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Our Doubts are Traitors

doubts are traitors self-talk

We all have it: An inner dialogue. This self-talk is dominated by fear and doubt. It’s programmed into our reptilian brain because risk-mitigation is a survival tool. Controlling your inner dialogue is perhaps the most fundamental secret of success.

William Shakespeare was able to describe and help us understand what most people intuitively knew and felt. Here is a favorite passage from his play Measure for Measure. He says so succinctly why self-doubt is deadly.

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

In the following video, Les Brown and Jim Rohn spend 12 minutes expanding on this basic fact. It’s a great reminder that every day we should “stand guard at the door of our mind”.

Here are some main points and discussion of the video:

  1. Watching inner dialogue will determine the quality of your life.
  2. Being too cautious or too reckless
  3. Be wise and understand that everything is risky. Don’t ask for security, ask for adventure.
  4. Pessimism is a deadly disease.
  5. Our lives are most affected by the way we think they are, not the way they are.
  6. Poor thinking habits keep most people poor.
  7. As someone thinks within himself, so he is. — Proverbs 23:7
  8. Stand guard at the door of your mind.
  9. Complaining is a deadly disease of success.

If you believe success starts in your mind, this is a good reminder to keep check of your inner thoughts. Do you agree?

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Having a Vision for Your Life is a Moral Obligation

strive to be your best

Jordan Peterson, who is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has spend considerable time studying the assessment and improvement of personality and performance.

I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all, of today’s leading self-improvement authors say that you should have a plan and work your plan. Or to say it differently, have goals and consistently work towards achieving them.

It’s reinforcing for me to hear Jordan Peterson describe these same ideas, but in his terms.

There is a lot to unpack in this video, but he describes having a vision for your life as a moral obligation and those who succeed are conscientious workers (hard workers). This is a rather lengthy video, but it makes you think of goal setting in a different way.

He talks about a number of related ideas, but to me, they support the idea of achievement = goal setting + hard work.

At the very least it’s a motivating video and is a good way to start your day. Enjoy!

What was your takeaway from the video, and how can you apply these ideas to your life?

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Arnold Schwarzenegger: Rules for Success

Arnold Schwarzenegger, vision success

Achieving a high level of success in one area of your life is challenging enough. But what about Arnold Schwarzenegger who reached the pinnacle in bodybuilding, acting and politics?

When he has something to say about success, we should all take note. He’s known for pithy one-liners in his movie roles, but this video is quite shrewd. After watching it, you realize that his success was no accident. He worked hard, had terrific work habits and stayed focused on what he wanted.

Here are Arnold’s 5 Rules for Success

  1. Have a vision (goal). People don’t become successful by accident. Just as a good boat or airplane won’t reach its destination without a plan, you won’t reach yours without a goal. Pick something that motivates you. Your vision should be strong enough to keep you energized even when the going gets tough.
  2. Be happy when you are doing your work. Arnold had an infectious positive attitude and was happy when working out. Why? Because he knew every rep, every drop of sweat brought him one step closer to his goal, and he couldn’t wait to achieve it.
  3. Set a deadline. Arnold stresses it is important to set a deadline. He says you will never begin if you don’t have a deadline to meet. I’d say this is great advice. For athletes, signing up for an event can be adequate motivation.
  4. Little victories count. Arnold says the little victories are the things that can keep you motivated. It’s true that there are no overnight successes, and that it’s the tally of little victories that ultimately add up to big success.
  5. Use your time wisely. Arnold reminds us that we all have the same 24 hour handicap. He says that after sleeping, we all have 18 hours in each day. He was adamant about not wasting a single hour. Plan each day and keep to your schedule.

And if you need a little pick-me-up, here are some of Arnold’s best movie one-liners.

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Are You Busy or Productive?

wake up early

Joey from his Better Ideas vlog talks about being busy vs. being productive. How many people do you know who are always busy, but never seem to get anything done?

Do you feel like you are constantly busy jumping from one distraction to another? Are you constantly interrupted and beginning more projects than you are finishing?

Joey has two tips to get you back on track:

  1. Start waking up early in the morning. Use that morning as productivity time when you aren’t distracted.
  2. Shorten your to-do list. From your entire list, pick the most important things on your list and do those.

You can see his entire vlog below.

Are you busy yet wish you were more productive? Then his tips may work well for you.

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New Year’s Resolutions: Goals or Systems?

Adam Alter system better than goal

Big Think features Adam Alter, author of Irresistible contrasts Goals with Systems.

He argues that systems are better than goals. He says that goals are merely goal posts that you measure progress by and by focusing on the goal, you live in a state of failure until you reach the goal milestone.

He says that it’s systems that are actually the work that gets you to your goal and that focusing on systems is a better psychological approach than focusing on goals.

Take for instance the goal of writing a book. If you only focus on the goal, then every day that your book isn’t done can be a bummer.

He says focusing on a system of writing for an hour every day is a better strategy because it is actually the thing that will produce a written book. Every day your finish your system of writing for one hour, you can have some satisfaction that you have made progress.

You may have a goal of becoming a world champion swimmer for instance. This, of course will take years to achieve. Do you want to face the hard challenges of training every day reminding yourself that you are not currently a world champion? What if you determined the systems necessary for you to become a world champion? You could focus then on the daily achievement of these systems. Of course you would still occasionally evaluate your progress towards your primary goal. By sticking to your systems, you would have daily wins and be in a more positive psychological state.

What are your goals this year, and what kinds of systems will you put in place to achieve them?

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Motivation: The Wisdom of Denzel Washington

denzel consistency

Denzel Washington, was in his words, “a twenty-year-overnight-success.” In this video he emphasizes how the combination of hard work, dedication and consistency is the formula for success. There is no substitute for hard work.

What are your goals, and what are you going to accomplish. Go get it!

Without commitment, you’ll never start. But more importantly, without consistency you’ll never finish.

Denzel Washington
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Dealing With Volatility (in your life).

volatility your life

The stock market has been characterized as a bull market for nearly a decade. Investors have become comfortable with a steady, predictable rise in the stock market during this time. At least for now, the steady and predictable rise in the stock market has ended. As they say on Wall Street, “Volatility has returned” to the market.

In the past month, the stock market has been characterized by being unpredictable and by having wild up and down days. Joseph Fahmy tweets below, “I was going to post a video summing up the market so far this week, but this GIF explains it better.”

In truth, these market fluctuations are more normal than abnormal. It just seems as though the market is behaving abnormally when juxtaposed with the past 9 or ten years of unusually steady growth.

Because investors have become accustom to a predictable and rising market, the volatility is wreaking havoc with their psyche. Many investors are now being whipsawed by the market–buying when they should be selling and selling when they should be buying. 

Some, but not all investors have the jitters. Those with an investment plan and a solid understanding of why they are investing and what they intend to gain from their investments are likely taking the newfound volatility in stride.

This is how life is. Sometime life is a smooth ride. Sometimes it’s rocky.

Personal values and goals provide a strong anchor when life becomes stormy and people who have them tend to ride out the rocky parts of life better than those that don’t. The old phrase rings in my ears, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But why? Is it determination and grit? Perhaps there is some element of truth to that. But a more likely explanation is that the tough understand this: The storm is temporary and their goals will outlast it.

I used to be an avid, competitive sailor and I’m reminded that everyone is a good sailor in calm weather. But when the weather gets stormy, whoa, watch out! As the wind increases, the effort required to sail and the danger of sailing rises exponentially.  When the wind blows hard like this you quickly find out who has prepared and who hasn’t.

Is your life calm now or stormy? Are you preparing for a return of volatility in your life? Do you have a plan, clearly defined values? Are you training in calm weather so when the storm clouds roll in you’ll be ready?

These are good questions to ask every day. Be prepared!