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The good isn’t the good without the bad.
Mistakes are imperative and to be seen as adjustments necessary for the right direction. Instead of focusing on what has already happened, we must pull all our mental energy towards what is ahead, readying ourselves for the upcoming hurdle and the next failure. How we react to adversity speaks a lot louder than the adversity does itself.
“If I look back at my biggest failures, they’re the aspects of my life I’m most grateful for. If you think about yours, I’m sure you’d agree… Time spent worrying is time wasted, let me tell you that for free.”
Kickstart your passions.
If you’re passionate about something, why don’t you write about it? Why not set up a social-media page for it? You don’t need to get caught up with how many followers you have nor the likes. That’s just you subconsciously quantifying the success, solely on the herd instinct.
Fall in love with the process and see what happens. You may monetize in a few years, you may not. There are no rules and this is not a finite game.
If posting about your passion brings you a bit of pleasure, then you’re winning already. Many don’t experience that in life. If you enjoy crafting wooden tables, then make them and find a marketplace to sell. Who doesn’t need a custom-made table in their house? Or even just do it for fun. Do yourself a favor and go do the stuff you love.
Shoot for the long game. There’s no end in life and business.
A game of rugby has a beginning, a half-time and a final whistle to end the game. There are rules laid out and the game can be won or lost. It’s a finite game. However in the games of business, life, finances, social media or even love, you can’t win forever, because there are no rules and no end.
If you think of the most successful and brilliant minds of our time – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs – none of them has aimed for short, finite wins. They have a long-game mentality, not to winning alone, but more importantly, changing the status quo, the way people see things currently. Even their mission statements reflected their infinite mentality:
- Amazon: Earth’s most customer-centric company.
- Google: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
‘Right now’ is where you have the most control.
Your past has already happened. Your future is malleable but it’s not in your full control. So what you’re left with is right now. To make judgements based on your past is to make the same mistake as million do each day, falling victim to sunk cost fallacy, remaining invested in the past and not the presence.
Every day is a page in a book. You should never turn back a page or skip a chapter or worry about what’s next. Staying focused on the page in hand will give you the most of the book.
Stress (whether it’s physical or mental) makes us stronger.
If we look at growing muscles, we need stress. We need damage, followed by a well-earned break to grow and come back stronger. But there’s also a turning point at which you over-train and it has a diminishing return. Finding the ‘sweet spot’ calls for the ability to dial up when you want to and to ease off when required. The sweet spot requires freedom and it requires you to look beyond just the money – like a fitness guru looking for the optimal environment for muscle growth.
“Someone with a great work-life balance on an average salary is far wealthier than a stressed, tired and overworked millionaire. Always keep that in mind.”
Avoid confirmation bias. Stay open to new ideas.
“When I say the sea is safe, you’ll think of the last shark attack. When I say planes are safe, you’ll think about the last plane to crash. When I say long-distance relationships are not a good idea, you’ll tell me about how Steve and Sandra managed to make it work and it’s been ten years.”
The confirmation bias is a phenomenon whereby people make a decision to confirm their existing idea or belief (and ignore or discredit evidence to the contrary). So if you believe the sea is full of hungry sharks or the skies are full of falling planes, you won’t listen or credit anything. Your mind has already been made up.
On the one hand, we worry about sharks when we think about swimming in the sea. But on the other hand, we get butterflies in our stomachs when we buy a lottery ticket, thinking we might win. Why is it that our minds work like this? The answer is simple. Our minds have been programmed to do so.
Stop believing the lottery. Start believing yourself.
If you want a way out or a better quality of life, you’ll need to work for it. Want a good place or invest $10? Try a book instead of a scratch-card. The lottery winners are paraded in the news to feed your bias, to conjure anomaly in front of your eyes, to deceive you into thinking you stand a chance. Don’t stand for it. Don’t expect it to come along and make it easy. Because that goes against how the universe works.
“Buying a lottery ticket, to me, belongs to the mindset of leaving luck to govern the outcome of your financial position. Not only do I find it a poor value to ‘wish for’ in life, I think that each time you buy a ticket you demotivate yourself in the actual pursuit of what you want in the subconscious belief that you can win it instead.”
Confidence begins with self-belief, which you have to earn.
Confidence isn’t just about what you say, it’s about how you say it, your body language, your course of action and how you present or market yourself in every moment. You can’t buy self-belief or top it up overnight. It comes from your identity and how you perceive yourself.
“I see confidence as a skill, just like learning to do a snatch in Olympic lifting or practising a golf shot. You must be overzealous at times and a degree of audacity is imperative. Carry yourself tall, walk with your chest out, shoulders back and don’t worry about being wrong. Practice confidence; hold people’s gaze and don’t be afraid to wait until they look away first.”
Imagine confidence as a fabric. You must stretch it or it’ll stay the same.
It takes repetition, too, the more frequently you stretch the fabric, the more you’ll grow. There are no rules as to the elasticity of this fabric. The way it acts is not governed by physics and there’s no fixed amount of strength required to pull on it.
A stand-up comedian stretches theirs at the small venues, repeating the same jokes, night in and night out, building up to the grand tour in front of thousands in an arena. The rate at which you stretch is governed by you and you alone. If you get nervous speaking in front of people, it is because of the feeling you choose to feel about it. You just need to tear down your self-imposed rules to stretch your fabric of confidence.
“Some people interestingly think standing in a toilet cubicle with your hands over your head as power pose before a big event is going to increase your confidence tenfold, but I think that attitude does a huge disservice to the small battles won each day on the way to becoming the confident person who wins the job interview.”
Stretching the fabric: Self-worth
Jump onto Instagram and it’s not long before you find a picture of someone in perfectly acceptable shape pinching their fat with a caption that mentions something to do with self-esteem. It’s how we feel about ourselves. Feeling worse about ourselves is profitable. Think about it… from anti-wrinkle cream to falling behind on fashion trends or not being in good shape to fit with a perceived norm. Poor self-esteem makes very good customers.
Self-esteem is not a fabric that can be stretched like confidence. You can’t count to three and step outside your zone like you can with confidence. So what determines self-esteem?
Interestingly, self-esteem ties closely with our values and is defined as net worth for many people. How much they’re worth is usually based upon their place within a social hierarchy. This is usually fed by income, material possessions and social network.
What influences your self-worth.
Who you know and your social circle can have big impacts on your perception of yourself-worth. Some people can rate their status on who they know, who’s important and what influence they have. For some, what they do is often a big factor in self-esteem. This is highly influenced by culture but there’s often a stigma with certain processions (such as teaching), while some may consider a doctor or banker to be at a more important professional level. What you achieve is also a big player in self-esteem; for some, being the most qualified in the room is of the utmost importance in improving their self-esteem and therefore perceived self-worth.
Then finally we have the appearance factor. We all know about the peculiar obsession with how much we weigh and look. You know what James is talking about when someone flirts with you, asks you out or even hears a murmur that someone finds you attractive.
Every single negative thing has a silver lining.
“Moving back to the parents because I’m skint? More family time. Your dog is sadly having to be put down? One less mouth to feed and to worry about until you give a new dog a perfect home. Gained a lot of weight? A chance to take some time to work on you… Just remember our problems are only as big as we make them. They only affect us when we let them.”
It’s very important we have this mindset because we’ll always have problems. James realized that people brought up without real problems are some of the first to struggle with anxiety and sometimes depression. We should sometimes count on our problems as a blessing.
Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.” – Charles-Louis de Montesquieu
A single coin makes the most noise in an empty jar.
Having one single problem in life makes you feel amplified. That’s normal. Enjoy your problem and appreciate all the good things that come with solving them.
After all, we cannot wish for a life without problems. So we are better off discovering silver linings that lie hidden within our problems.
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