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.

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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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13 tips for improving your personal happiness

13 TIPS FOR IMPROVING PERSONAL HAPPINESSYou’ll be as happy as you choose to be.

Yes, life can be challenging. Yes, life can be full of frustrations and disappointments. And yes, other people can drive you nuts at times.

No one’s life is perfect and everyone has problems.

However, your level of personal happiness will be dictated by how you choose to look at life.

You can let life’s challenges make you feel miserable or you can refuse to let anything get you down.

You can just say to yourself, I’m going to be happy and nothing is going to stop me.

You will find that being happy isn’t as hard as it appears to be at times.

Here are 13 ways that will help you increase your sense of personal happiness and improve your life too:-

1. Talk to yourself positively:

One of the greatest contributors to unhappiness is what’s going on in our heads.

Everyone is prone to self-doubt and feelings of not being quite good enough.

Everyone worries about being ‘found out’ in their job.

It’s easy to assume that in some way you’re not really very good at what you do and you think eventually someone will notice. Have you had that experience dear reader?

We all struggle to appreciate that we’re actually better than we think we are and that if we really couldn’t do the work for which we are paid, someone would have noticed already and they would have said something.

Negative self-talk can really grind you down. So stop it now.

Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk.

Tell yourself constantly that you’re better than you think you are and that you have every reason to like yourself.

And adopt this saying as your personal mantra; I’m as good as anyone and I will show them all that I’m better than most!

Repeat it to yourself frequently and every time when even the slightest hint of doubt pops into your mind.

2. Value the people in your life:

Your social network, i.e. the people with whom you interact, and your relationships are essential to your personal happiness.

Human beings are social animals. We’re not solitary creatures like cats. We need other people, frustrating as some of them can be at times.

Remember we’re all different. We’re all individuals. So accept people for who they are and what they are. Everyone has many sides to their individual personalities. No one is perfect.

So look for the good in people and don’t judge their less flattering sides too harshly. Never forget, we all have a less flattering side.

However keep away from personality clashes and arguments. Let go of any resentment you may feel towards individuals. Just remember they’re not perfect, just like you.

If an argument seems inevitable, seek first to understand and then to be understood.

By understanding the other person’s point of view and why they feel the way they feel, you just might find you get along with them so much better.

And even if after you’ve listened carefully, if you still think they’re wrong, so what?

You can always agree to disagree.

You don’t have to prove you’re right and they’re wrong.

It doesn’t have to be about you proving you’re right all the time.

Peace and harmony are of much greater value to your personal happiness than being proved right.

So just let it go. 

3. Be grateful:

Being grateful for whatever you have, is an important part of your personal happiness.

Being thankful is a great attitude to develop.

If you think about it, I’m sure there will be at least as few things for which you can be truly thankful. Simple things like having a laugh with a friend whilst having a coffee or a meal.

They don’t have to be big things.

Little things that put a smile on your face are far more important to your personal happiness than any amount of material possessions.

In fact, material possessions don’t make you happy at all. Mostly the resulting clutter they create is just a source of stress and extra work.

Take the time to thank those people who provide you with even the smallest things. Making a point of saying thank you will help you realize just how abundant your life is in reality. 

4. Avoid doom and gloom:

The media tends to focus on bad news.

Unfortunately, bad news attracts more attention than good news and media channels are focused on ratings. They make money from eyeballs watching and ears listening.

They’re in the business of making money not cheering you up, so they’ll focus on bad news always.

It is a fact that most news is depressing and stressful.

With 24 hour rolling news channels our lives are filled with a lot of stuff that can fill us with doom and gloom if we’re not careful.

Watching, listening to, or reading the news will detract from your personal happiness.

So, if the news is just a source of doom and gloom then it’s a good idea to get less of it, don’t you think?

Switch it off and find something else to do that will cheer you up.

5. Manage your time wisely:

Your time is precious and it should be used and managed wisely.

Just because someone expects a piece of your time doesn’t mean they’re entitled to it.

Only you can judge whether they’re worthy of your time. And it’s perfectly reasonable to say No if you think that’s appropriate.

No one has an unlimited amount of time. We all have just 168 hours per week. So we all must make the most of our time because time is far too important to waste.

If someone requests a piece of your time then make sure they have a very good reason to justify it. Otherwise just say No politely but very firmly.

It’s your life, so live it your way. 

6. Find something to make you laugh each day:

Let’s face it, life is far too short to be serious all the time.

Occasionally we need to laugh to alleviate our stress levels.

Laughter is the best medicine, or so they say. And I think it’s true. A good laugh can really cheer you up.

So make sure you enjoy a good laugh at least once a day. It may be watching a sitcom you love or a funny animal video on YouTube. Whatever puts a smile on your face then that’s fine. You need to smile because it will help you relax.

It may be a funny joke that makes you laugh.

And if that happens, remember to share the joke with family and friends. That way you get to laugh twice. Once when you hear the joke and again when you share it.

Laugh and laugh vigorously every single day. 

Personal Happiness7. Let people know what they mean to you:

If people matter to you then be sure to let them know occasionally.

Don’t be afraid to communicate your feelings, affections, friendship and passion to people around you.

Being open about your feelings is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

It’s a sign that you’re confident enough in yourself to let people know what they mean to you.

It’s a sign that you recognize how important it is for people to know that they matter to you. They’ll appreciate it and that will enhance the bond between you. 

8. Don’t bottle up your negative emotions:

Pent-up feelings of anger and frustration are bad for your health.

Yes, we all feel angry occasionally but suppressing it is counter-productive.

If you’re not happy about something it’s better to say so.

Occasionally you may need to say so forcefully too. However, never say it in a way that’s mean and hurtful. That’s just being unpleasant.

And if you do say something which you later recognize as mean and hurtful then apologize. Never be afraid, or too proud, to apologize.

You won’t be the first person to say something you later regret but don’t compound the offence but failing to offer a sincere apology.

At the very least that will show you’re big enough to recognize when you’re in the wrong.

If you can learn to express your anger and frustration in a way that will not cause injury or hurt to anyone then you’ll be on the road to being a very decent human being. 

9. Have a sense of purpose:

It’s important to have a sense of purpose.

To work each day at something in which you excel and which gets you out of bed in the morning.

Working hard at something you love can bring you great personal contentment.

Your work is your contribution to society and potentially the legacy you leave behind.

For instance, John Lennon left a wonderful collection of songs that we still listen today almost 40 years after his death. That’s a fantastic legacy.

Work gives you a sense that you have the capability to finish tasks.

Work is a source of satisfaction when you take on a challenge and use your skills and know-how to complete it. In this way, you grow in character.

Through your work, you use your time profitably and when the working day is done you feel you’ve earned your rest and recreation.

Work well done, with a sense of purpose, will make you feel good about yourself. 

10. Never stop learning:

Learning does not finish when you leave school or college. Learning is a lifelong process. And it does not necessarily involve formal tuition.

You can be self-taught and learn by doing.

You can read books and watch instructional DVDs or video tutorials on YouTube.

You can listen to audio-books and podcasts in your car or whilst travelling on public transport.

So be a committed student and work constantly on being a master of your craft.

Working constantly on achieving mastery will increase the value you can offer in the workplace and it will make you a very attractive proposition is the job market.

Learning is a joyful exercise, particularly if it’s a subject you love.

The more you learn, the greater will be the number of skills you can offer. The more skills you have the more value you add. So, learn something new each and every day.

And remember; learning will also broaden your horizons. Learning is a positive experience, so never stop learning. 

11. The power of faith:

Faith can be a great comfort in times of trial. Believing there is some higher power helps us to appreciate our place within the universe. We are nothing more than specs of dust in a great cosmic cloud.

Faith adds discipline to your life. Whichever faith you choose is not important. Well, I don’t think so anyway. However being part of a spiritual group with its singing, sacraments, chanting, prayers and meditations encourages inner peace and personal well-being.

It also encourages the idea of service and putting others first.

Never underestimate the power of faith. 

12. Don’t let pollution take its toll on you:

Pollution comes in many forms but it all takes its toll of your personal happiness and well-being.

Life is full of toxins, hazardous places, loud noises, light pollution and much more.

Minimize your exposure to these negative elements because they’re an assault on your senses and they’re not good for you if you’re over-exposed to them. 

13. Regular exercise improves your health and well-being:

A sedentary lifestyle is not healthy for anyone.

Our bodies were built for movement. So exercise daily.

That doesn’t mean you must go to the gym. Neither does it mean you must participate in formal sports teams or clubs.

You can exercise in simple ways like running, jogging, a brisk walk or even an informal game of football or tennis with friends in the local park.

Even if you’re just taking your dog for a walk then that’s exercise too.

Alternatively perhaps you could walk to and from work, if possible, rather than using your car or public transport.

Just do what your body was made for and you will feel a bit more alive.

Conclusion:

Today’s underlying message is that you can choose to be happy or not. It all depends on how you choose to look at life and the slings and arrows that life sends your way.

There’s nothing to be gained by being miserable and a sense of personal happiness is better for your health and well-being.

So choose to be happy and develop habits that will lead you to a state of personal happiness.

It’s not easy of course, and it does take some work but it’s well worth the effort.

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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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The importance of change and the opportunities it brings

The Importance of ChangeToday dear reader, I’d like to explore the importance of change to a business and the opportunities it brings. For the fleet-footed entrepreneur, opportunity is synonymous with change. If that isn’t obvious, trust me, it’s true. And that’s why it’s important to embrace change.

1. Change is inevitable:

As the old saying goes, change is inevitable except from a vending machine.

We cannot avoid change, quite simply because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. Trying to stop it is like trying to hold back the tide. It cannot be done. Change is simply a force of nature.

However, if you hate change, don’t worry because you’re not alone. Most people hate change.

Just when we think we have everything under control, a significant change happens and suddenly we’re scrambling to get ourselves back to equilibrium. It makes life seem like a giant game of Snakes and Ladders, doesn’t it?

2. Fear of change is natural:

Actually feeling uncomfortable when faced with change is both rational and natural because one of the most basic human needs is the need to feel secure. Change is an uncomfortable experience because it makes us feel insecure.

However, we must control any fear we have about it and we must have the courage to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we respond appropriately as the winds of change start blowing around us.

3. Businesses can be fragile:

Change can affect a business in many ways, given that plenty of things can change for a business over time.

For instance, consumers’ needs, wants and expectations will change over time. As will technology; markets; competition; and regulations as well. And of course, let’s not forget taxation. Governments are constantly tinkering with taxation, as their need for money increases.

Therefore business owners and executives must be on their guard constantly, anticipating change and how it might affect their business.

Whether you’re an owner, an executive or just an employee, if you’re involved with a business then you cannot afford to become too complacent.

Ignore change and it’ll kill your business quicker than you might imagine. It can kill your career too. Businesses can be fragile if they’re exposed suddenly to the harsh reality of change.

4. Change on an industrial scale:

It’s easy to think that major corporations which dominate whole industries are immune from the impact which change can bring. Unfortunately, this isn’t so.

Consider for instance the computer industry.

IBM was once the behemoth of that industry. The very name was synonymous with everything that was best in the information technology (IT) sector, globally. So glowing was their reputation that there was an old saying universally accepted in business, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.

They were Big Blue, second to no one.

However, their size and reputation didn’t stop them almost paying a very heavy price for failing to anticipate changing IT trends.

For years IBM favoured large centralised computer installations which filled whole buildings. And IBM didn’t see any reason to do anything differently as they were in the business of supplying these and making very good money from them.

Neither did they believe that many people would actually need computers. As recently as 1943 Thomas Watson, then Chairman of IBM said, “I think there’s a world market for maybe five computers.

However, IBM’s lack of foresight didn’t end there.

Having introduced what we now call the PC to the market in 1982, they didn’t actually believe it had any real future. Apparently their original forecast for global sales for the PC was just 25,000 units, worldwide.

IBM didn’t really want PCs to sell because they saw centralised corporate computer systems as where the real money was. Their failure to see the potential of the PC allowed Microsoft to move in and become a dominant player at IBM’s expense.

Failure to recognize changing trends and how they would affect the demand for computers and the way computers were going to be used had almost catastrophic consequences for IBM.

To be fair, they did manage to adapt eventually, but not before their business came dangerously close to collapse. And to this day they do not dominate their industry in the way they once did.

5. Heavyweights no more:

Another good example of a dominant industry player failing to recognise the winds of change was Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

If you’re not familiar with that name dear reader, they were the leading supplier of what were then known as mini-computers back in the late 1970s.

However it seems DEC allowed their dominant industry position to cloud their judgment because back in 1977 Ken Olson then President, Chairman and founder of DEC observed that, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.

Where is DEC now?

They’re nothing more than a footnote in the history of digital technology. Few people, other than old computer industry hands, will even remember the name.

And yet the demand for computer technology products is greater than it has ever been. Every household has several of them in the form of desktops, laptops and, in particular, tablets and smartphones.

Today the computer industry is dominated by companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google. None of these companies even existed when Mr Olson made his unfortunate comment back in 1977.

Another good example is Kodak, once the dominant player in the photographic products industry. As recently as 1976, Kodak commanded 90% of film sales and 85% of camera sales in the United States. Where are they now? Certainly, nothing like the company they once were, that’s for sure.

6. Change brings opportunity:

Set aside the fear of change and you’ll see that it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it actually generates opportunities for the fleet-footed. So there’s a positive dimension to change as well.

If it’s embraced then opportunities are always there for the taking.

Just think about it for a second. If change didn’t happen, we’d all still be living in caves and riding around on donkeys.

Most companies, particularly large corporations, are usually far too slow in responding to change. However, that offers plenty of scope for smaller, faster, more flexible businesses to move in and relieve the big boys of their lunch.

So change is actually a positive dynamic.

7. See change positively:

Let’s face it, if everything always remained the same then most of the things we enjoy and take for granted today wouldn’t exist.

In developed countries, we enjoy a standard of living that would have been beyond the imagination of people even a century ago. Think about that statement for a second; everything we now take for granted today once didn’t exist.

The point here is that we ignore change at our peril, particularly in business.

So it’s better to embrace change positively than to ignore it.

Yes, of course, it feels uncomfortable but we all get used to changes in the fullness of time.

If change is going to happen anyway then we might as well see what’s in it for us, surely?

If we’re in business, or indeed as people, we should always be constantly thinking about how we can exploit change to our advantage. How can we seize the opportunities that will come along as a natural consequence of change?

8. Make trends your friend:

In order to exploit change, we need to become trend-watchers. And not just single trends.

We need to be watching each and every trend that might have an impact on ourselves and our businesses.

And we need to consider how those trends might come together to create a perfect storm, the winds of which might do us harm or become the wind beneath our wings.

Whether the consequences are good or bad, we must always be ready for them.

9. Conclusion:

Successful people are adept at exploiting opportunities brought about by change.

Change is synonymous with opportunity, it’s that simple.

Never fear change, you must embrace it.

If success is your aim, then change can be your friend.

However, never underestimate the harm change can do, should you become too complacent.

Change can be a force for good but equally, it can be a dangerous force for the unwary.

When you think of change; think positively but think defensively too.

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The importance of teaching children about money

Teaching ChildrenThe importance of teaching children about money is not something that’s taken as seriously as it should be, in my opinion.

Certainly not in the education system. As far as I can see, financial education for children and young adults is rarely covered within the education system at all. It wasn’t when I was young and it isn’t now.

Some might say that money’s not the most important thing in life and philosophically that may be true.

However, money’s up there with oxygen and water when it comes to sustaining human life. In the modern age, life revolves around money, whether we like it or not.

Money’s a measure of the value we add to the lives of others and it’s also the oil that lubricates human existence.

Without money, living would be virtually impossible for almost everyone today.

1. The point of teaching children:

The point of teaching children is to prepare them for adult life, surely?

Our aim should be to equip them with everything they need to know, so they can function effectively as adults once they leave the education system.

Now reading, writing and arithmetic are all essential subjects, of course, because you can’t get too far in the world of work without these basic skills. And it’s through work that we really add value and maximise our income.

Nevertheless, where I believe the education system generally fails children and young people is the omission of the teaching of essential life skills, like earning an income and managing money. Important subjects like money and personal finance are never covered at all, certainly not in any significant way.

2. Money and personal finance:

To me, it’s truly amazing that we don’t teach our children about money or personal finance in their formative years.

Surely whilst at school, children should learn about:-

          • The way money is earned;
          • The way to manage money;
          • How to budget, so they can pay their bills; and
          • How to spend their money wisely.

Children should also learn about how they should prioritize expenditure to avoid getting themselves into a financial mess, in my opinion.

3. The pros and cons of debt:

Personally I think that children and young adults should learn about the pros and cons of debt.

They should learn about the difference between secured and unsecured debt, given the impact these factors will have on the interest rates that will be applied to such debt.

Young people should learn about the power of compound interest too. Not so much as a mathematical exercise but in terms of how it can quickly turn a relatively small debt into a very large debt, if we’re not careful.

And they should also learn to appreciate that credit cards are not just a convenient means for cashless payment.

Used thoughtlessly, credit cards can result in personal wealth destruction and excessive levels of expensive debt.

Children and young people should know that credit cards are a form of unsecured debt, which means they come with very high rates of interest, which accelerate a personal debt mountain rapidly, if not paid off immediately.

4. Interest rates matter:

Everyone should know that interest rates really do matter. They’re very significant and shouldn’t be treated lightly.

Children and young adults should learn that they should never go into debt for the purchase of discretionary items. It’s always better that they save up for that discretionary purchase before they buy, of course.

5. The nature of work:

Every young person should learn about how work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money and that the more value they can add through their skills and know-how, the more they’ll earn throughout their life. So skills matter too.

Everyone should be taught about the economics of supply and demand and its impact on pricing.

Kids should understand the difference between trading their time with one employer for a wage and the opportunity to serve multiple customers through their own business and their own creativity.

If they have the ability to create products which solve problems for customers, then they have the potential to make a lot of money.

Essentially kids should learn to appreciate the difference between employment and self-employment.

6. The road to financial freedom:

Young people should learn about wealth, pensions and how to achieve financial freedom through putting money aside on a regular basis and investing it wisely.

They should be positively encouraged to work towards achieving financial freedom.

Once they’re financially free they can focus on doing things they enjoy doing rather than things they have to do, because they’ve no other choice.

If nothing else, this makes the goal of achieving financial freedom a worthy aim, in my opinion.

7. The impact 0f inflation, taxation and government borrowing:

Kids should learn about the impact that inflation will have on the value of their money and how this can affect their savings, particularly for old age. They should also be taught about risk and its relationship with reward.

They should learn about taxes and how the money they pay in taxes will be spent, and frequently squandered by government.

Everyone should know that there’s no such thing as government money, only the taxpayer’s money. Our money!

Children and young people should know that it’ll be their hard-earned money that’s being spent by the government.

They should also know that when governments borrow money this is simply a means for spending today and then passing the bill on to future generations. In other words, our children and grandchildren will pay the bill for today’s government borrowing.

Government borrowing is not a free lunch. Someone eventually must bear the interest payments in future years, as well as the repayment of the original capital sum that was borrowed. And don’t forget, governments are borrowing money continually.

8. Holding government to account:

Children should be taught to question how their money is being spent by the government and how to register their disapproval if they’re not happy with what’s being done with that money, in their name.

9. Money matters:

Sadly most people have little real understanding of money, which means that they’re easily conned by sharp business practices, particularly in Financial Services, and by politicians driven only by their own self-interest.

Perhaps that’s why schools are not encouraged to teach personal finance as a subject.

Parents should demand that their children are taught about money, in my opinion.

If the education system fails children by not teaching them important life skills then, as parents, we must shoulder at least some of the blame, surely?

And as always, we’ll get what we tolerate.

For me, teaching children and young people about money is an issue for the education system, as much as it is for parents themselves.

Money really does matter and, in my opinion, we fail children and young people if we don’t provide them with the know-how and skills to make the most of it throughout their lives.

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The purpose of life: What’s it really all about?

The Purpose of LifeToday I want to explore the purpose of life.

What’s life really all about, when it all comes down to it?

Should life just be a treadmill of meeting other peoples’ expectations or should our aim simply be to lead lives that make us happy?

The purpose of life:

What does life mean to you, dear reader?

Do you ever feel that you’re just living life on a treadmill, constantly running to meet the expectations of everyone around you?

Perhaps you worry about what other people think about you? If you do, you’re certainly not alone.

Too many people waste their time worrying about what others think of them.

If only they realised that other people spend little or no time thinking about them at all.

Your approach is just a valid as the next person’s:

Most people are too busy trying to deal with their own lives. They don’t have the time to think much about anyone else’s life.

So why not just be yourself and lead your own life on your own terms, in your own way?

Your approach to life is just as valid as the next person’s and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you’re free to choose how you live.

Don’t try to be something you’re not:

You can only be the person you are. So just be yourself and accept yourself for the person you are. You’re a true original, and you can be truly proud of that.

Remind yourself frequently that you’re better than you think you are and that you’re as good as anyone.

Constantly reinforce your self-belief:

If you haven’t got much self-belief right now then fake it until it happens naturally. And that will come with the little successes you’ll achieve over time.

Never consciously try to impress anyone else. It doesn’t get you any place worth going. Just do what comes naturally to you.

You’re only going to have this one life, so live it on your own terms. Enjoy your life for what it is and make the most of it.

Don’t let life happen, make it happen:

Never, ever just let life happen to you; decide on the life you want and then make it happen.

It’s important to know what you want and you should never give up until you get it.

Always be you but make it the best version of you.

And remember this; an original is always more impressive than a copy. So don’t copy other people. Just be an original.

Life begins outside your comfort zone:

And remember this too; life begins once you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the real challenges are and that’s where you will grow.

And you must never stop growing.

So step outside your comfort zone; look those challenges in the eye and just give them a wink.

You’re more than a match for them all. They should be quaking in their boots.

Go on, live life! Now! It’s later than you think.

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