Without fail, you wake up every morning, snooze the alarm a couple times and wake up late. You then take a quick shower, dress up and leave without eating breakfast.
You arrive to work late, do bare minimum at your job and fail to participate in meetings. (They're useless anyway right?)
you grab fast food for lunch nearby, go home at the end of the day, nuke a pizza pocket and play video games for the rest of the night.
Then go on to repeat the above for the rest of the week, rest of the month, and perhaps rest of the year with little to no deviation.
What's wrong with this picture?
Well apart from the terrible eating habits and lack of work ethic, tons.
[And for the purpose of this illustration let's assume they not suffering from any disorder. ;) ]
What we have is someone who has succumbed to their habits.
Given the endless amount of decisions we have to make each day, it is no wonder why so many people develop horrible habits. The exhaustion our mind experiences the more we have to think something through, the less we want to do it, and the more we resort to the easiest course of action.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
We either make our habits or they make us.
We can create some serious life changes through our habits, and we can equally help them destroy our lives.
Take inventory of your current habits; what you eat, what you do, what you say, and determine if they are helping you achieve the lifestyle you want or keeping you beyond its reach.
What do you spend most of your time doing when you're not sleeping? When you're at work are you doing more beyond just showing up
? In your free time, what takes up the bulk of your time? Family, entertainment, study?
Are you frequently wondering where your day went? Or feeling that you accomplished nothing all day?
If it's not very clear to you what your habits are, and feel your time is escaping you - write your activities in a time journal to get a better grasp of where your time is going, and how frequently you perform the same activities. For many this is an eye opener, as identifying your unconscious habits, can help you identify which ones you have to work on more, and which you are wasting your time on entirely.
When reviewing your habits, it may help to ask yourself why you do them, what benefit you receive from them, and whether they even help to reinforce what you claim is important to you
It is said that that it take 21 days to create a habit and 3 days to break it.
As someone who has experienced this first hand I can attest to the validity of this statement, i'm sure we all can. I mean, how many times have you broken your diet, your exercise routine, or study habits in your lifetime? And how many of the habits you introduced have stuck at all?
How do we get habits to stick? How do we go about changing a habit at all?
In Charles Duhigg's book, the Power of Habit, he explains that there is a basic framework
which researchers have found for diagnosing and shaping habits within our own lives.
T H E F R A M E W O R K :
• Identify the routine
- This is where the time journal becomes useful. What habit routines are you engaged in that you want to change or modify?
• Experiment with rewards
- Instead of rewarding yourself with some ice cream after a jog prepare yourself a quick veggie snack.
• Isolate the cue
- What triggers the habit? A bad day at work? Abnormal amounts of traffic? Seeing an advertisement billboard? A certain time of day? Being with certain people?
• Have a plan
- Once you've identified the habit routine, the cue that triggers it and the reward that you seek, you'll be able to change your habit routine into a better one expecting the cue, and consciously change the outcome or the reward.Following this framework will allow you to break habits
Passive Barriers and Habits
Often times what prevents us from completing a positive routine are passive barriers
As Ramit Sethi describes in a guest article for Get Rich Slowly passive barriers are,
"subtle factors that prevent you from changing your behavior. Unlike “active” barriers, passive barriers describe the lack of something, making them more challenging to identify. But once you do, you can immediately take action to change your behavior."
Passive Barriers are everywhere, and are different for everyone. Some detrimental barriers can include things as simple as:
- Your textbook left behind in your car... 10 Metres away.
- Walking for 5 minutes to the mailbox to drop off your $50 mail-in rebate
- Not sending in your electronic drug claim, because the form or process takes too long
However passive barriers can work in your favour once you have identified them. Some simple passive barriers that work for dieters for example are:
- Keeping the Ice cream wrapped in a plastic bag in the freezer
- Placing cookies on a top shelf out of reach
- Going on a walk with coworkers to and from a coffee shop, without your wallet
- Placing your gym bag next your bed or your bedroom door so you trip on it as you wake up or leave the room
- preparing lunch for yourself the day before work
Identifying what your passive barriers are is a very liberating process. Once you discover and acknowledge which ones are holding you back you can swap them out for ones that will benefit you. Positive passive barriers coupled with the aforementioned Habit-changing framework, will help you establish lasting change in your life if you give it a chance.
Focus on the habits or activities that matter to you most.What do you want your habits to say about you?
Imagine this: An environment, where everyone was proficient in technology, and no one ever needed help.
That would certainly make our lives more interesting, don't you think? The matter of the fact is that several of our I.T. jobs would as result become redundant, non-existent, gone.
The reality is that our clients, are not all proficient in technology. They need help with our new applications, software, and their existing hardware. If they could fix it themselves they would. But they can't always, so who does this job fall upon?
We can complain that our clients, "don't even try" or "don't even bother learning" but the reality is, regardless of their level of proficiency, they turn to the professionals to make things right.
This being the case, can you see why it is so important that you treat your clients right? It isn't always easy for them to ask for help, so ensure they get the respect and dignity they deserve. If clients are the lifeblood of a business then we are veins connecting them to the heart of our business.
Being the best Representative for your company is no easy task however. It takes a winning combination of the following skill sets to ensure a postive experience for your client:
- Knowledge of the product or of your industry
- Excellent Customer Service
- The right behaviour and attitude
If you have just the first, and are lacking the others two while in your industry, you may find yourself running into "difficult" customers more than the rest of your fellow staff.
If you have just the second, and are lacking in knowledge of your product or industry, clients will find you incompetent, and may wish to speak to another agent or your manager, who "knows what they're doing."
If you have just the third, chances are you're high on life and low on stress, and are happy in what you do. But if you do not possess knowledge of your industry, or lack essential customer service skills, you'll find it immensely difficult to find a job without the right connections, or faith of a company representative.
“Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Damon Richards [Click to tweet]
On a relevant note, it is imperative to get into the habit of doing more than you are paid for - This may be difficult to accomplish if your job requires you to read a script, or if you try to rush them off the phone as soon as possible to lower call handling times. But it is by no means impossible.
Remember: If you are only doing the work you are paid to do, you're getting paid accordingly.
Let's say you just resolved your client's problem, what's next? You can easily shove them off the phone, and take the next interaction, or you can engage them a bit more and see if you can uncover any of their unspoken needs. Make sure to ask, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" Chances are they were looking for further assistance, or a product elsewhere in your organization, but forgot all about it since you did such an awesome job fixing their other issues. (Cue: Pat on back) This works twofold as it saves them from calling back, additionally it is a great way to increase conversions.
On the other end of the spectrum, it is always easy to complain, scoff, scream, suck your teeth, or even throw your keyboard and headset across the room, when dealing with customers but will it make your job any better?
Remember why the job exists, who you're helping and what the organization as a whole is trying to achieve. You're not just another cog in a machine, you're a living breathing ambassador for your organization.
"It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages." - Henry Ford [Click to tweet]
That being said, the customer’s perception of you is affected by your energy level and enthusiasm, not just by resolving their issue. Every interaction with them is just as equally important as the interaction previous. There are no customers more deserving of an excellent experience than others. Every call is your opportunity to shine and provide a great performance.
Show them why your job isn't redundant and why your department matters. But most importantly, provide your clients with value.
The idea of Value is subject to perception, so if your role requires you to be the "break-fix" guy and you deliver or even over deliver, while simultaneously providing excellent customer service. Well man-alive you are an exemplar, a scholar, a junzi
! And you make me damn proud! We need more people like you. The organizations of tomorrow need more people like you. Folks like you are the glue that hold the company together.
So next time you're talking to someone in need or who may be "technologically impaired", just remember, if they didn't call or exist, neither would our jobs!
The following is a fairly alarmist PowerPoint I was made aware of this weekend. It speaks of a groundbreaking educational pilot that was introduced to Japan.
Upon researching to see if this educational system was in fact true. All signs on the internet pointed to it being a complete hoax, fabrication and subject of a Hispanic chain mail.
I have translated it from Spanish to English for your reading pleasure. The original text is mostly unaltered, where only politically incorrect comments were removed. While I do not fully agree with the original author, this still made for great reading and was rather thought provoking despite its highly opinionated narrative.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
You've finally decided to make a lasting change in your life, a new blueprint that will lead you to a better life.
And you're dying to tell somebody or maybe everybody... But should you?
many say that you shouldn't
, as psychological studies have proven that merely revealing your goals, gives you an instant feeling of gratification similar to that of achieving your goal.Wait but isn't that supposed to be a good thing? "Well apparently this false feeling of achievement makes you less likely to achieve that goal, because the moment someone acknowledges it, your mind tricks itself into thinking you've already achieved it. Therefore making you less motivated to do the work. " - Derek Sivers!?!?!?!
Ok, I know that from personal experience I have shared every single one of my goals with practically any who has asked. They range from realistic to bizarre, but hey, they asked so I told them. I find this to be my personal preference as it makes me
publicly accountable to achieve my goals.
Of course for many of the goals I've mentioned, I've also endured some near endless ridicule.
For example, I stated early last year that I wanted to start a side business to keep my mind open and fresh, to come up with new solutions and helpful innovations, and maybe even make some money as a side effect.
First reaction I received? Laughter.
"What are you going to do open up a taco stand?! Ahahahahahahahaa" [Verbatim]
"Ahahaha... Listen to me. Not everyone was made to start a business" [Verbatim]
"Pfft. Yea ok. Call me when that happens." [Verbatim]
Being the good natured guy that I am, I laughed with them, and then thought "Challenge accepted!"
I then proceeded to spend the next 14 months, about 3 hours a day, learning about businesses inside and out. How to start one, how to pitch ideas, how to market a product, how to scale, how to hire the right employees, how to overcome adversity, meeting and exceeding customer expectation, how to model successful companies, etc.
Of course no one ever saw this happen. What people inadvertently saw was me occasionally reading my business books and magazines.
And so the heckling continued.
"Why you reading this? This guy knows nothing about business."
"You'll learn nothing from this book."
"You're actually making the taco stand?! Haha!"
And when the same hecklers saw me reading time after time, book after book, each and every one of them came up to me on separate occasions with a new tune."I got this business magazine in the mail, you can have it if it'll help.""Wow you're serious about this... I know a couple guys that can help you reach your goal."
"Hey man, if you actually start something awesome... would you hire me?"....Actions speaks louder than words, so live and breathe your values, don't just tell the world your aspirations, goals and dreams, and never act on them. If something is important to you prove it.
People will criticize what you do, they will tell you that you are crazy. They'll tell you it can't be done. But if you give in, and fail to take a few calculated risks, or avoid jumping into the unknown, you'll stay exactly where you are. And that's quite frankly the opposite of what you were trying to achieve.
"Man who says it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it" - Chinese Proverb
[Click to Tweet]
So while psychology tests may show some substantial data, not all findings have been conclusive. There are still many ways to Jedi mind trick yourself to get the actual work done, and to ultimately achieve your goals. Sure some goals come with side effects, but to get the results you want, you have to learn to set them right. (PDF)
While i'm still learning, I know i'm on the right path. And in the case of this particular goal, all the heckling I received was just what I needed to push myself to a new standard.Thank you, you wonderful hecklers.
How I absorb knowledge
What is important to you?
No really, what is important to you? Is it your career, is it your family, your relationships, your health? Whatever it is, say it out loud or write it down. For now these values will be labeled X.
Next, how much time do you invest in X? Do you invest time daily, weekly or monthly? Write it down.
At the frequency you are currently investing time into X, are you seeing a decent return on your investment? Are you seeing measurable or substantial results? Sometimes the number we end up isn't quite what we expect considering how "important" these things are to us.
If you haven't made time for what is important to you, maybe its not as important as you thought.
One thing is for sure though - Whether it be emotional, materialistic, spiritual or so on, there is a constant desire in us all to always be constantly improving ourselves.
We want to be better than yesterday's version ourselves, to be bigger, better, stronger, faster. And when we see progress, when the desired results come in, we evolve.
You see, self evolution comes from successive developments and improvements. The more you invest in yourself the more you'll see the fruits of your labour paying off.
Now consider the polar opposite. If you spend 4-6 hours a day after work entertaining yourself... Never layering on new and better augmentations. You'll remain motionless, stale and outdated.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results - Albert Einstein
[Click to Tweet]
Many folks live their lives in the WORK/PLAY cycle. Coming home straight from work to eat dinner and then spending the rest of their night entertaining themselves.
Work hard play hard right?
Having a balance between the two alone won't move you forward. This cycle of daily events only works wells if you already have your dream job, the ideal lifestyle and are living a self-fulfilling life.
Now if this isn't you, and you are unhappy with where you are, and you want things to be better, what are you doing to change your predicament, and to break this cycle?
Willing yourself a better life is not going to make it happen. Telling yourself you are going to do something isn't going to help you either.
Your actions are what count. They speak levels about what is important to you, and what life you lead.
If you spend 8 hours sleeping, 8 hour working and your last 8 hours of "free" time entertaining yourself, there goes your whole day.
To be generous, lets say you spend half that free time, so 4 hours a weekday entertaining yourself, doing things that don't relate to what is "important" to you. That means we're looking at 20 hours a week or a 1040 hours a year. That's 43 days a year spent doing things that don't match up with your ideal goals and lifestyles!
The average College/University student spends an average 15 hours a week in classes. So in the same amount of time that a student prepares for a degree, you can be working on your own personal MBA.
If you're going to evolve, you're going to have to be a lifelong learner.
...Or are you leading the "horse"?
You've all heard the idiom, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." And no doubt, you've also been in similar circumstances where you made a wonderful opportunity possible for someone else, only to not have them"take the bait," so to speak.
This can be discouraging when you have already done all the grunt work, all the research and have gone well out of your way to make the opportunity possible... just to end up have the receiving party, drop the baton altogether.
You may mean well and you may care, but if the receiving party does not want, or does not see what you are offering as an opportunity, they will not act upon it.
Furthermore, if the presented opportunity does not coincide with the receiving party's identity, there will be a much higher propensity to decline any "opportunities" presented outside that realm. Anthony Robbins
states that, "Whatever people have their identity attached to they live... We live who we believe we are. If we identify ourselves as a [Fill in Blank], then we do everything possible to maintain that identity. Because the strongest force in human personality, is this need to stay consistent with how we define ourselves... Once you lock into that identity, your brain finds a way to keep you there."
I know I was in a similar circumstance, where I used to identify myself, for the better half of my life as a gamer. I did everything to maintain this image, kindly declining several opportunities to invest my time in more developmental areas. The tipping point
came after a reading a good book, but for others it may come through a motivational video, a lost job, a near-death experience, and so on.
This being said, if your desire is to get your friend out of hole they dug themselves in. Be understanding, continue to consider their needs, but above all, don't give up on them.
You may need to give them time to come to a decision on their own, and that's fine, they need to define their own lives. If and when they reach that tipping point, having the reassurance that they have someone that will support them through their journey, is the best thing they can ask for.
Your efforts may appear in vain, and may consistently feel as discouraging as growing a bamboo tree
... But if you never tried, you would never know, and as we all know, regret is worse than rejection.Just keep in mind, that, what may seem like common sense to you, could be life-changing insights for another.
And just because what you've tried may not have worked or motivated the intended recipient to the level you expected, doesn't mean it won't work for someone else.
Don't ever discount the impact you may have on another's life. If the relationship is important to you, prove it.
For roughly 3 months I had the idea of a wallet notepad, one complete with a mini pen that could slide out or extend and be used on the go. I thought this would be useful, as I seem to always come up with the craziest ideas, in the craziest place, and simultaneously, be without pen and paper.
Now I do have a smartphone that can capture both images and text using Sketchbook Mobile
, but as you can see to the left, I won't be able to get the desired output neatly or quickly enough to justify using the application... Well at least not without a stylus. Now i'm no artist, but i'm pretty sure I can draw a better sketch than that.
That being said, I continued on paper to sketch what I'd like the wallet to look like. I even thought about how to modify my existing wallet to fit card shaped notepads, whose backing would hold the pad in place.
However I was kindly reminded by a popular search engine, that others are way ahead of me with regards to these particular ideas. Examples of this can be found Here
I was not willing to let this idea die however, so I thought about all the reasons I would need a wallet like this. Brainstorming led me to realize I needed the notepads for the many inventions I would be potentially creating and marketing. So instead of proceeding with a unique wallet, I decided to make dollar bill sized notes. Notes with what I thought would be the most pertinent information for bringing any idea to fruition.
The Final Product
The dollar bill sized notes were obviously convenient, as it would fit alongside other bills and could easily be held by a wallet clip. Additionally the notes would serve as a friendly reminder that if you were ever short on cash, it was time to get creative and think of new ideas to make money. "It takes just as much imagination to create debt as to create income." -- Leonard Orr [Click to Tweet]
In Action: Seeing as how every couple days I was running short on cash, I was getting constant reminders by this note sitting in my wallet clip... So I'd whip out a small pen I kept in my Jean's Watch Pocket
, (Finally I had a use for it) and start filling out one or two of these notes out. These notes have since been used to create and document several inventions and ideas which i'll mention in later blog posts.
If you think you'll find these notes as useful as I have, then by all means grab yourself a printout here
, or on my Resources page
. Share with friends, and leave a comment!
Often times I have walked into a book store with friends, bee-lining straight into the self-help section. This always tends to garner more laughs than anything. I can imagine this is because they can't forget the time I brought a copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" with me one day in High School. To this day I can't recollect a time where I saw so many guys cry tears of laughter at the same time. What can I say, I was well read
It has become apparent that many people believe that the self-help section is meant solely for people with mental anguish, coping with loss, and for those practically ready to jump off a bridge.
It is sad that several fail to see the wealth of knowledge found within those tomes. They are rich with visionaries like Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Tim Ferriss, Stephen R. Covey, Charles Duhigg, Anthony Robbins, etc. All people accomplished, all excelling in business and with sound minds that have helped them accomplish anything they've desired.
I gather that if anyone dared to pick up a book on mental health, they would be the wiser, as many books are written with loads of research and empirical studies to back their theories and teachings.
Furthermore, I would even venture to say that every section found at a book store are of the self-help variety. Travel? Self-help. Religion and Spirituality? Self-Help. Food and Drink? Self-Help. Health and Well Being? Self-Help. Fiction and Literature? Yup you guessed it, Self-Help.
Anything that you pick up that helps you improve, economically, intellectually, emotionally and even physically is self-help.
If fiction soothes your mind, and helps you sleep well at night after a stressful day at the office, it's magic is definitely at work.
Now we can debate which books are more "helpful" than others, but the truth is, different people have different learning styles, priorities and preferences. And as such, no one can be pigeon holed or stereotyped when in a book store.
While it may look like I may not need help while I'm in a bookstore, it doesn't mean I don't want it. And similarly, just because that single mom picked up a copy of PHP programming for professionals, doesn't mean you should gawk. We're all there to learn.
A Book store is an all-you-can-learn buffet. So help yourselves when you're hungry.
You've just come up with the most amazing idea ever...
Surely if you transmute this idea to reality you'll be raking in the riches, everyone will be chanting your name and your idea will go down in history as the single most important discovery of its kind.
Quickly you get to work by creating business cards, filling out the paperwork for a s-corp, and even go all out and pay the big bucks for a patent on your product. You send the designs out to a manufacturer, they send you a prototype, you love it and pay for a thousand more just like it. Days later you pay a web designer to create an e-commerce site, to adjust the SEO and to advertise your product online, assuming the cash will simply roll in once the masses see it.
You launch your product... And then nothing happens.
You wait a couple hours more, and notice your site gets a couple hits. Excitedly you sit there waiting for them to convert to sales. But hours go by, then a week. You start to have second thoughts about your web designers judgement on keyword selection for advertisement, and so decide to put a couple hundred dollars worth more on advertisement elsewhere, this time on a social media site. Another couple days go by, and you've lost more sleep than you've ever had in your life.
You ask yourself, "Why isn't anyone purchasing?!" "Where did I go wrong?!" You console yourself by saying, "They must not get it."
So you pay a professional copywriter to rewrite your website's content, and alas a sale comes in! But then months go by, and it is the only sale you've made. You reflect on how much you've paid to acquire that one sale, it makes you sick to your stomach, and then decide to take the site down as your savings account has become depleted.
You've lost thousands of dollars, and all you've gained is a headache.
As you look in your garage at the hundreds of boxes of failure collecting dust, your heart aches. You vow to never do it again, to never let your mind carry you away, to think outside the box, and to never aspire and dream outside your means. Your job never made you feel the way this failure of an idea did, why did you even think it was possible to begin with? And so you return to a life mediocrity, almost willingly.What could have been done differently, to avoid this entrepreneur's unfortunate failure?
Well according to Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo at Appsumo
, there are several key points
you should consider before you start any entrepreneurial endeavor:
1. Find your profitable (idea).
2. Find $1,000,000 worth of customers. (Check if target market is big enough)
3. Assess your customer's value.
4. Validate your idea.
The entrepreneur we looked at earlier found his "profitable idea" but didn't check to see if there was a market for it, didn't check if the customers were be able to pay, let alone use their product.Ideas are Cheap, Execution is more important
The old adage till holds true, however if you avoid performing any market research beforehand, you're just pushing product out blindly, and that's just plain stupid. You may think your idea will take the world by storm, but what proof do you have of this?
The best way to go about creating a new product or service, is by finding a problem first --> Then
finding a profitable idea that will solve said problem. This almost ensures a target market, and if the problem is frustrating enough, not just a minor nuisance, people will be more than willing to pay...
Cheesy but classic
I sat down and wrote down my 100 ideas in one sitting. The good the bad the ridiculous. Then I went through the same list checking to see if the product or service already existed. Needless to say the results were discouraging.
I reminded myself that just because my idea already exists, doesn't mean they cannot be made better, or niched down further to find a completely different audience.
I had a particular idea where I envisioned a website that was used to keep track of your stuff. People forget who they lend their stuff to, and are often times at a loss as to where to start looking. Maybe, just maybe I thought, it can be a resource booker too, and you can list all the stuff you're willing to lend, and people can borrow it in a fashion similar to a library. This list of resources would only be share-able to folks you choose. It would effectively save your friends and family hundreds in unnecessary purchases while giving you a good excuse to see them. Why not even make it a hub to add your own personal services to the mix as a resource, it would help group people with similar interests together and allow meetups to be booked via the built in calendar.
I wrote down everything I could think of, and then the following day proceeded to tell everyone I knew about it. (Original Notes found Here
The intro to my pitch was god awful, but I noticed that after a minute or two, I started to gain my friend's attention. This was too long by Venture Capitalist's standards. I spent a couple days to perfecting the pitch.
Days later, I managed to convince 15 friends that it was an amazing idea, and several others even said they were willing to invest in it if I ever got it going.
I was happy, but then I thought about all my previous ideas, and then I slowly gravitated to my computer to search if the idea already existed.
The search string "track your stuff" yielded a site called Traxtuff
You got to be kidding me.