Archive for the 'Success' Category

>Your Job is (not) Important

>There are two ways to look at the world of work. One says that your job is important, and the other says that it’s not. By “job” I mean whatever activities you engage in on a regular basis which require you to perform tasks for which you are paid based upon the time you spent—one way or the other. For all but a fortunate few, this is something you would not do for free, because you do not necessarily enjoy it—being “work” and all.

We spend most of our waking hours engaged in these activities which earn us money to pay for the rest of our lives (the happiness parts). The question is whether our jobs are important or not. Either might be true, depending on your specific case. Without any real thought, it is easy for a person to assume his job is important simply because it is an important source of income for him. Or conversely, it is easy to assume that one’s job is unimportant, simply because it does not come with a title or other recognition.

But whether your job is important or not depends greatly on its actual impact. You’re either changing the world or you’re not. You’re either growing a future for yourself and your family, or your digging yourself into a rut. Strangely, these two views pretty much come from the same source. The actual importance of your job will be the long-term decider both for the impact you have on the world for good, and the future you will grow for yourself and your family.

Because we tend to see only what is most readily visible, the “gold bars,” corner offices, and other symbols of rank can be used in large organizations to create the illusion of importance. A position might appear important, and everyone might believe it is important…however, consider whether the quality of work done in the position changes anything. If either a virtuoso or a buffoon fills to position, does it change the fate of the organization?

It should be noted that in many corporations (and other organizations of similar structure) that the answer to this question is designed to be a resounding “no!” The old school way of doing business is to assume you’re a buffoon until proven otherwise. Therefore, most of the power is placed in central positions like the CEO, et al. In these positions, it matters, but only to the fate of the company. If the company isn’t making a great deal of change in the world, than neither is the CEO.

Ultimately, it is important to remember that our jobs are only as important as we make them. Whether or not your company is keeping you down or lifting you up, it is up to you to do important work. If the powers that be don’t like what you’re doing, then perhaps its not the place for you. Don’t marry the job, marry the work.

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>Ob Petere

>”Competition” is an interesting word. It’s also a charged word. While it doesn’t have a lot of definitions, it does have a lot of surface applications that can be confused with different meanings. It can also be used to justify actions or lack of actions, in certain contexts. It can be fun or it can be serious. It can build up an organization or tear it down.

Probably the most common usage of the word is in reference to the “friendly” competition of athletics and the like. The second, then, comes in describing a commercial concept. In both cases, competition implies that some person (or group) is winning and another is losing. To win a competition, one must simply rank better than the opposition during officially measured trials. Therefore, the goal of competition has become the defeat of the opposition.

I am only a novice when it comes to linguistics, but a quick search of the word “competition” reveals that it comes from the Latin, “competere,” which means “to strive for”—from “com-” meaning “together” and “petere” meaning “aim at, seek.” While the word came to mean “rivalry” in late Latin before entering the English vocabulary, its early meaning did not include the concept of opposition. As you can see, it included a prefix which means “together.”

The idea of striving for something together seems rather alien in our contemporary culture. More commonly we think in terms of striving against someone or something. This mentality about competition has shown itself historically to motivate improvement on all sides. There hardly seems like any point to playing sports if it isn’t to defeat the other teams. To do so, the players must improve themselves—both as individuals and as a team.

The same advantage applies to the commercial sense of the word. Historically, nations that allow businesses to complete generate more innovation and subsequent prosperity than those that either do not allow free enterprise, or highly regulate it. The reason is the same as it is in athletic competition: for anyone who wishes to run a successful business (win the competition), there is pressure to improve the quality of the goods and services he provides.

Unfortunately, the mentality of striving against (or “obpetere” with “ob-” meaning “against”) the competition tends to promote practices which are not conducive to prosperity, even if they technically count as winning. Basically, I mean endeavoring in any pursuit—legal or illegal—which handicaps the competition. This ranges from outright sabotage to lobbying for laws that favor your business other others.

It’s cheating. It’s destructive, degenerative, and wrong.

Instead of focusing on beating the competition, people who endeavor for success should focus on creating value, ignoring the competition. It may be that looking back at the competition periodically is important for success, but confusing success with simply being better than the next guy will never allow you to reach your full potential. It is far more important to the world that you (or anyone seeking success) develop the mentality of “striving together.”

In other words, competition serves the primary function of democratic growth, wherein the participating populace is collectively inspired and motivated to improve the whole. It is not because we are forced or brainwashed into improving the whole, but because we stand to gain both recognition and monetary reward for ourselves from winning an honest competition. The operative word here is “honest.”

If the primary focus is on creating value, then rewards are given for reaching this goal, not cheating others out of it.

>Emergency Leadership

>As with anything, the topic of leadership can be split and subdivided any any number of ways, but if we look at the multitude of environments which catalyze leaders, there are basically two types of leadership. The first, is emergency leadership, and the second is—drum roll please!—non-emergency leadership.

Emergency leadership is whenever a person stands up in the face of disaster and says, “Let’s do this.” I use the word “disaster” loosely here because the most obvious examples—in news media and fiction, say—are disasters. Whenever there is an earthquake, a flood, a fire, a plane crash, a train crash, a terrorist bomb, etc, certain people stand up and say, “Let’s roll!” However, less public examples include late bills, traffic jams, broken copy machines, and marital spats.

Emergency leadership so often takes center stage in media because, for one, leadership of any kind is rare, and two, fixing a disaster looks so heroic. Tales of heroism have long been an important mainstay to the storytelling tradition. Stories of disaster and the brave men and women who led the people out of the darkness are as easy to relate for the teller as they are to envision by the listener. And they pass along portable lessons which are inspirational and valuable in less obvious crises.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0743269519&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThe trouble with focusing solely on emergencies, as mainstream media tends to do, is that it teaches to—and therefore re-enforces—a reactionary paradigm. Many, if not most, emergencies are the result of too little proactive leadership—or non-emergency leadership. As Stephen Covey says in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” most people focus on tasks that are “urgent”—whether or not they are important.

Proactive leadership is preventative maintenance. Many of the tasks performed are not heroic or glamorous, even though they are important.

In their quest for success, many ambitious people fall short of their potential because they seek the recognition that comes with heroically putting out fires. While putting out fires is certainly important, fires (even figurative ones) cause permanent damage which stunts growth long-term. Fires also take more time and energy to put out than sparks, and so reactionary leaders tend to waste valuable resources needed to prevent fires in the first place.

Despite popular opinion, the problem is not caused solely by “greedy hotrods.” Many people simply lack the mental ability to recognize tasks that are important, but not urgent. It’s not that they are stupid, just unlearned. Abstract concepts start with concrete examples, which is why stories of emergency leadership is so pervasive. It is important to grab a hold of an example, such as Jack Shepherd, from my favorite TV show, LOST.

Being a doctor, he reacted to the plane crash with the use of his expertise, and gained the position of leader, even though he didn’t want it. However, his reactionary style continued long after the crash, when the survivors had settled into a sort of lifestyle—or “normalcy.” Jack goes on to orchestrate acts of defiance against the other people on the Island who presented themselves as a threat.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B00005JNOG&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThough he eventually learns to bide his time, he never really learns to be proactive. Interestingly, it is Sawyer, the “bad boy” of the survivors’ camp who goes on to learn about being proactive. In a memorable scene, he tells Jack about Winston Churchill, who he says “read a book every night, even during the Blitz.” His point is not far from Covey’s 7th Habit, “Sharpening the Saw.” Or in other words, preparing for the unknown.

Once you understand the principles behind the first type of leadership, it is important to dig deeper in order to get better at preventing the disasters that are within your area of influence. Once the disaster is over, the war brought to peace, and the fires put out, it is imperative to understand what went wrong so we can change our habits before they lead to another disaster. In so doing, we save a lot of time, energy, and even lives.

>A Big Comfortable Tree

>Personal development media is about pushing your limits and expanding your capacity and abilities. By identifying weak points and blind spots, then learning to work with or around them, we maximize our potential for success in whatever area of life we choose to focus. Inherently, this process requires that you “get out of your comfort zone.” In other words, it is impossible to grow if you seek comfort over growth.

However, when dealing with people outside oneself, it is very important to be likeable. Fundamental to likeability is being comfortable to be around. If you’re uncomfortable with yourself, it shows. Worse, it has a tendency to make other people uncomfortable, too. When this happens too often, you destroy your ability to be likeable.

So the first question you should ask yourself about success (after “what is success to me?”) is “how do I remain comfortable outside my comfort zone?” Fortunately, there is a difference between the internal comfort that makes you easy to like, and the external discomfort you have to endure in order to expand your capacity. The only challenge remains in learning to identify that difference.

Internal comfort comes from understanding yourself, then channelling your strengths. Learning which projects to tackle—and which to ignore—based upon your own personal passions and weaknesses is empowering. When you start to make headway with this process, you will naturally increase your self-confidence. When you increase your self-confidence, you become more comfortable with yourself—and more comfortable to be around.

Once you understand your unique State of FITness (or FITstate), you will be better able to manage the frustration created by pushing your external comfort zone. As I have illustrated before, a FITstate is the naturally defined balance of relevant elements, which are combined in harmony to enable the highest climb with the most stability. Like a healthy tree, the higher the reach, the broader its expanse can be—based upon the given nature of that particular tree. The broader the expanse of “branches” fed by strong “roots”, the greater the possibilities for a fulfilling life.

Like a tree, our expanse of possibilities is stunted by an insufficient root system or poor soil, as well as by the available space in the canopy. However, unlike the tree, we can change our root situation, and in doing so, fairly negotiate for more canopy space and resources by which to fuel that new potential growth. This process is inherently painful because we naturally draw the boundaries of our comfort zones at the point where we decide the pain is “unbearable.” Roots are not easy to replant, nor is it easy to push new branches into unexplored territory.

However, when something you passionately want requires actions that are outside of your comfort zone (your existing expanse in the canopy), the pain can become more bearable. This is because things you are passionate about carry their own reward in the journey. You are more willing to fail—a necessity for learning—along a path to what you feel is a worthy goal, than you are along a path to something you are lukewarm about.

Once you know what you’re passionate about, you will know what to invest your time in. You never “spend” time on your passions, you “invest” time in your passions. If you are truly passionate about something, then even the failures are blessings, because you are interested enough in the project to find the lesson in the failure and try again. This perspective eliminates much of the frustration that comes from falling short of a goal on a path you’re simply lukewarm about. When you avoid frustration, you remain comfortable with yourself. When you avoid external discomfort (pushing limits), you become frustrated and uncomfortable with yourself.

So how about it? Would you like to be a big, comfortable tree?

>Celebrate You

>Whenever a greeting card holiday rolls around, I can't help but write posts about the frivolity of industries based on them. This time, I think I'll switch it up a bit. Valentine's Day might mean a burst of candy sales and restaurant reservations, but because it is a minor holiday, much of this is actually done out of love.

In contrast with Christmas, which I believe is driven by family obligation more than genuine love, Valentine's Day is easily ignored by those not in the spirit. Sure, you run into the candy displays, and your kids have their parties, but it's rare when someone is pushed into a Valentine's Day party who doesn't want to go. No, people largely choose to celebrate the day when they feel they have something to celebrate.

Which brings me to my topic: Why are there so many people who don't have anything to celebrate?

I've been happily married for five years, but I remember hating Valentine's Day. I wanted someone to spend the day with, but lacked prospects. The traditionally male role of finding a mate weighed heavily on me, and the day had a way of rubbing it in.

Being a man and an introvert, I struggled with performing the tasks of my "duty." I wasted enormous amounts of energy on planning, rather than doing. Here's the part where I'm supposed to offer the advice to just do it, and if you're an extrovert, that's exactly what you should do (man or woman).

However, if you are an introvert, the advice is somewhat different. It is not in your nature to do the asking. By the same token, it is also not in the nature of your ideal mate to be asked. If an introvert forces himself into a dominant role for the purpose of winning a mate, he will only win a mate that compliments that role. Going forward, he will be forced to maintain a counterfeit role, or abandon the relationship.

While there are aspects of the human heart that coincide with gender, personality traits are not sex-linked. This confusion is caused by the media's tendency to typecast the sexes through over-simplification of the human condition. Consequently, there are many of us that end up feeling like misfits or freaks, when we are actually perfectly healthy individuals.

Love is finding common ground, often between complete opposites. If you're comfortable with who you are, and you know what you stand for in life, then you'll "magically" attract people that compliment you—including, but not limited to, a traditional romantic relationship.

The reason so many people feel lost on Valentine's Day is because they don't understand themselves. It's okay if you're not suave, if you're just not. In relationships, your level of discomfort speaks louder than any gimmick used to make you seem better.

Jamie Klueck
theFITmedia.com

>Portable Lessons

>I’ve used this phrase before when describing the importance of Truth in Fiction. However, by its very nature, a portable lesson is something that can be learned anywhere. When I first started studying success principles, I was like most people. I didn’t understand how one thing related to another. I laughed at the concept that business principles had anything to do with raising a family.

It is true that many businesses are run by tyrants whom we would never want to have as patriarch of a family, but it is also true that many families are run by tyrants whom you would never want as a boss. On the flip side, it is a reality that there are both families and organizations run by people of integrity. In both cases, the lessons of one are easily transferrable to the other. The lessons a father learns from raising his children apply to leading a team of people, and vice versa.

The reason this is true is that all people respond the same to basic principles, regardless of gimmicks, that’s why they are basic principles. Helping people identify these and pattern a life-habits after them is the very essence of the Liberal Arts, and why the study and discussion of them is such an important lost practice. Today’s management/positional leadership culture is all about the gimmicks and strategies of getting people to do what you want, how you want it, when you want it. However, people want respect, they want to feel appreciated for their contributions, they want the freedom to pursue things they feel are important, and they need the time and space to do it in.

This runs perfectly counter to the dictatorship paradigm most management schools teach, and so media creators developed “solutions” in the form of endless gimmicks, tricks, bribes, and work-arounds. Endless patches to the human psyche by way of propaganda have brought us to the place in time where we believe that tyranny is the path to success in business, while avoiding relationships at home, is the path to success. We actually believe that one organization is different from another. The adage “people are like snowflakes” is true enough, but organizations are all the same. If you can’t treat your son or daughter the way you treat your employees without repercussions, chances are you aren’t really escaping those problems at work either.

Hence, portable lessons. Because of our complex culture, many of us work in organizations where it is difficult to perceive the total impact of our actions. Short of restructuring the organization tomorrow to allow more interaction between levels in a massive hierarchy, the solution to this problem is to simply look to areas where the impact of human relations is more apparent, then port those lessons to the workplace to give you a better handle on developing your influence and likability. Short of having a solid relationship, turn to the classic books.

These portable lessons are few and timeless. There is something to be said for the techniques of your industry or organization (even if its a family), but without a deep understanding of connecting principles which lead to integrity, you’re doomed to make the same mistake in every single relationship you have in life—and that’s a waste.

>Quality, Not Quantity

>There is a big difference between being long-winded and having a lot to say. Long-winded people—and I’m guilty of this—tend to fill up space with words and content that are empty. People who have something to say don’t waste a minute of your time conveying their message. Media today seems to err on the side of long-windedness.

It’s a classic case of quantity over quality. Proliferation tends to get more attention because it is so visible by its very nature. However, every individual or organization has a limited capacity for creation. To be extraordinarily prolific in words is to be extraordinarily deficient in content.

“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” –Macbeth, William Shakespeare

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=fitmedia-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0198324006&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrShakespeare saw the same thing in his day. As I understand it, plays at that time suffered from the overuse of “special effects” and battle scenes which were meant to captivate audiences but were merely gimmicks, adding little to the story. Today’s movies, television, books, and music all suffer from the overuse of time-consuming, value-deficient, “filler” content which represents an attempt to expand mediocre (or good, but brief) ideas into saleable media products, based upon what has worked in the past. In their rush for market share, executives kill the golden goose.

The context of the quote also suggests Shakespeare understood the parallel between people’s labor for success and the quality of the fruits of that labor. The character, Macbeth, had just learned of his wife’s death, and is articulating (not “proliferating”) how brief life is. Basically, this quote encapsulates the moral of the play. Macbeth realizes that his untimely rush for power and prestige ultimately became is undoing, whereas he was destined for success even if he had not rushed it.

Most people don’t even attempt to be a success, much less go too far. However, those that do push for greatness, often tend to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. Aside from the well-publicized tendency of driven people to cause direct harm to others, a more insidious and pervasive tendency exists. In a push for success, many people undermine the integrity of their projects simply by cutting corners and “padding” sparse content, rather than waiting until their idea reservoir is legitimately full.

The more solid the foundation—the significance part of the project—the more likely people are to discuss what you’re doing with others. The more discussion, the more likely you’ll get viral spread. Filling up space with long-windedness may be the quick way to get some attention, but if you have to work at keeping your audience, you’ll never get a break.


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Quotes

"For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction."

- Kahlil Gibran

"All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching?"
- Nicholas Johnson, author:
"We need the media to be presenting pictures of possibility not just continuing to be prophets of doom and gloom."
- Kevin Kelly, Wired

"How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it."

- Adam Smith
"And the science is overwhelming that for creative, conceptual tasks, those if-then rewards rarely work and often do harm."
- Daniel Pink, author: Drive

"I wish we had a Problem-Solver Party because we have very big problems that need solving. And I think a lot of our attention is addressed to the wrong problems."
- David McCullough, author: 1776
"The goal shouldn't be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen."
- Seth Godin, author: Tribes
"The role of the media is to disseminate information, highlight important current events, and to essentially stand as a witness, an observer of cultural, political, community, and educational events. A healthy media provides a check on the government and increases the political astuteness of republican citizens."
- Stephen Palmer, The Center for Social Leadership
"Advertisers and politicians rely on a half-educated public, on people who know little outside of their own specialty, because such people are easy to deceive with so-called experts, impressive technical or sociological jargon, and an effective set of logical and psychological tricks."
- Robert Harris
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
- John Adams
"I know no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but people. And if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them, but to inform them by education."
- Thomas Jefferson
"Fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise--as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine."
- Allan Bloom, author: The Closing of the American Mind
"He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
(Proverbs 13:20)
"If you are not a thinking man, to what purpose are you a man at all."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"I learn a lot from TV. Everytime someone turns one on, I go in the other room and read a book."
- Groucho Marx, comedian: Duck Soup
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought."
- Charles Kingsley