Tag Archives: mentor

101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life

20/20 hindsight: the “hindsight” bias or “I knew it all along phenomenon” is when you think you had the answer the whole time or that it is common sense. The problem with this is that it creates false confidence. 

Try a new thing for 30 days: drop a habit, take up a new one or learn a new thing for 30 days straight. This is a great way to broaden your skills and increase your capabilities.

80% of your results are from 20% of your efforts (80/20 rule): with this rule in mind, only focus your energy on the most important things. 

Make change a sense of urgency: change is not easy for many people. To get over this resistance to change, make it seem urgent. 

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” in the long-term: you will forget the negative things and only remember the positive ones.

Only absorb what works for you: you can draw inspiration from anything and anyone but only get what suits you. Tailor what you collect to fit your circumstances. 

Look for the surprise: you easily remember whatever surprises you. Did you learn something that surprised you or a fact that was unexpected? 

Agree and compare to create a relationship: when opinions differ, compare. Contribute when key pieces are left out by others. 

Instead of telling, ask: a wandering mind is more motivated and goal-directed than that which declares its objective. Try, “will I achieve this?” instead of “I will achieve this.”

Ask, “how is this useful?”: to make the most out of information, always ask yourself how you can use it. This helps you make insights actionable.

Ask yourself if it is effective: you may often find yourself trying things that do not work. Asking yourself if something is effective may seem simple but it can lead you to your desired results.

Learned helplessness is dangerous: when things do not go your way, watch how you give yourself an explanation. Avoid making it pervasive, personal or permanent. Questions like, “why me always?” are no good.

Balance conviction and connection: connection refers to how you connect to others while conviction refers to your rigidity or flexibility as far as your beliefs are concerned. Empathize, encourage, validate and be open to new ideas without being too accommodating. 

Be-do-have rather than have-do-be; avoid holding off or having your life on wait mode. “BE” what you want, and you will “DO” according to your beliefs, leading you to “HAVE” what you want.

Careful what you wish for: the grass will always appear greener on the other side but that is not always the case. 

Lead by example: this approach gives you power to act. You will not find yourself blaming others and playing victim. Set your own example of what you consider good and influence others.

Take note of specialization: specialization is great; until things change. Adaptable people get the victory in the long run. 

“OCEAN” personality traits: the OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeable and Neuroticism) refers to the Big Five framework. It is meant to understand how personality relates to behavior. 

Black swan theory: some events are unpredictable but there is a way you can prepare to exploit the positive ones and persevere the negative ones. 

Blink: snap judgments may tell you a lot. If correct, a little input is more useful than a lot of input. Train your senses and mind to focus on what is right and you will make great snap judgements.

Blue oceans: stop competing where there is too much competition. Look into an untapped market space if you must. 

Blue zones: blue zones are the healthiest spots in the world. They teach people how to live longer lives.

Change the question, change your focus: changing your question will change your focus. Ask yourself, “what is right here?” instead of “what is wrong here?”. 

Change your perception or change your procedure: skillfully change your emotions. You can get over any negative emotion in a moment. You can do this by changing your solution or changing your way of experiencing it. 

Change your “How” or your “Why”: sometimes, the “what” is out of your control but if you change your “how” or “why” then you may achieve motivation. You will no longer depend on motivation from outside. 

Begin by changing yourself: it may be difficult or impossible to change someone else but changing yourself is instant. This may include changing your views or how you do things.

Avoid “Have-To” and go for “Choose-To”: choosing to do something will make it more fun. It is empowering and you will not be the victim.

Cognitive dissonance: Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as a discomfort brought about by having conflicting cognitions (values, beliefs, ideas) simultaneously. When one is having cognitive dissonance, one tries to change beliefs to achieve a consistent system of belief. 

Delayed gratification: are you “present-oriented” or “future-oriented”? A future-oriented person delays gratification and according to research, navigates through life better.

Deliberate practice: Malcom Gladwell, the author of Outliers: The Story of Success, says that to be successful, you must practice the task for about 10,000 hours. You become experienced by repetitively practicing a skill, tracking your performance, assessing your effectiveness and listening to feedback.

Delphi method: this technique involves using experts to predict and forecast information. A facilitator asks experts to give answers to specific questions anonymously. The collective answers are then used to conclude.

Do it daily: to get into a new habit or get out of an old one, you need to do it daily. Create a habit and condition yourself to do it.

Causational vs. correlational: when two things happen simultaneously, it does not necessarily mean that one caused the other. They may just be correlated. Knowing the difference will make you better suited to get to the root cause.

Stop waiting for inspiration: begin by acting, motivation will come.

Doublethink: learn to think twice. Focus on both the negative and the positive. When you imagine the two sides, you can visualize effectively. 

Dream big dreams: small dreams are not very inspirational. Big ones stir your blood and inspire your mind.

Emotional intelligence: EQ may hold you back or propel you forward. It is defined as the ability to point out, analyze and control your emotions and that of others. 

Energized differentiation: be different with vision, dynamism and invention. 

Enjoy the journey: take a moment to smell the roses. Come up with ways to have fun in your journey. Sometimes, your journey is all you have.

Errors in value and errors in odds: according to Dan Gilbert, people make poor choices because they fail to estimate odds well and they are also not good when it comes to estimating value. 

Relationship before influence: a relationship helps you know the concerns and needs of the other party. It also builds trust.

The third alternative: do not get into a win-lose situation. Find another option because it is always there.

A first impression is a lasting impression: you only get one chance to create a first impression. If you blow your chance, you can change their perception. Let the other person assess you in a new context or situation.

Fortune cookie effect: you can rationalize whatever you want in your mind. You take actions that cause something to come true. 

What you can control over what you cannot: not everything is under your control and this should not be a reason for you to give up. Control your actions, attitude, approach and response. 

Gambler’s fallacy: just because an action or event has not taken place for some time, does not mean that its chances of happening now are high. 

Groupthink: two heads are better than one—this statement is not always true. A group may exaggerate decisions, making the final decision too conservative or too risky. 

Remove the unessential: according to Bruce Lee, it is daily decrease over daily increase. 

Halo effect: sometimes you assess someone globally and apply that to a specific trait. For instance, you may think someone is likeable and, consequently, assume that they are friendly and intelligent. 

The end of the story: the ending of a story is more important than its beginning. 

Measure your life: the best way to measure life is regarding the number of people you touch.

Informational power: information is an impermanent form of power and holding on to it is an even weaker form of power.

Evaluate your thinking: everyone’s mind is flawed. Your thinking has traps and pitfalls. Challenge your thinking and eliminate poor thinking patterns. 

Extrinsic motivation vs intrinsic motivation: find out what motivates and drives you. Do this by connecting your job to your values. 

Irrationality: always treat each decision as crucial if you are looking to make a change. 

Energy management over time management: everyone has 24 hours in a day. The only thing that is under your control is energy. If you manage your energy, you will do more with less effort.

Jigsaw technique: if you want people to overcome their prejudice, pair them up. They will realize, as they work on the project, that they are all humans with vulnerabilities, feelings and basic needs.

Job satisfaction: to make your job more enjoyable, focus on feedback, autonomy, task significance, task identity and skill variety.

Johari window: know yourself and show yourself. This way, you will find it easier to share information that matters and enhance communication. 

Learning style: is your learning style kinesthetic, visual or audio? 

Less is more: less here refers to more focus. 

Linchpin: work towards being indispensable. One way to do this is to always go above the call of duty. Give your all, do more art and break rules to tweak the game.

Link to good feelings: a new habit will be easier to adopt if it is linked to good feelings. You can barely do things that do not feel good. Reframe the meaning of the action.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Maslow suggested that there is a set of needs commonly shared by people. Understanding this concept will help you know more about what drives you and others. 

Mentors are short-cuts: with a good mentor, you will avoid pitfalls. A good mentor shows you what you should focus on and hasten your journey to success.

Micro-expressions: this is a very quick involuntary facial expression. It is hard to hide this type of expressions, regardless of how much you know about them.

Mindstyle: do you prefer sequential, random, concrete or abstract? Understand how you prefer to grasp information and order it. 

Mirror cells: everyone has mirror neurons that mirror the feelings or intentions of other people. They can help you explain empathy and imitation.

Flexible people are favored by nature: survival is not for the most intelligent or the strongest, it is for those that adapt very well to change.

Similarities bind; it is true that opposites attract but people attain a special connection at the values. Shared values bring people together.

Parkinson’s law: assign less time to something if you want it to be done faster. Work will expand to fill the available time.

Pygmalion effect: what you expect is what you get.

Reciprocity of liking: people like those that like them. If you do not like yourself, you will not like the people that like you.

Return on luck: Jim Collins suggests leveraging luck by seeing it as an event rather than an indefinable aura. Aim at achieving a high return on luck (ROL). 

Satisfice: to make decisions faster, experts satisfice. They look for the first solution that is perfect for that situation. 

Self-efficacy: one’s self-efficacy beliefs will determine a person’s behavior, motivation and thoughts. 

Dispositional vs situational: did the situation cause you to do that or is it just who you are? 

Get small, think big: small is a key to flexibility, increased effectiveness and more efficiency. 

Social loafing: when people are more, they work less hard. People put in less effort when they are working in groups. 

Speak to the communication needs of people: communication needs include appreciation, approval, accuracy and action. People will give you clues on what they need to hear.

Start with why: you should communicate, act and think in the same way. Start with the thought, from the inside out. Begin with why, then how and finally what.

Synthetic happiness: learn to create your own happiness; it is just as good as genuine happiness.

The effort effect: effort is what makes a difference, not talent. Your effort, in turn, is facilitated or limited by your mindset. Another thing: reward your efforts.

The long view: you cannot predict what will happen in the future. You can, however, play the “What-Ifs”. Use forecasting to prepare for what may happen. 

The paradox of choice: the more choices you make, the poorer your decision will be. You may not even be able to make the decision. 

The power of identity; be rooted in something that will last while enjoying your growth journey at the same time. 

The power of regrets: if you reflect on your worst, you will be motivated to unleash your best. 

The principle of contrast: you can easily lose perspective. Compare with something worse. This principle of contrast is useful when changing perspective, explaining value or negotiating fees.

The progress principle: small progress can significantly make your day. Perfection is not what matters, progress is. 

The “Good Life” secret: learn to allocate more time to your values. Ask yourself how you can do more of the things you love at work.

The two happiness questions: “How happy are you with your life?” and “How happy are you?”. 

Thoughts that work for you: think thoughts that will serve you better.

“To-Date” vs. “To-Go”: if you commit yourself to a goal, you will focus on what is left (and will be more motivated). If you are not that committed, you will concentrate on how much you have accomplished. 

Important vs Urgent: you will achieve your long-term goals if you spend time on the important but non-urgent matters.

Befriend stress: anxiety is a cognitive response while stress is a fight-or-flight response. Stress can be useful while performing physical tasks or simple tasks.

Willpower is like a muscle: you can strengthen willpower through practice, just like a muscle. Know that you can also fatigue it; it is limited.

Yerkes-Dodson human performance curve: do not stress yourself beyond your capacity. You will start producing less with more effort.

You are the company you keep; friends can help you grow or hold you back. They will influence your actions, emotions, attitude and thoughts.

Your strengths facilitate your growth: focus on your strengths if you want to accelerate your success. 

Thoughts shape feelings: shift your focus to change your feelings. 

Zeigarnik effect: to overcome procrastination, convince yourself to do something for “just a few minutes”. You will be motivated to finish what you have already begun.

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” 

-Napoleon Hill

What Makes Great Leadership

Leading a team of young, vibrant, and enthusiastic individuals might prove to be a daunting task, so that it is often difficult to make successful leaders of everyone. And while not everyone is built to take up leadership positions, there is always that one, or more, member of your team you feel is set up for the inevitable eventually.

Those members of your team who mirror certain potentials of everything you possess as a leader, and that it is only a matter of time before they become one. But leadership is like fine art; it takes a lot of time, persistence, learning and unlearning, to become successful at it. And here’s the question, how do you make the best leaders out of such people and make them better versions of yourself, bearing in mind that there are certain inadequacies of yourself you do not want to transfer to them too?

There are different arguments on whether leadership is an innate ability or a thing that can be nurtured. The answer to this is irrelevant when you are trying to make new leaders of your team. No one starts to succeed at leadership immediately.

Think Walt Disney and Henry Ford. Good leadership requires a lot of qualities, many that require you to learn them. While there is no singular way to raise new leaders, the following tips should help you make the best of raising a competent leader in your team.

Pragmatist or Idealist: Creating A Balance

Many teams and organizations contain different kinds of people and from different backgrounds. Some of which makes us unique in how we make certain decisions. As a leader, you already know that members of your team are either pragmatic or idealist (which is good for your team as there’s no one way to get work done). But which category do your potential leaders fall into?

Have they shown tendencies to become pragmatic leaders who believe in making decisions on the practical, rather than theoretical aspects of goals or objectives? Or an idealist leader who is more likely to float with “what happens in the end is all that matters” and that all goals can be met. In this case, as a leader, who is also a mentor now, you should make serious efforts to creating the best of leaders. He or she must realize that life is not a one-way lane and that compromises must be met sometimes.

It may be dangerous to be on the extreme in whatever school of thought they belong to. And this is what Pravin Gordhan, a South African Politician and its former minister of finance, echoes when he says about leadership and the world requiring special kind of leaders, “…who balance romantic idealism, which is important, with pragmatism that converts idealism into reality.”

Results indeed matter to a leader, but special and great leaders must be able to create a balance in whatever frameworks they have laid down to reaching a set goal. The journey to be a great leader is a tiring one, as you, the leader, already knows. And occasional failures, sometimes many, are major ingredients of what makes it so weary. But it is what births many great success stories. It won’t be surprising, however, to find some members of your team unreceptive to failure.

You must therefore make your prodigy(s) realize that failure is an inevitability if they want to be successful leaders. A great leader is someone who has failed in one capacity or the other before. Robert F. Kennedy, before he died, once said, “Only those who fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Now, this is not to excuse failure, it is to help emerging leaders have a consciousness of the reality of failure and that they would encounter it more than once when they become leaders.

It is true that no one wants to fail, but it is also true that we fail, so that we may succeed most times. In the same vein, you must help those by discussing whatever failures they have had. The why? How? What should be done? questions must be asked and discussed among members of the team. No one should feel inadequate for making mistakes or failing blatantly.

It is okay to want to oversee everything that goes on in your team in a bid to see that things are properly done. But sometimes, when raising a new leader, you just need to sit back, relax, and watch them do everything they’ve been asked to do, on their own. Independence is important in leadership, as much as teamwork is revered. You do not want to raise a leader who cannot stand on their own.

Emerging leaders are not supposed to be babysit all the time; they are future babysitters and must learn the art of looking after others and doing it on their own. They must learn how to handle pressure, carry it in its heaviness, and deliver positive results under its harsh conditions. Sometimes, they would need to imagine you aren’t there, and you imagine you aren’t there either.

This teaches self-confidence as effectively as other methods you might have on your list. When you allow emerging leaders to do things and make certain decisions on their own, it gives them a sense of responsibility and trust in their own abilities. What this essentially means is that leaders must first learn to lead themselves before they are able to lead others.

Michael Hyatt in his book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, made it clear that, “how we lead ourselves in life impacts how we lead those around us.” While Isrealmore Ayivor, author of The Great Hand Book of Quotes, furthers, “Those who distrust their own abilities are being too wicked to themselves…if you are good at discouraging yourself, you can’t be a good leader, because leadership is built on inspiring others to face challenges.” Too much babysitting may therefore be a shell for enclosing the potentials of emerging leaders.

Giving them considerable freedom to do certain things would help you realize those that believe in themselves and those who mistrust their abilities. In the case of the latter, you will therefore need to set remedial plans in motion. Building emotional intelligence is the sixth sense of any leader; the ability to manage emotions. You must help emerging leaders realize this, as well. It is a core in leadership that extends to both the leader and members of his team.

You cannot afford to have a team whose emotional wellbeing is oblivious to you. Emerging leaders must be able to tell when they, or their team members, are having a bad day. The success of any collective endeavor is an exponent of your emotional radars as a leader, which must always be active. It doesn’t have to be immediately perfect. You are a leader, but human. It can be built over time, especially in your formative years as an emerging leader, by being self-aware. Followers become confident of a leader who shows a lot of care and affection towards them.

Theodore Roosevelt amplifies this by saying, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Empathy is a great asset every successful leader must possess. There is a phase of project management, based on the Prince2 framework, where members of a project come together after a project, or each milestone, and discuss lessons learned from the work done.

The team listens to members of the team share experiences, successes, and failures inclusive. This is not done because they just want to have a sit-down. It helps to avoid members making mistakes that have been made before. In the same vein, this means two things that can be applied in other teams. Firstly, as a leader, tell your story often, so that your followers and potential leaders get a hang of things to do when they hit a roadblock in their endeavors as leaders too.

Secondly, as an emerging leader, you must be a religious listener. The experiences, good or bad, of others might serve as the light for you to become a successful leader in the future, shaping the decisions you take when you hit similar snags. It’s been said several times that Rome was not built in one day. Leaders are not built in a day, as well. Mistakes will be made, and lessons will be learned.

And as a leader who wants to birth another leader, it is your duty to create the best atmosphere for development. That an emerging leader didn’t turn out like they were supposed to must not be your fault. However, an emerging leader in their formative years must realize that they are ultimately responsible for the type of leaders they become. Willingness to learn and hard work and following the tips above are major ingredients for growth.

Why A Business Advisor Is So Important

The simple answer to the seemingly complex question of who needs a business advisor? is everyone responsible for operating a business.  That is right. The Fortune 50 CEO to the one-person show needs an advisor.

The CEO of a public company has mentors as well as a board of directors to turn to.  They often don’t have a choice of who their advisors are, but small business owners do.  Unfortunately, with this choice of advisors comes another choice that is often made instead.  That choice is to not get any help at all.

Not getting any help at all is very often the cause of the business failure statistics we hear so much about.  The small business owner will often claim that they do not have the time or money for an advisor.  Think about that comment.  How can you not have the money to get help from someone that can potentially save or make you more money since you obviously are not getting it done on your own?  Or how about that time you are lacking?  Maybe if that owner sat down for an hour with an advisor, they would be able to see why they don’t have time and do something about it with the help of someone who has already been in those shoes.

A coach or advisor gives to small business owners something most of them don’t have; a sounding board and a board of directors to turn to for advice. These are two great resources to use when trying to avoid trial and error decisions and processes.

I’m not knocking trial and error as the way to learn things.  I’ve personally used that method and fared well in many cases.  But that is a case-by-case basis, not for on-going daily concerns.  Do not forget that this method is also very costly and time consuming.  Why not ask someone who has probably already faced the problem?

What many business owners do not realize is that they rarely go through any trials and tribulations that someone else has never dealt with.  Not to mention that about 70-75% of their business is the same as every other business including HR, finances, sales, marketing, and funding.  The other 25-30% is industry specific. 

Small to mid-sized business owners take away much more from an advisor than big businesses.  This, if for no other reason, is the case because the smaller companies have owners that wear a lot of hats.  Many of those hats take time away from the things the owner needs to make a priority to see their company succeed.  Things they should be doing that they do not have time to get to or things they are taking care of that they have no experience in doing.  These situations take away from them doing what they do best.  That is a problem. 

The question now is how to find an advisor.  There are many types of business advisors out there.  Some are purely coaches and others are true developers and implementers that will roll up their sleeves with you when asked to.  It’s up to you to pick the type of person you want or need.  Here are a few things to think about:

Do they click with your personality?  There are many good advisors out there but if they don’t click with you as a business friend, don’t bother with them because you will end up fighting them even when you agree on the advice.

Have they owned a small business before? Gray hair does not equal business ownership knowledge.  I promise you that the ex-CEO or Senior manager from a huge company knows little about successfully operating a small business.  These are two significantly different worlds.

Don’t worry if a potential advisor doesn’t know your specific industry.  Remember that a lot of your troubles have nothing to do with your industry.  It would help though if the advisor had contacts/resources for you in your industry for when specific problems are addressed.

Look for flexibility.  A potential advisor that pushes for more than 20 hours a month of your time from day one is probably out for money.  Until they start working with you, there is no way of knowing that they need that much time per month to meet your goals and timelines.  A good advisor will understand that you have made a commitment to get back on track just by the fact that you are talking to them.  They should not need to try and get a ridiculous time/money commitment from you if they want to help.

Make it a local thing.  This suggestion is a two-part issue.  First, the advisor should agree that when face time is needed that they come to you.  Second, there is absolutely no reason why a small business with locations in one state needs a business advisor that must fly in or travel more than 2 hours to see them.  These companies somehow find suckers to take their so-so advice and huge reports full of fluff and pay for travel costs.  There are plenty of advisors local to every company in this country.  Yes, even in Hawaii.

Once you made the intelligent decision of getting help in making your business a success, keep a few things in mind.  You should really commit to working with your advisor for a good 6 months.  Nothing gets fixed overnight.  Also, since you are paying for it, please do yourself a favor and be open to suggestions, bring important things to your advisor for help in making a decision and make the use of your time with the advisor a priority.  Do not forget that an advisor or coach should never decide for you. It is your company; they are there to make suggestions and guide you.

Working with an advisor can be a very enlightening experience.  You will start to see the forest from the trees and not feel like you are the only person on the planet going through tough times as a business owner.

All business owners eventually need help.  The successful ones put aside their pride and desire to be at the center of all aspects of the company and get the help. Do yourself and your company a favor and be one of the tremendously successful business owners.  Get an advisor and get all you can out of them.  If your advisor loves what he/she does for a living as such as you love what you do, you can’t go wrong.