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Tips & Tactics for Personal Development

Monthly Archives: February 2013

7 reasons you are not successful – and what to do about it

Actually, there are probably many more reasons you are not as successful as you want to be. But let’s start with these.

1. You don’t know what success looks like – for you. You measure your success using someone else’s yardstick. If you do this, you will almost always come up short, since you see the great results of their work but you don’t see them actually struggling to get things done. Outcomes can be deceiving. Success is personal, and differs greatly from person to person. Choose your own yardstick carefully.

2. You don’t have goals. You have dreams and ideas, but no goals – nothing that gets you so fired up that you feel compelled to go after it. So you go after whatever crosses your path instead of what inspires you. Take time to learn what moves you, and then pick goals that allow you to spend time doing things that light your fire. If you don’t know what moves you, ask your friends and family members. They often know what lights your fire better than you do.

3. You don’t have discipline. You wander from one idea to another, and you don’t stick to any one plan long enough to see how it turns out. This is not only tiring, it’s also discouraging. So pick one small project that you can complete in a week or two, plan how to accomplish it, and do what it takes to finish it. You may be surprised how much this small effort can inspire you.

4. You don’t have enthusiasm. You push yourself to get things done, but you’re not inspired. Everything seems hard. Stop working and learn how to play. Pick a hobby and really go after it for 6 months. Schedule your “play time” and stick to it. It will refresh your mind and free up energy for other areas of your life.

5. You don’t have support or structure. You let other people, circumstances or events drive your choices, instead of designing your days around your priorities. You go it alone, and your friends can’t help you because they aren’t sure what your want. So let your friends and family know what you want and tell them how they can help you.

6. You are waiting for success to find you, instead of hunting it down yourself. Success is elusive, and sneaks up on your when you are not looking – but only when you are working on something that inspires you. So get busy with something that lights you up and you may find that success is looking over your shoulder.

7. You have given up on yourself. You don’t see enough value in who you are or what you can do, so you let life happen to you instead of directing it to your advantage. This is serious. It’s also a lie. You have value as a person no matter what your circumstances. And the best way to find and increase this value is by using whatever talents and resources you have to help others. You will get back what you put out.

And if you are wondering how I know all this, it’s because I’ve made all these mistakes myself. Some of them more than once.


The amazing power of the small good deed

Every day I read about people who do great things to help others. They give a million dollars to help a cause, spend 2 months helping people in a developing country, or organize thousands of people to achieve a goal. I’m always impressed. At the same time I usually feel depressed when I read these things. My thought is that I couldn’t do anything that grand. I don’t have the skills and usually I don’t have the time. Not to mention the courage. So I beat myself over the head a little, and then move on.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that while “big” good deeds may be outside my abilities, I can’t claim the same for the small ones that come up every day and that I often ignore because I’m “busy”.

I can always smile at someone to show that I notice them and that they are worthy of my attention. I can hold a door for someone, carry a package for them, give a compliment or a hug, or let them go ahead of me in line if they are in a hurry. I can listen to a friend who needs help with a problem, or help a stranger with directions.

There’s really no excuse for not doing these things. Other than selfishness. And selfishness isn’t something I want to promote – in myself or anyone else. So I’m working on getting over my selfishness and reaching out to others – one small good deed at a time. It’s tough sometimes, but when I get it right it’s always rewarding.

As an example, recently I was among several hundred passengers stranded by bad weather in the Philadelphia airport. As we all lined up to try to see an agent about our limited options, I noticed that the people in line were pretty hostile. I heard many of the people ahead of me in line arguing with the agents and criticizing the airline. I made a conscious choice to act differently. When my turn came I smiled at the agent and said, “It certainly looks like you are having a very challenging day.” She smiled and laughed as she took my now-useless boarding pass and started working on alternate arrangements. We chatted as she worked and laughed together as she struggle to get the overloaded system to print my new boarding pass. When it finally came through she handed it to me, smiled, and said thank you for a nice chat. I thanked her and went to catch my train.

So what could have been a very tense exchange turned out very differently.

Nothing grand here. Just two people working together in a difficult situation. And both of us came away less stressed and more productive than we would have if I had been aggressive.

So don’t overlook the small good deeds you can do each day. Their value is usually greater than you imagine.

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