Thursday, 28 June 2012

Personal Development Defined

Recently I was having a conversation with my family and my caring (read concerned!) mother, asked me what I was up to these days. When my response included 'personal development' she asked me for clarification and what I meant. I thought for a moment and realised this was indeed a good question, especially as personal development can and does cover so many areas.

I thought the best way to describe it (and the way I have understood personal development to be for the last 25 years or so) is from the great George Zalucki, and I quote:

"If you do not take responsibility for being alive,
if you do not take responsibility for developing the gifts that
you have, if you do not take responsibility for contributing
to the rest of humanity, in each of those areas to the degree
you don't take responsibility, to that degree you shall
trade off the quality of your life."

That for me encompasses everything we need to take on board as part of our dynamic personalities, if we are indeed to live our lives to the full. Everything else which makes up our unique personalities that we place under the heading of personal development, all relates to that statement; confidence, goal setting, living life at cause, responsibility, health, wealth, it's all there. In fact the list is endless. 

Anything that makes us think about whether we are doing our best at any given moment, not only for ourselves and our families, but for humanity also, is worth analysis and course adjustment where necessary. For the question I thank my mother, and for the enduring answer I thank Mr Zalucki. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Purpose of a Plan, No-one Else's Plan, YOUR Plan!

Now, if someone pointed out that the purpose of a plan was to make something a reality, you'd probably laugh at them for being so obvious. In fact, it sounds silly doesn't it. Yet how many of us have mistaken planning for the actual 'work?' I know I have.

I can recall personal development seminars and trainings where delegates were often asked to write things down they wanted to achieve, together with all the steps and processes involved to make whatever a reality. We all went away feeling we'd partly achieved our objectives. And then... nothing. Nada. Zip.

I even recall spending hours, days, even weeks of precious time (ask my wife!) working on all sorts of strategies to achieve a particular goal, filling note pads with scribble, completing endless research, then doing nothing with the results! Big oops! 

So, of course this got me thinking (these sorts of things usually do!) Then it struck me. There was never any real emphasis placed on the action steps beyond the planning process. How to bring the goal to life. And often times my notes and plans were so complex I was never likely to take action from them, because the whole project looked like a cross-section of an Encyclopedia Britannica - and I knew it! Hands up those who have done the same!

Another 'a-ha' moment followed shortly after: unless the goal you set as part of your planning is achievable AND inspirational, you won't take action to achieve it. And there you have it. Lots of plans, but not a single 'workable' one to begin the process with the likelihood of success. And because of this rather large factor ie. success not much of a probability, the project was shelved and yet more research sought. Don't make the same mistake!

I find it much simpler now to have one big plan, but to be working on much smaller, more achievable steps or goals which make up the whole. Again, sounds obvious (and I'm sure many people have encouraged this approach) but I'm sure it wasn't the folks from the seminars and trainings!

So, as we're all on our own personal journeys of discovery ie. finding out what works for us as individuals, I thought I'd share this with you so it might save you some time. It has worked for me (and continues to do so). Perhaps you'd like to share what has worked for you?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Power of Belief. Now that IS Power

I always tend to think about the power of belief whenever I see England play football! And the simple reason is because there always seems to be so little of it. Now don't get me wrong, I would love to see 'our lads' go all the way and reach the final, and (Heaven forbid) win it? Na, that's going a little too far surely (you did see Spain vs France last night, right?)

Many notable authors have described belief in such a way that us mere mortals could understand it, and more importantly apply it, but I prefer the law of belief which states quite simply 

"Whatever you believe, with conviction, becomes your reality." 

Amazing. In fact, absolutely incredible. Please read that again just to be sure it makes the kind of impact it deserves.

If you're a football fan (of sorts) and you've seen any of the (now playing) Euro 2012, you may have seen Ronaldo playing for Portugal. He gave such a convincing performance and the impression that he would go on running all over the pitch until he scored. His 'belief' was such that he KNEW he or his team were going to score, and more importantly win. And so far he's been right.

Was any of that 'belief' evident in ANY of England's games? If it was, I sure as hell missed it, and yet I feel the entire British nation wants our squad to burst upon the football pitch with conviction and play to win. And it's not just been this tournament. The media even have it on good authority from Gerrard that the England squad will be present and give a performance as if a performance was not given during any of their previous games (not many would argue!)

So, why am I having a rant here? Italy vs England tonight. 7pm. 

Jesus said "According to your faith be it unto you." 

So, just how do we get 'more' belief? Apparently all beliefs are learned according to Josh Billings who says "It ain't what a man knows what hurts him, it's what he knows what ain't true." 

So perhaps in the case of our beloved England squad, there's such a huge expectation to repeat the 1966 World Cup Final win every time we enter a tournament. The entire British nation is always looking for that next sign that we're going to pull it off in every contest England enters. In reality however, the squad 'knows' it can't pull it off. Several long gone world cup tournaments later without a win must be right? And there you have it - a self-fulfilling prophecy.

William James puts it this way "Belief creates the actual fact."

So, until we win, we won't believe we can win. But surely belief in winning must come AFTER the fact? And haven't England been winning up to this point? True. But there are larger more difficult hurdles to overcome just around the corner. But as England's new manager Roy Hodgson points out, he's only concentrating on the game in hand - and well done to him. One win at a time builds that all important belief.

So, come on England, believe in yourself (the nation does really) and let's get through this round to the next for that (always) epic battle against Germany. I for one can't wait.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make it count

Recently I read a sad but interesting story about how so many people go to their graves with their music still in them. In other words they never realised their full potential or developed their unique gifts to contribute and share with the world. And it got me thinking. To begin with, if I were to look back over my schooling (and I'm not attributing blame here), discussing and preparing for life ahead never got a mention.

I accept schooling prepares students by following a certain curriculum, to prepare for further education. But somewhere in between these two places decisions need to be made to form a direction in life.

For some, a clear path is immediately evident, but for others (the majority) more thought is required. Again at no particular point was the subject of one's future discussed, or any of the milestones along the way come to that, like marriage, children, savings (heaven forbid!), a pension, career advancement or increasing one's value (by the way, I recommend Earl Nightingale's program 'Lead The Field' which will save you years of work.)

Who Needs Experience
To make matters worse and to provide some form of evidence here, we often hear about the increasing numbers of young people who leave further education with few chances of work. The often fall prey to any old job which pays because they don't have the experience for the job they really want. The paradox is one where the job in question requires the applicant to have experience where no experience is possible without the job.

It might be a better idea to decide what one wants from life first. Then develop a plan around how best to achieve it. Again, doesn't get a mention. What we see all too often are talented young people with desire and aspiration who settle for any job to gain 'experience' even though the 'job' often doesn't match their God given talents or aspirations. It's right here that the soft furrow of a future rut develops! 

How Many Careers Have You Had So Far?
It's common for most of us to pass through at least seven (yes, seven) different careers during our working lives - not jobs, careers! Is this a good sign do you think? I mean, we do change over time - our goals, our aspirations. Are we then a square peg in a round hole for most of our working lives? (refer back to my first point at the beginning of this article) And what do we do? We complain. How do I know all this? Because this was me.

How Happy Are You
Let me ask you a question; How many people do you know or at least think there are, who are unhappy in their work? Let me put it another way; how many people do you know who are happy in their work? I can't think of more than a few. Can you? 

Maybe this accounts for the startling results from a recent Harris Poll which states that 72% of American households are considering starting a home based business.

For more on this click on this link and watch this short video which explains why we should be pursuing a career which brings us joy.
Nowadays it's easy to set our sights a little low, especially with today's social pressures, unemployment etc, as it appears to be easier than holding out for the work we want right? But what about those God given talents each of us possess - you know, the ones which keep reminding us gently in the background about what we should be doing. 

Responsibility - That Word Again
Isn't it about time we sat up and took notice and responsibility for the results which are now our lives? Allow me to quote the great George Zalucki:

"If you do not take responsibility for being alive, if you do not take responsibility for developing the gifts that you have, if you do not take responsibility for contributing to the rest of humanity, in each of those areas to the degree that you do not take responsibility, to that degree you shall trade off the quality of your life." 

Wow. Read that again just to be sure you've got it. Now if we take a good, hard look at our own lives we find, in some cases, that we have indeed sold ourselves short and aimed far below that which we should have. But there is a silver lining to this story.

Are You One of The 224 Million?
If we go back to the 72% of Americans looking to start their own business survey, let's look in more detail at those numbers; it shows us that from a population of over 311 million (July 2011), approx 224 million people are unhappy with their current work. Wow. More importantly, that same number want to do something about it - and that's just the USA! That's the good news. People are waking up and saying "Enough is enough, I want to make a difference and develop the gifts that I have and reap the benefits of the seeds I have sown." Amen to that. 

Like-Minded People Support
But what do you do if you happen to be one of the 224 million looking to start your own work from home business? I've found the best place to start without question is within a community of like-minded individuals supporting each other to succeed. In those early days, a support network is vital - ask any coach. These are people who all started from the same point and learned the skills necessary to build a real business according to their skills, their talents and their abilities - not someone else's idea of success.

Discover the bad news and the good news before you consider any type of home based business to give yourself the best chance of success.

After all, the clock is ticking!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Home / Life Balance Versus New Home-based Business

Your Very Own Home-Based Business. Can You Pull It Off?
According to a recent Harris poll, 72% of American households are thinking about starting a home-based business. But... have you ever stopped to think about the impact this might have on your home / life balance? Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that you shelve your plans, but have you ever wondered how all those successful folks pull it off? I know I have. 

As someone on my own voyage of discovery and betterment, I have all my good reasons for making my home-based business a success - I'm sure you have too. But what about the cost to you and your family? It takes time to build a business, especially from home - don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

How Long Will It Take
I think it's worth preparing you here for the sheer amount of time it's likely to take. Now there are plenty of less than scrupulous folks out there who will tell you (should read 'sell you') that success can be yours more or less overnight with their 'system.' Ask any successful home-based business owner, and they will likely tell you the real cost in terms of time and commitment - and one factor will be to be a realistic goal right from the start.

So what does it take to succeed working from home? Well, apart from your regular home-based business (whatever it may be for you), the following is by no means an exhaustive list of some of the things to consider before you start. Simply add your ideas as they spring to mind because your life and commitments will be unique to you of course:

Full-time or Part-time
Do you intend to continue your full-time job until you can replace your full-time income with your work-from-home business? (this is most common, and a factor often overlooked as the prospect of working from home can be an exciting one). As a result, decide what proportion of your free time you will allocate to your new business (your free time away from your present full-time job).

Do you need to learn new skills to succeed with your work-from-home business? Bear in mind you probably spent several years in education before embarking on your present career.

What Does It Mean To Work Two Jobs?
A home-based business means time spent away from your family / children / husband / wife. Never underestimate the amount of time it takes to work two jobs - especially if the work from home business is designed to replace your full-time income. Chances are you've spent many years getting to your present position (and income), and you're unlikely to supersede this in a matter of months. Set realistic time frames and discuss them with your partner. More importantly agree on your time commitments and plan family activities around them.

Set Realistic Goals
Be realitic about how long it will take to supersede your full-time income. I know someone who was still working her full-time job whilst earning over $50,000 a month from her 'part-time' job! (wouldn't we all love to be in that position!).

Learn To Be Flexible
Learn to be flexible and factor in the need to improve. Remember as you improve, so do your results. The better you get the better it gets! Be prepared to amend your performance, expectations, and goals and discipline yourself to follow-through.

If I could send you out into the world and research this one word, you would get an education beyond all educations as to why you need to hang in there when your mind tells you to quit. But this article is not about your reasons to succeed - we could easily get off track which brings me to my next point...

Make Best Use Of Your Available Time
Mobile phones, emails, social media, telephone calls, visits, household chores and numerous other distractions are simply that, distractions. Minimise them and remind yourself why you're spending valuable time working at home. It's to build a better life for you, your family and your loved ones. Facebook and ebay can wait.

Evauate Your Progress And Be Honest
Monitor and evaluate even on a daily or task by task basis. Knowing where you are is the best indicator of performance against targets. If you've been working your home-based business for six months and you're barely making an income, ask yourself honestly why:
  • have you chosen a good business model to follow? 
  • are you putting in the time you allocated yourself? 
  • are you spending your valuable time productively?
  • are you disciplining yourself to take action towards your goals?

    Only you know the answers.
  • Do you need another plan?

Reward Your Successes
Even a simple reward can do wonders for your self-esteem and motivation. Remember to reward yourself with every successful step taken towards your work-from-home targets. The time you've spent will seem like less of a bind if you can see some progress. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day! And it makes you feel good. Remember the cycle of success: discipline, results, enthusiasm.

Follow The Signs Life Presents Uniquely To You Every Day

Today I was reminded of a story of a man who believed a miracle would save him whilst ignoring signs all around him that would lead him to safety.

The man was a faithful devotee of God and believed that He would help him in times of trouble. The man lived in a small village which was about to be overwhelmed by a great flood.

Firstly, the man was warned by neighbours of the impending flood; "Leave your home they urged, and find higher ground for you will surely drown if you stay where you are."

The man refused saying; "God will not abandon me, I will stay in my home and be spared."

Not long after, the water began to rise forcing the man to the upper floor of his home, whereupon a man in a passing boat offered him safe passage to dry land. The man refused declaring once again that God would save him.

As the waters continued to rise, the man was forced onto the roof of his home wherupon a helicopter appeared and offered to winch the man to safety. Again the man refused believing that God would save him. The waters continued to rise and the man was swept away and drowned.

When the soul of the drowned man appeared before God in Heaven, he complained that inspite of his faith, God did not help him. Then God smilingly asked the soul “Who said I did not help you? I tried to help you thrice by first offering you the warning, then the man in the boat, then the helicopter. But you foolishly refused it all. What else could I do but let you drown?”

People usually believe that if they pray to God everything will be given to them (emphasis on the 'given'). This is not entirely true. God will help only those who are willing to help themselves. In other words, we must put in our own effort in order to help ourselves. It's like the man who sat in front of the stove and said "Give me heat, then I'll add the wood."

If we find ourselves in a situation (often of our own making), and do nothing but believe that God will miraculously get us out of it, we are bound to meet with frustration. In fact the miracle we seek in this type of situation will seldom come, if at all.

Think of the times each day when you receive or become aware of a sign or a course of action which would move you forward, but you choose to ignore it. Each one of us receives these signs every day. They might come in the form of a hunch, or a gut feeling but you'll know it when it happens. I have a single friend who is always telling me about all these attractive women he sees, but never does anything about. Do you think he might have a similar conversation with God like the man who drowned?!

Whatever your goals in life, be willing and vigilant to look for the signs which will direct you towards that which you seek. Rest assured they are there. Pay attention, recognise them when they present themselves, and more importantly, follow them. They will accumulate, miraculously so, to raise you to your own piece of higher ground from which to enjoy a view of your own making.