AoL 011: Embracing Your True Self with Kate Chaplin

Kate Chaplin, this week’s guest, is a great definition of someone that has not only found what their natural creative state is in (aka their passion) but she has actually made great strides in making it her career. Being not only a podcaster, but an author, and film maker, she has had a lot of experience creating. I thought it would be great for her to come on the show and share how she’s gotten to where she is in life, and possibly drop a couple of nuggets of wisdom.

There many types of creators. Some build software and some make videos. Others make art while others help share other’s messages. In one way or another, we’re all creators. However, many of us create in a way that might not be our natural creative state. How do you find that state? I think it differs from person to person.

If you’re on the hunt for a new beginning in your work, maybe Kate’s story will help you get started in the right direction. She explains how she determines what kind of work she does, what lessons she would share with her 10 year old self, and what the inspiration is behind her business.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Where the name Karmic Courage came from.
  • How she determines the types of work she does.
  • Where her love of movies came from.
  • Where she came from and how that inspired her in what she does today.
  • What she would tell her 10 year old self today.
  • Why it’s important to not stifle other’s creativity.
  • What’s behind the branding of Karmic Courage.
  • What her next movies, Wig’d Out and Shoki’s Bag, are all about.
  • …and MUCH more.

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Here are the INDYpendent Show Awards that she won. Find more about the INDYpendent Show here.

If you’re into podcasting, check to see if there’s anything like it in your area!

Kate’s Personal Site – Find all of her past movies, books, and how to get ahold of her for your upcoming idea!

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunesStitcher, and/or Podbean. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

How to Raise Your Standards

Great standards to strive for, right? Brendon always makes me think about things in a new light.

You know, we’re all trying to strive to higher levels. One of my all time most visited posts is this one I shared about 21 Standards that we can live and work by. However, since then, I’ve talked with a few readers who have thought that a person with all of those standards is someone who is completely unlike them.

They believe that they’re just too different. And those differences will prohibit them from ever reaching that level of success in their lives. They’ll never be like that expert… that ideal or model person. That person is just way too different.

They might even say, “I don’t trust them. They’re fake.” or “It’s easy for them to say, they don’t get where I’m coming from.”

And believe me, I can see where they’re coming from. In fact, I’ve been there. And what I found out is that there’s two parts in how you can raise your standards.

Add New Habits and Standards In (One by One)

This self limiting belief that “I’ll never be able to be successful” is one that I hear too often. Be the ideal person that they’re comparing themselves to is someone like Joe (the original author of those 21 standards) or another “ideal person”, they simply don’t see themselves being able to shed their old self. Again, I can relate. (I mean, as you guys know… I had a HUGE problem with having a positive attitude all the time. But in retrospect, it was a good exercise for me to have gone through.)

A person that has a life full of standards is one who has been working on making themselves better day after day. Each standard that they live by, they more than likely developed it separately from the others. They practiced it daily until it became automatic. Then they started working on another personal standard.

For example, when I first was in college, I simply didn’t make good grades. Part of this could have been the fact that my major was one of the hardest on campus. However, I think the problem was mainly the fact that I didn’t know how to study. And because I didn’t know how to study, my test taking was horrible as well. (Why should I know how to study? I was able to cruise through high school by simply fumbling around the test and getting by with B’s and A’s on my report card.)

I knew I was a good student. That I had it in me to get good grades. I just had to figure out how to play the game. I knew I had to raise my standards.

So when I realized that the material wasn’t the problem, but, instead, was the actual practices I used to “study” back then, it was certainly nice to know what the problem was. (My studying habits were “do the ones you know how to do and if you don’t know how to do them, then copy off of someone else.” This practice would soon almost get me kicked out!) Essentially I was looking at the problem as a whole and not breaking the questions down (as I’d later find out in my study group).

As I got better at studying, I got more comfortable with the material that was being taught in class. In fact, by the time I was in my second senior year (of 3), my test taking skills started going up as well. Why? Because I was no longer having anxiety during the test. I realized that most problems that I had were a matter of knowing a process to break them down. Prior to that point, I was constantly second guessing myself as to whether I really knew the answer or not before I even attempted breaking it down.

So when I finally knew the material and what the patterns were to solve the problems, I actually performed fairly well on tests after that. (I hope that relates to some of you who majored in a STEM field. If your major involved a ton of writing… I always did well by just writing down everything I knew and/or thought about a given subject and then linking them together.)

How does this apply here? The same strategy can be applied to other practices in life.

Let’s say you want to have better health. First, you need to start telling yourself that you are a healthy person. Do this regularly. Especially when you have cravings for a snack. Telling yourself this will help you from jumping off the wagon.  You do this because your mind starts believing things the more it hears it. Next, change your diet. Once that becomes natural, then start getting more sleep. Then after that, try to exercise more. Do one for 30 days, then add the next for 30 days, and then add the next. After 90 days, you’ll have three healthy habits you’ll find hard to quit. Spoon feed yourself these new habits or you’ll choke and not accomplish any of it.

Limiting and/or Removing Old Standards and Habits

You probably wondered when this was going to happen. I mean, the last example I gave with being more healthy, you were probably thinking, “Well, if I add more sleep and exercise more, how am I supposed to keep on top of all my TV shows in the evening?” or something similar. There are only so many hours in a day, right?

This is true. However, let’s think about two contrasting thoughts here.

  1.  You don’t have to be an exact replica of that model person you’re aiming to have similar qualities with. Just because you’re trying to be healthier, doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your unhealthy habits. You can still binge on sweets, TV, video games, etc. (Just not like you used to…)
  2. As you change more and more and come closer to that model person that you want to be similar to (but not exactly like), you’re going to make more and more comparisons (micro-comparisons, even?) in what you do with your time and effort vs what they do with their time and effort. It’s natural as we grow as a human. In fact, you probably won’t notice the transformation as it doesn’t come over night. But if you keep a journal and/or analyze the thoughts you have right now vs the thoughts you had before you started your journey to the new you, they’re going to be crazy different.

Essentially, one side of you wants to remain YOU. The other side wants to change just enough to get their results.

Here’s the deal with those two thoughts. One one side, I think it’s inherent that you’re going to want to keep doing some of the things that you believe make you, you. I mean, after all, you don’t want to be that like that know it all expert, right? They don’t seem real. You want to make the transformation on your own terms. I totally get that.

The other side of you is like “Uh, I really think we need to be better at drinking water. That know it all expert actually does that pretty well. You always see her with a bottle. I wonder how she trained herself to drink water all the time.” Eventually, what you might come to find out is that the reason you might not have trusted or disliked someone at first is because they made you feel highly uncomfortable at the beginning. They were too alien. They were too good to be true.

However, now that you’re closer to them in multiple ways, you see them not only as a teacher, you actually start thinking of them as a person. And you might even start seeing some of their faults. They’re not as perfect as you once thought they were.

When you hit this level. You’ll get a different perspective not only on them and their actions, but on your actions as well. Knowing that this person puts on their pants one leg at a time just like you, you’ll start realizing some of the sacrifices they’ve made to get as far as they have.

This is when you ask yourself, do I want to have the results they have? If the answer is yes, then you’ll make the sacrifices they have. If the answer is no, then you’ll keep those old parts of your life as you see fit.

And just so you know when it’s right to be an “expert” for other people. I personally believe that this is the point. When you have learned all that you can from that previous ideal or model person, have gotten some of your own results, and can understand their actions might contradict what you want your end goal to be… that’s when you’re now in the teacher’s seat.

Homework:

What’s one subject that you know quite a bit about now that at one point you were clueless about? Maybe you had no idea where to start when you first began? Perhaps you were afraid to start? Do you remember where and from whom you learned the knowledge you have now? Let us know below. You might even gain some new students!

AoL009: Ideas to Improve all the Tomorrows of your Life with Jim Vaughan

Gary Vaynerchuk, Pat Flynn, Tim Ferriss, even Tony Robbins. These are names that we can picture when we think about being successful in climbing their respective career mountains. We all know these names because they share, on a regular basis, how they got to where they’re at and what they’re currently doing. One thing that they all have in common is that they’re releasing new content all the time. That’s what makes them popular, I’m sure.

They all are people we’d consider to be extraordinary and able to give lots of information in how we can be great like them. However, the idea of being great and teaching others to be the same isn’t new. Would you believe that Tony Robbins wasn’t the first big self-help star out there? He had to learn from others… but who did he learn from? Who was popular in that time?

These were questions I continually searched when I first learned about the self-help field. I know Tony mentions a few in his books, but I always wondered if there were others that were popular at the time. If you know Tony’s story, you know that he started out pretty normal like most of us. So it wasn’t like he had special access to any insider information.

When I met Jim Vaughan in 2012, he helped shed some light on this mystery. With the site that he had at the time, I was able to go into this vast library and learn from some of these past rock stars of success. Some of those names included Earl Nightingale, Paul J. Meyer, Andrew Carnegie and others. These are people who he considers part of his Personal Board of Directors. These were people that I was sure that could have impacted Tony’s education!

And when I say education, don’t believe that what I’m talking about has anything to do with what you find in formal education. You know, K-12 and college. So much of that knowledge is a complete waste of time when it comes to actually being successful in life. I mean, outside of those who graduated with a STEM related major, it’s insane how many college graduates don’t have a job in the field they went to school for. However, I’m sure you know this. (Hell, you might even be one of those people. I feel your pain. I went to school for a STEM related major… and used it for a whole two years before I realized that it didn’t fit what I wanted to do.)

So, if you feel that you’ve been lead astray in your career (and life in general) and want to really learn from proven old-school life advice, I’d check out what Jim has to say. He’s been listening and implementing a lot of it for a good part of his life and is now dedicated to passing that knowledge along. It might just help you be the next Tony Robbins in your field.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Why Jim started listening to success masters and how they amplified his career.
  • How Jim got hired to do DJ work at the White House (yes, that White House).
  • How you can change your thought process to get to where you want in life.
  • What kind of impact Jim wants to make with his businesses.
  • How Jim came up with the idea for the IQ Morning Report and what it consists of.
  • Why he believes it’s so important to keep learning.
  • Some of the great tips he’s learned through the years including the easiest way to become a people magnet.
  • Proof that you don’t need a formal education to do well for yourself in life.
  • …and MUCH more.

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Here’s some popular YouTube videos and other media related to Jim’s Personal Board of Directors:

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunesStitcher, and/or Podbean. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

AoL 007: Personal Branding: Not Just for Business Owners with Ryan Rhoten

When was the last time you cared about what you looked like? If you’re like most people, probably this morning before you headed off to the office. The image that you give of yourself is highly important. It’s all about first impressions, right?

So you know you should be aware of how you’re making a first impression in the real world. But what does the internet say about you? Have you done a search on yourself recently to see what comes up? If you have, and you didn’t like the results, how can you change that?

That’s where our guest, Ryan Rhoten, comes into play. Not so long ago, Ryan didn’t think about his online persona either. In fact, it wasn’t until he didn’t get a promotion that he wondered what what was going on. Soon, though, he realized that he didn’t look so good on the web. In fact, there were other Ryan Rhotens on the web… one of which that wasn’t too flattering.

Today, he helps others figure out what their stance is on the web. He does that by helping them hone their personal brand. Yeah, that same personal brand that many celebrities and business owners have to be aware of.

If you’ve recently been denied an interview or promotion that you thought was a sure thing, then you should listen to what Ryan has to say. Even if you’re a business owner and you’re not exactly sure you know everything about personal branding, you should definitely check this talk out too. It just might mean the difference between you getting that next job or client.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:

  • How Ryan got started as an online Personal Branding Expert.
  • Why he doesn’t consider himself a “entrepreneur” quite yet.
  • Why it’s important that you go to events when building your brand.
  • What’s an expert exactly and how you can find out what you’re an expert in.
  • What are common practices of recruiters of using social media to find talent for an open position.
  • Why Gen Xers naturally struggle when it comes to their online presence.
  • Some common mistakes people make when developing their personal brand.
  • Why it’s important to do things out of your comfort zone on a regular basis.
  • What a Klout score is.
  • …and much more

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

ITEMS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

Checklist for building your online presence on LinkedIn.

KISSmetrics_official_logo

14-Point Checklist to Dominate Your Personal Brand on Google

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the top of the post.

Also, please leave an honest review for The AoL Podcast on iTunes! Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and we read each and every one of them.

If you have any questions feel free to email them over via the email mentioned in the show or by our contact form.

And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunesStitcher, and/or Podbean. It’s absolutely free to do so.

A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

Breaking out of the Scarcity Mindset By Applying the Law of Abundance

“Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

“Life is just a mirror, and what you see out there, you first see inside of you.” – Wally Amos

A Few Definitions:

(I’ll meet you on the other side of them.)

Law of Attraction:

States that you attract what you focus your attention on – whether positive or negative. Think of ways that the law of attraction affects your life right now. Do you regularly think of how you fail with the opposite sex? This will result in you continuing to fail.

The same is true of wealth, happiness, success in your career and anything else you focus on.

Your mind has the power to manifest that which you strongly believe. When you focus on something strongly enough, you make it a reality, so our goal is to harness that power to create a better life.

Law of Scarcity:

An economic system cannot produce all goods and services that consumers want, and most consumers do not have the resources to purchase everything they want. Furthermore, choices must be made about how limited resources (time, money, etc.) are used.

Law of Abundance:

A sub-law of the Law of Attraction. It states that there is enough wealth in the world for everyone to have enough money and resources to live fulfilling lives.

First Thing’s First

I want you to know that this particular post might be confusing. In fact, I’m writing the thing and I still find it confusing. However, if there’s anything I want you to get from this post it’s this:

“Whatever the Mind can see and believe, the Mind can achieve.” – Napolean Hill

Of Nature and Man

“The Creator did not intend for us to be scrubs, and certainly that is not the example that he sets for us.. The essence of the Law of Abundance is that we must believe in abundance.” – Sterling W. Sill

When the Founding Fathers made the Declaration of Independence, they wrote Man had certain Rights. Specifically they wrote, “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

Now let me pose a question to you.

Since many of us believe that Natural Laws are how the Creator governs, wouldn’t it make since that what goes for Nature should be good for Man?

I’m not saying that we should go total caveman and not have laws that Man makes up as we go. Instead, I’m simply saying that Nature’s laws are the foundation of how the world works and Man’s laws fill in the gaps from there. We can’t change how Nature works – so why try?

Imperfect Laws of Man

If Nature is so abundant (which it is, take anything that produces fruit for example), why is it that we limit ourselves to a world of scarcity? I believe it’s because we choose not to live by Nature’s laws but instead, by Man made laws. (In fact, we’ve been moving farther and farther away from Natural Laws.)

The problem with doing that is because Man, as we know, is imperfect. And because he’s imperfect, he’s going to make imperfect laws. Most laws that we create will ultimately cause some other problem that we’ll have to create another law for OR we’ll have to get rid of the previous law all together (Prohibition anyone?).

Take the tax code for example. It could have started off simple but as years go by, it has gotten larger and larger. Why? Because tax, in itself, isn’t natural. So we’ve had to fill in ever smaller and smaller gaps.

Another man made law that’s obviously imperfect and that we’re all familiar with is segregation. Whoever thought that separating people because of their skin color was a good idea was just straight out wrong.

Scarcity is one of these laws as well. Does Supply and Demand makes sense? On the surface it might. I mean, as supply goes down, demand goes up. Wait a second. Was it that when demand goes up that supply goes down? That doesn’t seem right either.

Hmmm… well let’s take a look at an example we’re familiar with: gas prices.

A few years ago, gas was hovering at nearly $4 a gallon here in the States. This was because OPEC wanted as much money as they could get. Demand stayed the same, supply fell, thus the price rose. Ok. Makes sense for them to cut the supply from their perspective. However, now at $2.25 a gallon, we’re seeing OPEC produce like there’s no tomorrow. Why is that? Many sources say it’s because no one can agree on a universal price point. Others might say that they want to cripple other countries around the world including Russia, China, Canada, and the US.

Either way, it’s human intervention. Just by definition, it’s imperfect if not downright confusing!

(Actually, I might go out on a limb and say that Scarcity isn’t a law in itself, it’s actually a lack of law or lack of understanding in how the Law of Abundance works.)

Applying the Law of Abundance (or Attraction)

Now that we’ve looked at why Natural Laws are the laws that we should have high interest in following and why Man made laws are just plain ridiculous at times, let’s look at how we can actually APPLY the Law of Attraction in our lives.

For one, I’m not about to tell you that you simply need to focus on what you want in your life. If only it were that simple. I mean, I love Napoleon Hill, but dude, c’mon. Just thinking about something all day is called day dreaming. Besides the focus, you have to act.

So what kind of actions am I talking about?

First, you need to create a Vision Board (or have a REALLY good idea of what you’re looking for). Not sure how to make one? Next, you need to create a plan to get there. After that, you have to do that work. (If you’re just doing work to do work, then you better be following someone else’s plan or you might find yourself going in circles.)

Scenario 1 – The New Graduate: Let’s say you want to start simple at getting a good job out of school. What is it going to take to get you there? Four things: Good grades in college, a good resume and cover letter, and… NETWORKING! You’ve probably heard of all of these at some point and yes you have to do them all, but the one you really need to create a plan for is networking. If you’re desired job is to work for say… Facebook, how are you going to get there? It’s just not going to happen. Who do you need to talk to? Get that Vision Board going (start with a big ol’ picture of Facebook HQ) and then start working back to where you are now. This is going to involve research in who you should talk to and what job fairs you need to go to, but it’s totally doable.

Scenario 2 – Career Transition: Alright, you’ve had your first job and you want to make a larger impact. What next? Wait to be promoted? Leave the company? Start your own business? Join another startup first? There’s different ways you could go here. Let’s say we want to start our own business but we don’t know if we can handle it. Great, let’s join another startup for a couple of years and get some experience. (Hey, it’s what I did!)

Preferably, you shouldn’t join a company that does what you want to do. Otherwise, you might burn some bridges when you leave (if that’s your plan). But just like the first time, let’s get that job with a plan. Another thing you might consider here is if you want to be a full time employee or work as a 1099 contractor. As a full time employee you’ll have benefits, but you’ll have less options to do outside work. As a contractor, you’ll be in charge of ALL your taxes, but you’ll be able to write off expenses. There’s pros and cons in both.

Scenario 3 – Start Your Own Business: Time to start your own business! Some things to consider here: what kind of business is it going to be? How much would you like to be making? Are you looking at a deep foundation (like I am with New Inceptions)? Are there any similar businesses out there that you can model after?

These are all things you’ll need to think about. If there are similar businesses out there, see if you can’t do some research in how they got from point A to point B. If it’s an online business, use the Way Back Machine to see if you can get some clues in how they started. If you’re doing something new or just want a community to help you, you might want to consider joining Fizzle to help you out. If you’re planning on going old school brick and mortar, do some market research first. Is there an interest in your area of what you’re doing? Would it be best if you started elsewhere? Maybe start online first and then go brick and mortar? Lots of choices.

Either plan you go, you need to put in the work. And we’re here for you anytime you need help in figuring out the next step.

Homework:

So which scenario above best describes you? If you don’t think any of them do, let us hear what your particular situation is. Also, feel free to let us know how you’ve used the Law of Abundance (or Attraction) to get ahead in the past or how you’re currently using it!

Tribute to Scott Dinsmore: Making Life Decisions with Your Dreams in Mind

“It’s insecurity that is always chasing you and standing in the way of your dreams.” – Vin Diesel

I heard the news last Tuesday night about Scott Dinsmore’s passing after I had published the last post. If you didn’t know who Scott was and what he was about, then you need to watch the above video just to get a glimpse into how he lead his life. Talk about passion.

There are many tribute pieces to him around the web from some of his closest friends.

So I’ll let them speak about what he personally meant to them:

Personally, I didn’t know Scott too much. I’ve learned more about him after his passing than I did when he was still around. I feel it is extremely unfortunate. I feel as if I have lost a friend that I didn’t get to know because we had such a similar passion in helping others release their inner passions.

I was going through his posts to get more of a feel for the guy. And I have to admit that this recent one struck me in particular:

How to Avoid Making the Wrong Big Decisions (like choosing the wrong path).

When it came to making big life decisions, he didn’t believe that you had to jump completely in. In fact, he believed that we should simply test the waters before we go all into big life decisions.

I couldn’t agree more.

Yet, some of us will find fault with even doing just that much. We might have chosen a path because that’s what we felt was ultimately the best choice based on personal bias and beliefs. Does that make it truly the best one for us?

The truth is while we want to choose the right path for us, we all have personal biases that will make it easier to stay on the path we are currently on. Many times that “auto-path” is dictated by external forces which don’t know or care about the life we’re trying to lead.

“If we don’t know what we’re looking for, we’re never going to find it.” – Scott Dinsmore

Seeing Life Decisions From Different Angles

We all know that sometimes we don’t feel like we’re free to just “do our own thing”. Especially when it comes to making decisions regarding our careers.

In fact, here are some thoughts you might be having which prohibit you from following your dreams:

  • I’m sacrificing my dreams so my kids don’t have to.
  • I’m doing this because it was what my parents always wanted to do, but didn’t get the chance to.
  • I chose this career, and damn it, hell or high water, I’m going to make it work!
  • I don’t want to waste MORE time getting ANOTHER degree!

Do any of these sound familiar? I know that I have several friends that subscribe to the first one. I know a few who claim the second. And I was definitely a candidate for the third and fourth reasons myself.

Are these actually true? Or are these self imposed restraints and beliefs that we’ve placed to protect ourselves from potential future “failures”? Where did we get these ideas? Were they from us or others?

To find out the best path in life for you, you need to be able to see the problem from multiple angles and even more specifically, how does it affect your overall life goals? Each one of the above statements could be reframed as a question in regards to your personal goals.

  • If I want to be a good role model for my kids, how is not following my dreams being a good example?
  • Is the world the same as it was when my parents wanted to have that role? Even so, why should I let them dictate what I do?
  • Am I letting my pride and ego get the best of me? Why can’t I be the next great story of someone making a big transition?
  • What if you’re wasting more time (and money) by not following your true gifts? Also, who said anything about getting another degree?

However, if you don’t know what you want out of life and your career, then you won’t ask yourself these types of questions.

With these questions asked, will you think differently about your situation? I’m sure you will. (In fact, these last two questions are what have helped set me free of my old path.)

It’s when you start asking questions like these and questioning the status quo on goals in life, whether or not your current path is working out for you or not. Don’t let your personal bias and your past dictate your future. Be open, present, and truthful with yourself when making big decisions.

Homework:

The next time you feel yourself thinking about a big life decision and coming to a conclusion, ask yourself if you looked at it from every angle you could think of in regards to it affecting your life goals.

Was it a signing up for a mini-marathon? Was it about getting more serious with your current significant other? Was it about taking a job that paid more?

Naturally, without knowing specific goals, these all seem like they would be good things in your life to do if you have the opportunity.

But that might not be the case:

If you sign up for a mini-marathon too late and unprepared, your body isn’t going to appreciate it. You just can’t wing it.

If you want to get more serious with someone you have conflicts with regularly… is that the best person you could get serious with?

If a job is going to pay more but it makes you relocate AND makes you work more hours – is that really helping you towards your goals and aspirations?

Next time you have a great opportunity, think more about how it affects the dreams that you’ve set out to achieve, and less about the immediate impact of it.

5 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Personal Strengths

 

One of the things that I believe is necessary for people to perform at a high performance level on their life journey is to become aware of what they’re naturally good at in life. I’ve mentioned several books that you can learn about this with (StrengthFinders and Standout are my top two), but this really is the beginning of your journey.

The next step of leveling up in life is working on these strengths. In the video above, John mentions that you need to focus on your strengths and not on your weaknesses. However, he doesn’t exactly say how you can do that.

Here are some strategies that I’ve used in the past which will help you improve your personal strengths.

Gain Experience

When I was a kid, one of the coolest things to look forward to during the school year was when we would go on field trips. I think as a kid, you want to go because it’s a change of scenery from the regular class room. Also, the longer it took to get to the destination, so that meant more time you had on the bus to mess around.

Those days were awesome.

Looking back, though, I think those field trips had more lasting impressions on me on what I remembered than talking about the same thing in class. Was it because of the change of the routine? Sure. Perhaps that’s what started the the vivid memories, but being fully engaged in the environment I’m sure helped as well. Whether it was a trip to the Children’s Museum in Indy to study dinosaurs, or a trip to Metamora to learn about canals and to ride a train, those were the days that very particular memories have stuck with me.

Later in college I had lab segments for many of my courses. Professors said that these sections were for hands on learning. Well, I’ll tell you, I was horrible at many of the in class activities we had. (I was so horrible in lab that I came close to failing most practicals!)

However, thinking back now I realize that if it wasn’t for the lab section of many of my undergrad courses, that I wouldn’t have done as well in the rest of the course.

In both situations, I can think back now and realize how important those times were, even though (especially in the case of the lab sections) the material stretched me a little bit. Today, I compare many of the road trips I’ve been on with my past field trips. Likewise, when it comes to doing things that I’ve never done, I can think about the labs that I was in and think “Well, I know nothing can be that bad!”.

In the end, it’s that hard earned experience that will launch you further than if you just passively heard about it. It gives you confidence that you know what’s going to come up around the bend. Having dealt with similar situations before really helps you be confident in that you can handle whatever you’re doing with ease. And it also means that you can share something with others about how it went last time.

Get Feedback

Verification is key. Just ask any comedian.

Do you know why comedians are really funny when you just hear about them and then later they’re not as much? It’s because until the point where you’ve heard them, they’ve probably been working on that same joke routine for 5 to 15 years! From small audience to larger audience, to finally getting noticed by Comedy Central and then possibly on to sitcoms – they’re working on the same material.

After the Comedy Central Special has aired or the sitcom has run its course, what happens to these successful comedians? Many would say they go underground.  It could be that, sure. Another thought is that they haven’t had time to get their new material as polished as their old stuff… or they just don’t feel the need to!

Similarly, when you’re doing an activity that utilizes your strengths, make sure you’re asking for feedback. For one, it makes you better at your strengths. And two, it might just keep you relevant to your potential audience!

Keep a Journal (Write Stuff Down)

Ok, so as you might be aware, I recently started writing down weekly plans. This has been game changing and I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks now. I now know why teachers have to lesson plan. It’s amazing the difference of work you can get done when you plan out when you’re going to work and get stuff down.

On top of this, I’m also keeping ideas down as part of my daily journaling. Journaling is just as important as the weekly planning because it’s really easy to later examine what you’ve already done.

Writing things down is also important because it just stares back at you. It doesn’t change. You can keep coming back to it and adding. Obviously, the opposite of that, simply speaking things and trying to remember them… is not so functional. It’s real easy to go from one idea to the next. Never really planning anything out.

Just get things recorded and you’ll later be able to act on them or make them better. (In fact, a recommendation that Pat has is using sticky notes if you’re looking to brainstorm. He does this for books.)

Participate in a Mastermind (or another type of study group)

Think tanks, masterminds, roundtables, or simply small groups – whatever you call them – can be huge. Not only do you get the benefit of immediate feedback, but you also have the benefit of multiple people contributing to making each other better. Throwing an idea out and reflecting upon it with a group is obviously going to have much better results than you just working on it yourself or with one other individual.

Follow in the Footsteps of Others

One of the sayings that I’ve heard over and over about being mentored and/or coached on a strength is that particular mentor or coach has probably seen it before. So the question is, “Do you want to find the land mines yourself or would you like to know where they are and get through the path faster?”

Personally, I’d like to know where the potential problems are going to be and learn from others about them.

To do this, you can either personally interact with someone 1on1 (probably expensive) or you can spend time reading books and online resources that they have produced. Either way, just one hour a day spent towards using these resources will help you grow a great deal. Depending on the topic, after a month or so, the results of study and fine tuning start compounding and you’ll notice a great difference.

Homework

Ever since I started on my self development path back in 2006, I’ve believed that we should focus on growing our strengths, and get help on our weaknesses. Once you figure out what your strengths are (again, I’m a Connector and a Teacher according to Standout), work on gaining experience doing those strengths, getting feedback, keeping a journal, participating in groups, and studying great resources. You’ll find that your efforts in these areas will pay great dividends in your personal growth.

If you have already started developing your strengths, I’d love to hear how you did it. Was it one of the ways above or something completely different?