Archive: May 2013
Start Small—Build Confidence!
Most of us read of others’ accomplishments in the news and think that there is absolutely no way that we could ever achieve what these superstars do. That’s because we hear about the outcomes, not the step-by-step growth process that allowed them to happen in the first place. If you’re thinking about a major success as one giant step, you’re right, it’s never going to happen.
Twitter Didn’t Happen Overnight
Great accomplishments are the result of a long series of less-than-great accomplishments, and failures. Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter, once quipped, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” In other words, if you dare to dream on a large scale you better be prepared to make the long-term commitment required to make it happen.
But with a few exceptions, almost anything you want to do, you can. You have to really want it, you have to be willing to work hard for it, and you need the patience and perseverance to take it step by step. With each step, your competence and confidence will grow, making the next step easier and more exciting.
Each time you put yourself out there, striving for a goal, four important things happen:
1. You learn something valuable and advance your quest; you complete another lap around the Prosperity Cycle.
2. You discover the exponential power of hard work. As you work harder and harder, your results grow exponentially. Other people might call you lucky or clever, but you know the truth.
3. You fail in small ways and big. And learn that that’s okay.
4. You realize that it feels great to succeed! Moments of independent success, even small ones, are like an addictive drug—a positive addiction to the actions that drive your life toward prosperity.
The highest level of confidence often begins very humbly, maybe by being good at something that only a niche group values or even that only you and your friends think is pretty cool.
What matters is that you make a start, right now, and begin the process of building to a crescendo that even you can’t yet believe!
Self-Awareness: The Key to Being a Top Performer or Successful Entrepreneur
Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror! The problem most of us face is that we’re so afraid of admitting our faults we avoid self-analysis and so never have the opportunity to really understand our strengths and values. And that is a prosperity killer. Instead, if you can align your world with your values, your strengths, and what you enjoy in life—as much as possible—you’ll find yourself speeding toward prosperity.
Do What You Love!
We are many times more productive—which breeds success—when we are operating within our strengths and passions—which breeds fulfillment. In fact, renowned psychologist and expert in talent development Travis Bradberry wrote in his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, “As self-awareness increases, people’s satisfaction with life—defined as their ability to reach their goals at work and at home—skyrockets. Self-awareness is so important for job performance that 83 percent of people high in self-awareness are top performers . . . When you are self-aware, you are far more likely to pursue the right opportunities, put your strengths to work and—perhaps more importantly—keep your emotions from holding you back.” Bradberry interviewed approximately 500,000 people in his research on emotional intelligence, so I tend to trust his statistic. In a similar study of 1,000 entrepreneurs, Bill Wagner, author of The Entrepreneur Next Door (Entrepreneur Press, 2006), identified self-awareness as a critical characteristic of successful entrepreneurship.
In practical terms, increased leverage of your strengths and values results in a level of performance that is sure to get you noticed in almost any environment. Understanding who you are and applying yourself accordingly is a great way to differentiate. Top performers make more money and get more promotions or are more successful as entrepreneurs. More important, they are happier and more fulfilled by their work. The ability to leverage every talent, every strength, every value, every passion small or large will make you prosperous every day because your work and life will be satisfying and fun.
Identify Your Unique Value Set
Internalizing your unique competence helps you understand why you are dissatisfied. Recognizing this can provide the impetus to “decide” to make a change. Making changes to what you do and where you do it in order to better align your work (or studies) with your strengths is a primary shortcut to prosperity. When you do this, you are striving for a compelling personal vision, one in which you are wholly satisfied.
To help you get started, check out this exercise for determining your core values. Understanding your own unique set of values is an essential step on your path to prosperity.
Entrepreneur Wanted—Pessimists Need Not Apply
Damn I feel great today! Perhaps it is the fact that spring has finally come to Colorado. Or maybe it’s because I’m leaving later this morning on a road trip to Detroit, ferrying my 20-year-old daughter and a car to the Motor City for a summer internship. It also might be a lot simpler than either or these explanations. It might be that like most entrepreneurs I’m just an irrepressible optimist.
Steve Blank defines an entrepreneur’s startup entity as “a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”. A definition that encompasses several key assumptions, not the least of which is that the business you are putting your heart and soul into may never cover your rent or your mac and cheese lifestyle. Historically, only the most optimistic among us could sign up for that. But the good news is that, without too many people noticing, the bar is being lowered and choosing an entrepreneur’s path has never been easier nor more rational. Let me explain.
We Love Entrepreneurs!
The United States has long offered a combination of basic rights (property rights and the rule of law), learning institutions, innovative corporations, and inspirational icons that have made it easier than anywhere else on earth to become an entrepreneur. But two new factors have made it easier to take the plunge. First, popular culture has evolved in a way that has elevated the status of entrepreneurs from quirky dreamers to valiant innovators whose efforts create a large portion of the jobs that fuel our internet era economy. Fear of failure is still one of the biggest deterrents to starting a company, but failing is no longer a scarlet letter on your resume but rather a badge of honor. The fact that investors, employees, and customers understand and applaud the risks involved makes it a lot easier to step into the ring.
Me, an Entrepreneur?
The other factor that makes it more rational to choose to be an entrepreneur is that you have a pretty good chance of being one whether you like it or not. There aren’t many sure things when it comes to employment these days and most of us are a company merger or relocation away from being unemployed. And increasingly, your next—and best—opportunity may be the one that you create for yourself. It makes sense to at least give some thought to what you might do if you find yourself in this position.
Whether you decide you like the feel of a startup or a larger organization the same ten shortcuts will help ensure that you are heading toward a job that you are passionate about and coming up with the ideas that make you stand out from the crowd. And if there was an eleventh shortcut it might just be to adopt an optimistic attitude. It is a better platform to create new ideas as well as an attitude that will attract the talented people that you need to you bring them to life.
So smile. Right now. And carry that optimism into whatever you choose to do next.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik Shows U.S. the Way
I’m really, really tired of hearing our politicians bickering about the best way to get Americans back to work and our economy headed in the right direction. I happen to believe that there is more agreement between the left and right with respect to what needs to be done than either side cares to admit, but the fact remains that our political system punishes anyone who proposes serious reform.
What if we could, as a group of empowered individuals, take the initiative and make the politicians less relevant? In the freest global market that has ever existed, the health of the U.S. economy is directly proportional to the cumulative value being added by our workforce when compared to the workforces of the other nation states we compete against. Policy can’t drive value nearly as effectively as passion. In the next minute or so I will try to show you how a more empowered and passionate workforce can do what the President and Congress can’t.
Rosie = Passion
As a Louisville native, I can’t wait for the first Saturday in May and find myself following every story line that leads up to the Kentucky Derby. Each year a story seems to elevate from the rest. This year the most interesting story was about Rosie Napravnik, a 25-year-old female jockey from New Jersey. Rosie started racing professionally at age 17 and in her 8 year career has won more than 1,500 races and earned her owners more than $37 million in winnings. Talk about adding value! But she’s also ridden in some 8,500 races that she didn’t win. And in the worst of those races she has broken her wrist, arm, leg, collarbone, back and still has a titanium rod in her leg and a plate in her arm.
This is the purest example of pursuing a passion that I know of. Rosie loves what she does for a living and gives it her all every day because she feels the most like herself—like what she was meant to do—when she is flying down the track astride a thousand pound thoroughbred urging him to go just a little bit faster. She is such a natural on a horse that trainers say she can settle down a high-strung mount and yet get the horse to explode when it’s time to go. When Rosie talks about her job as a jockey she oozes confidence without coming off as cocky. Check out her 60 Minutes interview here to see what I mean.
Passion Drives Employment
Simply put, adding value is about getting more output from the same input—more than you did yesterday—more than your competition does. It’s about leveraging your passion to work harder, learn more, and compete smarter than the other guy. And it doesn’t matter if we are talking about jockeys, knowledge workers, or business leaders. If we could all figure out how to take a step toward Rosie’s level of intensity, our economic output would step up along with it, making what we produce more competitive, raising demand and creating jobs. It sounds simple and it is; get more people doing what they are meant to be doing and watch productivity grow and unemployment fall. And it feeds on itself. People look at a passionate person kicking butt—adding value—and can’t help but want to emulate it. They just don’t know how.
Shortcut to Prosperity is broken into three parts and the first part, Find Your Field of “Play” is all about finding what you are passionate about and the place where work feels like play. Rosie utilized something I call The Prosperity Cycle to start building a series of successes at a very young age. In Shortcut 1 I show you how it works. The next step to discovering your passion is figuring out what you are naturally curious about, and even more importantly, what you are already good at (Shortcut 2 & 3). Then, based on what you love doing and excel at; you are ready to develop a compelling personal vision of what prosperity looks like (Shortcut 4). For Rosie Napravnik it means winning each of the races that make up the Triple Crown. Whether or not she wins the big three in her sport, her life will be more meaningful and productive because she gave it her best shot.
What’s your Triple Crown?
P.S. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org I recently had a reader point out to me using the contact functionality that the website was missing the Values worksheet referenced in the book. It’s there now (Thanks!) but I couldn’t email her back because she didn’t include her email address. I am here to help!