Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's never too late...

One thing I've learnt is that there is no time limit on getting a hold on your life and steering it to where you want it to go. I've also learnt that life tends to reward people who choose to follow their heart. It opens their eyes to the possibilities and opportunities out there and frees them to enjoy doing what they love. When you do what you love, all other things—fulfillment, happiness, even money—fall into place!

The thing is, though, that life tends to push you towards taking control. If we continue in the grind that is our unfulfilled life, ignoring the unhappiness we feel, excusing the miserableness in our gut, life will continue to challenge us (read: smack us in the face). You can continue to ignore this, but it never goes away. Being unhappy is a feeling that sinks in deep.

If you feel it's time for a change, make it happen. Start by drafting your plan, put it down on paper. Review it, refine it. Be as prepared as you can be, and then, when you feel the time is right, just go for it. Take control of your life, follow your heart...

It's never too late.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yearly review

Last week I had my yearly review at work. Being my first year, this was my first review. But what it really was, was my first yearly review ever. The first time I sat down and got reviewed by my manager—who is not my dad—just like every other employee.

It was awesome! Just sitting there and getting candidly reviewed, without the emotional/familial ties, was priceless.

I truly enjoyed it (and so did my ego)!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The list keeper

Keeping meticulous lists of who owes you what, in my mind, is as bad as holding a grudge. If you say things like: "I took him out for dinner, he owes me" or "I helped her with that project, she should be more grateful" or "I helped them with their mortgage, they should be more respectful" then you are not generous. You are not, because you did what you did with the expectation of getting something in return.

That's not how generosity works. There are no angles in generosity, no hidden agendas or motives. Generosity is the act of giving without expecting anything in return. If you are expecting, then you're just a dealer of favors (which is fine as long as you and the other person are aware of it).

The thing I learnt though, about being generous, is that it always comes back to you: people will want to be generous back to you. That's just the way it works.

There really is no point in keeping lists. None.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You have great ideas too

Here's a vivid memory I have from several years ago:
A management meeting. There are about 15 people in the room, trying to solve a marketing conundrum. It had something to do with the way we would deliver software to our customers. About half way through the meeting, I had a brainwave and offered my solution to the team. The software developers all nodded in agreement that it would be easily programmed. The marketing people nodded in agreement that it would be customer-friendly and simple. I had green lights across the board. And to sum it all up, my dad said: "OK, If he's right we'll go ahead with his idea"...

Can you spot it? Can you spot the lack of confidence? The smack in the face? It's very small, but it was enough to burst my little bubble of pride. There I was with this idea that everyone in the room agreed was great. Everyone except one—my dad. It wasn't enough for him. He had to question it... "If he's right..." That little word that would question my abilities, my talent and my worth over and over again.

It's a completely different story today. My ideas are not "if-ed", they are taken seriously. They are listened to, discussed and considered. They are respected. And at times they are just accepted, right then and there, no questions asked.

I have great ideas. So do you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Being someone you are not

Do you ever look at other people and think to yourself: "He/She's so cool, I want to be like him/her..."? Do you then spend time trying to be? How does that work for you? Does it? Do you beat yourself up when you fail to "be like Mike"?

Learning from people and trying to better ourselves is always a good thing. But trying to be someone else, someone you are not, is not so good. Over-trying is even worse.

Instead, accept who you are. Accept your own abilities and traits and—most importantly—learn to appreciate them. Remember that your view of yourself is not aligned with other peoples' views of you. There is no point in trying to be someone else because that someone has been deemed better by you, but not everyone shares that thought. Some people think you're awesome just the way you are. Others? –Who cares?! Can't make everyone happy. You are you, and you are awesome!

Self-acceptance was an impossible lesson to learn while in the business. Being managed by my dad, needing to over-compesate the fact that I was the son-of-the-boss, made it impossible for me to value my own abilities. The feeling I had was that I was never good enough and so I never accepted myself. I kept trying to adopt other people's traits/qualities in the hope that that would be the answer. It wasn't.

Just be yourself. Remove the mask, take off the costume and be you. Authenticity is highly valued so just be yourself.

You are awesome.

(hat tip to my lifey)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Wh-question you should always ask yourself

is "why?".

It's such a simple, clean and to-the-point question. But it's simplicity should not deceive you, as it has the power to bring about huge change if you let it.

I have learnt to use the "why" question all the time. I don't use it to second-guess myself, but rather question the situation I am in, see it from another angle. It's become a second-nature to me. And I've found that if I take it seriously (the asking and answering) it frees my mind. It breaks the constraint that is the status quo and sets me off in new directions of thinking. I pretty much "why" everything, always looking to become better, to improve...

Have you ever seriously asked yourself "why"? Why are you in the family business? Have you ever truly listened to the answer? It can go either way, but my point is that you need to ask the question. You need to ask it and then listen closely to the answer. Asking in front of a mirror can help; writing the answer down on paper has a considerable effect. But you need to ask the "why question". And more importantly you need to pay attention to the answer and then decide what is best for you.

That simple, short question can change everything. Ask it, answer it, and act upon it. That's all it takes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Holding a grudge

Do you hold grudges? Do you walk around with a little black book of wrongdoers, vowing to someday get back at them? If you do, my question to you is: Does it make you feel good or bad?

If you think vengeance and anger are good, I'm afraid you are mistaken. They are bad. They're bad for your mood (and thus your health) and they will limit your ability to think straight and make calculated decisions. Yup, they're definitely bad.

In most cases though, anger is really just "denied sadness": in an attempt to not feel week we enlist anger to our side to help us feel powerful. But the truth of the matter is that we are just sad. We were offended and that makes us sad. If you recognize and accept this, the anger will fade away. If you say "I'm not angry about what he did to me, I'm really just sad about the whole thing." the grudge will disappear because there is no anger to fuel it.

It is a liberating thing to live without grudges. I don't have any. I've accepted people for who and what they are. I'm sad that certain things turned out the way they did, but so is life—forever teaching us lessons.

Being "grudge-less" is being free. Free to move on, to be you. And one day, when the time comes, it will free you to make amends.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WIIFM and being generous

WIIFM is what the other person is thinking about while you try and sell your product, your idea or yourself. WIIFM is something that many of us tend to give no thought to, and this is a big mistake...

WIIFM (pronounced: whi-phem) stands for What's In It For Me and it's what's on the other person's mind while you jabber away. When you are trying to sell your new startup, the other person is thinking: "What's in it for me?". When you're trying to pitch an idea to someone in an attempt to get them to join your movement, all he/she is thinking is: "What's in it for me?". When you're interviewing for a job, talking about this skill and that skill, all your hirer is thinking about is... you guessed it!—"What's in it for me?".

There is no avoiding it. People want to know what's in it for them if they in turn give you that break you're looking for. You can have the most amazing/great/awesome technology in your hand, or the most advanced/crazy/best idea, or the best looking 1-page résumé, but at the end of the day the person in front of you will make the decision based on WIIFM, on how he/she stands to gain.

Sure, there are some people that don't do it for self-gain: your mother, for example. But the cold, hard truth is that most do. Luckily for us, though, there is a simple solution to this quandary, and that is... generosity.

Generosity is a state of mind, and if you are a generous person then WIIFM won't matter to you, you've beaten it at it's own game. If you are a generous person then you've already thought about how the other person can benefit, and if that's what you thought about before walking into the room, then your pitch will sell itself. You need to build your presentation around benefiting the other person. You need to care about them first, giving them what they need before looking for your own benefit.

If you are not a generous person then I beg you to become one. Start small: take a minute to say good morning to people, offer someone coffee. Eventually you will become generous and you will see for yourself that the rewards are far greater. You should be as generous as you can with intangibles: time, skill, knowledge, patience—they are far more valuable. And always remember that you have to give in order to get back.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Mentor

The mentor is a person with great experience and knowledge who can help guide you through the dips of life. She knows what life is about and will weather the bad times with you keeping you focused and positive. She will teach you about perspectives and how important it is to see things from different ones. She will give you the tools you need to take control of your life. And she will do it in a way that is lasting... The most important job she has is to instill her knowledge in you, so that when the time comes and you stand alone, her teachings will come to you as if she was right there with you.

I found my life-mentor when I left the business. I understood right away that I would need one in order to get through the storm that was coming. I can honestly say that without her I would have ended up in a very different (bad) place. She has taught me a huge amount and I will forever be grateful.

If you're leaving the business, I strongly suggest that you find yourself a good mentor (or coach). She/he is not necessarily a psychologist or a therapist; wallowing in the past may not be the right thing for you. Instead you need the tools that can help you stand up again and that's what a good mentor can give you—everyday, practical tools.

On a personal note, and to my mentor, I would like to say: "Thank you!". Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your teachings have given me the tools to achieve balance and peace, without which I would have been lost...

Thank you.