Investments are never lost

Imagine this, someone studied finance for 4 years. After 2 years of traineeship, this person realizes it is not what they want their lives to look like. They don’t want to wake up in 10 years and dread going to work. So this person has two options. Number one: to continue working the job they hate because they’ve invested time and money already (sunk cost fallacy). Number two: to build up some savings and quit the job they hate. Which one would you choose?

Sunk cost fallacy

Choosing number one in the previous paragraph is not that strange. There is a thing called the sunk cost fallacy. Asana describes this as

"our tendency to continue with an endeavor we've invested money, effort, or time into—even if the current costs outweigh the benefits." 

Now, this mindset can keep us down in many aspects of life. Think about it, when a business has made a big investment but after a while, it has been made clear that there is no profit to be made. It wouldn’t make sense to continue with that project. So why would you continue with a project in your personal life?

Don’t look back, you’re not going that way

The first thing people would do is regret the choices they’ve made. “Why did I choose that specialty? I am so stupid.” But, why would you want to look back? The time has already passed and there is nothing you can change. So have no regrets but also don’t hold yourself back just because you have made the “wrong” choice in the past.

Take what you need

The best thing you can do is learn from that situation. So what if you are choosing a different path now? You can take all the previous experience with you. In your professional career, you would be much needed in a different sector because you bring new knowledge to that environment. You see things from a different perspective and you add value to the company. You can take the experience and expertise with you and apply it to another field.

Allow space for other things to grow

Once you are ready to turn the page and try something new, you must allow space for it. That means you must let other things go to make physical and mental space for new opportunities to arise.

Image: Unsplash, Alwi Alaydrus

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Fail faster than your competition

This blog post explains why having a high failure rate leads to success. Well, you might be thinking: “You don’t ever want to fail in your job” but out-failing your competition actually leads to more profit for your company for several reasons. Most of the content is inspired by Law 21 from Steven Bartlett’s book The Diary of A CEO

Ice skating

The ones who learned how to ice skate when they were younger remember that the first thing they teach you is to fall. You have to fall a couple of times on the ice to become comfortable with falling. The same holds in business. You first have to learn how to fail to do your job properly. Now there are two kinds of failures. The main difference is that you can come back from one failure and you won’t be able to return from the other failure.

No failure, no story

As much as we would like to think failure comes easy. Humans are wired to expect to do everything right the first time. But how boring would that be? And more importantly, if you don’t fail, you won’t learn anything. In life, you learn from your mistakes. Thomas Watson the former president of IBM said:

Every time we moved ahead in IBM, it was because someone was willing to take a chance, put their head on the block, and try something new.

Furthermore, how can you discover what the customer wants if you don’t experiment? We live in a fast-paced world where the needs of the customers constantly change. No matter your industry, you have to keep up. And to keep up, you need to try multiple things to succeed. For example, when a company is building a ‘new app. They won’t build the app immediately. First, they will ask the customer what they want, then they build a prototype. Afterwards, they go into the testing phase where they have many iterations. Eventually, the prototype has become good enough to launch. Even after the launch, you need to update that app because they continue improving the software.

Failure is invention

There is a page in the book: Diary of a CEO. Jeff Bezos explains why a high failure rate is crucial for a business. “One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. Failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment. The difference between baseball and business is that baseball has truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1.000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.”

Are you curious about the other Laws in the book Diary of a CEO? Click here for my summary!

Source image: Unsplash, Getty Images

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The best gift your environment could give you

There is a TED talk that discusses the fact that we are a product of the 5 people closest to us. And I believe that there is much truth to that. Because we all live in our own bubble. And the people you interact with the most, determine what comes into your bubble. In hindsight, being aware of this could be the best gift your environment could give you.

Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your life

I’m not convinced that the people closest to you determine who you are but they influence your life and habits. There is a quote that says: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your life”. The question remains: “How much of what we want is determined by our environment?”. Throughout our day we move on auto-pilot. For example, you probably don’t even remember your commute home. And once you become comfortable with the people in your life, you become numb to the situations they bring into your life.

Moving to a different environment

One great way to test how much of what we want is determined by our environment is to travel. When you move to a different city or county by yourself, you are on your own. The people back home won’t see all the decisions you make. As a result, you have to make decisions solely for yourself. And it might turn out that you make different decisions once your environment does not surround you. Also, you get to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. You might have to get to know new people. So you join a club for a sport you already play (or want to learn). You try a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. When I moved to New York City, I loved that I could create a completely new circle with all my new interests.

Realizing when to let go

Trevor Noah said it best in an interview (see clip below). He said that safety belts on planes are there to protect you on-air. But once you land, it is keeping you from exiting the aircraft. The same holds true for people in your life. After a while, you outgrow people and environments and when you hold on to those things, you are basically holding yourself back. Read more here

Source Image: Unsplash, Ben Stern

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Why ownership of your life can improve the quality drastically

In the previous post, we discussed why life is a never-ending journey. Now that we know that, we can make decisions accordingly. Some people might not realize that their life changed and they continue doing the same things. But rather, when you take ownership of your life, the quality of your life improves drastically.

Where are you headed?

Life is made up of infinite possibilities. The only question is … Where are you headed? Have you decided where you are going? Or have you let other people decide for you? Right now, is the time to take action. There is a great quote from the book “Whatever you think, think the opposite”

Everything we do we choose.
So what is there to regret?
You are the person you choose to be.

Ready, set, action!

The pressure to choose the right path can feel heavy whenever we need to decide what’s next in our lives. For me, at least, it did. Especially as an adult, you feel like you have to make the right decision straight away. But the truth is that you can change your mind as much as you like and that there is no “one right career path”. The right path will be made clear once we take steps in any direction. I’m simply asking you to make a decision and reflect along the way.

Source Image: Khyta

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Keep putting in the hard work

In life, it is good to have goals. Because that’s how we get out of our comfort zone and grow. But the downside of it is that it gets really quiet after we reach a goal. You might think that when you have reached a goal, your life is awesome. Well, let me tell you… it’s not. Because to me life is constantly about evolving.

Keep putting in the work

Life is no bus stop where once you get off the bus, you sit on the bench and do nothing all day. Rather, I would say, that life is like a commute where you get off the bus and have to walk a couple of blocks to reach your destination. And after a few hours, you probably have to commute to another location. It is a constant event. And there are two ways to look at this. One perspective is to think: “This whole life thing is tiring because I constantly have to create and reach new goals”. Another perspective is to think: “This whole life thing is great because now I have a chance to make adjustments that align with my view for the future”.

Life can shift your perspective

Suppose you read the previous paragraph and think: “Well my life has been pretty much the same for a couple of years and I’m fine with the way it’s going”. That is great! But I also have to tell you that any big event can flip your whole life upside down and might even change your perspective. For example, you might experience loss or you might get into an accident and as a result, you have a long recovery ahead. This could change your future plans and even make you reconsider your identity. This way you have to reinvent yourself in a way and evolve.

Stop and smell the roses

Now I might not have the most productive way to tackle all those pivots that can occur, but personally, I found that just being mindful of the fact that the work is never done is really helpful. And also, stop and smell the roses. We can get so caught up in improving habits by 1% each day or chasing goals that we forget how great life is. A big part of evolving is rest, so enjoy what you have now and look forward to all the things that are on their way to you.

Source Image: Gaurav Baya

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3 reasons why having a personal brand is esssential

We live in a highly technological world. And it doesn’t matter in which industry you work, or whether you are an entrepreneur or you have a 9-5 job. Creating (and maintaining) a personal brand is essential. Previously, when you applied for a job, people gave lots of importance to your resume. Now, the first thing people do is google your name and look at your LinkedIn page.

Personal brand over skills

I believe that most people can learn almost anything. And with technology and online platforms, you can even learn a new skill from the comfort of your own home. You (mostly) don’t necessarily need an education from a fancy university to get the job you want. Now don’t get me wrong, when you want to become a surgeon or an architect you need to gain years of education and experience. But lately, there have also been lots of new roles which require you to be more creative. Those skills can be learned. Whether you want to work in finance, or marketing, or try programming, you can find a course online.

That’s why your personality and character are crucial. Because if anyone can learn anything, you need to stand out in other ways. When a company is hiring, they will first look at your resume. But more importantly, they will ask you questions regarding your character. They want to know how you will handle difficult situations and whether you can work in teams for example.

Great things happen when you least expect it

Now that you’ve built your personal brand online. You can even go a step further and showcase your personal brand offline by attending network events. Another great perk of having an online (offline) presence is that you might receive an offer when you aren’t even searching. Just imagine, you attend an event or give a talk about something you already do within your current job. Let’s say you are a project manager and get invited for a panel conversation about leadership. Someone in the audience has their own business and they struggle with getting everybody within the team on the same page. Afterwards, they approach you with an offer to consult their team. How great is that!

You become better for it

If you could take one thing with you from this post. Then please let it be this: by building your online/offline presence you become better for it. By creating a personal brand, you have to present yourself constantly. Whether you attend events, socialize, or write about your expertise, either way, you improve skills like presenting and writing. But you also get to perfect the story you want to tell. As a result you become better at pitching your ideas because you become more of yourself.

To end the reasons for personal branding, here is a video that explains the benefits of personal branding from Steven Bartlett. Link to video.

Source Image: Blazs Ketyi

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What is going to be your legacy?

As we wrap up this month’s theme, we have come to the last article regarding Purpose. Now let’s focus on what impact your purpose will have once you’re gone. I know it’s a dark subject and some might not want to look that far ahead. But have you asked yourself what you will leave behind once you pass away? What will be your legacy? Life is fleeting and before you know it, your time is up. In Islam, we have something called Sadaqah Jariyah which loosely translates to ongoing charity. By engaging in this type of charity, you will be encouraged to think about your legacy.

What’s your legacy?

When we consider the day-to-day activities. Earning money, buying products, finding new hobbies, and spending time with family and friends. We think it all means something and it does to some extent because we need that now, but imagine 20 years after you’ve passed away. Will someone really remember all the money you’ve spent? Well, it depends on how you spend it.

Impact of your purpose

The impact of your purpose will be transparent once you talk to someone after a while. Look at people who win awards and their favorite elementary or high school teacher surprises them with a lovely speech. No matter how famous that person is, they end up in tears because that teacher has played a crucial role in their growth. In the end, people will remember how you made them feel.

What will you leave behind?

Now let’s consider helping people you don’t know and having them benefit from it for years to come. The best example of Sadaqah Jariyah is planting a tree. You might not see that tree grow fully in your lifetime. But your children and their children will reap the benefits from that tree, hence produce to survive for years. Another example is gaining and then sharing knowledge. Because if someone has benefited from that knowledge and they go ahead and teach it to someone else, you will also be rewarded.

Source image: Unsplash Eyoel Kahssay

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Ubuntu: how to become better as a team

There is an African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” In this life, we need to have a team. And a team works best when all the team players have synergy. In this post, I will explain why the concept of Ubuntu is crucial for a team.

The playbook

I discovered this word through the Netflix series: ” The Playbook “. In this series, a couple of coaches tell their stories. One of those coaches was Doc Rivers. At the time he was the coach for the Boston Celtics and the players were all just thinking of themselves. In Basketball, the ego plays a big role. To win a championship, he needed the team to play together as a team. One evening a woman walks up to him and mentions the concept of Ubuntu. He looked it up and was hooked immediately.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is an African way of life that holds the value of the group in great regard. The saying goes:

I am because we are.

This way you hold each other accountable. But more importantly, you help each other when needed. Doc Rivers translated this to: “I can’t be all I can be unless you are all you can be”. So for the players needed to be at their best game, they needed their teammates to be their best too. As a consequence, they regarded the team as a family and really looked out for each other on and off the field. As a result, they got better as a team.

Not only on the field

Now this is great for a sports team to win. But Ubuntu can also be used in “real life”. Just consider how many teams you’re part of. Family team, friends team, work team. Whether you’re a manager or part of a team at work, you have a responsibility to the team. Now I’m not saying work your ass off for the company until you burn out. But rather, what can you do for others within your team so that they can perform at their best. And therefore you can improve your “A” game.

Source Image: Unsplash, Ian Macharia

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How to perfect your craft with Ikigai

Imagine choosing one craft and dedicating your professional life to perfecting that craft. The Japanese lifestyle called Ikigai supports this mindset. And here is what we can learn from it. Once people find their Ikigai, they spend their entire lives perfecting their craft.

Finding you Ikigai

Source: Forbes

Regardless of whether you want to do several things in your career or focus on one thing. You still have to start with becoming better at one craft. Take, for example, the best athletes in their field or artists. They might have talent but they also work their asses off.

Reaching a state of flow

It is no secret that when you try to be the best at something, you need to put in lots of time and energy. More importantly, while you’re working on that craft, you need to be completely focused. Some call this state “the state of flow”. In this state, you lose sense of time and get completely hooked by the thing you are working on. It could be, music, drawing, cooking, writing, creating, weaving, or anything else.

The motion picture “Soul” describes this state of flow visually. Joe Gardner is a music teacher but has dreamed of playing piano on stage. In the clip below, Joe can audition for a gig. At first, he is caught off guard a little. But when he plays the piano, he reaches that state of flow.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is crucial to becoming the best at something. Take the well-known documentary of Jiro Dreams of Sushi where chef Jiro Ono provides his customers with the best sushi possible. In his restaurant, they pay attention to every detail while preparing the food. They even have a technique for how to massage the octopus.

Where else do we recognize perfecting a craft?

Source Cover Image: Unsplash Alva Pratt

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How to give like a monk

Do you feel stuck in your life? Do you lack direction? Well, today we are focusing on purpose. And what better way to kick off this month’s theme than with Jay Shetty. Jay Shetty is a former monk and is globally known for his work in the (mental) health world. He has a podcast called: “On Purpose” where he interviews celebs as well as scientists.

Jay Shetty discovered his calling during his time as a monk. In his book “Think Like a Monk” he describes the meaning of purpose. In Sanskrit the closest translation is Dharma which is loosely translated to your calling. Jay Shetty describes it as:

Dharma:
when your talent and passions connect with what the universe needs, 
you are living in your dharma (purpose)

How to find your Dharma

If we keep our minds open and curious, our dharmas announce themselves. Jay breaks it down into four categories: passion, skill, compassion and usefulness.

Source: Think Like a Monk, Jay Shetty

Moving on to gratitude

I am a deep thinker and sometimes I find it difficult to understand what I am doing here, i.e. on earth. It could be because I have a lot on my mind, or that I see people suffering and ask myself why I worry about all the small things happening in my life. Instead of being grateful for all that I have, I just focus on the negative feelings. As a result, I lack the motivation to do the simple stuff in life. But if you stay in this state too long you can get depressed. The solution is being grateful through acts of service.

Why should we be grateful? Well first of all the practice of gratitude makes you realize all that you have. But also, Jay Shetty said, When you’re present in gratitude you can’t be anywhere else. So you can’t be in your mind with all those (negative thoughts).

Gratitude through service

By doing for others we do for ourselves because charity does as much for the giver as for the receiver. We like to think: I’m doing this selfless thing but in hindsight, we are getting something out of it. Service helps you transform negative emotions.

Acts of service can be anything. As long as you help someone. It could even be doing groceries for your elderly neighbor or helping your sister/brother with their young children. Simultaneously, it could be helping someone who has less.

The benefits of gratitude through service:

  • You feel needed (usefulness).
  • You experience compassion.
  • You become grateful for the life you have.
  • Or you realize which aspects you want to add to your life.
  • You access a broader view of life, and problems, by giving.

Source image: Unsplash, Quinten de Graaf

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