Some simple advice for young people

advice-for-young-peopleIf you’re looking for some simple advice for young people then here are some of the things I wished I’d known when I was 18.

Learn these lessons as soon as you can. As you travel along life’s highway, you’ll find them all really useful.

1. Be kind:

It’s easy to make judgements about people and we’re all guilty of doing it, at least occasionally.

The problem is none of us can really know what challenges other people are facing in their lives at any given time. Some people can have very tough lives and they may be really struggling. It’s not always obvious to the rest of us.

So be kind to everyone you meet. It costs you nothing but it can mean the world to someone who’s facing a particularly difficult time in their life.

2. Value friendship:

Our friends and loved ones are our most precious possessions.

Work is important, of course, but it’s not as important as people. If you were to drop dead tomorrow, an employer will replace you in a heartbeat. However, you can’t be replaced by the people to whom you matter most.

So value friendships and family, and make sure you make time for them. Never be too busy working to miss out on spending some quality time with your friends and family.

If you’re ever seriously ill, it will be your friends and loved ones who take care of you, not your employer.

3. Value your time:

Now, you’ll often hear someone say, “Oh, I would love to do that if only I had the time.”

And yet we all have exactly the same amount of time, i.e. 168 hours each week.

It all comes down to what we choose to do with our time and how we prioritise those things that matter to us most.

Time is simply a resource like money, albeit it’s more important than money. You can get more money but you can’t get more time, can you? None of us can do that, can we?

So you must learn to use your time wisely. Time is a precious resource, so you must develop effective time management skills.

You must recognise that you can’t do everything but you can be selective about what you choose to do, within reason.

High-value tasks should always take precedence over low-value tasks.

And remember this; the most effective time management tool is the word NO.

Just because people ask you for a piece of your time, it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them. Be very selective about how you allocate your time.

Think of the word NO as a baseball bat.

Whenever someone makes a request that would not be the best use of your time, then NO is the means by which you can whack that request right out of the ballpark. Always be polite, of course, but be firm too.

Being busy is not the same as being productive. And your aim, always, should be to be productive.

Check out my Top 10 Tips for How to Manage Your Time.

4. Mindset matters:

Whether you realize it or not, your mindset matters and by that I mean, it really matters a lot. When I refer to mindset, I’m referring to how you think, whether you’re positive by nature or otherwise.

You’ll never experience a positive outcome with a negative attitude. And you’ll never, ever impress anyone with a negative attitude either. No one is impressed by negativity, trust me. And no one wants to spend much time around negative people either.

There’s an old saying, “Believe you can and you will!

This is absolutely true in my experience.

Succeeding at anything requires you to believe in yourself and believe you can achieve anything you set out to achieve.

Yes, you’ll have setbacks. Everyone does. It’s true, it won’t be easy. It never is. And it doesn’t matter what others think. There will always be negative people trying to rain on your parade.

As long as you believe you can, and you’re determined and prepared to work hard, then almost everything is possible. Other people succeed and so can you.

So think positive and take every opportunity to reinforce your self-belief.

And take care of your mental wellbeing too, by avoiding negative people and all the exaggerated scare stories we see and hear constantly in the media.

5. Never fear making mistakes:

The problem with classroom learning is that much of it depends on learning facts and figures and regurgitating everything you’ve memorized in an exam. At the end of it all you get your certificate, diploma or degree but what have you actually learned? Probably, not much I would guess.

Remember this; memorizing is not the same as learning.

The other way we’re often misled when we‘re young is that we’re told that making mistakes is a bad thing. That’s rather sad because it’s not true.

What you will learn from the mistakes you make is actually far more important to you than anything anyone can tell you in a classroom. You’ll never forget those things you’ve had to learn the hard way.

Life isn’t called the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ for nothing.

If you believe in yourself and your ability to use your own judgement and you accept that you’ll make mistakes occasionally, then you have the ability to cope with just about everything life throws at you.

Just make decisions to the best of your ability and knowledge and then, if they don’t work out, just look for the lesson and learn it well.

Despite anything people will tell you to the contrary, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes because that’s how you gain experience and that’s how you’ll grow in character. Just don’t make the same mistakes too often.

Making mistakes is how you gain that valuable commodity known as experience, so they’re essential to your personal development.

6. Read more:

In the modern age, a good education is essential. That doesn’t mean you must have a formal education necessarily. Classroom learning doesn’t suit everyone and there are many ways to learn.

One of the best ways to learn in my experience is to read.

Read all the critically acclaimed novels by the most respected authors. And not just authors from your own country. Read novels from writers around the world. Translations for the best novels are always available in many languages.

Read non-fiction too. The reading of non-fiction is the basis for self-improvement.

If there are subjects that you find interesting, then by reading you can become an authority on those subjects over time. And becoming an authority is a great way to increase your earning potential.

In my experience, the most successful people are all readers. So make sure you set aside at least 30 minutes each day to read.

Read one book a week and over a year you’ll have consumed a ton of knowledge.

And remember; learning is a lifelong process. You must keep learning for as long as you have the energy to pick up a book.

And if personal time pressures limit your ability to consume books, then here are two alternatives to make the process a little bit easier:-

     (a) Blinkist:

If you haven’t got enough time to read non-fiction books, you could try Blinkist.

Blinkist is a great way to consume book summaries to get core insights on relevant topics without all the detail. And you can read or listen.

So you get all the key ideas from non-fiction bestsellers in minutes, rather than hours or days. And they have a library of over 5,000 non-fiction books

Not only that, Blinkist has teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from popular podcasts too.

So in as little as 15 minutes, you can gain an understanding of the content of a best-selling book or a popular podcast.

Blinkist is self-improvement done the smart way. So, turn your smartphone into a classroom and your commute to work into a learning experience.

Consume one book a day with Blinkist and in one year you’ll have consumed a Phd’s-worth of knowledge and made yourself a much more valuable commodity.

And you can sign up for a FREE TRIAL. So you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose by trying it. So go on, do it now.

DISCLOSURE: This website is a Blinkist Partner. Should you click on a link and then subscribe to Blinkist, the website owners will receive a small commission. Such commissions serve only to cover the cost of operating this site. There will be no additional cost to you. Your understanding and support are truly appreciated, dear reader. Thank you.

     (b) Audible:

Audible is another great way of consuming books. With Audible you get the full book but in audiobook form.

Essentially Audible is an online audiobook and podcast service that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content.

And there’s a FREE 30-day trial offer.

So you can try it for a month and see if you like it, with absolutely no commitment to extend beyond the trial period if it doesn’t suit you.

Listen to the world’s bestselling books and enjoy original podcasts too. You can choose from an incredible selection of Audible originals, podcasts and audiobooks to download. It’s definitely worth trying, surely?

Sign up for the FREE 30-day trial offer today.

Audible is another great way to turn your smartphone into a learning tool and turn your dead time into productive time. In your car and when you’re commuting to work on the bus or the train, you can be building your knowledge or enjoying bestselling novels in audiobook form.

So go on, sign up for the FREE 30-day trial offer today.

DISCLOSURE: This website is an Audible Affiliate. Should you click on a link and then subscribe to Audible, the website owners will receive a small commission. Such commissions serve only to cover the cost of operating this site. There will be no additional cost to you. Your understanding and support are truly appreciated, dear reader. Thank you.

7. Write more:

In those far-off days when I wore the clothes of a much younger man, I always had a problem with writing. I never quite knew what to say or how to say it.

It left me feeling slightly inadequate and believing that this was just something at which I was very bad.

As I progressed up the career ladder I struggled with the written word for quite a while. I didn’t realise that my real problem was a lack of practice.

However, I’ve learned over the years that the more I practise writing the better I get at writing. I may not be perfect but I’m a lot better at it now than I was, that’s for sure.

Being able to express yourself clearly and concisely in writing is an essential skill to develop and the best way to develop it is to practise, practise and practise.

Writing is about communication and communication is one of the most important skills for you to develop if you have any ambition for getting on in life.

Take every opportunity you can to write. Start a blog, or write for a magazine, or write to a pen pal, just do whatever it takes.

The more you write the better you’ll get, I promise you.

8. Practise public speaking:

Speaking in front of a crowd, even a small one, can be daunting, especially the first time.

However, this is another skill best developed with practice.

It’s also a skill that is essential the higher up the career ladder you progress.

So take every opportunity to practise. Read a lesson at your local church, or join the Toastmasters, or become an after-dinner speaker or whatever you can to get plenty of practice.

It’s another essential skill best developed early in life.

9. You’re not your job:

advice-for-young-peopleWhenever we meet someone new, we’re often asked what we do for a living.

Our response to that question is that we’re a lawyer or an engineer or an accountant or whatever. This can lead us to think that our identity is defined by what we do for a living, at the present time.

And indeed, other people can often pigeonhole us in their perception of us by what they think we actually do for a living.

However, we all have many dimensions to our personalities and we’re not defined by our jobs alone.

I may be an engineer but I’m also a businessman. Equally, I’m a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, a blogger, a Samaritan, et cetera.

And I’ve been many things in the past too, including a Board director, a student, I’ve worked in retail, I’ve worked in the gaming industry, I was once a school caretaker, I’ve lived and worked in many countries and so on.

I’m a multidimensional person and so is everyone else.

We’re the sum total of all the things we are and all the things we’ve done and the experiences we’ve had.

Our identities and experience are not, and should not, be limited by the job we’re doing at any given time.

10. Learn to manage money:

The problem with classroom learning is that very little of what you actually learn at school, college or university is of much real use to you once you leave the formal education system.

They teach you about things you’ll never use and yet, they fail to teach you about things that will really matter to you in the real world.

Things you’ll never learn at school include:-

  • What constitutes a decent income?
  • How to earn a decent income?
  • How to budget to cover your outgoings
  • How to apply for a mortgage
  • What is insurance, what does it cost and why do you need it?
  • The difference between saving and investment.
  • Asset classes and how to invest?
  • How to build wealth and financial independence.

It’s essential that you learn how to manage money. And it’s essential that you learn as much as you can about money as soon as you can.

Being young, it’s very easy for the money coming into your life to disappear as quickly as it arrived. However, I can tell you that mismanaging your money is the way to the poorhouse. Learning to manage your money effectively and building wealth should be your primary aim.

The building of wealth is the way to financial independence. And once you’re financially independent then you get to choose what you do and when you do it.

11. Know when to walk away:

Sometimes things just don’t work out. You try hard to make them work and you do your very best. However at some point, you must recognise that to invest any more time and effort into whatever it is, is simply not the right thing to do.

If something just isn’t working for whatever reason, then it’s better for everyone if you just draw a line under it and move on.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a job or a bad relationship. If it’s making you unhappy, if you just can’t make it work, then you don’t need any other reason to decide enough is enough.

Yes, your decision may cause some upset at the time but everyone will be happier in the long term.

Never be afraid to move on when you think it’s necessary.

12. Find a mentor:

When you’re young and starting out on your career, you don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself.

It’s a legitimate strategy to learn as much as you can from the experience of others. I wish I’d found myself a decent mentor early on.

An experienced, non-judgemental, friendly ear with whom problems and their potential solutions can be explored on a regular basis.

Find yourself a decent mentor as quickly as possible.

Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and a sign that you’re willing and able to learn from others.

Learning is a lifelong process. No one starts out as the finished article. And anything you can learn from a wiser, older head can only help you navigate the choppy waters of life and work.

And don’t be afraid to ask someone to be your mentor. If nothing else, they’ll be flattered you asked and they’ll probably be keener to help you than you might imagine.

13. Trust your instincts:

Your gut instinct is a better barometer than you might imagine too.

If it feels wrong, it usually is wrong. Certainly, it’s likely to be wrong for you.

Then again, regardless of anything negative you’re getting from other people, if your instinct tells you, you can do it, then have a go. Chances are you will succeed.

Your gut instinct is your friend.

14. Rise to the challenge:

As we negotiate the stormy road that’s life, the challenges we face can often seem daunting. And we can often wish for something a little easier.

However, by rising to the challenges we face, we grow as people. We learn and we build experience. And as suggested earlier, experience is a valuable commodity.

If we’re solving the hardest problems, we’ll be stretching ourselves as much as we can.

We add value to others, and therefore increase our income, by solving problems for others.

If you become the ‘go to’ person for solving the hardest problems then you can earn a very good living, I promise you.

Don’t be afraid to tackle the hardest problems. You can only gain from the experience.

15. Nurture your network:

There’s an old saying that says, no man is an island. Human beings are social animals and we need each other. Your network of friends and business contacts is important and it can be very useful to you.

However, it’s not about take, take, take.

A network must be nurtured and you must give before you can reasonably expect to receive. By doing favours occasionally, you’ll always get help when you need it.

So value your network, help people when you can, socialise with people and take the time to build lasting relationships.

16. Schedule some ‘me time’:

Life can be all-consuming if you’re not careful. When you have a demanding job and a family, it can all be quite stressful at times.

You can burn out very quickly if you’re not careful.

Work and family are important, of course, but that shouldn’t mean you damage your health and well-being or the relationship with your family in the process.

So make sure you factor into your schedule a little ‘me time’ on a regular basis. And make time for your loved ones too.

It’s not just a good idea, it’s essential.

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How to be happy and why you should be

How to be happyHow to be happy? Now that’s a question I hear frequently.

Well, it’s my belief that, if you’re going to be happy, then you need a sense of purpose.

Now just think about that for a minute. Your work takes up one-third of your life so surely it’s essential that you’re happy doing whatever you do?

So dear reader, if the question on your mind today is how to be happy in life then to find the answer it’s worth reflecting on your work for a moment and thinking about whether it’s actually right for you.

Does your work make you happy?

Do you believe your contribution to your job is something which only you can supply?

Would you say that your work is closely aligned with your natural talents?

If your job is a mismatch with their natural talents then you’re unlikely to do it as well as you might do otherwise. If you don’t do it well then it’s hard to feel a sense of pride in your work, surely? And, if you’re not doing it well, your boss is likely to be giving you a hard time too.

So in this scenario, you’re not going to be very happy, are you?

Let’s face it, spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy is such a waste, wouldn’t you agree?

You have so much natural talent that could be put to better use.

Yes, it’s true that every job has its chores. Things you have to do which you hate but accept as part of the job. No job is perfect.

However tedium should only be a small part of your whole work experience.

To feel happy and fulfilled doing the work you do means that you should enjoy at least 80% of your daily activity.

What happens if the job you do and your talents are mismatched?

Human beings are flexible and adaptable of course. So even in the worst job situations people survive but at what cost to themselves?

The further you are from applying your natural talents and abilities, the less likely it is that you’ll enjoy your work in my experience. And being unhappy at work means you’re less likely to be happy in life. That’s a fact.

And if you’re not happy then it’s difficult to make a genuine contribution to life and the lives of other people. And this matters, particularly for those people who are your loved ones.

If your loved ones have to deal with someone who’s doing a job they don’t enjoy then it can make their lives miserable too. In fact it can be no pleasure for anyone around you.

If you derive no pleasure from your work then life just becomes a grind. Also it becomes stressful which is not very good for your health either.

The best and least stressful way to earn a living is by pursuing your interests and something which you both enjoy and which is compatible with your natural talents. This is how to be happy in life.

If society encouraged people to pursue their interests and work to their strengths then we would not only be happier but we would become more productive.

And of course productive lives are happy lives too. We would all benefit and society would reap benefits too.

So think about your natural talents and think how you can best apply them.

Be happy in what you do but if you’ve yet to find work that makes you happy, then keep looking and don’t give up until you find it.

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3 things you need to know about money

3 things you need to know about moneyToday I’d like you to think about some things you need to know about money dear reader. In other words, think about what it all really means.

It’s natural to dream about being rich, of course.

Most people dream about being able to buy whatever they want and go anywhere and everywhere they’d like to go, possibly even in a private jet.

The attraction of having that pot of gold is why a lot of people will chase every rainbow.

However, whilst money is necessary for sustaining life, there are some things you should really understand about money.

Here are three of them:-

Things you need to know about money:

1. Having money brings its own pressures:

A great fortune is a great slavery. ~Seneca

It’s reasonable to want to create wealth and build a fortune. As suggested above, you want to feel financially secure, don’t you? Why wouldn’t you?

However, being financially secure doesn’t mean you’ll have a life without problems and worry.

You’ll just have different problems and different things to worry about.

No one goes through life without problems. Dealing with problems and challenges is an inevitable part of human existence.

Put simply, having money brings its own pressures.

Once you’ve got money your biggest concern will be to ensure that you hang on to it.

Inevitably that means you can become a slave to managing your money, preserving its capital value and protecting your fortune.

Being wealthy may be a nice problem to have, but it’s no less of a problem for that.

So keep it all in perspective.

Things you need to know about money2. Money can never be more important than people:

We love to earn money, who doesn’t? It gets you things. ~Katie Price

Earning money is great and it does allow you to buy things you want and things you need. However money won’t take care of you when you’re ill.

Yes, it might enable you to buy in some hired help.

However, that’s not the same as having someone around who genuinely cares about your well-being. That someone for whom you matter much more than money ever will.

In my experience, whilst money is important, nothing in our lives matters more than friends and loved ones. Human beings are social animals. So only people matter to us really.

Never focus on money to the point where you neglect the people who should matter most to you. Forget about them and eventually, they will forget about you.

You can have all the money in the world, but you’ll have nothing at all without friends and loved ones.

Go out and earn lots of money by all means, and enjoy it too.

However, always maintain a sense of balance in your life and make sure that you allocate some time for the people who matter most to you.

An investment of your time in the people you love is an investment that will pay dividends.

3. Money is a precious resource so use it wisely:

A penny saved is a penny earned. ~Benjamin Franklin

I make no apology for repeating Benjamin Franklin’s money mantra, repeated frequently by generations of well-meaning parents to their profligate children. It’s as valid today as it was in his day.

Whether Franklin was referring to money saved when making purchases or money saved from income is not obvious in his statement but that doesn’t matter.

The underlying point is that you have to be careful with your money because saving money is the key to building wealth and becoming financially independent. No one ever got rich by wasting their money.

Money like time is a precious resource, so use it wisely.

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How to build character: 11 steps to success

How to build characterHow to build character? Now that’s a question I get asked frequently.

Whether it’s someone seeking to build their own character or wanting to help improve character in someone else, I hear it often.

However, the obvious, supplementary question is, what is meant by character?

There’s a difference between being a character and being of character.

The former expression just refers to someone being a little bit eccentric, a wit perhaps, or even a raconteur. However, that’s not the subject of this post, despite these being admirable qualities, of course.

The point being considered here is how to become a person of character.

So what does it mean to be a person of character?

First of all, people of character usually do what is right regardless of whether they’re being watched or not.

They also display traits such as honesty, integrity, courage, manners, self-reliance, commitment, and determination.

The comedian Will Rogers once jokingly observed that to be of character people should “live in such a way that they wouldn’t be ashamed to sell their parrot to the town gossip.

So being of good character is an important thing to be, I think.

Developing good character:

If achieving sustained success is your aim then talent alone isn’t enough. Talent might get you into the limelight briefly but without strong character, you’re unlikely to remain there for too long.

The process of developing good character is one that is ongoing too. So you have to keep working on it.

Essentially character is composed of 3 things:-

  1. Values: Having the right values and knowing what matters most.
  2. Doing what is right: Even when no one is watching.
  3. Being a decent person: Showing wisdom, honesty, integrity, love, humility, loyalty, courage, compassion, empathy, self-awareness, and a willingness to recognize fair criticism.

We all have at least some work to do if we are to become and remain people of good character.

This is an area where constant improvement is necessary, however good you may be right now.

Some people may be well on the way to being of good character, whilst others may have a lot of work to do yet.

However, those that are still some way off can change and they can grow in character. You can be better if you want to be better and you can practice the behaviours necessary. These include:-

How to build characterDecide you will be better:

As mature adults, our first duty is to take care of ourselves and to be the best people we can be. To live lives worthy of respect. So decide to be the person you really could be.

Life-long learning:

It doesn’t matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement.

Improvement comes through education and learning, whether formal or informal, and experience is gained by doing, making mistakes and learning the lessons from those mistakes made.

Work on yourself:

To quote the late, great Jim Rohn,Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.We’re all works in progress. Make sure you keep getting better.

Don’t leave them saying, She used to be really good. When they speak of you, make sure they say, “She just keeps getting better. She’s an example to us all. That applies equally to ‘He’ too, of course.

Pursue excellence:

If anything is worth doing then it’s worth doing properly. The way you live your life is no exception.

Add value:

Our contribution to society is in the value we add.

That might be in the example we set or the work that we produce.

We don’t get paid for the hour. What we actually get paid for is the value that we put into the hour. So make sure you leave every situation better than you found it.

Be determined:

If success is your aim, it won’t happen without hard work and determination.

Being good is not enough. You must be determined to get to where you really, really want to go. That’s everything if success is your aim.

Be persistent:

Never accept an answer unless it’s the want you want.

And never accept any outcome as the final outcome unless it’s the one that you want.

Most importantly, never quit until you get to where you really want to be or you’ve achieved the goal that you set for yourself.

Remember; winners never quit and quitters never win. Be the winner you can be, with determination and hard work.

Accept every challenge:

Never underestimate the importance of taking on a challenge.

A challenge provides us with experience through which we’ll learn powerful lessons.

It’s also the means through which character is developed in the process.

Not only will you learn more about your own character, but you’ll learn about your capacity to achieve.

Ask yourself some searching questions:

It is a fact that too many people go to their graves with their full potential unrealized.

They never quite develop their characters to the point where they leave a genuine legacy and an example for others to follow.

Ask yourself this question, If I were to die tomorrow, how will I be remembered at my funeral?

What would people say about you? What qualities would they use to describe you?

How would you prefer to be remembered?

What would you like people to say about you? And how can you change now to ensure they do?

Depending on the answers to those questions, you may well decide to make a few changes in your life.

Where to go from here:

If you recognize the need to change, start with your values.

What values will you live by, from now until dead?

Now, of course, it’s not just about values but value too. Be a person with values and of value.

So, what value will you add to the lives of others from now on?

Then think about challenges you could take on to build your character.

In taking on a challenge we can often surprise ourselves in terms of just how far we can go.

Through a challenge, you can learn new skills, sharpen existing skills, and improve your self-confidence.

Move out of your comfort zone:

A challenge is an opportunity to grow, it’s an opportunity to learn, and it’s an opportunity to make progress towards becoming the person you really could be.

It’s true that challenges are hard and, of course, they’re meant to be.

Challenges push us out of our comfort zone and that’s the whole point. Unless we move out of our comfort zone, how can we possibly grow as people?

Never fear failure:

So embrace challenges but never fear failing at a challenge; your only fear should be never realizing your full potential because you failed to move out of your comfort zone.

Do well in a challenge and it can provide you with benefits you couldn’t have imagined before you started.

At the very least every challenge makes you that little bit stronger and builds your character, so you really can’t lose.

So do you have some changes to make?

If so, what and by when?

Write them all down and make a plan. Now! It’s never too late to be the person you really could be.

Please share this post with your friends:

If you found this blog post interesting and useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

So go on, please share it now and I’ll be ever so grateful. You’ll be helping a keen blogger reach a wider audience.

Thank you.

Other articles that might appeal to you:

Copyright © Mann Island Media Limited 2021. All Rights Reserved.

How to handle criticism at work effectively

How to handle criticism at workHow to handle criticism at work? That’s a question most of us ask ourselves, at least occasionally.

Think about it. You’ve been working hard and trying to do your best but someone still thinks it’s necessary, with a critical tone, to offer you some words of advice about the work you’ve just done.

Not a thank you; no recognition of the effort you’ve put in; just some caustic words about why they think your work is less than perfect.

Naturally, that makes you feel a little unloved and probably slightly irritated too.

Perhaps your critic lacks sensitivity?

Perhaps he or she fails to appreciate the value you’ve been adding to whatever you were doing at the time?

And of course, your critic may not have had visibility of the constraints you were working under or the pressures you faced at the time?

Regardless of the circumstances, it’s natural if you feel hurt when all people can do is point to something they believe is wrong, incomplete or not as good as it could have been. If it doesn’t actually hurt, certainly it is irritating. It can also seem overly harsh at times.

The importance of criticism:

The problem when hearing criticism is that our defensive barriers tend to go up immediately. And once we’re on the defensive we don’t tend to listen to the feedback we’re getting. We just concentrate on how we’ll respond in order to dismiss whatever’s being said.

This is unfortunate because if we did listen and reflect on what is being said, it’s just possible that our critic may have a valid point.

The importance of criticism is that it provides us with valuable feedback.

And how we react to any feedback depends on our attitude and how we choose to look at it.

We can get all hurt and defensive or we can choose to give our critic the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re genuinely trying to be constructive.

In other words, we can embrace criticism positively and seek to use it to our own advantage. Certainly, this is the mature and grown-up way of dealing with any criticism we receive.

Honing our skills:

We must recognize that none of us are perfect and we’re all prone to making the occasional mistake. That’s human nature.

However, if our aim is to succeed then we have to become masters of our chosen craft or profession. We have to be very good at whatever we’ve chosen to do if we’re going to stand out in the crowd. In fact we have to be the best.

Being the best requires the constant honing of our skills. That means we must learn from our mistakes and any inability that might prevent us from delivering the results required of us.

Learning is a lifelong process and we should be constantly practising and developing our skills and improving on the results we deliver.

In order to do that then we must learn from our mistakes.

Some mistakes will be obvious to us of course but sometimes we’ll fail to recognize them. Fortunately, others won’t.

Criticism is feedback:

The underlying point here is that criticism is simply feedback and feedback is essential if we’re to improve our skills and become masters of our craft or profession.

That’s why it’s important to listen. If we know where we fall short then we can do something about it.

How to handle criticism at work:

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that to feel hurt is quite natural. That’s simply an emotional response to a negative situation.

However, don’t take anything personally. Criticism is rarely groundless, though it’s often exaggerated.

Give your critic the benefit of the doubt and assume their intention is simply to provide you with some valuable feedback.

Welcome that feedback. Don’t interrupt your critic with excuses. That will just make you look defensive. Don’t glower at them either because you might stop them sharing that crucial insight with you.

The truth may hurt, but the sooner you hear it, the sooner you can fix whatever it is you’re doing wrong, assuming you are doing something wrong.

Listen and focus on hearing everything being said. When your critic has made his or her point, say thank you. That will show confidence, dedication and grace too.

Then ask yourself honestly, is the point being made by your critic a fair one?

And you really do need to be honest with yourself here.

If your conclusion is that your critic has a fair point then you must embrace the lesson. Learn from it; resolve to do better next time, and be determined to improve.

That way you’ll go from strength to strength. You’ll gain the respect of other people too for your willingness to listen and learn.

However, remember this also, critics are not always right.

If honest reflection leads you to the conclusion that your critic is being unfair or is just plain wrong then just ignore the criticism.

Smile and move on. Never take it personally and never let anyone discourage you from the pursuit of your aims.

Conclusion:

Criticism is just feedback. Feedback is your friend. Embrace it; learn from it; use it to your advantage, but never take it personally. And if following honest reflection you think they’re wrong then it’s perfectly reasonable to ignore it and move on.

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33 life lessons learned that are best learned early

Life Lessons LearnedLife lessons learned for most of us are learned the hard way. Here are 33 of those lessons that are best learned at early as possible, ideally in your teens or early 20s.

Life lessons learned:

1. On experiencing life:

Wherever you are, be there. Be present and experience the moment. You’ll remember moments with friends and family all your life, whereas you’re unlikely to remember social media posts moments after you’ve read them. No experience beats having a good laugh with your friends and family.

2. On making choices:

As an adult, you’re free to make your own choices but you must accept any consequences that follow. A wise adult learns to make good choices because the choices you make will dictate the quality of the life you lead. Your choices really matter. Make too many bad ones and your life experiences won’t be very good at all.

3. On the future (1):

Where you’re going is more important than where you’ve been. The past was a series of lessons to be learned. The future is where you’ll spend the rest of your life. You can’t change the past but your future has yet to be written, and you’ve got the pen.

4. On the future (2):

The future is an endless stream of opportunities that you can choose to seize, or not. However poor your past may have been, that doesn’t mean you can’t seize new opportunities and exploit them to your own advantage. You can, with determination and hard work. And, never let anyone discourage you from having a go. Better to try and fail than to spend your life wondering what might have been

5. On asking questions:

Intelligent people ask questions. So, never be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand something, or when you need clarification. Better to appear a fool momentarily than remain a fool permanently.

6. On attitude:

The greatest disability in life is a bad attitude. If you’ve got one you’d better change it, if you want your life to improve. Attitude matters. An average person with a positive attitude makes a much better employee than a genius with a chip on his or her shoulder.

7. On fairness:

Life isn’t fair. It never has been and it never will be. We’re all dealt a set of cards in life, and all we can do is to play that hand as best as we can. We could get angry about the unfairness of it all or we can just get on and make the best of what we have. The latter approach is much easier on our nerves, in my experience.

8. On bullying:

When you’re having fun at someone else’s expense, remember it may be fun to you, and you may not mean any harm, but for the other person the impact of such an experience can be humiliating, upsetting and it can cause significant, lasting and often permanent psychological damage to that person. So remember, it isn’t fun at all, if it isn’t fun for the other person. If it isn’t fun for them, it’s actually just bullying. And if you’re bullying, you’re not being cool, you’re being nasty.

9. On judging others (1):

You’re free to judge others if you’re absolutely sure that you’re perfect in every way. If your conclusion is that you’re not quite perfect then why would you expect others to be?

10. On judging others (2):

For everyone life is a struggle. No one is without problems, despite any external signs to the contrary. We just have to keep going for it’s the only way. Life goes on and we must too. If you’ve not walked two miles in someone else’s shoes, you’re not in a position to judge them. So, don’t.

11. On authenticity:

Authenticity is simply being who you are and not trying to be who you think you should be or who you think you’re expected to be. People will respect you for being who you are. An original is always better than a fake.

12. On trust:

Trust takes years to build and seconds to break. And once broken the way you’re seen by others will never be quite the same again. Trust is a valuable and precious commodity. Protect it.

13. On reputation:

Never underestimate the importance of your personal reputation. And if you wouldn’t be happy to read something about yourself on the front pages, don’t do it.

14. On communication:

If you want to tell anyone anything, speak softly and you’ll find that they’re much more likely to listen to you.

15. On success:

No one can ever be a failure but everyone can be a success. Failure is not a person it’s just an outcome you didn’t want. It’s also an opportunity to try again with greater knowledge and experience. Everyone can achieve some degree of success, if they believe in themselves, they’re determined and they’re willing to work hard.

16. On priorities:

We all have the same amount of time. 168 hours a week. It’s how we choose to use it that dictates whether we achieve anything significant or not. Time is a resource, pure and simple. So, decide on your priorities and allocate your time accordingly. And just because someone wants a piece of your time, doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them. If it’s not a priority, nor an obligation, just say NO.

17. On watching television:

Few people seem to recognise this but there’s a significant cost to watching television. Not the cost of purchasing the television set or any cable or satellite subscriptions you may have. The real cost is the opportunity cost of your time. That is the time you spend watching television. Time is money and you could be doing something more profitable with your time. Learning something new perhaps or running your own little income-generating side-hustle.

18. On qualifications (1):

Most of the work done by most people in life doesn’t require a college degree at all. If you have one that’s great, but stay humble. A motivated individual with common sense and decent reading, writing and arithmetic skills can succeed in life without one.

19. On qualifications (2):

You may need a college degree to work for an employer but you don’t need one to work for yourself. If it’s your business, you make the rules.

20. On qualifications (3):

Plenty of people graduating from Harvard will end up working for people who didn’t. So, stay humble. Studying at a top university is no guarantee for career success, nor does it guarantee wealth. A Harvard, Oxford, or Cambridge degree may look good on your CV but five years after graduation the only thing that will really matter is what you’ve actually achieved in the workplace since.

21. On experience:

Doing is by far the best way to learn. The classroom is useful, of course, but nothing beats doing and learning from your mistakes. Making mistakes will teach you lessons that you’ll never forget. And learning from your mistakes will give you that valuable commodity known as experience. Knowing the theory is useful, whereas having experience is essential.

22. On employability:

You don’t sell who you are. You sell what you can do and the value you can add. Every job is about doing stuff for other people and delivering results. What is it you can do and what can you confidently deliver? Before you go for any job interview, make sure you have answers to these questions and make sure you can give examples of stuff you’ve actually delivered on previous occasions.

23. On work (1):

Employers can quickly replace you with someone just like you and you’ll be forgotten quickly. So be professional in carrying out your duties, of course, but not at the expense of your own interests or those of your loved ones.

24. On work (2):

Make sure you take good care of yourself. Employers will take everything you give and a bit more besides but if you died tomorrow your job would be posted online before your obituary. You’ll be replaced within days and the memory of your presence won’t last long.

25. On making money:

To make money you have to be doing stuff for other people. To make a serious amount of money you have to be doing stuff for multiple people simultaneously, even when you’re asleep. Sounds impossible but it can be done. For instance, serving the many with your own digital products, sold online, can lead to great wealth.

26. On sales:

Successful selling is not about tricking people into buying something they don’t need. The art of selling is in proactively finding customers who’ve got problems for which your products can provide the ideal solution. If you can offer solutions to problems, you’ll find customers in need of what you have to sell. Find the right customers and a good product will sell itself.

27. On change (1):

It’s easier to remain as you are than it is to change but unless you change your life will not improve. Embracing change is hard but it is well worth the effort.

28. On change (2):

For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better you have to get better. You can become more than you are but it won’t happen by accident. It all starts with you saying, I can; I will; and I won’t stop until I get there. And you must make any changes necessary.

29. On finding a life partner:

You’ll find, as you go through life, that Mr or Miss Perfect doesn’t exist. If you’re looking for a life partner, find someone whose faults you can live with. Yes, you’ll need to enjoy each other’s company. And yes, you’ll need to have things in common. However, everyone you meet will have faults of their own, even if they’re not immediately apparent.

30. On children (1):

When you have young children they need your attention much more than your mobile phone does. Your children should be your priority, particularly in the early years. You’re their role model. Be a positive role model and give them all the attention they deserve. The years pass quickly and your children, good or bad, are your legacy to the world.  Social media can wait. Anything less is simply a disservice to your child.

31. On children (2):

Children need continuity and they need boundaries. They need to be brought up with a set of values too. Fail to give them those things and you fail as a parent. Materialism is no substitute for the things that really matter most.

32. On your social life:

You’ll never fit into every social group, nor should you try. Just focus on finding a group of people that are right for you. In other words, find your tribe. People that are welcoming to you, with interests like yours and personalities that appeal to you. It’s better to be in the company of people that appreciate your company, rather than trying to fit into groups that don’t really want you there at all.

33. On experts:

There are plenty of people referred to as experts whose ideas and recommendations can prove to be stupid beyond belief. Listen to experts by all means but then use your own judgement. Don’t be fooled by people, just because they’ve got an impressive job title. If your instinct says they’re wrong, have the courage of your own convictions and act accordingly. Just because an ‘expert’ said it, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

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4 cornerstones for how to speak so people will listen

How-to-speak-so-people-will-listenHow to speak so people will listen is a common challenge many of us face on a daily basis.

There’s an old saying which states that; it’s not just what you say but the way that you say it.

And it’s very true, how something is said is as important as the words being spoken.

Now just think about that for a second. We can use exactly the same words in different ways and we will deliver completely different messages.

How something is said also has an impact on whether people listen to us or not. We all met engaging people who capture our attention and we’ve all met a few boring people too.

In the video included here, Julian Treasure offers some excellent insight into how to speak so people will listen to you.

His underlying message in the video is that we must learn to speak with power if we are to get our messages across to other people.

Julian Treasure suggests that there are a number of habits we must avoid if we are to speak with power.

He says in his view there are Seven Deadly Sins of Speaking, albeit he does note that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list. His deadly seven are as follows:-

  1. Gossip: Speaking in an unkind way about other people.
  2. Judging: People are unlikely to listen if they feel they’re being judged.
  3. Negativity: It’s hard to listen to people with a negative attitude.
  4. Complaining: It’s hard to listen to a moaner too.
  5. Excuses: You won’t be taken seriously if blame is always elsewhere.
  6. Exaggeration: This can border on lying and who listens to a liar?
  7. Dogmatism: Where facts are confused with opinions.

So if we suffer from all or some of these deadly sins, can we change?

Yes, of course, but it does take a little work and a better understanding of how improvements can be achieved.

How to speak so people will listen:

In the video, Julian explains that there are four cornerstones to powerful speech. He uses the mnemonic HAIL to explain these as follows:-

  1. Honesty: Being clear and straight
  2. Authenticity: Being real and being yourself
  3. Integrity: Being true to your word
  4. Love: Wishing people well. And we all like to be appreciated, surely?

However understanding these cornerstones is only the beginning of the process because, as stated earlier, how you say what you’ve got to say is important too.

Julian then discusses aspects of speaking such as Register; Timbre; Prosody; Pace; Pitch; Volume; and the use of Silence. To address many of these issues you may need the help of a voice coach of course but knowing about them is a good start.

Julian also suggests some simple voice warm-up exercises for you to use before you give a speech. They’re so easy you can use them immediately.

Being a TEDTalk you’d expect this video to be both interesting and useful and it doesn’t disappoint. I found Julian Treasure’s ideas fascinating and if you’re someone who regularly speaks in front of an audience, large or small, then I am confident that you’ll find this video helpful.

This video has had over 22 million views on YouTube so clearly Julian Treasure’s ideas have resonated with a significant audience already.

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3 of life’s lessons learned you really should know

Lifes Lessons LearnedMany regular readers will be familiar with the three life’s lessons learned that I’ve included here today, but that won’t be true for everyone, of course. It all comes down to experience really, wouldn’t you agree?

Well dear reader, please don’t feel that you must make every mistake yourself in order to learn.

Learning directly from the mistakes of others is a perfectly valid strategy. You can also listen to and learn from lessons others have learned the hard way.

There’s no finer education than the University of Life, School of Hard Knocks.

So, allow me to offer you three of life’s lessons learned, that you’d do well to bear in mind.

1. Money can’t make you happy:

If you’re not happy without money then having money won’t change how you feel about yourself.

We experience happiness not through the things we purchase but through our personal philosophy, as well as our relationships with other people. Human beings are social animals, and we all need other people.

If you want to be happy you must never lose sight of the most important people in your life, i.e. family and friends.

Spend time with them and enjoy their company, especially your children. Make the most of every minute you have with your loved ones.

Yes, of course, go out there and make some money. I’m not suggesting money doesn’t matter because it does. It’s up there with oxygen for sustaining a life worth living.

So you must manage your money carefully and invest some of it too.

Enjoy some of your money, of course, and buy nice things occasionally too. Life’s too short not to enjoy at least some of your hard-earned cash from time to time.

However never focus on money and work, to the exclusion of your family and friends. Without them you have nothing. Money is important but the people in your life are far more important.

You could have all the money in the world but without your friends and loved ones you’d have nothing at all.

Lifes Lessons Learned2. Life is too short to do a job you hate:

You should never do anything for money alone.

Yes, you need an income and yes, it’s nice to have plenty of money in your pocket. Let’s face it we’d all like to have plenty of money, wouldn’t we? That’s human nature.

However, no amount of money will compensate you for the drudgery of doing a job you really hate.

If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you won’t do it well. And if you don’t do it well eventually you’ll come unstuck. It will all end in tears. Now is that really what you want, dear reader?

Remember this also; one day, you will die. You’re not going to live forever, nor would you want to.

What a shame it would be if on your death bed you felt you’d completely wasted your life. Now, how bad would that be?

So find a job you enjoy.

That really is important. You’ll spend one-third of your life in work and that’s a long time to be doing something you really hate.

And if you haven’t found a job you love yet? Then just keep looking, until you find something you’d do for free if you couldn’t earn a living at it.

When it comes to a job, money shouldn’t be your primary focus. Find the right job; do it well and add real value; and the money will follow, all in good time.

3. Greed can lead to expensive mistakes:

There’s a classic telephone scam, which never fails to catch some people out.

The way it works is a salesman or woman working in a ‘boiler room’ somewhere offshore calls you with an offer for you to purchase an asset at a price which they’ll tell you will guarantee you an enormous profit.

It might be stocks and shares or it might be plots of land in some faraway place but the underlying message is always the same.

Essentially they’ll tell you that next to no one knows about the availability of this asset just yet but when they do the price of the asset will go through the roof and just keep on heading in an upwardly direction.

They’ll tell you that whatever they have to offer is a steal and that you have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and make an absolute killing but you have to buy today or you’ll miss out.

The salespeople always sound friendly, very plausible and they’ll make it all sound very professional. They’ll even take a little time to make you feel that really they’re trustworthy.

This scam plays on our greed and our gullibility.

We believe what we’re being told because we want to believe it. We just love the idea that we might get something for nothing too.

However if you part with your money, when presented with such an offer, that‘s the last you’ll see of it.

The asset will be worthless or even non-existent. You’ll have been scammed.

Furthermore, if you’re foolish enough to buy, you’ll also be put on a ‘sucker list’ which means you’ll get inundated with similar calls from other high-pressure salespeople offering similar ‘deals‘.

In reality, any deal that sounds too good to be true will always prove to be too good to be true.

There’s no easy money to be had anywhere. Take that from someone who’s spent a lot of time looking.

And anyway, think about it, if it was that good a deal why would they be telling you?

If there really was a killing to be made, they’d simply invest their own money and bag the ‘profit’ for themselves, surely?

Never allow yourself to fall for it.

And never, ever allow yourself to be bounced into buying anything just because they tell you that this deal is only available today.

In sales language that’s known as a ‘call to action‘. It’s the oldest sales trick in the sales handbook.

The idea is to bounce you into making a purchasing decision before you have time to think it all through properly.

Don’t be a mug and don’t be foolish enough to line other peoples’ pockets at your own expense. As the old saying goes, invest in haste, repent at leisure.

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A Motivational A – Z Guide to Success

Guide to SuccessLooking for a guide to success? We could all use one, right?

Well here is a concise A- Z guide of the things you will need to bear in mind.

Perhaps it’s a little over-simplified, if I’m honest, but it does cover all the bases, of that I’m sure.

If you need a guide to success then print this list and pin it above your desk and refer to it constantly:-

A – Z Guide to Success:

  • (A) Achieve your dreams. Avoid negative people, things and places.
  • (B) Believe in yourself and in what you can do.
  • (C) Consider every angle and look at things from both sides.
  • (D) Don’t give up and never give in.
  • (E) Enjoy. Motivation happens when you’re happy with life.
  • (F) Family and Friends. Never, ever lose sight of them.
  • (G) Give more than what you believe is enough.
  • (H) Hold on to your dreams. These should drive you onward and upward.
  • (I) Ignore those who belittle your ambition. If you believe you can, what they think is irrelevant.
  • (J) Just be you. The key to failure is trying to please everyone.
  • (K) Keep trying no matter how hard life may seem.
  • (L) Learn to love yourself. You’re as good as anyone.
  • (M) Make things happen. The harder you work the luckier you’ll get.
  • (N) Never lie, cheat or steal. Always play a fair game.
  • (O) Open your eyes. Be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • (P) Practice makes perfect. Be a student of your craft and work towards mastery.
  • (Q) Quitters never win and winners never quit. Be a winner, not a quitter.
  • (R) Ready yourself. Be prepared and be ready when opportunity strikes.
  • (S) Stop procrastinating. Get on with it. It’s later than you think.
  • (T) Take control of your life. Discipline and self-control are key to success.
  • (U) Understand others. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
  • (V) Visualize it. What will success look like to you? How will you recognize it?
  • (W) Want it more than anything. It must matter to you if you’re to keep going when it gets hard.
  • (X) X-Factor is that little bit of magic that makes you different from all the other wannabes. When you’re truly motivated, you’ll deliver that extra something that will help you shine like a star. Shine like a star and you’ll get noticed. Get noticed and you’re on the way to achieving success.
  • (Y) You are unique. You have special qualities no one else has. So work to your strengths and do the things that only you can do.  That way you will begin to shine like a star.
  • (Z) Zero in on your dreams and just go for it. Don’t stop until you get to where you want to be.

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How to find the right job for you: Simply Explained

Do you enjoy your work? Do you have a job you love? Do you wake-up each morning filled with enthusiasm for the day ahead? Alternatively maybe you just feel your job allows you to earn an income but beyond that you can’t wait until 5 pm when the working day is over? Perhaps you’re constantly asking how to find the right job for you?

If that’s you then you’re not alone.

The acid test when you’re not sure is to ask yourself the lottery question.

What does that mean? If means you ask yourself this, “If I won the lottery and money ceased to be an issue; would I continue to do the work I’m doing now or would I try something else?

Yes of course if you won the lottery you’d have a little fun with the money first, but eventually your life would need a sense of purpose and routine again.

So how would you fill your time then?

If you enjoy what you do, and you are recognized as being very good at it, then you’ll do your job well and you’ll be successful at what you do. And if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Now, how good would that be?

So if you’re not happy with your job right now, the next question to ask yourself is, “What do I really want to be?

To answer that question, you really need to consider two things:-

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What do you enjoy doing?

These are quite different things but if you can find the sweet spot between them then you have the basis for finding a job you’ll love. So the steps to job heaven are as follows:-

STEP 1: What are you good at?

Not merely competent but really good at?

Think about that question carefully and be honest with yourself.

What activities are intuitive to you? Things you can do easily and readily without having to give them too much thought?

Ask friends and colleagues for their views, and ask them to be really honest with you. Ask people you work with about the tasks for which they consider you to be the absolutely, first choice ‘go-to’ person?

Gather together this information and make a list.

STEP 2: What do you enjoy doing?

Then make a list of all the things you really enjoy doing.

Which activities really give you a buzz?

What activities get you so absorbed that you really lose track of time?

What activities would you do for free or as a hobby, if you couldn’t make a living at them?

Paul McCartney once said that if he couldn’t have made a living out of writing songs and playing music, he’d have done it as a hobby, simply because he loved it so much. In fact, it was his hobby before it was his living.

What activities make you feel the same way? Make that list and don’t be reasonable.

All this requires time for reflection and careful thought, as well as feedback from other people. So do give it the time it deserves.

Don’t jump to conclusions. You do want to ensure you get it right, don’t you?

STEP 3: Where is the common ground between your lists?

When you have your two lists ready, the final step is to identify the common ground between them, the point at which the two lists intersect.

How to find the right job for youIf you find an item that is contained on both lists then you have found the Holy Grail.

Finding something you’re genuinely good at and have a real talent for, and which is also something you really enjoy, will give you the greatest chance of success in life.

It is essential you find the common ground between your lists because:-

  1. If you really enjoy it, you’ll stick with it.
  2. If you’re really good at it, someone will notice

And if you get it right, sometimes people will sprinkle fairy dust on you too. And then a magical career beckons.

Finding job heaven is never about luck.

If you’re doing something you enjoy doing and you’re doing it well, you’ll stick with it long enough to get someone’s attention. And when you get their attention, you’ll dazzle them because you’re doing it well.

That’s not luck; it’s hard work, perseverance and timing.

Once you’ve identified what you want, the next question is, “How do you get it?” That’s another challenge, entirely.

Have you managed to find job heaven? If so, you’re lucky indeed. Enjoy every moment.

If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking;

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