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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The debate about identity politics and how we get beyond it

Identity PoliticsThe debate about identity politics has dominated much of the news in recent months. Surely we must find a way to get beyond it? In that, I refer to getting beyond the problems associated with identity, rather than the debate itself.

We’re all human beings first:

Whether we think of ourselves as Black, White, Christian, Muslim, Jew or some other form of ethnic or religious identity, in reality we’re all just members of the human race, surely?

In my opinion, we’re human beings first and other forms of identity second. We’re all just people.

We all want the same things:

As people, we all want the same things if you think about it.

Ideally, we all want a peaceful, prosperous life and a better world for our children?

We want a roof over our heads and the ability to put bread and food on the table.

Equally, we all want to feel secure.

We all want a sense of purpose to our lives and a reason for us to get out of bed each day.

And, of course, we all want to enjoy some leisure time with family and friends, occasionally.

Life’s too short:

Life’s too short to worry about anything else, surely?

As human beings, we have much more in common than we’re often able or willing to recognize and those things that apparently separate us are often more imagined than real. Well, I think so anyway.

In my experience, there are good people everywhere you go in this world.

And yet, as human beings, we often fear people simply because they are not a reflection of ourselves.

We fear what we don’t understand.

If only we could just see others as human beings first. They’re people just like us, with hopes, dreams and a desire to be loved, accepted and respected by others.

Respect people and get to know them:

If only we could just treat people with respect, regardless of whatever sense of identity they present to the world. If only we could respect others just for being themselves.

I’ve been fortunate enough to live and work in many parts of the world and I’ve learned that if you make the effort to get to know people, whoever they are, you begin to see them in a different way, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or creed.

If you try to understand them and their lives, suddenly you realize that they’re actually just like you, or not so very different at least.

Wherever you go, people are just people. We laugh, we cry, we eat, we sleep and we all have to go to the bathroom occasionally.

Yes, there are a few bad ones of course but most people are honest and decent and if you treat them with respect, you will get their respect in return. In my experience, wherever you go people just want to be treated fairly.

Avoid making assumptions about people:

When you meet people from a culture which is different to your own, it’s easy to make assumptions about them. However, how can you be sure you’re right unless you get to know them?

Judging is easy but it’s hard to know what someone else’s life is really like. Unless you’ve actually walked a mile in their shoes, you couldn’t possibly know what their life is really like or what challenges they face on a daily basis.

So you can’t judge anyone unless you make the effort to get to know them.

And for me, that’s the underlying problem for all humanity.

We judge people first without making the effort get to know people. We make assumptions and judge on perceived stereotypes rather than treating people as individuals.

For instance, it would be easy to assume that all Muslims have the same extreme views as those fundamentalists making media headlines fighting for the establishment of the so-called Islamic State or ISIS.

I have lived and worked in the Middle East over many years and I know that this is not true. Some of the finest people I’ve ever met are Muslims.

I have many Muslim friends for whom I have the greatest respect. I’ve also known many Christians, Jews, Buddhists and more for whom I could make a similar comment.

Seek first to understand:

I’ve learned to treat people as I find them and not as others tell me I should find them.

I concern myself only with the content of their character. I try to treat others with respect and I find that generally, if I do, I get their respect in return.

If only we could all treat others in the way that we’d prefer them to treat us then I think the world would be a better place. And surely our aim should be to make this world a better place?

In the words of Stephen R. Covey, we must “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.”

Identity politics:

Identity politics has the potential to divide us all but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can get along with each other if we respect people for who they are and what they are and judge them only by the content of their character.

Look beyond obvious differences to the person within. It’s what’s on the inside of people that matters most. Well that’s my opinion, dear reader.

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How to get along with people and make the world better

How to get along with peopleHow to get along with people? It’s a classic problem. We don’t have to like people but life’s better if we can get along with them. But how?

Life’s great challenge:

Dear reader, do you have problems getting along with other people?

Do you find it difficult to deal with some people, as you go about your daily routine?

Well, it’s true, some folk can be challenging and quite difficult at times. I’m sure most readers will have had that experience, occasionally.

However, in my experience most people really just want you to be nice to them. They want to be respected for who they are and treated with courtesy.

I’ve learned over the years that, if you respect people and take a genuine interest in their lives, then generally they’ll respond warmly to you. Not all perhaps but certainly most people.

How to get along with people:

Think about it.

We all just want to be treated with courtesy and respect and appreciated for who we are and what we do, don’t we? Certainly, I do. Don’t you, dear reader?

If we accept that as true, then the way to get along with other people, is not really difficult, surely?

The trick is to treat people with courtesy and respect, regardless of who they are or what they do. Treat them as you would prefer to be treated.

Be kind and considerate to them as individuals and there’s a good chance that they’ll treat you well too.

You don’t have to like people but life’s better if you can get along with them. And if you can get along with them and get to know them, then you might just get to like them in time as well.

The world can be a better place:

If we can all get along then it will make the world a better place.

If we can all be kind and considerate to our fellow human beings, then we could have a world free from strife and tension.

So go on, show people some respect; show them a little appreciation; take an interest in them for who they are and what they do; and above all, never underestimate the power of a thank you.

I always feel better if I think I’m appreciated and I’m sure you do too. We all do.

So the trick to getting along with people is simply to treat them as you would prefer them to treat you. It works every time for me.

And I’m confident that it will work well for you too, dear reader.

So go on, make every effort to get along with people and make the world a better place.

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10 very useful tips to be successful in life

Looking for some useful tips to be successful in life, dear reader? What habits should you develop? Today I offer you my top 10 list.

What’s the key to success?

Well, I can tell you right now that there’s no one, single thing that on its own will ensure that you enjoy some personal success, dear reader. There’s no silver bullet, I’m afraid.

However, there are things you can do and habits you can develop that will help you to become the successful person you really could be.

Dear reader, you can be a success and it’s never too late.

Know what you want and know why:

Essentially success comes from knowing what you want and knowing why.

If you establish some goals and take a disciplined approach towards achieving those goals then you’re on your way.

However, you’ll also need to adopt some good habits that will help you achieve those goals and help you to keep going until you get to where you want to be.

Adopting good habits will also mark you out as a role model for others too, which means you’ll be a leader.

Tips to be successful in life:

Here is my list of the top 10 tips to be successful in life.

These are good habits you really ought to consider developing from now on:-

1. Believe in yourself

You must believe in yourself, dear reader. That’s a given, if success is your aim. If you don’t believe in yourself then why would anyone else believe in you?

If you lack self-belief then you must start reinforcing a belief in yourself straightaway with a daily mantra. Every morning and every evening go to your bathroom mirror and repeat the following to yourself 10 times each time:-

“I’m as good as anyone and better than most. I will be a success.”

It is essential that you remind yourself of this constantly.

Self-belief is an essential ingredient if you’re going to succeed. By reminding yourself that you’re as good as anyone this will help reinforce self-belief in both your conscious and subconscious minds.

Believing in yourself and your ability to succeed is more important than anything else. It is if success is your aim, I can tell you that from experience.

2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

You are who you are and you can only be the person you are. Anything else would be a fake.

You have your own special qualities and no one else on earth is quite like you. You have your own strengths and of course you have a few weaknesses too. Everyone does.

Other people have their own unique qualities too, of course. However, that doesn’t mean they’re better than you.

They’re just different. You can’t be them, so don’t try. And they can’t be you either. So concentrate on being yourself. Everyone else is taken.

If you want to be a star, then you must shine for being you and for the special magic which only you can bring to this world. You’re unique, so take pride in that and put your best foot forward.

Never compare yourself to anyone else and never fret if you feel that you can’t match someone else in some particular way. Remember, there will be ways in which they cannot match you either. 

3. Always keep the main thing the main thing

Whether you like it or not you’ll be judged by what you deliver and the value you add.

If your job is to paint my house, then I will judge you on how well you’ve painted my house.

I don’t care how much help you’ve given to my neighbour. If you’ve painted my house badly or the job hasn’t been done properly then you’ve failed as far as I’m concerned. Do the job badly and I will not be happy.

Often in the workplace, our inability to say “No” leads us to being completely distracted by a request to help someone else.

And that distraction can result in us failing to do something that would have moved us closer to the successful conclusion of one of the goals we’ve set for ourselves.

Losing sight of our own high-value tasks can make us less productive and less valuable in the eyes of our employer. Workplace distractions can lead to us helping other people achieve their objectives at the expense of our own, if we’re not careful.

Being a team-player is important of course and there will be occasions when providing assistance to a colleague is the right thing to do for the greater good of the team. However, it should never, ever be at the expense of you delivering what you will be expected to deliver regardless.

You’re judged by what you deliver, so never lose focus on what you’re expected to do.

Never be afraid to be assertive. You don’t have to be nasty, unpleasant or impolite. You just have to say something like, “Look I’m really sorry, I would love to help you but I have this to complete by 5 pm” or whatever.

Always, always keep the main thing the main thing.

Being too helpful may help others but it probably won’t help you.

It will however increase your stress levels though, if you’re not careful.

Focus on your own goals, ruthlessly. 

4. Accept that you will make mistakes occasionally

No professional likes to make mistakes.

Nevertheless, they are inevitable occasionally. That’s a fact of life.

No one is so perfect they can avoid mistakes completely. And no one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way.

So it’s fine to make mistakes occasionally providing you don’t make too many and providing you don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

When you’ve made a mistake, it’s important, to be honest, accept it, and above all learn from it.

Making mistakes is all part of us gaining that valuable commodity known as experience.

So just do your best and accept that, like everyone else, you’re not perfect nor will you ever be.

However remember this; just because you’re not perfect, it doesn’t mean you cannot be exceptional at what you do. As professionals, we always strive to get better at what we do.

Mastery of your craft is a worthy aim and one which requires constant study and practice, and occasionally making mistakes. 

5. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks

Risk and reward go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

You’ll never achieve anything exceptional if you always play it safe; not unless you’re very, very lucky anyway.

Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and go for it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh up the pros and cons before you take action. It’s fine to consider the potential consequences before you take a risk. And it’s fine to consider the odds of achieving a positive outcome and whether the potential reward merits the degree of risk involved.

Consider risk carefully but don’t dwell on it too long. Analysis shouldn’t replace action. You cannot get to second base unless you take your foot off first base and go for it.

And anytime you take a risk don’t panic if initially, things don’t go quite as you’d imagined.

If you’ve used your judgement with care then there’s every possibility that you’ll get the outcome you want.

So hold your nerve and just believe in yourself.

You may not get it right every time but you’ll get it right more than you get it wrong. And even when you’re wrong you’ll learn a lesson.

Get it right and you’ll be that much closer to achieving a goal.

So be willing to take a calculated risk when necessary. 

6. Learn from experience

As suggested earlier, experience is a valuable commodity.

It’s the by-product of making mistakes and taking risks. It’s the invaluable benefit we derive when things don’t quite work out as we’d intended.

The most important thing about experience is that we learn from it.

And of course, we can learn from seeing others make mistakes too, as well as from anything we’ve done ourselves.

The lessons we get from real experience are far more valuable to us than anything anyone can tell us, or anything we can read in a book for that matter.

It’s the education we get in the University of Life, and the School of Hard Knocks.

However, remember this; you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your mistakes.

When you make a mistake, it makes sense, to be honest with yourself and others of course. Beyond that, you should not feel the need to explain yourself in detail.

Mistakes happen and no one starts out with the intention of getting something wrong. If you get an outcome you didn’t want then just to take it on the chin, learn the lesson and move on.

Everyone makes mistakes occasionally and you’re no different. To err is human. That’s life. 

7. Never take anything personally

Apparently the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once observed that, “Hell is other people.

I’m sure there are times when we all feel that he may have had a point.

We’re all struggling to get through life as best we can and life’s never easy for anyone. Everyone wants what they believe to be their fair share of life’s ‘pie’. Some people want your share too.

Sometimes that can leave us feeling like everyone is giving us grief and deliberately making life more difficult than it needs to be.

However, mostly in our dealings with people, there’s nothing personal.

Life is just ‘dog eat dog’. People may be a little insensitive at times, as they pursue their own agenda, but generally they’re not out to hurt us specifically.

So if it’s not personal, then never take it personally.

And on those rare occasions when it does prove to be personal, don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction or showing that they’ve got to you.

Look them in the eye and show them that it doesn’t bother you. Your message has to be, “I’m made of steel. You’ll have to try harder than that if you’re going to penetrate my shield. 

8. If you’re digging a hole for yourself, stop digging

When you realise you’re digging a hole for yourself, you have two choices:-

  1. You can keep digging and the hole in which you find yourself will simply get bigger and more problematic; or
  2. You can recognize the situation for what it is and stop digging immediately.

It is always best to stop digging immediately, in my experience.

When you stop digging you might have a few fences to mend, of course.

Certainly, you’ll have to accept responsibility.

And you’ll probably have to apologize to some people, depending on the circumstances.

Regardless of what it all means, it’s always better to recognize a bad situation for what it is and take it on the chin, rather than making everything even worse.

On the positive side, having the ability to recognize when you’re digging a hole for yourself and having the maturity to deal with the consequences is a sign of self-confidence. That’s something for which you’ll gain other peoples’ respect.

In my experience, people will respect you if you’re prepared to say, “Hey, you know what, I’ve made a bit of a mess of this one, so I’ll stop right here and let’s try again. Sorry but like everyone else, I’m not perfect and I make mistakes occasionally.

Just because you didn’t quite get it right doesn’t mean you cannot show confidence in how you respond.

Respond in the right way and your confidence will be well placed. 

9. Let go of any anger

We all get angry occasionally but anger never gets you any place worth going.

React in anger and almost certainly you’ll regret it.

That’s not to suggest that you should not react at all. However, before you react let the anger subside. Just let it go.

Leave it for 24 hours if necessary, until you’re better able to reflect with a calm head. There’s a lot to be said for ‘sleeping on it’ in my experience.

That way you’re better placed to use your judgement carefully and make rational decisions.

And in making decisions, revenge should not form any part of how you plan to react.

Revenge won’t get you to any place worth going either and you’ll almost certainly regret that too.

10. Learn to switch off

We all need a little ‘me time’ regularly, otherwise we’ll burn out.

We all need time to relax and recharge our batteries.

That means switching off completely.

By doing that one of the great benefits is that we gain a fresh perspective on whatever’s happening in our lives.

Surprisingly perhaps we’ll also get plenty of new ideas in the process.

In fact, you’ll find you get some of your best ideas when you’re not trying to come up with new ideas. That’s ironic I know but it’s true, in my experience. 

Bonus tip

Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.

If you don’t laugh at yourself occasionally you might just be missing out on the funniest thing happening at that moment. Why miss out on a good laugh?

Concluding remarks

So there you have it. If you want to be successful, start by developing good habits.

This list of tips would be a good start but you will find that there are others too.

Above all else, make sure you’re adding value in everything you do. Our purpose in life should be to add value to the lives of others.

If you’re adding genuine value then you can’t go too far wrong.

So, dear reader, where do you add the most value and what are your goals?

You should know the answers to these questions and you should write them down.

If you don’t know, it’s time to identify some answers.

Nothing ever happens by accident. You have to make it happen.

You can be successful, everyone can, but it requires you to know where you’re going; to know why you’re going there, and to be prepared to work very hard until you get there.

You can do it, dear reader. So, good luck!

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If you knew you’ll die tomorrow, here’s what’s important to you today?

Life is Short

Life is short:

You’ll often hear people talk about the importance of money to living life in the modern age.

Let’s be honest it’s difficult to live without money today, is it not?

Nevertheless, we must also remember that life is short. And sadly for some people, it’s very short indeed.

So, whilst money’s important to some degree, it’s not an ideal means for measuring success, is it? Not real success in life anyway.

In the modern age, it’s easy to become obsessed with money but the accumulation of money for its own sake should never be the underlying motive that drives us, surely? That can only lead to a life of misplaced priorities I think.

If your approach to life includes an obsession with money then you’ll be doomed to disappointment, I think you’ll realise eventually. One day you’ll look back and wished you’d spent a bit more time with family, friends and loved ones, of that I’m sure.

So what would be an ideal measure of success?

For me, a better measure of success is whether we’re feeling fulfilled by what we’re doing.

If our work is something we’d do as a hobby if we couldn’t get paid for it then that’s a better way of gauging success. As the great Warren Buffett once said, “Look for a job that you’d take it you didn’t need a job.”

A sense of purpose and work which is fulfilling and truly absorbing is a much less stressful way of living.

If you enjoy what we do you’ll do it well and the money will follow anyway. If you do your work exceptionally well then people will notice. And once you get noticed, you’re on our way to genuine success.

Never be driven by money alone.

Never accept a job simply because it’s well paid.

It’s nice to have a good salary, of course. However, once you get used to the money you still have to spend a third of your life doing the work for which you’re being paid well. And doing work you don’t enjoy, is a very big price to pay in terms of emotions, your stress levels and the impact it will have on your central nervous system.

If life’s short then our time is very precious, surely?

What’s the point of working every hour you’ve got just to become rich, only then to die suddenly of a heart attack having had no time to enjoy the fruits of your labour?

What a waste that would be. Being the richest man or woman in the graveyard is hardly a title worth having, is it?

So the underlying message to you today dear reader is to find work you enjoy doing and to make sure you leave a little time to enjoy life too.

No one’s life is perfect.

Everyone faces challenges occasionally. Inevitably your life will have its ups and downs too. However make sure there are more ups than downs in life, as far as you possibly can.

Take some time to smell the roses and have a laugh. As the old Music Hall song used to say; “enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”

You wouldn’t want to live forever, but you should be living your life to the full today. Life is short and it’s definitely later than you think.

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How to be happy in life

How to be happy in lifeHow to be happy in life? 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 and in all probability your boss will be giving you a hard time too. So in such a 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

things you need to know about money

Today I’d like you to think about 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.

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

However, whilst money is necessary to sustain life, there are some things you should really understand about money. Here are three of them:-

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, we all want to feel financially secure don’t we? Why wouldn’t we?

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 the human condition.

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 the nice problem to have but it’s no less of a problem for that.

So keep it all in perspective.

2. 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 the things you want and the 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 to us than our friends and loved ones. Human beings are social animals and only people matter to us really.

So 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 without friends and loved ones you will have nothing at all.

Go out and earn your 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 frequently repeated 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 successful. 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

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

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

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

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

Whereas the former just means being a little bit eccentric, a wit perhaps, or even a raconteur. That’s not the subject of this post, despite all 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.

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 on-going too. So you have to keep working at 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 people of good character.

This is an area where constant improvement is necessary, however good you are 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 character1. Decide 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.

2. 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 mistakes made.

3. 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’ of course.

4. Pursue excellence:

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

5. 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. We get paid for the value we put into the hour. So make sure you leave every situation better than you found it.

6. Be determined:

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

Being good is not enough. Being determined to get to where you really, really want to go is everything.

7. Be persistent:

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

Never accept an outcome as the final outcome unless it’s the one that you want.

Never quit until you get to where you really want to be or you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself.

Remember; winners never quit and quitters never win. Be the winner you can be.

How to build character8. Accept every challenge:

Never underestimate the importance of taking on a challenge.

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

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

Not only will we learn more about our own character, we’ll learn about our capacity to achieve.

9. 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 you were to die tomorrow how will you be remembered at your funeral?

What will they say about 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 value. What values will you live by and what value are you going to add from now on? Be a person with values and of value.

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 we can also learn new skills and improve our self-confidence.

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 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?

So embrace challenges but never fear failing at a challenge; your only fear should be never realizing you 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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Thank you.

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© Roy Joseph Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.