Category: Business

How will you know if you never try

We all have 100 good ideas and dreams as humans. Personally, I would like to start my own café every time I walk into a cute coffee place. I already envision myself as the owner and part-time barista welcoming customers. Other times I see something online and I think to myself, I could do a better job at this. I know the audience better. But the truth is: how will we know the outcome if we never try?

Priorities

Before you try

Where to start

Okay so now the fun part. Suppose you have your priorities straight and you are done with all the planning and preparations. Then comes the time to walk to that starting line and take off. But in reality, this can be really scary. No worries below you can find helpful ways to kick-start your idea.

1 | Allow yourself 5 failures a day

2 | The beginner’s mind

No regrets

Another incentive to start is the realization that if you don’t start, you won’t know how good it gets. We all know the quote: “What if I fail? Oh darling, but what if you fly.” You need to ask yourself whether the cost of not trying weighs heavier than the cost of regret. And with that, I leave you this week. I hope this article was helpful to you!

Source image: Unsplash, Jared Poledna

Do the best until you know better

We tend to torture ourselves with past events. For example, when we gain new knowledge or insight. We like to dwell on how things could’ve been if we had that information sooner. But guess what … you didn’t. So why would you even entertain that thought? Instead, try to think of ways to become better now.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer of beautiful poems amongst others and an activist. She had so much wisdom. Every time I read or watch something of her work, I catch myself contemplating the message behind it. One of her best-known works is the poem: “And still I rise”. Another phrase she wrote is: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I first encountered this quote while listening to an episode of Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. Below is the interview with Maya Angelou where she shares a lifetime of advice in 40 minutes.

Do the best you can until you know better

Now back to the quote related to this post. When you do the best you can, it also brings you peace because you can let go in a way. This way you can look back without any regrets. It also may give you a feeling of giving it your all in the present moment.

Then when you know better, do better

When you have gained that new insight, you owe it to yourself to do better. Because if you live by the phrase: “do the best you can”. You have to constantly improve. It is also fun to actively find new ways to innovate and gain relevant knowledge.

5 AM club

Source image: Unsplash, Karolina Grabowska

How to be more proactive

  • self-awareness
  • imagination
  • conscience
  • independent will

Taking the initiative

Some people are in a situation (which could also be a stimulus) where they would like to change things in their lives. But the initiative to make those changes is still challenging. Sometimes these people are waiting for something to happen or someone to take care of them (it).

Act or be acted upon

If you are not willing to act and take responsibility for a situation/stimulus. Then your environment will shape your situation. When you are faced with adversities for example in your business. Ask yourself these questions: What is our/my response? What are/am we/I going to do? How can we/I exercise initiative in this situation? Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean only thinking positively and saying ” Oh we’ll be alright”. By taking a proactive attitude you face reality but also choose to see the positive side and work towards improving the situation.

Listen to your language

The easiest way to check whether you have a proactive attitude is to listen to your language. And specifcally your choice of words. Examples are:

"I can't do that, I just don't have the time"
"That's me. That's the way I am"
"There's nothing I can do" 

One thing that these sentences have in common is that the person who said it gave all the freedom of choice away. They didn’t take responsibility for their priorities (I know again with the responsibilities). Stephen Covey even wrote: ” That language comes from a basic paradigm of determinism. And the whole spirit of it is the transfer of responsibility. I am not responsible, not able to choose my response

One example of changing the narrative to owning responsibilities mentioned is the book is called “The Haves and the Bes”. And will be discussed in the upcoming post.

Source image: Unsplash, Rocco Stoppoloni

The way you act

Imagine this: someone is blaming or accusing you of something. One of your reactions might be to; be defensive, react the way to other party expects you to react, respond from emotions. In some situations, you may be inclined to think that you are pushed in a corner. We may even feel like we had no choice, that we were forced to respond that way. But the hash truth is that we always have the freedom to choose our responses.

We are responsible for our actions.

It may be a bitter pill to swallow. Because it is easier to react instead of act (I’ll come back to the difference). It is easier to say: “That person was pushing me to say this or that”. Or ” That person made me so angry/sad/furious I had to say it”. “That person was attacking me and I had to stand up for myself.” But in all those sentences you blame someone else. Now I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to defend yourself, but it is your responsibility to choose how you respond.

Space between stimulus and response

Now between a stimulus (= whatever made you angry/sad/furious) and your response there is an empty space. Viktor Frankl refers to that space as “man has freedom to choose”. You get to elaborate how you want to respond and what the best way forward is. Stephen R. Covey best describes this freedom in his book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

Act instead of react

So basically when you react to a stimulus you immediately respond. Which is equivalent to talking before you think. But the better option might be to act on the stimulus. This means that you spend some time thinking about your response, with self-awareness, imagination, conscience, and independent will. Which is equivalent to thinking before you speak.

Source image: Unsplash, Nadine Shaabana

Gap between values and actions

We hear it all the time. You shouldn’t trust someone’s words but their actions instead. But how many times do we hold ourselves accountable to this? Isn’t it the gap between our values and actions that is holding us back from what we want?

Where is the gap

  • Choose your top 3. Here is a list of values, if you need inspiration.
  • For each of the values, write down what behaviors belong with it.
  • Write down your daily activities. Which actions are reoccurring on a daily or weekly basis?
  • Is the behavior for the second and third bullet aligned? If not, find the mismatch

Close the gap

Whatever behavior is in line with your values act upon it. If you stick to this, you will live by your core values and thus find success and contentment. But what if you are not pleased with the outcome? Or what if you don’t want to let go of certain actions?

Constantly pivot

The answers to these questions are simple: change your values. It could be that you thought a certain characteristic was important to you but in reality it wasn’t. It could also be that over time your values changed. Either way, the crucial thing is always aligning actions with values.

Image: Unsplash, by Jeremy Bishop

Six thinking hats: make better decisions

Having trouble deciding on something in your personal life? Or do you have a hard time agreeing on something within your team? Then this method is for you.

Other ways of decision making

When faced with an important decision to make, I usually weigh the pros against the cons. But is this really the right strategy to look at things you find important as positive and negative? There must be an alternative. Below only the context of decision-making regarding a team will be discussed.

Origin

The six thinking hats was created by Edward de Bono. He used this technique in his work advising government agencies. The idea of this method is that there is no right or wrong comment and when used in teams you can separate your own opinion from what is best for the company. Putting on a hat makes you less likely to be criticized within a team.

Meaning of the hats

How to use this method

Image: Unsplash, by Deji Akinyele

Being vulnarable and getting connected

Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re weak. It actually means you are confident enough to tell others you’re not perfect. By showing your full self, you are able to connect with others, improve the quality of your network and prevent future burn-out.

Connecting

Have you really admired the way of working of let’s say a manager or a colleague? You think to yourself, he/she looks like they have it all together. But then you get a chance to grab a coffee with them and they tell you that reaching this level of professionalism was a process. By sharing this, they were vulnerable. This way you could relate to them. Having the courage to show a broad range of experiences has the benefit that you can connect with people on a deeper level. This way your network strengthens. Also, because you showed authenticity, they might consider you when they have a job opening or an exciting project.

Oversharing

Now I’m not telling you to lay out all the details of your deepest insecurities to your boss. Actually, I might even advise against telling your network about all the things you feel you lack. Because even though you might also share your strengths during that conversation, they will only remember the parts where you are lacking. Always stay powerful and confident when telling stories. Consider, in a corporate setting, whether sharing a story is going to help or hurt your career.

Burn-out prevention

As previously mentioned, being vulnerable can be a good way to connect with others in the workplace. In addition, having emotional courage can also be a significant benefit for preventing a future burn-out. Things that might help are: hearing others talk about their struggles, sharing your challenges with a colleague or even being vulnerable towards yourself. As a result, you can implement a strategy that helps to de-stress.

Image: Unsplash, by Alexander Grey

What is important to you

Today we are going to prioritize. Have you ever wondered what did get finished today, at work? Or went to an activity that you actually did not want to go to? Well after reading this post, you can assign your Energy Budget accordingly.

Energy budget

In the book The life changing magic of not giving a fuck Sarah Knight talks about a f*ck budget. Bare with me on this one… On a f*ck budget you assign a minimum amount of f*cks to give to things. I would call it an Energy Budget because you choose what to assign your energy towards. Now Sarah does a great job explaining that you could turn down professional and personal requests politely. Why assign an energy budget? Because some times you just don’t have the energy for small talk.

4-hour work week

You might have heard this phrase on social media. Timothy Ferris has become very good at managing his Energy Budget. In his book, he proposes that 80% of the consequences flow from 20% of the causes. Put differently, 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts and time. This was profound to me because that would mean that 20% of my work would lead to 80% of my success.

But the question is which 20% of my time and effort? Timothy has a question for that: “If you become heavily injured and only had to work 2 hours per day, what would you do?”. By answering this question we could get the same results in less time!

Communication is key

If we want to get things done in less time, it is crucial to train the people around us to be more efficient.

  • One way is by proposing corresponding by email instead of a meeting or a call.
  • If you can’t get out of a meeting. Request them to send an email with the purpose of the meeting and possible solutions. This way everybody involved already elaborated on the subject and in their view the best solution.
  • It happens that a colleague passes by and asks if you have a minute. If you have a deadline and only have a period of time to spare, define the time beforehand.
  • Now if you really don’t have time to talk, put headphones on (if that is permitted).
  • Not every email needs to be answered right away. So try to check your email a fixed amount of times during the day. Also, if it’s not urgent, respond really early or after 5 pm. This way the respondent doesn’t respond immediately.

Image: Unsplash, by Gattorete

Imposter syndrome

Do you ever feel that you are not qualified enough or feel anxious even when performing competently? Well, meet imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is doubting your skills and having internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Many people experience this in their professional lives and some even in their personal lives. Ironically, these people are usually performing the best at their positions. You actually belong in that position and deserve that promotion. Below are practices to minimize this feeling.

Practice being seen

One way to manage this feeling is by practicing being seen. This way you will be aware of your competence and feel more comfortable.

  • Don’t skip the meetings. Meetings are not about the subject itself but rather about being seen. You practice being around your peers and superiors. And while you’re there, you might as well showcase your talents. In order to be seen be considered for another opportunity.
  • Let’s consider you applied for a position and you get the job. By this time others already consider you worthy enough for that position. So why would you make up doom scenarios and hold yourself back?
  • If you have a goal or want to reach something, talk about it. Only when you speak up, others will know that you want to go in a certain direction. As a result, more people will consider you when executive decisions are being made.

Front-row tickets

When you are somewhere, let’s say a meeting or a conference. And there are seats available at the front. Take those front-row seats. Firstly, because you deserve those seats as much as anyone else. Secondly, you can focus more on the subject at hand or the speaker. Lastly, you are able to meet interesting people you might have not talked to otherwise. So be bold, take that front-row seat, and start a conversation with your neighbor.

Add fuel to the fire

For those who have experienced imposter syndrome, it might be difficult to eliminate this feeling altogether. But why not let it be fuel to gain more knowledge and skills? You are in that position for a reason and hopefully, you enjoy doing the work. So why not get even better at it?

Image: Unsplash, by Charlesdeluvio

Allow yourself 5 failures a day

Continue to fail

I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw this video of Caroline Wanga, the CEO of Essence magazine. She said that not till the sixth fail does she get to make it a bad day. And I’m here for it! As a result, she becomes best in failure recovery, she gets up faster than anybody else, and she bounces back faster than anybody else. This reminds me of something the Spanx founder once mentioned (click here for the video). Her dad encouraged her to fail every week to redefine the term. Failure became about not trying rather than about the outcome

Who is CEO Wanga?

Carolina A. Wanga had a child and at the age of 17 she needed to get by. She worked at a non-profit for 7 years. But she couldn’t grow in the organization without a college degree. So she decided to go back to school. Then she started as an intern at Target. After a while, she came in contact with the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. She draw a map and at the top of that map was the position of VP of D&I. She saw her goal and she went for it! She spoke about it and worked hard. When she finally got the job, she thought about her new responsibility and made the conclusion that if she wanted to do this job well, she would’ve to show more of herself…

What can we learn from Wanga?

So she did: the hairstyle she liked … blue lipstick… she saw that nobody really noticed the changes. Because she was authentic and did her job really well. She stood out and was noticed by the owner of Essence. He eventually asked her to become the new CEO of Essence. Mind you, this is a whole different market. The owner was not spooked by the lack of knowledge in this market, rather he recognized that she was able to communicate who she was and that she was able to win whatever she put her mind to.

Image: Unsplash, by Sebastian Leon Prado

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