest house,
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! ...
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide beyond.
The poem relates to actively recognizing anger and other types of what we consider 'negative' emotions. Rather than trying to suppress something or swat it away, we say to the emotions / ourselves, 'I see you.' This counter-intuitively helps to dissolve or resolve the issue. ... Fighting emotions is like flailing in quicksand - it only makes things worse. Sometimes, the most proactive 'defense' is a mental nod and wink.
... When Mara (small mind) visits us, in the form of troubling emotions or fearsome stories, we can say, 'I see you, Mara' and clearly recognize the reality of craving and fear that lives in each human heart. By accepting these experiences with the warmth of compassion, we can offer Mara tea rather than fearfully drive him away. Seeing what is true, we hold what is seen with kindness. We express such wakefulness of heart each time we recognize and embrace our hurts and fears.
Our habit of being a fair-weather friend to ourselves - of pushing away or ignoring whatever darkness we can - is deeply entrenched. But just as a relationship with a good friend is marked by understanding and compassion, we can learn to bring these same qualities to our own inner life.
119. Sam Kass
... the key in any kind of high pressure situation is that 75% of success is staying calm and not losing your nerve. The rest you can figure out, but once you lose your calm, everything else starts falling apart fast.
Never serve anything you wouldn't want to eat.
One difference between home cooks and pros is acidity level. When you think it's ready, add another lemon. Pros bump up the acidity level. It's one of the secrets. We add a little more acid and it makes everything taste better.
... passion comes from a combination of being open and curious, and really going all-in when you find something that you are interested in.
120. Richard Betts
If you are lucky, you have someone when you are young who doesn't talk down to you, who speaks to you as a serious person and exhorts you to take something seriously, to take work seriously.
What do you think financially successful people who are generally unhappy have in common? ... Misplaced goals. I think chasing the financial is not the right way to do it. ... if you work for the awards (rewards), you don't do good work. But if you do good work, the awards (rewards) will come.
Love yourself. ... You've got to love yourself before you can love others. Without it, nothing productive is going to happen, and we can all bang our heads on the wall.
121. Mike Birbiglia
Only emotion endures.
I try to write before my inhibitions take hold of me. I try to do 7 am. ... You don't want to think consciously about what you are putting on the page. A lot of times, I'll write in my journal as though it will never be seen by anyone, and then more often than not, the things that I put in my secret journal are the things I publish.
... the best thing to do is give people questions they are not expecting.
Don't waste your time on marketing, just try to get better ... And, also, it's not about being good; it's about being great.
122. ... if you don't regularly appreciate the small wins, you will never appreciate the big wins.
... if you try to approach every problem with your moral compass, first and foremost, you are going to make a lot of mistakes. You are going to exclude a lot of possible good solutions. You are going to assume you know a lot of things, which in fact you don't, and you are not going to be a good partner in reaching a solution with other people who don't happen to see the world the way you do. - Stephen J. Dubner
A back-off week, or deload, is a planned reduction in exercise volume or intensity. ... I've used deloading outside of sports to decrease my anxiety to at least 50% while simultaneously doubling my income. ... I feel that the big ideas come from these periods. It's the silence between the notes that makes the music. ... importance of creating large, uninterrupted blocks of time, during which your mind can wander, ponder, and find the signal amidst the noise. If you are lucky, it might even create a signal, or connect two signals (core ideas) that have never shaken hands before. I've scheduled deloading phases in a few ways: roughly 8 am to 9 am daily for journaling, .. 9 am to 1 pm every Wednesday for creative output (i.e writing, interviewing for the podcast); and 'screen free Saturdays', when I use no laptops and only use my phone for maps and coordinating with friends via text (no apps). Of course, I still use 'mini-retirements' a few times a year. ... Deloading blocks must be scheduled and defended more strongly than your business commitments. The former can strengthen and inform the latter, but not vice-versa. ... Create slack, as no one will give it to you. This is the only way to swim forward instead of treading water. - Tim Ferris
A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. - Tim Ferris, The 4-Hour Work Week
123. Josh Waitzkin
... ending the work day with very high quality, which for one thing means you are internalizing quality overnight.
Hemingway had a practice of ending his writing sessions mid-flow and mid-sentence. This way, he knew exactly where to start the next day, and he could reliably both end and start his sessions with confidence.
One of my most beautiful memories of Marcelo is in the world championship, right before going to the semifinals. He's napping on a bleacher. Everyone's screaming and yelling, he's asleep on the bleacher. I can't wake him up.
He finally took a stumble into the ring and you've never seen a guy more relaxed before going into a world championship fight. ... He can turn it off so deeply, and man, when he goes in the ring, you can't turn it on with any more intensity than he can. His ability to turn it off is directly aligned with how intensely he can turn it on, so I train people to do this, to have stress and recovery undulation throughout their day.
Interval training (often at midday or lunch break) and meditation together are beautiful habits to develop to cultivate the art of turning it on and turning it off.
We are talking about Marcelo embodying the principle of quality in all these little ways (eg. specific cleaning protocols for the gym, having people tidy their uniforms in class). These little ways, you could say don't matter, but they add up hugely. ... the little things are the big things. Because they are a reflection. This may sound cliched, but how you do anything is how you do everything.
... most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don't cultivate 'turning it on' as a way of life in the little moments - and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big - then there's no chance in the big moments ... I believe that when you are not cultivating quality, you are essentially cultivating sloppiness.
Lateral thinking or thematic thinking, the ability to take a lesson from one thing and transfer it to another, is one of the most important disciplines that any of us can cultivate.
124. Brene Brown
Lean into discomfort. ... Give vulnerability a shot. Give discomfort its due. Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.
The big question I ask is - When I had the opportunity, did I choose courage over comfort? ... How that translates to more than 30 million video views - I went to the TED Event and I experimented. I really put myself out there. I talked about my own breakdowns, my spiritual awakening. I talked about having to go to therapy ... and I remember driving home and thinking, 'I will never do that again.' She then watched the popularity of her video explode, now totaling more than 31 million views on TED.com and YouTube. 'If I look back, my takeaway from that experience was this: If I am not feeling a little bit nauseous when I am done, I probably didn't show up like I should have shown up.
People always think you gain trust first and then you are vulnerable with people. But the truth is, you can't really earn trust over time without being somewhat vulnerable first.
The word 'successful' and 'success' has been such a dangerous word in my research. ... Be clear that your ladder is leaning against the right building.
125. People's IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.
What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?
Could it be that everything is fine and complete as is?
What would this look like if it were easy?
You don't need to go through life huffing and puffing, straining and red-faced. You can get 95% of the results you want by calmly putting one foot in front of the other. ... Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. ... Luxury, to me, is feeling unrushed.
Be sure to look for simple solutions. If the answer isn't simple, it's probably not the right answer.
126. I kept wondering how Tyrin Turner was always in shape. He said: 'Man, I'm trying to tell you, the pull-up bars are everything.'
You are either great or you don't exist. ... Good isn't good enough.
- Jamie Foxx
127. Bryan Johnson
... entrepreneurs have the ability to author their lives with companies.
What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?
I broke all their sales records following this really simple formula of just selling honesty and transparency in a broken industry.
One time as a kid, I wondered - if you fill a milk gallon jug full of gasoline and you lit it on fire, what would happen? ... As expected, it produced quite a flame. ... the lawn is on fire. It is getting worse and worse. Anyway, mom and I put the fire out and then the only thing she says to me is - Bryan, you probably should not do that again, and I said, 'All right, that is fair.'
(lesson on parenting)
This is a story about a tiger named Mohini that was in captivity in a zoo. She has been confined to a 10-by-10-foot cage with a concrete floor for 5 or 10 years. She was rescued and finally released into this big pasture: With excitement and anticipation, they released Mohini into her new and expensive environment, but it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. She paced and paced in that corner until an area 10-by-10 feet was worn bare of grass. ... Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old pattern. ... Oftentimes, everything you want is a mere inch outside of your comfort zone. Test it.
128. You don't find time, you make time. ... Khaled Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner in the early mornings before working as a full-time doctor. Paul Levesque often works out at midnight. It it's truly important, schedule it. ... If it isn't on the calendar, it isn't real.
Every morning, what I do is based on the Morning Pages by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way (A spiritual path to higher creativity). It's 3 longhand pages where you just keep the pen moving for 3 pages, no matter what. No censoring, no rereading. It's the closest thing to magic I've come across. If you really do it every day in a real disciplined practice, something happens to you subconscious that allows you to get to your most creative place. - Brian Koppelman
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. - Lao Tzu
You have gifts to share with the world.
129. Robert Rodriguez
There's freedom in limitations. ... Excuses are a dime a dozen. In the case of Entrepreneurship, the "I don't have" list - I don't have funding. I don't have connections etc. - is a popular write-off for inaction. But lack of resources is often one of the critical ingredients for greatness.
Jack Ma, founder of China's Alibaba Group, is worth an estimated $20 to $30 billion, and he explains the secret of his success this way: There are 3 reasons why we survived: We had no money, we had no technology, and we had no plan. Every dollar, we used very carefully.
Turn weaknesses into strengths, bugs into features. ... nothing ever goes according to plan ... nothing is going to work at all. So you go: How can I turn it into a positive and get something much better than if I had all the time and money in the world? ... I want all of them to not have enough money, not enough time, so that we are forced to be more creative. Because that's going to give it some spark that you can't manufacture.
Don't follow the herd, stumble instead. It's good not to follow the herd. Go the other way. If everyone's going that way, you go this other way. You are gonna stumble, but you are also gonna stumble upon an idea no one came up with ... I always found success by just going the opposite way. There was too much competition over there. If everyone's trying to get through that one little door, you are in the wrong place.
Failure is not necessarily durable. Remember that the things they fire you for when you are young are the same things that they give lifetime achievement awards for when you are old. - Francis Ford Coppola
I'm there to learn. I'm not there to win; I'm there to learn because then I'll win, eventually ...
You have to be able to look at your failures and know that there's a key to success in every failure.
If you have a positive attitude, you can look back. ... You can go back and you can look at it and go, 'Oh, that wasn't a failure. That was a key moment of my development that I needed to take, and I can trust my instinct. I really can.'
You don't need to know. Trust comes first. ... creativity is a meta-skill. Robert routinely plays guitar on set and invites master painters to set to teach the actors during breaks. He believes that if you develop creativity, trust and getting started often take care of the rest: 'The technical part of any job is 10%. 90% is creativity.'
You get in your own way - thinking that you needed to know something, a trick or a process, before it would flow. If you got out of the way, it would just flow. ... suddenly, you've given yourself permission to let it flow. ... You are just opening up the pipe and the creativity flows through. And as soon as your ego gets in the way, and you go, 'I don't know if I know what to do next' you have already put 'I' in front of it and you've already blocked it a little bit. 'I did it once, but I don't know if I can do it again.' It was never you. The best you can do is just get out of the way so it comes through.
They say knowing is half the battle. I think the most important is the other part - not knowing what's going to happen but trusting that it will be there when you put the brush up to the canvas. It's going to know where to go. ... The trust comes first.
Even if I didn't know what to do, I just had to begin. For a lot of people, that's the part that keeps them back the most. They think, 'Well, I don't have an idea, so I can't start.' I know you'll only get the idea once you start. It's this totally reverse thing. You have to act first before inspiration will hit. You don't wait for the inspiration and then act, or you are never going to act, because you are never going to have the inspiration, not consistently. ... You don't have to know. You just have to keep moving forward.
When people say, 'You do so many things. You are a musician, you are a painter, you are a composer, you are a cinematographer, you are the editor. You do many different things.'
I go, 'No, I only do one thing. I live a creative life. When you put creativity in everything, everything becomes available to you.'
... How you journal things; how you cross-reference, how you present things, how you inspire your crew, how you inspire other people around you, how you inspire yourself - it's all creative. And, if you say you are not creative, look at how much you are missing out on just because you've told yourself that. I think creativity is one of the greatest gifts that we are born with that some people don't cultivate, that they don't realize it could be applied to literally everything in their lives.
You never have to be upset about anything. ... Everything is for a purpose. ... It is really how you look at it, and the way you look at it is so important. If you can have a positive attitude, look at it, and say, 'Let me see, what can I learn from this?' ... Why would you ever get upset about anything? ... You are upset because something didn't go according to plan? It might be for a good reason.
130. ... when things are going bad, there's going to be some good that will come from it. ... When things are going bad, don't get all bummed out, don't get startled, don't get frustrated. ... Accept reality, but focus on the solution. Take that issue, take that setback, take that problem, and turn it into something good. Go forward.
You must want to be a butterfly so badly, you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.
- Sekou Andrews
What should I do with my life? ... Enjoy it.
The value of reading a book is not just the sense of joy one gets while reading or even learning, greater value lies in reflecting on the learnings and taking actions, even if it is one tiny action, as an outcome of those learnings.
Reflect on your learnings from the key ideas in the book by answering the below questions:
1. What do you now see that you hadn't seen before?
2. What do you now understand that you hadn't understood before?
3. What did you learn that would make a difference to your life, personally and professionally?
4. What action(s) will you take as an outcome of the answers to the above three questions?
5. By when would you take those actions?
Wishing you the joy of the journey to come home to yourself.
If you want to exponentially enhance the performance, productivity, creativity and effectiveness of your team, then inspire your people to bring their heart and soul to work along with their mind and body. Let me tell you a story that tells you what that means. A traveller meets 3 workers cutting stone by the roadside, where a lot of construction seemed to be underway. He asked the first one - What are you doing? The first stone-cutter looked tired and exhausted. He had a small pile of stones that he had cut so far. He said he was cutting stone. He asked the second stone-cutter the same question. He didn't look as fatigued. The pile of stones that he had cut was twice as much as that of the first stone-cutter. He said he was building a wall. The third stone-cutter looked happy and fulfilled; and was cutting the stone with a mesmerizing rhythm, flow and focus; almost like an artist. His pile of stones was ten times as big as that of the second stone-cutter. He said he was building a cathedral.
Low performers cut stones and come to work to earn money; high performers build walls and do a good job so that they can get the next promotion, get higher than average salary increase and get an even better paying job with a higher designation than their current role; while super performers build cathedrals and work for a cause much bigger than who they are. They have the highest output, performance & productivity; and greatest energy, joy & fulfilment from their work.
How does one create such a space where we transform our people to super performers who are building cathedrals instead of building walls or cutting stones. Here's the process:
1. You cannot create a powerful space to transform your people to super performers without deepening who you are as a human being, without being on your own journey of transformation and evolution from good to great. This is a journey over 5 Gears by dropping Limiting Habits and inculcating Growth Habits to create the highest level of fitness and well-being across all the 4 bodies (Physical, Emotional, Intellectual / Mental, Spiritual) of your Being.
Each Gear is about elevating one’s consciousness by developing a specific leadership muscle, working at the level of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual habits.
Gear 1: Discovering your destiny, your purpose this life-time. Strengthening Agility of Mind™ leadership muscle to experience unconditional love, gratitude and reverence for who you are as a human being. There is deep stillness within, with nowhere to go and nothing to prove.
Gear 2: Making a difference through your work, playing your big game with peace in your heart and mind. Strengthening Being of Service™ leadership muscle to see the light in everyone and have the leadership depth to give your unconditional love, gratitude and reverence to each one in your space, irrespective of however they are and however they are not. Experiencing oneness with the Universe.
Gear 3: Experiencing joy of effortless existence as the world around you experiences you as extraordinary. You receive unconditional love, gratitude and reverence from everyone as you strengthen your Communicating in the World of Others™ leadership muscle.
Gear 4: Experiencing deep fulfilment as others in your space experience themselves as extraordinary and experience unconditional love, gratitude and reverence for themselves. The Authentic Leader in you is born as you get access to significant Power to Create™ by strengthening your Delivery on Your Word™ leadership muscle.
Gear 5: People in your space experience each other as extraordinary and give their unconditional love, gratitude and reverence to each other. Your presence causes a shift in the space around you as you inspire a culture of trust, partnership and compassionate love; with each one supporting the other to be successful. The Master in you is born, as you strengthen your Excellence™ leadership muscle to have your Power to Create™ in full bloom. You become The Master Creator. You intend; it gets created effortlessly and almost instantaneously.
2. Check in with yourself - Who are you Being? Are you Being someone who is cutting stones, building walls or building a cathedral. First step is for you to discover your Purpose of Life, your cathedral, your WHY of why you are working that is so powerful that heart and soul connects with you. Without you having a Purpose that inspires you, you cannot help your people discover theirs.
Create the space of vulnerability and authenticity by role modelling that. It is in that space, purpose has meaning. Outside of that space, we are resigned and cynical.
3. The next step is to have powerful one-on-one conversations with your team members from Gear 4 consciousness that touches, moves and inspires them by leading them with questions, coming from the space of Unconditional Love and Belief, supporting them to connect with their greatest dreams.
A Leader has 3 roles to play -
i. Leader - Do 10 times of what you tell your people to do.
ii. Nurturer - Relate to your people as your own family. Be compassionate love for your people and have unconditional belief in their highest potential.
iii. Coach - Support your people to realise their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their highest self.
Check in with yourself if you are playing all the 3 roles for your team members with integrity and authenticity. You know that you are on the right path if you are playing these roles because you want to play these roles, not because you are seeking something else in return.
4. Connect to the Light in the team member you are coaching / mentoring by creating - I BELIEVE in you - by saying it. 'I believe in you' are the four most powerful words in the world that gives power to the person to whom you say it to realise their impossible, unimaginable dreams. What you are really saying is that I believe in the Light in you. I believe in the potential in you, I believe you will make a difference in this world through your work and through your life. I believe in your dreams. You become Unconditional Belief by making a CHOICE to be Unconditional Belief.
5. The next step is to let them know you are the wind beneath their wings by saying - I am here to support you to realise your dreams and be the greatest version of you. You become Unconditional Love by making a CHOICE to be Unconditional Love.
6. Once that deep, authentic human-to-human connection is established with the team member you are in a conversation with, here are some questions to play with -
i. What do you really want?
ii. What is your impossible, unimaginable dream that is so big that scares you a bit?
iii. If there were no constraints, what would you be doing?
7. Have childlike trust and faith in the Universe, in the Process of LIfe and let the conversation flow. Support them to discover their purpose this Lifetime. Invite them to be in the self-inquiry of what is their Quest this Lifetime, what do they most want for themselves; and inside of that coach them to discover their Purpose this LIfetime.
Remember, Newton's third law - Every action has equal and opposite reaction. Fulfilling on your Quest is the reaction from the Universe, something that you want to receive. Therefore, you have to start the cycle by giving to the Universe, to the people in the world exactly what you want to receive back. Giving to others what you want most for yourself is your Purpose this Lifetime.
8. Lead the conversation forward to support them to discover their Vision and Mission.
9. Vision is the future you want to create through your life and your work. Our real opportunity to live our purpose of life is through our work and how we live our life.
If you are an entrepreneur, your purpose this lifetime will be the Vision of your organization. If you are a CEO, your and your leadership team's integrated purpose will be the Vision of your organization. If your purpose is not reflected in the Vision of your Business, the vision statement will essentially be empty lines plastered on walls with no meaning, connection or inspiration.
If you are a corporate professional, find your purpose and find the connection between your purpose and the vision of your organization. Without that connection, you are likely to remain busy being busy without meaning or inspiration, waiting to retire to start living. It is possible to live your purpose through the role that you play, however tiny it may seem to you.
Why is meaningfulness, authentic connection and inspiration important? It is because that is the doorway to productivity, performance, creativity and innovation; leading to profitability and market leadership.
10. Mission is what will you do now for which community to create the future you want to create, the Vision you want to realize.
You don't have to leave your job to become an entrepreneur to live your purpose. A powerful efficient and fulfilling way to work in an organization is to consider yourself an entrepreneur with a captive client (the company that you work for). The work you do is the service that your client is consuming and paying for.
11. Once each one of your team members have clarity and deep connection with their purpose, vision and mission this lifetime, it is time to bring your whole team together to integrate everyone's vision and mission to arrive at a common vision and mission for the organization, which is your and your team's cathedral, that deeply heart and soul connects with each one in the team, holds the team together and inspires each one of the team to step up to be a super performer.
Now, you are ready to play.
Enjoy your journey as you lead your business from good to great.
Welcome rough days, look forward to rough days because you learn, grow and evolve massively on your rough days, if you follow the process of digging for diamonds. Growth diamonds are not available on good days. Another word for Growth Diamonds are Blind Spots, something about ourselves that impede our progress and cause us to have rough days and yet, we cannot see them. Growth is really moving from discovering one blind spot to another and it is a life-long journey. The moment we arrive at a place where we feel we have become the greatest version of ourselves and that there are no more blind spots to be discovered, that is the day we die spiritually, emotionally and mentally; though, physically we may continue to live for a very long time afterwards.
Beyond the basic necessities of life - roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothes and shelter) - we humans crave to make a difference because that is our access to our Space of Grace where we experience unconditional happiness, happiness without a cause or a reason; happiness that is no longer because of someone or something. It just courses through our body on its own, leaving us feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, full of joyous vitality and energy. Instead of getting pulled into the chaos outside, we pull people into the peace within us and have people be soothed, settled and be at ease with themselves and with the process of life in our space. That is the moment that we have truly arrived.
It is our rough days that gives us the access to our blind spots; discovery of which supports us to make a bigger difference through our work and leads us forward with velocity towards our Space of Grace. So, receive your rough days with joyous gratitude as the gift of the Universe, which always has your back. If you don't feel that the Universe has your back, that is your first discovery of a blind spot.
There is a process to follow to go on a journey to dig for growth diamonds / blind spots and here it is for you:
1. The first step is to acknowledge to yourself that you have had a rough day and step into the commitment to dig for growth diamonds. For us to have the inner strength to do this on the rough days, we need a daily practise of Review and Reflection at the end of the day. With this daily practice, when the rough days arrive (which they surely will) our muscle memory will kick in for us to do the Review and Reflection. Without Review and Reflection, all our diamonds go underground and are not available the next day.
2. The next step is to journal or have a conversation with your coach. If you are journaling, answer the below questions as you have a conversation with yourself:
i. What am I feeling? - Identify a specific feeling, instead of just saying good or bad. High performers usually are not in touch with their emotions, which is what becomes the barrier for their further growth. If you struggle to identify the emotion, check out the range of 22 emotions on slide 24 in this presentation - Power to Create™. The moment you are able to exactly identify the emotion and allow yourself to fully feel it, you will feel release of tension from your body.
ii. What am I thinking that is making me feel this way? - All stress, tension and limiting emotions that leave us not feeling good are an outcome of limiting thoughts that we have about ourselves, about other people and and about life itself. Let's call this thought pattern - small mind.
We are, by default, hardwired with our special version of the 'small mind'. Some of us become victims of our circumstances, in response to the small mind; and end up becoming Low Performers. High Performers become fighters in response to their small mind, fight with themselves to hide the small mind from their own self, fight the world to get what they want at a huge personal cost and end-up with lots of success but feeling like an imposter (Imposter Syndrome). All the success and money they worked hard for does not fulfil them, there's an underlying unconscious tension in the body all the time and the heart feels empty.
Yet, there's a 3rd way to be - acknowledge the small mind, learn to rewire our default survival / fear sourced small mind to step up to our Space of Grace. Let's call our Space of Grace - Big Mind. When we make this choice, we battle with our small mind on the inside instead of its reflections in the world outside. We become the Peaceful Warrior, the Super Performer. We are in the flow and step into our zone of genius.
iii. What sensations arise in my body on account of the feelings I have and the limiting thoughts that are cluttering my mind?
This creates high level of self-awareness and a lesser probability of venting out our angst and frustration on people in our lives, at work and at home, and hurting them because of the rough time we have had.
iv. What's present in me, the absence of which would have made a difference?
v. What's absent in me, the presence of which would have made a difference?
vi. What do I now understand, which I hadn't understood before?
vii. What can I see now, which I hadn't seen before?
viii. What did I learn?
ix. What one action, however tiny, will I take as an outcome of this deep self-reflection?
x. What are my powerful questions which will lead me forward?
After doing this level of deep self-inquiry, you will find your power coming back, exhaustion melting and a resurge of energy to take on the world.
Without this process, there is a tendency of wanting to crawl into bed, stay there for long and call in sick. Don't do that. Also, don't do any other work till the time you clear your space through this reflective process.
3. This process of deep inquiry - self-driven or with your coach - will reveal growth diamonds / blind spots. The interesting thing about blind spots is that the moment they come in awareness, the work to go beyond begins. With the discovery of a blind spot, you have progressed from unconscious incompetence in that area to conscious incompetence. You can now create a structure of success to step up to conscious competence. Practise long enough and unconscious competence is not far away.
Therefore, the 3rd step is to identify your blind spot through the process of deep-dive reflection and put a structure of success in place to step up from conscious incompetence to conscious competence to unconscious competence (mastery).
If you have a coach, then your coach becomes your accountability partner, else find a committed listener who can be your accountability buddy. Without someone showing you the mirror, progress is not really possible and the whole exercise remains intellectual; instead of visceral. Only a visceral, in-body, emotional experience can result in a real transformational shift on the inside because intelligence may be in the mind but wisdom is in the body. Your mind may have thoughts but your body feels the intuition and your emotions, which are more competent guides to your true north pole than your thoughts.
Wishing you the joyous experience of ongoing growth towards your greatest self.
I have been a workaholic. When I wasn't so self-aware, I used to believe with pride it was because of my impeccable work ethics, high level of commitment to my work and passion for what I am doing. After enormous inner work, I came face to face with an ugly truth that I was a workaholic because of instant gratification that I receive at work for completing a task, because of a sense of achievement I feel at ticking off an item from my checklist. The real truth was that I was nicely enmeshed in the Activity Trap without even being aware of it. The real truth was also that it is emotionally easier to be working than to be dealing with emotionally difficult issues at home, it is easier to work on a task than dealing with relationships and one's own limiting habits which come in the way of personal mastery. So, I had worked myself to burn-out much before I was 40 that hopped off the corporate bandwagon on an entrepreneurial journey in search of a profitable, repeatable, scalable Business Model. That search forced me to go on an inner journey of self-discovery and growth because whether we like it or not, our businesses end up becoming a mirror of who we are as human beings. That is why, an entrepreneur is on a Hero's journey in search of greatness outside and inside. Without connecting to the Light within, a great business will not get built.
I learnt massively in my journey as an entrepreneur in the last 10 years. Here are some of the learnings regarding getting work done more efficiently:
1. Work less hours to produce more value and impact: I am more productive, creative, effective and efficient if I work for 6 hours with focus, instead of 12 hours. If I am working for 6 hours, I can write an article in 2 hours; while if I have a 12 hour schedule, I end up creating a similar article with lesser impact in 6 hours. And, if I have spent 5 minutes drawing out the outline of the article during planning stage, I get done much earlier. This seems to show up irrespective of the nature of work - meetings get wrapped up faster with quicker and more creative solutioning, problem solving is quicker, lesser mistakes while creating any artefacts.
I interviewed Andrew Barnes, Founder and Managing Director, Perpetual Guardian, New Zealand because I was curious about the 4-day work week he had implemented in his company. In February 2018, Barnes announced that Perpetual Guardian would be doing a trial of four-day work week, with staff receiving an extra day off work, on full pay, each week. Staff were not required to work additional hours on their four working days. In July 2018, at the completion of the trial, the trial had been a resounding success with productivity up 20%, staff stress levels down, customer engagement levels up more than 30%, revenue remaining stable and costs decreasing, therefore resulting in increased profitability. Staff engagement and work-life balance also improved.
Productivity graph between productivity on the y-axis and number of working hours on the x-axis is an A curve. You will increase your productivity by increasing your number of hours in the beginning; but after a point (lets, call that point - Point of Zero Returns), productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and creativity falls sharply.
For me, the Point of Zero Returns is around 6 hours. So, I work from 6 am to 1:30 pm with 2 half an hour breaks in the middle.
Pioneering researcher Nathan Kleitman discovered that our bodies operate in 90 minutes rhythm (Ultradian Rhythm) not only during the night but also during the day when we move from higher alertness to lower alertness.
In his renowned 1993 study of young violinists, performance researcher Anders Ericsson found that the best ones all practiced the same way: in the morning, in three increments of no more than 90 minutes each, with a break between each one. Ericsson discovered the same pattern among other musicians, athletes, chess players and writers.
You could experiment to find your Point of Zero Returns and scheduling your day in slots of 90 minutes interspersed with breaks.
2. The Anti-Routine: In conversations with most CEOs, I am almost hit by a palpable energy of stress and tension, even over a Zoom call, that they are vibrating with. Unfortunately, most times, they are not even conscious of this anxiety in the background present at every moment. This background continual hum of anxiety is a huge drain on creativity, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Since they all are High Performers, they are able to deliver massive results even with this huge drain on their system but it comes at a tremendous personal cost. I continually hear the desire to retire to give back to society, to contribute, to leave a legacy. I am left with a deep sense of loss because their highest contribution would be by staying on in the job much beyond retirement and lead their businesses from good to great. Their real legacy is the transformation they can be at the source of in the world through their businesses; transforming what it means to do business, what it means to lead and work, and inside of that what it means to be a human being. This can only happen with an inner shift form being a Fighter High Performer to a Peaceful Warrior Super Performer. And, one of the first things to let go is unsustainable long working hours to create time for what I call The Anti-Routine.
The Routine is the work schedule. The Anti-Routine is the play schedule reserved for family fun time, nourishing nurturing self through exercising, meditating and various other growth habits, playing a sport, learning a creative art and the one that usually gets missed - learning continually about self in search of blind spots.
Einstein credits his breakthrough scientific discoveries to his playing the violin. I can relate to what he is saying because all my major business breakthroughs haven't come when I was working. They all came when I was either meditating, playing golf, learning piano, exercising or on a vacation. It's only when we step outside the painting of our business can we turn around to see the full picture and discover which colours and lines need to be added or deleted to make our business our masterpiece work of art.
All human beings have a masculine (courage, strength, independence, assertiveness, driven to win) and a feminine (empathy, intuition, vulnerability, caring, nurturing) element. It's by bringing the two in balance inside of us do we rise up to our greatest self and become a great leader. Sports is a great way to strengthen the masculine element in us; while learning and investing in a creative art (painting, singing, learning a musical instrument, dancing etc.) strengthens our feminine element.
Discovering our blind spots is the piece of the Anti-Routine which mostly gets missed, and yet is the foundation on which everything else rests. A leader who knows it all, has answers to all questions, solutions to all problems and is already the greatest version of himself / herself is a leader who is not going to lead the business too far. Having a structure to continually look inside to discover places one doesn't want to go to and see things one doesn't want to see is ultimately what will lead us and our businesses from good to great.
3. The Perfectionist Trap: We all know the Pareto's principle and yet most of us don't apply it to reduce our work and increase our output. It has been statistically proven that 20% of the work we do gives us 80% output. and we spend 80% of the remaining time on finishing the remaining 20% work. I have personally experienced the Power of Pareto not only in my own work but also as I coached my clients to implement it in their own work.
Chase excellence, not perfection. Excellence is for the God inside of us, Perfection is for the fickle applause from the outside. At 80% output, assess if it is worthwhile to complete the remaining 20%. If you are reviewing product development, ensure your team co-creates with the customer instead of inside your Ivory Tower office. Such a co-creation will support you to stop at 80%. If you are reviewing sales, check if your sales team knows who their top 20% customers are. Figure out which 20% reviews will give you 80% leverage, mentoring which 20% stars will give you 80% growth, focussing on which 20% objectives will give you 80% velocity in your business. If you are chasing everything and everyone, nothing much may get created.
4. Intention Creation: I also discovered that articulating my 5-Years Intentions helps me to have clarity on the wins to be created in the first year, first quarter, current month, current week and the next day. Writing my intentions in the night for the next day work schedule gives me more horsepower to deliver on them with precision.
5. The Tough Nut: Looking at my task list for the next day as I sit down at the end of day to review and reflect on the day gone by and to create the next day, I use a simple method, which most of us know, and divide the list into 4 categories -
A - Important, Urgent
B - Important, Not Urgent as yet
C - Not Important, Urgent
D - Neither Important, Nor Urgent
I delegate C and cross out D from my list. I prioritize A and schedule it first thing in the morning, followed by B, which are my tough nuts to crack, before I open the doors to the rest of the world. If one is not being aware, what ends up happening is that we do C and D to get instant gratification and a sense of achievement in the first half of the day and push B so much down in the day that it gets missed out and becomes A the next day, leaving us forever in a firefight mode.
The above 5 may support you to get done faster and more efficiently through your work schedule. Yet , you may not be able to fully disconnect from work when you are not at work because you find yourself thinking about work when not at work. Then, even if you creatively force yourself to work less number of hours, you are still caught because your mind continues to stay at work though you have physically moved out. Here's How to Disconnect from Work when not Working:
1. First of all, make a commitment to stay in the present moment. This is a powerful first step because that brings you into awareness when you are not and acts as a positive force to shake you back into the present.
2. Second, practise Aana Paana meditation, the meditation technique Buddha taught for mind control. In this technique, you focus your attention on the triangular region of your nose and upper lip and observe your breath as it goes in and as it goes out. Practise with eyes closed daily and then begin practising it open-eyed so that even while you are listening to someone, you are present to your breath coming in and going out. This stops the chattering monkey called the mind from running in thousand different directions and gets engaged in the game of observing the breath. As the mind becomes still observing the breath, we experience being centred, grounded and present.
3. Have a solid Anti-Routine to immerse your body, mind, heart and soul - a hobby and a sport that you are in love with, along with an intense workout regime. The fact is that we are have far greater ability, expertise and wisdom to contribute, make a difference and live our purpose through our work at 50 than at 40, at 60 than at 50, at 70 than at 60, at 80 than at 70. Therefore, it is our responsibility towards ourselves and more importantly, towards the communities that we are a part of, to ensure that we have Olympic athlete fitness levels because only when we are at the highest level of health, fitness and well-being can we truly contribute, make a difference and live our purpose this lifetime through the work we do.
Retirement is an archaic concept which has no role to play in today's day and age. We are meant to have fun; live with passion, purpose and impact; and make a dent in the Universe through our work that we love, till the last breath of our life, whenever it may come.
4. Include an intense spiritual, emotional and mental work-out in your Anti-Routine to continuously be shown the mirror to your blind spots so that you remain agile not only physically but also spiritually, emotionally and mentally till the day it is time for you to transition to the next phase of your existence. Like one of my favourite wise people, Dr Wayne Dyer, said - We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience. Leading a business from good to great can only happen inside of understanding this truth, as Sara Blakely, the youngest self-made woman billionaire at 41 years of age, found. She credits her business success to listening to Wayne Dyer and applying his principles from the age of 16 years.
5. Immerse yourself in reading books and listening to podcasts by masters in business for Business Excellence, in your domain for Craft Mastery and in the mystery of life for Leadership Depth during your Anti-Routine. This is a powerful way to ensure your mind is not idle, which is when it will have a tendency to brood and ruminate over and over again about work; not allowing you peace of mind even when you have physically disconnected from work. Not only will you find greater inner peace but also learn, grow and evolve with velocity. Warren Buffett, who is world's 4th richest man in the world reads 80% of the time. Bill Gates, who is world's 2nd richest man, reads one book a week.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
Is your business down and out because of the pandemic? Are you waiting for the pandemic to end to grow or start your business? I believe that there is no better time to start a new business or grow your existing business than now, even as Covid is raging around the world with a vengeance. I say so because a business is a construct for making a difference and you can make a much bigger difference when the situation is more challenging. Bigger the challenge, greater the opportunity to contribute and therefore, greater the velocity with which you can grow your business. In the last few months, my business has grown exponentially, and the members of Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™ have either built a strong foundation for scaling their business or have experienced commendable business growth.
Here's how to do it:
1. You now have time to step outside your business and look at it as a whole, instead of getting lost in the business. When you are a part of the painting, you have no clue how to make it better because you have no clue how it looks like as a whole. When you step out of the frame and turn around to look at the whole picture, you will begin to notice the colours that are missing and the lines that would be better erased. You will get creative ideas on how to make it into a beautiful work of art. That's what a business is - a beautiful work of art. And, as a business owner, you are the artist. You can view your business, you work of art as a whole through a simple one-page representation called the Business Model Canvas. Here's a blank Template for you to fill in for your business by answering the questions in each of the 9 boxes of the template.
I once had a business owner, who had been in the business for over 15 years, reach out to me. His complaint was that - Even after 15 years, I am struggling. I am still doing Operations, still chasing customers, whatever I earn gets spent and not much gets left behind. I work so much and yet, I am making no progress. He was stuck in what I call the Plateau of Mediocrity. I dug below the surface and wasn't surprised to find that he had no articulated Business Model, even after being in business for more than 15 years.
I had an opportunity to study another business, which started their venture with a clear Business Model which they tested to validate with real customers and ended up breaking more than 10 business models in their 1st year alone. At the end of their first year, they finally discovered a Business Model that they had tested for profitability, repeatability and scalability; and laughed all the way to the bank from Year 2 onwards.
So, the first thing to do to grow your Business in the time of Corona is to step outside your Business and look at it as a whole, using the Business Model Canvas, to identify areas to innovate to create greater value and make a much bigger difference to your customer community from the ecosystem of your Business.
Here's an article in Harvard Business Review from Steve Blank, the father of the Lean Startup Methodology, to understand more about the process of using Business Models, start-up assumptions, how to build experiments to validate the Business Model assumptions to discover your way to a deeply fulfilling, profitable, sustainable, successful Business:
Why the Lean Start-up Changes Everything?
Better would be to read his book written along with co-author, Bob Durf - The Startup Owner's Manual.
2. The second thing to do is to connect with your customers even more deeply and understand what are their challenges, what would contribute to them in this time, how has the pandemic impacted them and their business, listening from a place of 'Being of Service' to identify how you can innovate your Business Model to serve them even more powerfully, in ways you probably hadn't even considered before.
The business of one of the entrepreneurs I was coaching is to bring together suppliers and consumers of a particular service for networking in a physical meeting space. The idea really worked well till Covid happened and she could no longer offer the service the way it was designed before. She was feeling apologetic about suggesting to her customers about getting them together online and looking at offering the online model at a discount till we had a business model review. Here are the highlights of our review:
i. Her customers still have the need and are irritated at not being able to work at the velocity with which they could work before Covid and Lockdown.
ii. Covid and Lockdown has given them exposure to and familiarity with the online channel.
iii. The key benefit they received from her Business Model was an opportunity to make a new set of connections from their industry in a single place.
iv. They were spending hours on the road from all over Delhi NCR to come for the meeting.
v. One on one meetings were a critical component of the value being delivered in the earlier physical model.
As an outcome of our review, she innovated her Business Model to launch a premium higher-priced version of her service through Zoom using Breakout Rooms in Zoom to enable one-on-one meetings.
Before our review, she had hibernated her business in quiet frustration at the pandemic. After the review, she was grateful for the growth opportunity that the pandemic offered her.
3. Use the situation to breakfree from the 'Activity Trap' that most entrepreneurs get caught in. It is this 'busy being busy' that kills our creativity and productivity; and leads us on the path to Mediocrity. Use the current Corona times and the forced 'lock-in' to free yourself from the tyranny of 'busyness' and use the freed up time to learn, grow and evolve to be the world's best in your domain; be a master of your craft and become a key person of influence in industry globally.
I not only completed a Certificate Program in Psychodrama and Expressive Arts Therapy; but also started a 2 years Post Graduate Diploma in Psychodrama (a type of therapy work done in groups) with Tata Institute of Social Sciences. I am a CEO Coach; and work with CEOs, aspiring CEOs, Business Owners, Start-up Founders and High Performers to support them to lead their business from good to great. How can such a theme of learning support my customer community for me to invest so much of my time training on a topic that seems so irrelevant at the first glance? You see my work is about coaching people to step into their zone of genius and that requires an inside-out approach. That means I have to work with my clients not only on their Business Excellence and Craft Mastery journeys on the outside but also on their Leadership Depth journey on the inside, which would include supporting them to be healthy and fit - physically, mentally, emotionally. psychologically and spiritually. Only then, would they get the courage and clarity to lead their business from good to great.
4. Strengthen your Leadership Depth to build momentum to lead your business from good to great. Without a strong foundation of Leadership Depth, Business Excellence is a house of cards that will fall down eventually.
How do you measure Leadership Depth? You measure it by rating yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 in the 5 areas of your Wheel of Life. Your Leadership Depth is the lowest score you got across these 5 areas:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business / profession supporting you to live your purpose of life; gifting you with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing yourself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work you do
Wishing you the joy of the journey to learn to lead from inside out; which is when you get the courage, clarity and support (at work and at home) to lead your business from good to great.
My daughter says that Mother Nature has grounded us for not listening to her. I am constantly awed by her wisdom. Let us use this time to reflect on where we are on our leadership journey and learn to lead from inside out.
5. As I work, meet and interact with entrepreneurs, I get present to why there's a Harvard statistic on 75% startups failing in their first year and Fortune statistic on 90% businesses failing in the first five years of their existence. The founders are passionate about their domain, they are experts and are technically very strong though where they miss is to learn the art and science of entrepreneurship. They miss that the 3 aspects of their personality needs to be in balance for the business to grow - The Entrepreneur, The Manager, The Technician - in the words of Michael Gerber of The EMyth fame.
Now that Mother Nature has grounded us for not listening to her and being naughty, let us use this time to learn, understand and apply the science of Entrepreneurship. Just because you are a great technology expert, photographer, consultant, baker etc. does not mean you are a great entrepreneur or a great manager. You have to learn the entrepreneurial and managerial domains, as well, to be able to nurture and scale your business.
Make a list of all that you now know you can do to lead your business from good to great, even in the time of Corona, and experience the joy of implementing wonderful ideas and watching your business grow.
Love and gratitude for who you are as a human being; and reverence for your commitment to make a massive difference through your work,
If you are a small business owner, you are the Brand. Hesitation and discomfort to market and promote yourself is akin to committing business harakiri. And, yet it is a common predicament faced by many new entrepreneurs and small business owners because it feels boastful and arrogant to talk about oneself, having been taught the value of humility during one's growing years.
As I started out, I faced the same fear. Infact, I would hide behind my company's name to write articles or to express my rather radical views over matters on social media. I posted quotes of other people with which I connected with, rather than share directly what I believed in. It took me a while to find the courage to own my voice, own who I was in the public glare. I bought my first company's domain name immediately but it took me many years to buy my name's domain name. Even today, I write articles extensively to support my customer community but have pushed the idea of making videos and podcasts right under the carpet. I knew I will have to go beyond that discomfort very soon, the moment one of my clients asked to be coached on how to overcome the hesitation to market herself. That is why I love coaching. It forces you to grow, whether you like it or not. I proudly tell everyone how I have build my coaching business only through referrals, which I feel is the platinum standard of building any business. Though, there's an ugly truth hiding behind it, that I hesitate to market myself or talk about myself. I rather have my clients market for me. That's a good strategy to build a hugely value-creating business and yet, it needs to be complemented by strengthening of the Business Owner's Leadership Depth for her to embrace her own Light, so that she can make a much bigger difference through the work she does, the business she runs.
Here's a 5-step process to overcome the fear of marketing yourself:
1. The first step is to acknowledge that you do have the fear of marketing yourself, of self-promotion, of putting yourself out there. Have the courage of self-awareness that this is only a secondary fear. It is arising out of the 3 core fears which are hard-wired in the minds of all human-beings as an outcome of our fear-sourced evolutionary process -
i. I am not good enough.
ii. I am not important.
iii. I am all alone.
Recognise you are not alone in experiencing these fears and a part of our human journey is to learn, grow and evolve beyond these primal fears to step into our highest potential, which is when we can truly live our destiny to live our purpose this lifetime, to make a massive difference through our work, through who we are as human beings.
2. After allowing yourself the humbling experience of looking into the eyes of your primal fears, the second step is to review and reflect on the impact of these fears on yourself, on your target customer community that you are committed to serve and on the world.
As I reflect with you as I write this article, I realise that the impact of my fear in the world is that we have lost VG Siddhartha (Founder, Cafe Coffee Day), Vineet Whig (COO, Encyclopaedia Britannica) and so many more due to their inability to manage the pressures of business and life, due to lack of inner strength to face the inevitable struggles of building a business. I am present to the fact that Business Owners and Entrepreneurs struggle to grow their businesses not so much because they don't have an understanding of Business Excellence or Craft Mastery but because there isn't any focus on strengthening Leadership Depth (you can call it Inner Strength), which is the foundation on which a sustainable, profitable, repeatable, scalable business is built with ease and grace.
Without owning my message to the world, and spreading that message with courage, clarity and confidence, I miss to contribute the only way I know how to the well-being and success of my target customer community that I am committed to serve. This missing to contribute leaves me feeling incomplete and unfulfilled. This missing creates a world, where people feel scared to own their impossible, unimaginable dreams and miss to joyously travel forth like peaceful warriors to realise their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their Highest Self.
Here I am owning my message that you can strengthen your Leadership Depth to Have It All:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business supporting you to live your purpose of life; gifting you with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing yourself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work you do
and that Having It All is the only way to build a great business because it requires you to elevate yourself to be the greatest version of you.
My message is also that a business is a vehicle for making a difference. Your revenue is an indicator of how much of a difference you are making to your customers. Your expenses are an indicator of your operational excellence. A healthy profit is an indicator of your commitment to your employees.
So, my friend as you hesitate to market yourself, here are my questions for you to reflect on:
i. What is your message to the world that you hesitate to own and spread?
ii. What is the impact of your hesitation, and your fear to own and spread your message on you, your target customer community and the world?
iii. What will you do about it? which is the 3rd step
3. The third step is to ask yourself what will you do once you realise the impact of your hesitation and fear.
Here is what I am committing to doing to embrace my fears and market myself:
i. Start my Podcast
ii. Start my YouTube Channel
iii. Start working on my first Book
What will you commit to doing?
4. The fourth step is to remember that Grace is in Balance. It's easy to fall in the Trap of Self-Promotion when you become bigger than your message, you become bigger than the problem you are trying to help solve in the world, you become bigger than your clients.
The way to escape this treacherous fall is to always remember that you are merely a channel of your message, a channel to solve the problem and that you have a Creator who is so much bigger than you.
5. The fifth step is to do our daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual Review and Reflections; which are very important pit-stops for us to refuel, repair, recreate, reassess and re-ignite our passion to continue travelling in the right direction towards fulfilling our purpose this Lifetime.
Wishing you the joy of the journey.
Love, Gratitude and Reverence for who you are as a human being and for your very special message that the world is waiting for,
What is the single-most important reason why entrepreneurial ventures die? What is the single-most important reason why dreams never get realized? What is the single-most important reason why most of us never live our destiny to make a dent in the Universe? What is the single-most important reason why we never achieve what we most desire, professionally and personally?
Interestingly, the answer to all these questions is the same - Self-doubt. If there was only one enemy that I could shoot down for all my clients, it would be self-doubt. It is a great equalizer. It doesn't matter how successful, how wealthy, how accomplished someone is or isn't, self-doubt has sneaked its way and hid itself very cunningly beneath layers in the mind. It is the legacy of our evolutionary process of survival and is
a vestigial emotion found in all human beings; except those who have consciously worked on themselves to go beyond the clutches of this demon by inculcating daily growth habits. If we stop practising those growth habits, the demon raises its ugly head all over again by getting its nourishment from our default limiting habits.
Let's explore the relationship between self-doubt and business success. Building a successful business is about iteratively discovering a profitable, repeatable, scalable business model much before your passion and resources run out. That means having the inner strength to keep listening to a 100 NOs before that one YES. If you feed your self-doubt, you will give-up after the first few NOs. I echo what Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz say in their book, 'Go for No' - 'Yes is the destination. No is how you get there.' Learnings about your business model really happen in the failures you have. Without the failures, you have no chance of learning and moving forward to discovering your profitable, repeatable and scalable business model. The whole process from a start-up to a Unicorn is an iterative process, with falling down, learning from the fall, integrating the learnings to decide the next action, moving forward, falling down again, and repeating this cycle again and again till you find profitability on Mountain 2 of Building a Great Business; continuing the iteration to climb to the peak of Mountain 3 to discover the formula for Repeatability and Scalability; learning by continuing to fail and discovering the way forward to Scale on Mountain 4; and finally learning how to Corporatize on Mountain 5, again through failing. So, there's no getting away from failure, rejection, NOs if you are upto building a great business that is an expression of your purpose this lifetime. If self-doubt is one of your best friends that won't leave you, then the journey to building a great business cannot be completed because you will give up along the way, lose your motivation, your inspiration, passion, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, self-belief, confidence to keep getting up every time you fall.
Let's understand Self-Doubt for what it really is to get an access to find freedom from it. Self-doubt is really the emotional expression of what I call the 'small mind'. Our 'small mind' is our default limiting experience of ourselves, of others and of life itself. If we don't make a conscious effort, our 'small mind' runs the show in our life, creating limiting circumstances and limiting / no results in our lives. Our brain, by default, is hard-wired with negativity. And, our generic purpose in this lifetime is to learn, grow and evolve to our highest potential by rewiring our brain to be positive and growth-oriented to shift to what I call the 'Big Mind' by working at the level of growth habits across all the 4 bodies of our Being - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
The 'small mind' is a reaction to the 3 fundamental fears that we humans have:
i. I am not good enough
ii. I am all alone. No one loves me.
iii. I am not important.
Self-awareness is about being aware of our default core fears and the limiting thought pattern that is a reaction to those fears. Without this self-awareness, we will unconsciously continue to be a prisoner of our own fears and limiting thought patterns; and continue to bang our head against the wall of circumstances without being able to fulfil our intentions or realise our dreams to grow to our highest potential.
My core fears are a combination of 'I am not good enough' and 'I am all alone. No one loves me.'. My small mind is - 'I don't deserve the best. I am not worthy. No one loves, appreciates and respects me. Life is a struggle.', which is a reaction to my core fears. My default limiting personality is a reaction to my small mind - 'I work incredibly hard in my life but without rewarding outcomes in relation to the enormous hard work I put in. I don't experience love, appreciation and respect. Infact, I keep experiencing the opposite of that and the result is I am unable to unconditionally love, appreciate and respect; which keeps the vicious cycle going. I keep working hard playing to get the best but the best continues to be beyond my reach, without my realising how I am at the source of all this melodrama or Maya as we say in our culture.'
How does one get out of this vicious cycle? There are many ways though I have chosen to integrate the many ways after studying, interviewing or getting coached from the master entrepreneurs, the super successful leaders, the masters of their craft, the giants of their field. Not surprisingly, they all share similar growth habits that they inculcate in their daily lives to protect themselves from the ferocious grip of the 'small mind'.
The first step is to be aware of your core fears, your small mind. The second step is to make a commitment to live from your Big Mind and feed that. Our Big Mind is our creation, that we will create consciously; while our small mind is our default limiting way of Being which will continue to run our lives till we choose to consciously feed our Big Mind to win over our small mind by stopping to feed the small mind.
Here's my Big Mind, it's my commitment to myself, my promise to myself how I choose to relate to myself, others and to life - 'I am love, gratitude and reverence. I am success and prosperity. I love, respect and appreciate myself and all beings. Therefore, I experience people's love, respect and appreciation for me. Life is fun and easy.' When I feel people walking all over me, I feel the grip of my small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When I feel unappreciated, unloved and disrespected, I feel the clutch of the small mind and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I know how to respond. When life throws challenges that throw me on the ground, my small mind wants to push me deeper into the deep ditch of dreariness and then I remind myself of what my Big Mind is and I use my creativity to use the trying circumstances and people who have betrayed and cheated me as opportunities of tremendous growth. If my business hasn't extinguished as yet, it is because I chose to be Big Mind though to chose small mind was tantalizingly easier at numerous occasions. Each time, my business seems to be near its death-bed, my Big Mind helps me to keep the small mind and it's best friend, self-doubt, at bay and brings back my childlike trust and faith in myself, in my impossible unimaginable dreams, in my mission to make a dent in the Universe, in the Universe to help me transform the impossible into possible, the unimaginable into the imaginable.
So, the next important question is how to stop feeding our small mind and start feeding our Big Mind to nourish and nurture it to become strong and healthy. It is through the practise of growth habits. The below habits are your 1st stage habits. I call them Gear 1 Starter RYD (Realize Your Dreams) Habits. By practising these habits, you will awaken the Big Mind in yourself; and de-fang and weaken the small mind. When that happens, self-doubt no longer befriends you and walks out on you, leaving you free and in the joyous experience of - I am me and that's enough. No longer anything to prove, no longer caught in the anxiety of what will others say, nothing to hide, nowhere to go to prove a point, nothing to be embarrassed about. Just a blessed feeling of having arrived on the inside to make a difference through your work on the outside. You will observe success and wealth coming your way as by-products of your having arrived on the inside and having found authentic happiness not linked to any cause. Inside of this transformation, the journey to build a great business truly begins.
The members of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™, Centre for Transformational Leadership™, Mums At Work™, Centre for Personal Excellence™ and Centre for Coaching Excellence™ can click on the link below to access the online curriculum for the detailed note on these habits.
Gear 1 Starter RYD Habits
1. The Dream
2. Mirror Work
6. Read Your Book
7. Daily Inspiration
8. Buddy Call
9. Physical Exercise
10. Restoring your Word
11. Intention Creation and Scheduling
12. Keep a Journal
These habits are designed to strengthen you in the first leadership muscle - Agility of Mind™.
Wishing you the joy of living your purpose this lifetime through the work you do, the business you run and having the fulfilment of not dying with your Light intact inside of you.
Why is my Business not scaling up? That's one of the most frequent questions I get asked and the reason most of my clients sign up with me at Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence™. The fact is Businesses are meant to scale-up and if they aren't, it is because we come in the way. The only way a sustainable business can be built is to lead it to its highest potential; otherwise it meanders along the Path of Mediocrity in the company of Struggle, Burnt-out and Purposelessness.
Here are 5 different types of Entrepreneurs who will not be able to scale-up their business and one type who definitely will. If you are committed to grow your business, identify which one of these limiting entrepreneurial patterns you come close to and build a conscious growth strategy to not fall in the trap of these default patterns by inculcating a recommended set of habits, routines and practices.
1. The Embarrassed Entrepreneur: Scaling-up requires a deep-down authentically spiritual belief in one's product / service that it is meant to make a dent in the Universe. Without that kind of belief, founders are unable to do whatever it takes to scale-up. They feel embarrassed, uncomfortable and overwhelmed to take the audacious actions needed to grow their business. They feel embarrassed, uncomfortable and overwhelmed to talk about their most expensive and highest value-delivering offering because in their words, 'it feels uncomfortably salesy', and end up spending 80% of their customer creation time creating and selling low-end products. Then, they wonder why their revenues and profits are not growing inspite of all the hard-work they end up doing. They want to walk on the path which feels in sync with who they feel they are, which is avoiding anything that puts them out of their Comfort Zone.
Growth Strategy: Sara Blakely, youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world, makes it a daily practise to embarrass herself to ensure she gets off her fear of embarrassment on a daily basis, which is what she credits her growth as an entrepreneur to. She shared how one day she started singing in the elevator full of people. That requires massive guts. No wonder from being a chipmunk at Disney World welcoming people for 3 months and a door-to-door fax-machine sales person for 7 straight years, she has been able to bootstrap a global billion dollar business without any external funds. You need guts to build a business of that scale and therefore, build a daily practise to embarrass yourself. You will learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, giving you inner power and strength to build a great business.
The feeling of overwhelm is the reaction of the body to what is uncomfortable to the mind. The mind dislikes being embarrassed because our fear-sourced survival-seeking reptilian brain considers it as dangerous, having been trained over million of years of our evolutionary process to consider 'fitting in' as safe.
We need to change the hard-wiring of this reptilian part of our brain for us to really take the powerful, bold, 'something that others will laugh at', 'different from what everyone else is doing' kind of actions to scale our business.
2. The Do-Gooder Entrepreneur: These entrepreneurs are usually found in the helping professions. They run their business for the good of others and are unable to monetise the enormous work that they do because they miss to look at their business through the lens of a Business Model and fail to apply the rigour of the science of entrepreneurship. They end up getting burnt out, not feeling good about themselves, drained of energy and passion which is why they started their business in the first place. They end up picking up a job or doing something else to generate income for them to survive and miss the opportunity to make an enormous difference, contribution, impact and financial freedom through the work they are passionate about. They also usually resist structures and discipling themselves. They are continually seeking to feel good and focus their energies on completing smaller, less value-adding, tactical activities which will give them instant gratification. What would serve them is to focus their energies and efforts on strengthening themselves on the inside such that the neediness to feel good doesn't drive their actions; and are instead able to create the willpower to do the strategic work to scale their business.
Growth Strategy: Daily do one thing that you resist, don't want to do, fear doing to get off seeking 'feeling good'. Create daily, weekly, monthly growth structures and follow them. Consciously choose to spend 80% of your time on the strategy side of your business. Write it in your soul that without monetising your do-good efforts in a structured fashion, you will limit your and your business' ability to scale, reach the highest potential and make a massive difference.
Challenge yourself to raise the price of your product / service beyond what feels comfortable; and then go ahead and give 10 times the value of this price.
3. The Needy Entrepreneur: Prospects end up running away from you as soon as possible because needy is creepy. You want customers, not so much to make a difference to their lives but because you are needy for their money as you need money to survive. You are running your business because you need money. A business scales and grows when it is focussed on making massive difference to its customer communities, instead of being focussed on generating money for you.
In the words of Steve Jobs, "Being an entrepreneur is not about money or fame. It's about solving problems for society and the passion for creating opportunities where people only see problems."
Growth Strategy: Like one of my coaches used to say, have two kinds of projects - the sexy project and the cash project. The sexy project is your business through which you are doing the work that you love. Leading it to its highest potential requires legendary patience and super-human perseverance. If you haven't committed to building your business and serving your customer community for atleast 20 years, you may just miss to experience the joy of seeing your dreams realised.
The cash project gives you the money to survive from one day to the next and gives you the space to work on your sexy project. Yes, you need to have a day job to manage your family expenses and your business that you are passionate about is the night job that you are working on. You can quit your day job when your night job begins to generate income equal to your day job.
This will ensure you are not needy for your customer's money; and are selling to solve your customer's problems or helping them realise their dreams through your product / service. This way you will have customers chase you, instead of you chasing your customers and begging them to buy from you.
4. The Uninspired Entrepreneur: You don't know why you are doing the work you are doing. You don't feel the connection with your business. You are passionate about your craft but don't understand its purpose. You feel listless, uninspired and lost around your work. You are cutting stones instead of building cathedrals through your business and the emptiness in your heart keeps you unfulfilled. Good money comes in whenever you make yourself get up and go about the business of running your business and yet there isn't inspiration to scale it, grow it to its highest potential, to its greatest version. You wonder if you are in the right business, whether you should explore doing something else that would fulfil you more. Funny enough, the hollow emptiness follows you in your personal life as well and you remain unfulfilled there as well. Whatever you do, nothing seems to fill the hole in your heart, stitch the tear in your soul, bring peace and harmony in your mind and deep restfulness to your body.
You are missing the connection with your purpose of life which is the source of all inspiration. We live our purpose of life through the work we do, through the businesses we run. Your purpose is the Big Why of your Business. Without the Big Why, there doesn't seem to be any point in doing anything. You are an acknowledged expert in your domain and yet you don't feel the joyous exultation of running your business
Growth Strategy: Drop everything to figure the purpose of your life, and create a visceral connection between your purpose and your business. You will suddenly rediscover the stars in your eyes, a song on your lips, a dance to your feet, love in your heart for what you do and who you are. You will find the energy to effortlessly do all the hard work you used to avoid before to build a great business.
5. The Know-It-All Entrepreneur: I have deep compassion for this kind of an entrepreneur, though this is the type I cannot coach because they are uncoachable. They are in a rut and they can't even see it. They have all the answers, keep working and yet never seem to grow, professionally or personally. They are always arriving but never arrive. They pretend to others but what is even more debilitating is that they pretend to themselves and don't even know it. Their business is going to fall off from a cliff to a certain death unless they wake up.
Growth Strategy: Make deep self-inquiry and reflection a habit. Practise vulnerability, though it is the hardest for you. Be authentic about your own inauthenticity. Recognise your fear of not being good enough and that your 'Know-it-all' is a mask that you are wearing to hide this shameful secret in the basement of your psyche from others and from your own self. Know that we all have that shameful secret hiding inside of us; and part of our human journey to live in the expression of our highest self is to arrive at a point where 'I am me and that's enough.' rings true and loud. Learn to be coachable and take support. We all can do with support. Infact, without support of our mastermind group and our coach, it's rarely possible to hit the genius level work in our lives.
What type of Entrepreneur should we be then? The Peaceful Warrior Entrepreneur, who knows in his heart and as much as in his soul, that he is here on Earth to make a dent in the Universe through his business which is an expression of his work and his mission this lifetime. The Peaceful Warrior knows that scaling up the business is an inside-out job, that work is needed to be done on the inside for her to grow her business on the outside. Therefore, she neither feels helpless nor wastes her energy fighting the world. She works on transforming within instead of complaining about what's on the outside. She focuses her energy to learn massively to be the best in the world in her industry, instead of chasing customers. She connects with people with vulnerable authenticity instead of networking. He learns to balance the feminine and masculine aspects of his Being, instead of negating one aspect. Today, most of the businesses are an extreme expression of the masculine aspect - the war approach, the aggression, the need to dominate. The Peaceful Warrior learns to access her feminine aspect to balance the masculine and feminine energies in her to run her business by relying on her intuition, being empathetic and vulnerable, knowing how to talk to the Universe to take support to scale her business; while being assertive, having crystal clear clarity on what she wants and going after it with confidence to create it, having methods, processes and structures to quantify the process of business building and being determined to scale-up her business, integrating the feminine energy of growing in Leadership Depth with the masculine energy of Business Excellence and creating harmony between the two aspects through Craft Mastery.
Wishing you the joy of the journey of the Peaceful Warrior Entrepreneur (PWE) because it is only the PWE who believes in having it all and creates it for himself; instead of focussing on one area of his life at the cost of other areas:
i. Deeply fulfilling, successful, profitable business supporting him to live his purpose of life; gifting him with impact, contribution and financial freedom
ii. Loving, harmonious relationships at work and at home
iii. Happy, healthy, responsible kids with their genius joyfully expressed
iv. Nourishing, nurturing himself to the highest level of fitness and well-being (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually)
v. Making a massive difference through the work he does
Do you remember how you felt when you last carried out a random act of kindness? And, how you felt when somebody did something kind for you? Did you not feel gentle waves of uplifting warmth, joyous energy and soothing restfulness wash all over your body?
At the beginning of our journey, when I ask a client - How are you feeling?; the usual response is - I think good. That tells me how disconnected he is from his emotional body because you cannot think feelings, you can only feel them in your physical body. If you are in touch with your emotions, you will know exactly in which part of the body is the emotion arising, and how exactly is it arising. It may be a tightening of the stomach or heaviness in the shoulders or stiffness in the neck or discomfort in the upper back or stinging in the eyes or a catch in the throat or various other expressions of feelings in the physical body.
As you exercise your emotional body to make it fit, you get reconnected with your authentic self, your Source. At that point, you may feel an expansiveness as vast as the sky above, as deep as the ocean below, spaciousness all around, a sweet homecoming; as the feeling spreads from inside to outside to everywhere. And, your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness rises to be at the peak.
One of the the simplest ways to reconnect with your authentic self is to do a random act of kindness and then keep doing them daily like a must-do just as you brush your teeth daily. The idea is to make it an automatic habit. Though in the beginning, it will feel ritualistic and forced, to mandatorily do an act of kindness to tick it off from your list but after a point, it will begin to feel genuine and something you cannot do without. This act is one of the ways you exercise your emotional body.
Just as you have to force yourself to exercise your physical body daily in the beginning but after the lowest point of wanting to give up, you experience an energy that has you wanting to exercise your physical body daily that you can no longer stop. It is interesting that the energy graph of inculcating any growth habit is similar to the shape of a hockey stick. Your mental, emotional and physical energy continue to drop till the lowest point but if you continue beyond that point using your spiritual energy of higher purpose and deep connection with your own self; your mental, emotional and physical energy suddenly turn around exponentially to support you to stick to the habit forever.
Based on experiments conducted by University College London, we now have proof that it takes 66 days to hold on to a habit daily for it to become automatic. So, play the Kindness Habit game daily for 66 days even as your energy dips to reap the benefit of a healthy and fit emotional body.
Of course, there are many other exercises to keep your emotional body fit. Let’s take those up in subsequent articles for discussion.
Coming back to Kindness, how do you define it? It is an act coming from a place of compassionate love and empathy for the good of others with no expectation of a reward in return. If the act is done for appreciation, acknowledgement or some other intrinsic or extrinsic reward, the act serves you no purpose and you stay disconnected from your authentic self.
The next logical question is why do we even care that the emotional body is fit and healthy. It is because the Being of the Human Being that we are is like a car with 4 wheels on a journey to reach its destination of fulfilment of its purpose of having been born. The 4 wheels are our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. If any of these bodies is weak, then the car is unable to drive forward with velocity towards its purpose and we feel a lack, a longing, an incompletion, something missing, a void in our hearts and souls that no material wealth or a loved one can complete or fill.
Interestingly, if we work on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies to become intimately connected with our authentic self, we will find ourselves becoming loving, compassionate and empathetic. The reverse is also true, if we work on practising feeling love, compassion and empathy viscerally not just playing around the idea in our head; we will automatically find ourselves becoming intimately connected with our authentic self.
That is the true purpose of our life - to find and reconnect with our authentic self, our inner Wisdom, our inner Light and live in the expression of our undeniable greatness. Not to undertake this journey leads us to an experience of pain from which we find no recourse till the time Pain has forced us to choose the path to our Highest Self. At that point, Pain has served its purpose and we no longer find ourselves in the grip of it. Each experience, painful or not, is a nudge from the Universe to drop our masks of being a Victim or a Fighter and step forward as Peaceful Warriors that we truly are, to fight the battles inside rather than their reflections outside to allow our inner Light to shine through to make our world brighter than we found it.
That is why Kindness matters in Business. Because it gives us access to our authentic self and an opportunity to step into the Light of our inner Wisdom for us to operate at the highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation. That has definite economic outcome higher than available without highest levels of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation in people engaged in making the business work. There is a direct correlation between Kindness embodied in the culture of a Business and Profitability generated by the Business. Interestingly, you cannot tell or mandate people to be kind.
Leaving you with a question - How do you create a culture of kindness at work and at home?
Your fellow traveller in this Journey towards Purpose, Abundance and Contribution through the work we do, communities that we are a part of and families we are blessed to belong to,
Why is it important to be aware of what Wealth really means for us? Because without that understanding, we will end up hoarding the wrong currency and never experience abundance inspite of having all the wealth in the world.
Sharing what Wealth means for me to support you to go on a voyage of deeper self-inquiry to discover your own truth and find a simple path to freedom, abundance and prosperity.
Wealth for me is:
1. Time Freedom - which is the ability to own my own time. That is why inspite of all the wealth and titles in the corporate structure, I did not feel abundant.
2. Ability to live my purpose through the work I do - So, I hung up my corporate boots, 9 years ago, to walk towards an unknown future seeking not only Time Freedom; but also greater meaning, purpose and impact through my work.
3. Time carved out daily for physical, mental / intellectual, emotional, spiritual growth and development - If I don’t prioritise and take out time for this, I feel poorer by the end of the day.
4. Eating, playing and praying together as a family
5. Being engaged and involved with my parents’ lives - The time, financial and situation freedom to visit my parents, who live 5.5 hours away, for a day once-a-week makes me feel prosperous.
6. Challenging myself, physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and go beyond - Playing for black belt though I am as yet, at 45, only yellow belt in Karate has me jumping out of bed with excitement and a sense of a beautiful adventure. Playing to be a scratch player in golf though my current on-board handicap is 38 may sound like pollyanna optimism or plain Jane wishful thinking but choosing to invest in professional coaching with the country’s best coach, practising and playing makes me feel free and abundant. Inside of that experience of freedom and abundance, I witness high levels of productivity, performance and effectiveness at work and in all other areas of my life.
7. Building my will-power to wake up at dawn daily and be consistent with my morning personal practise - This has been a 30 year dream and I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this dream.
See, dreams always come true. The question is - Are you willing to hang in with it for 30, 40, 50 years? Let only the God of Death separate you from your Dream, not the Jester that is the Mind.
8. Have joyous, authentic, emotionally uplifting, intellectually stimulating conversations - I have realised over the years that interesting conversations have more to do with me being interested in others than others being interesting.
9. Doing work that raises human consciousness, one person at a time - That is why I am so deeply in love with what I do (coaching) that it doesn’t feel like work. So, everyday is one big fun holiday for me. It can be for you too. Ask me and I will tell you how.
10. Read and write - I have integrated all that I love with my work. So daily reading the great masters of my field and writing an article or writing for my upcoming book is part of my Daily Top 5.
11. Going on vacations with the whole big extended family along with kids, spouse, parents, sisters and their families - This year all of us went on a cruise together. It took me 18 years to create this big bang vacation. Though 2 family members were missing on account of work commitments, I still feel the joy of having achieved a dream at 85%.
My next 2 plans are Kanatal (Uttarakhand) in November and Amritsar (Punjab) in March next year. By the way, I have learnt more about leadership and coaching, trying to get the whole family together on a vacation than all the classroom training I have attended :-)
12. Listening to music - This is such an easy win, though just realising that in working on the big ones on this list, I seem to have missed in creating one of the easiest. That is how most of us live life. We get so busy in chasing the big ones that the ones which we can catch with very little effort gets missed out.
13. Re-connecting with my heritage through learning to speak, read and write Punjabi (my mother tongue) and Hindi (our national language) fluently - Last month, I spent 3 weeks in Panchkula (twin city to Chandigarh, capital of Punjab and Haryana) where my parents stay. I usually make one day weekly pilgrimage there to check in on my aging parents and to do chores for them. I am usually so busy caught up in their lives that I don’t get to interact with anyone else. Or, we take vacations together that I hardly find myself really settling in there and experiencing the Punjabiyat of my heritage.
This time, my father had a surgery and I took off 3 weeks to be with him that gave me a chance to really polish my Punjabi. I experienced a strange sense of joy, a wonderful expansiveness, a delicious home-coming. We always spoke Hindi at home and as we grew up, God alone knows when, that suddenly we were speaking, thinking and dreaming in English.
I had a sudden rude awakening last year when I saw my kids struggling with Hindi. They were breezing through English exams but Hindi exams had them sweat. At that moment, I realised that I was stunting their growth as well as mine by weakening their and my roots; by alienating ourselves from our heritage, our languages, the very cradle of our creativity. Who we are would not grow tall in the world, live up to our highest potential if our roots weren’t strong enough; and our roots are Punjabi and Hindi. It’s great to know English. There’s a deep gratitude for the English language as it has been a window to the outside world for all of us in India. Though, while looking outside the window, we have forgotten to water our own roots. Then, how can we expect to fully flower and blossom to the highest that we are meant to be.
I cannot even come close to defining this strange joy I felt, a deep connection even with strangers as I conversed with them in my birth language. There was a melody and a sweet tinkling of gentle bells in and around me as I spoke and heard Punjabi with the hospital staff, our relatives, Dad’s friends; and my heart expanded with love for all beings.
I have always found that as we increase our connection with our own selves, our connection with all of Life expands. Can anything be more magical than that?
14. Giving back to the communities that I have the good fortune to be a part of - The big extended family that I come from, the village, state and the country I belong to, the religion that I am born into, the universal sisterhood of women that I am a part of, the condominium that I stay in, the schools and colleges I went to, the people I have worked with and those I work with, the various groups that I have joined for different reasons are all communities that I am a part of. Each of the communities have contributed to my growth and defined who I am. The only access for my ongoing growth is to give back to each of these communities for the cycle of energy, growth and evolution to be maintained.
So, though I buried myself behind books and kept myself isolated by my self-created walls during both my graduate and post-graduate schools for reasons that are part of another story, I felt the need to re-connect and contribute on my journey to complete parts of me which I had left behind in my past. This consciousness has me reach back to both the communities in an effort to reconnect with myself.
15. Playing sports - I grew up playing table tennis, lawn tennis, badminton, cricket, football, squash, pittoo (does anyone remember that game anymore), hopscotch, hide n seek, gallery and many more that I have smiling memories of. As I lost myself in the hubbub of Life (which really means I grew up), sports slowly vanished without me realising it. And, then golf happened that my love affair with sports started all over again and the wild excitement of being alive surged through my body once more, healing the wounds caused by the blows of Life.
Let me tell you a secret. Anything I love becomes a part of my Business Model, Parenting Model and Personal Growth Model. So, I play golf for work, play more golf along with kids and spouse as part of our family fun time and play even more to challenge myself to grow beyond what seems possible. You may want to try this tactic.
16. Become a person that I would like to give a thumbs up to when my physical body breathes its last and say - Life well lived, mate. Continue forth with your next adventure.
I am at different stages of collecting the above wealth; though the journey itself feels like as if I have found my way back home. Having defined what abundance really means has me experience freedom and prosperity like I have never experienced before; though I have a lot less cash at the moment than I have had at other points in my life.
The simplest way to discover what wealth, abundance, prosperity mean for you is to answer this question - If you had all the wealth in the world, what would you be doing that would have you be happy and at peace?
Make your list today and start your own journey towards fun, freedom and fulfilment.
I have found abundance in the way my Being understands it. May you find yours.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.