Five Ways You Can Give Good Feedback

Giving good feedback requires a plan

Giving feedback is an opportunity to help others improve. It doesn’t matter if the person has done a wonderful or not-so-wonderful job. Providing honest and sincere feedback  helps the other person understand what they are doing right, what needs to be corrected, and how to develop. Here are five ways to give effective feedback.

Praise in public, correct in private.

Most people like to receive feedback for a job well done. Acknowledgement can be a powerful thing. Praising good work in public is an opportunity to recognize your colleague’s performance and give them an ego boost as well.

In contrast you should give corrective feedback in private. This type of discussion is often met with disagreement, hurt feelings, or dismissiveness. None of those are pretty. Better not to put these types of responses on public display.

There is no failure. Only feedback.

Talk about behavior

It is the behavior that is good or needs correction. When you focus on the what they did, you reduce the need for the other person to defend themself. That should help to find a solution you can both agree on. Also, discussing the exact behavior leaves little space for blame, assumptions, or more subjective aspects of the critique.

Be specific

It is essential to be specific in your assessment. That helps the other person understand the problem and rectify it, or to keep doing the what is getting praised. When giving specific feedback, it is easier for the listener to understand the point precisely.

Fred, when you arrive early to meetings, it sets a good example and people are ready to start on time. Thank you.

Confirm understanding

Feedback is no good if the other person forgets it the minute they are out of sight. Have them repeat the key points as you wind up the discussion. Then you can both agree on an action plan if necessary.

So, Mary, how could you avoid this kind of mistake in the future?

Say Thank You.

The other person gave you their time and attention. Thank them for that as a sign of respect.

Giving authentic feedback by praising in public and correcting in private, focusing on behavior, being specific, confirming understanding and saying than you will enhance others’ trust in you.

That help both of you get favorable results, and lets others know you care about their development.

7 Ways to Guarantee You Achieve Your Goals

Achieve your goals with these 7 techniques

What will you accomplish this year?

I cannot believe the number of people I have heard complaining about 2022, because they fell short of achieving their goals. Many of them claim that it was a dismal year. They say there were no opportunities, or their progress is coming slower than expected. That seems like sour grapes, and here’s why.

Every situation provides opportunities. Where some see roadblocks and complain, others view the same as a challenge to be conquered. Mindset is everything. 

No matter if you are focused on New Year’s resolutions or achieving other goals which you have had your sights on for a while, it takes work to make progress. Studies show that less than 10% of people who set goals achieve them. Looking back on last year, what did you accomplish? How could you have done more?

We often worry about creating the perfect conditions for starting the journey to success. However, no matter what you do to lay the groundwork, things will change as soon as you start down the path.

 

My year started with a lot of promise, launching my first online workshop (Discover Your Ikigai) in January and several coaching consultations. It then took a big hit when my father passed away the next month, my grandmother in May, and my uncle died in October.

My coaching and freelancing opportunities didn’t go so well either after that big burst of initial success. However, by summer, I had a new job running the APAC technical training program for SOTI, an enterprise mobility management service. 

All tolled, I had eleven major accomplishments in 2022. Those ranged from long time achievements (200th story posted on Medium.com and clearing Level 3 of Toastmasters’ Presentation Mastery track); to beneficial losses (my gallbladder and its pain left me in December, and a troubling wisdom tooth fell out on its own in September). I also conquered a bucket list achievement, surfing for the first time, and hit the waves six or seven times.

My goals for this year are even more ambitious. They include presenting training in at least three countries, having a regular coaching clientele of at least 5 people, and writing one or more stories with over 10,000 reads. What are your goals for this year?

Instead of looking at why people fail to achieve their goals, let’s examine what you can do to find more success. Here are seven techniques which helped me and could help you too.

We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term, but underestimate what is possible over the long run.

Use routines to create a foundation for your goal

Being consistent in your approach, especially in the morning and evening, provides a foundation that keeps you focused. My morning routine includes meditation, reading, a dose of positivity, and breakfast. This starts my day off with a feeling of achievement.

My evening routine is a wind-down. I often listen to jazz or classical music while reflecting on the day’s successes and failures. Then, when my head hits the pillow, I visualize success in an area that is important to me.

Go for big goals

We often worry about creating the perfect conditions for starting the journey to success. However, no matter what you do to lay the groundwork, things will change as soon as you start down the path. 

Instead, think of goals as a lighthouse showing the way in the dark. You may not know how you will achieve your goals, but having that lighthouse to aim for makes adapting to adversity easier. Thus, setting your goals big and positioning them a few years out will allow you the flexibility to learn along the way and reduce feelings of needing to achieve perfection. You may not make it to that big goal, like 10,000 reads. But you will exceed the smaller, limiting expectations, you have for yourself.

We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term, but underestimate what is possible over the long run. Go long and go big!

Write them down and display your goals proudly

Writing down what you want to accomplish helps you to keep that in the front of your mind. Posting your goals in a prominent spot, one where you will see them often, can serve as a constant reminder of what you are working towards as well. My goals, for example, are mounted above my desk. 

I also have a dream board. It contains images of things I want to achieve and sits over the threshold of my office door. Turn my head to the right, and there it is. An everpresent reminder of things I plan to achieve.

When your goals are top of mind, things will begin to happen that bring them closer to reality. You may suddenly get a burst of inspiration about how to clear a difficult task. Or an opportunity could serendipitously fall into your lap, moving you towards what was seemingly impossible. Magic happens when you know what you want and have a sense of awareness for how to attain it.

Break your goals down

Goals are nothing more than big projects. Whether you aim to cut your body fat to 30%, get a new job, or write a book; you can’t do it in one big step. You will need to endure many micro-tasks to get you there. Decide on the next steps you have to take. Whittle them down to individual tasks, schedule time to complete those, and get to work. Success is accumulated in ticking boxes that lead to recognizable accomplishments.

Learn along the way

Taking time to analyze your work will help you have more success than just ticking off boxes and moving quickly to the next task. Recently, I’ve began using three questions to analyze my progress: highlights, lowlights, and next steps. This makes it easier to understand progress.

Highlights: What are the things that went well? Consider not only the expected successes but also the surprises.

Lowlights: Make a list of the difficulties and performances that did not meet your expectations.

Next steps: Are there corrections to be made in your lowlights? Based on what you know now, what do you need to do next? This evaluation will give you a clear development path.

Put goal related tasks on your schedule

Another way to ensure you get things done is to calendar them. When you see that programming class on your calendar Thursday evening, you know that you’ll need to spend some time preparing for it and will probably do so. 

If you set a weekly recurring task to write on Tuesday nights from 8 – 10, your mind will start working on the prewriting before you even sit at the computer. Adding time to your schedule to work on your goals will ensure you are making progress.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

We all make mistakes. We all backslide, and we all set unreal expectations. What matters is not what you are doing wrong, but what you are doing right. Avoid comparing yourself to others, and give yourself credit for the effort you have made. Look hard for progress, and celebrate even the smallest of victories. Doing these things will make you better tomorrow than you were today. 

Anyone can make goals, but it takes a special person, like you, to achieve them. When things seem bleak, keep focused on what you want and take baby steps toward those goals.

What are your goals for this year? How can you stretch those beyond your expectation? Write your goals down and place them where you can see them. Finally, make sure to give yourself time to make progress a habit. As you do so, you will continue to learn from both the successes and the failures. Even if you fall short, using these seven techniques will ensure you are not disappointed in your progress.

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The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did. I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong.

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You Can Use the Power of Visualization

Jimmy is giving a presentation to senior management on Thursday about his ideas for a new marketing campaign. He is feeling pretty comfortable about it, even though he got sick before his last presentation and spent half an hour in the bathroom with severe stomach issues due to the anxiety he had about speaking in front of others and nearly missed the meeting.

Visualization is the art of projecting your success into the future. You are imagining yourself achieving your goals and overcoming any difficulties along the way. Athletes use this mental technique to conquer obstacles, see themselves using perfect form, and simulate their performances.

Top executives use visualization to understand what challenges lie ahead and how to overcome them. They may also use the technique to consider how to achieve their KPI or goals for growing their company’s bottom line.

A 1980s study conducted by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago had three groups of students shoot free throws. The first group practiced for an hour every day for a month, the second only visualized making free throws, and the third group did nothing. After 30 days, the improvement in the first two groups was virtually the same (24% improvement for those that practiced, and 23% for the students that only visualized). The third group showed no improvement. Can you imagine what results they would have achieved if they had done both practice and visualization!?

In her Tedx Talk, Fitness Instructor Ashanti Johnson explained how she visualized a parking lot full of cars belonging to the customers of her soon-to-be-launched fitness program. With hard work and through a mountain of adversity, she was able to build a business that helped her clients shed a combined 20,000 pounds and filled the fitness center’s parking lot with customers, just as she had imagined.

Learning to use our mind as an ally can be one of the greatest gifts we learn through sport.

If you don’t have much experience with visualization, start with imagining the outcome of your efforts as Ashanti did. See the audience clapping for you as you wrap up your presentation, or crossing the finish line first while a stadium full of spectators cheer you on.

As you develop your skills, start to envision yourself in the activity. If you were Jimmy, maybe you are effortlessly answering questions, or smoothly moving from point to point in your presentation. Imagine yourself saying the words or overcoming the issue. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, act as if you are there in the moment.

Then a funny thing will happen… You will confuse your brain, and it will believe you have already achieved what you have visualized. This will not only sharpen your skills and progress, as it did for the basketball players but also quiet hypercritical thoughts that can sabotage your progress.

Here is an easy exercise that I do every night as I continue my entrepreneurial journey and you can do i, too. Before you go to sleep, imagine yourself achieving your goals. Be in the place, see the surroundings, conjure up the feelings, the smells, and even the taste.

If you are doing a sport for example, you may taste your salty sweat and feel the hugs of your teammates after winning the game. I often place myself on the balcony of a high-rise apartment, taking in the view of Yokohama Bay and sipping a peaty whisky as I reflect on what it took to get there.

If you are performance-focused, see yourself working through the event in as much detail as possible. I imagine changing the slides in a presentation and what I would say. But not just that, I see the room, the people in the room, and the expressions on their faces. I envision myself perceiving a troubled face in the audience and asking them if they have a question, then answering to their satisfaction, and the concern turning to a smile. This is a good exercise to do in the morning or when you are faced with a dilemma as well.

Jimmy learned these visualizing techniques. Instead of being nervous during his presentation on Thursday, he perfected his performance through dozens of imaginary presentations (and several rehearsals as well). He is feeling confident, ready to answer any question, and smoothly gliding through the material with the confidence of someone who has been in the situation hundreds of times before and crushed it every time.

Visualization can help you to have more success too. Start broad and continue to work on the image until you see yourself effortlessly achieving your goals. Soon, you will be doing the same in real life, too.

Sources / More Information:

Image credit – Yokohama Bay
Photo by Nagatoshi Shimamura on Unsplash

Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can

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Why Having a CEO’s Mindset is Important

a woman sitting at the table

No matter what kind of work you do, you are working for yourself. One day you may wake up and discover that your company is letting you go, your big freelance clients suddenly went out of business, or the social media account where you communicate with customers has blocked you for breaking one of their antiquated rules. Ultimately, you need to be responsible to yourself (and your family). Consider being the CEO of your career.

Being the CEO of your career means that you think of your professional life with passion and vision. You consider your revenue streams as customers. And become more strategic about managing your career: not so that you build an attractive resume, but to do work that aligns with your mission and values. Here are four ways to do that:

Start with a vision

Entrepreneurs and executives alike have a vision of what their companies stand for and what they want them to become. They make decisions based not just on the immediate but also with an eye on the future. 

Consider where you want your career or business to be 3-5 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. You will probably not follow that plan to the letter, but it will help you stay focused.

As the leader of your organization, you should have a mission and driving values that are the essence of why you do the work you do. If you have a company, these are the seeds of your corporate culture. As an individual, we call this integrity. Staying true to this vision will make others want to follow you.

You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.

Understand what your Stakeholders want

There is always someone else impacted by your work: your family, customers, boss, and colleagues. Understanding how you can meet their expectations and put forth your best effort while serving them is vital to achieving continued success. If you are not sure of your stakeholder’s expectations, ask.

Use goals to advance the mission

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, made the goal-setting technique V2MOM popular in his book Behind the Cloud. This model for measuring success can help you focus on growth. 

  • Vision – How do you want the future to look?
  • Values – What are your core values, and how does your vision align with those?
  • Method – What are the actions you are going to take?
  • Obstacles – What are the real and perceived obstacles to getting you where you want to go?
  • Measures – What are the objective metrics you use to measure your progress?

We have already talked about vision and values. Next, let’s look at method. Method focuses on the tasks, or deliverables, you need to achieve to make improvements, grow your market and achieve success as you define it. 

As a teacher, I started planning lessons with the end in mind. At the end of the lesson, I wanted my students to be able to achieve X. Then worked the process backwards to the very start of the class where I chose an exercise that allowed me to evaluate their ability to achieve the target. Then, followed the adjusted plan for the remaining time. 

Your choice of method is much the same. You know the goal. What do you need to do to achieve that? Once you understand that, the other pieces fall into place: What are the pitfalls you may experience (obstacles), and how do you know if you are making progress (measure)?

A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.

Obstacles are the things that get in the way of your success. Do you need to work another job while you develop your passion? Are there too many applicants for the job you want? Is the cost of advertising or sales too high? Considering the roadblock to your success and coming up with some alternatives to break through those will improve your chances of success.

Finally, measures – you need to have some way to measure your success. Choosing effective measurement metrics will help you realize early on if you are moving in the right direction. Then, aid your ability to navigate effectively into the future. 

When choosing your measurement metrics and evaluating your initial data, take the time to study the results and consider if you are measuring the right things. Do the results of your metrics equate to the success you hope to achieve?

An example of this I recently encountered was in running Google Ads. My impressions and click-throughs looked impressive until I realized that people from 18-24 were being served up the ad impressions. No wonder they were not converting to my goal of booking free consultations. I adjusted my campaigns to reach people from 30-60, and now I am attracting the right prospects.

Do the stuff you do best

Focus on the areas where you make the biggest impact. As solopreneurs, we often need to do everything. Regardless of if you are a company of one, an employee, or a business owner; it is vital to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Then, delegate, as much as possible, the things that someone else could do faster and better. 

In a company, we may ask someone who is skilled at making pivot tables to do that for us while we turn the draft of their report into a clear and well laid-out document. When we work for ourselves, it may be better to pay someone else to do the work that is not in our skillset. Then, we can focus on more valuable work.

By thinking like a CEO, you will improve the way you look at your work, no matter what it is or your position in an organization. You will make better decisions about how to grow your skill sets and live a life of value. It does not matter if you are the manager of a big company, an individual contributor, or a solopreneur; taking control of your professional life will enhance the value you provide to your stakeholders. And that will ultimately enhance your level of success.

Sources

Interested in developing your CEO Mindset? Check out my CEO Bootcamp Course.

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you

When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall.

However, if you are working as a solopreneur or a freelancer, your clients are not going to bend their deadlines just because you are not performing at your best. They expect results regardless of the situation.

I faced a similar dilemma recently when I launched the Discovering Your Ikigai course and had 30 new clients waiting for their first seminar. I could feel my throat tightening and my temperature rising. But calling in sick was not an option. And in most cases, it shouldn’t be for you either. Here are three reasons why.

You can still get some of the work done even at less than your best

Choosing tasks that require less mental power, and adjusting your priorities will allow you to get something done rather than having work pile up while you are away. That will make your work more manageable in the long run. While you may feel a sense of worthlessness in being a body at the desk, you are still getting something done and that makes all the difference.

Work from Home

Since the onset of COIVD, there have been more opportunities to work from home. For better or worse, this means that when you are in a contiguous state, you could theoretically work from home too. In addition, if you have sick kids, you could spend some time on the job even if that is from home. Getting some work done is better than zero production.

Most bosses expect you to work, even when you are sick

58% of managers thought that employees should come to work with flu-like symptoms. Additionally, more than 60% reportedly expected employees to work while experiencing severe physical ailments like back pain or recovering from surgery, according to this article by the BBC. It may seem unbelievable that managers are so unsympathetic to their staff, but this is a byproduct of our results-driven society, where meeting deadlines is one of the most key important performance indicators, KPI.

There are, of course, times you should call in sick. If you work as a manual laborer and feel dizzy or have a high fever that leaves you disoriented, are infectious, or have a high fever, you should visit a doctor and stay home. Usually, if you can be productive at all,  do your best to make a contribution.

In game five of the 1997 NBA finals, Michael Jordan played despite having food poisoning. He had been throwing up all night, and he was feeling very weak at game time. Yet, he still found it in himself to suit up and play. When asked about being on the court for 44 of the games 48 minutes and scoring 38 points, including the game-winning three, he said:

 

I didn’t wanna give up, No matter how sick I was or how tired I was, or how low on energy I was. I felt the obligation to my team, to the city of Chicago, to go out and give that extra effort.

Few of us will ever experience life on the level of a professional sports championship. Yet, we will all have times we are depended upon. Times when we can not bring our best. It is in those moments that we need to dig deep, relying on the knowledge, skills, and intestinal fortitude that is inside to make a difference in our work. It may not seem like a big deal to miss time, and maybe you think it’s your right. After all, we do get sick days, but the people you serve depend on you. What is your sense of obligation to them? For me, 30 new clients were glad I did not call in sick.

 

If you do need to work when you are sick the last thing we usually want to do is eat. However, finding foods with rejuvenation powers could have you back to some version of normal quickly. Here are seven superfoods that can speed your recovery. And a bonus at the end.

 

Garlic

Garlic helps to boost immunity. Many people swear by garlic’s ability to help maintain good health or quickly get you back to normal. I was sick recently, and a couple days of cooking with extra garlic helped me.

 

Onions

Cooked onions are high in antioxidants, vitamins B & C. Onion soup is one of my favorite ways to eat them when I am not feeling well. Onions are also good for your blod circulation. When you are sick, eating cooked onions makes them easier to digest.

 

Fish

Fish skin is full of nutrients, like Omega 3 and B vitamins. Simply fry it in the pan or bake it in the oven. I choose cuts with more skin or salmon which is a fish that is easy to prepare.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli is high in antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins C and K. It is also contains a wealth of nutrients, but is low in calories. Broccoli improves digestion and helps to reduce inflammation that commonly occurs when we are sick. 

 

Nuts

Nuts are high in fiber and protein. They contain high quantities of minerals. Don’t feel like eating a full meal because you’re under the weather? Nuts and a meal replacement drink are a good alternative.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt contains probiotics that help relieve an upset stomach. It also has vitamins and minerals that rapidly become depleted when your body is fighting illness. Yogurt is good to mix in smoothies for a power-packed liquid meal that is easier to digest than whole food when you’re not feeling well.

 

Soup

Warm and soothing. Soup is easy to digest and warms your body from the inside out. Choosing a clear soup like broth or onion is easy on the digestive system. Vegetable soups can provide you with most of the nutrients your body needs to recover from illness and it is a meal that you can keep on the stove and heat up all day long.

 

When you are not feeling well, it is easy to go to the drug store or medicine cabinet and look for a remedy. But eating your way back to health is gentler on the body and may see your condition change for the better more rapidly and consistently.

One new recipe I learned when I was sick last time was roasted garlic. Not only did it make my house smell great, cleansing the warm uncirculated air that is common when you are  trying to stay warm, it was also super easy to prepare. You could eat a head of garlic every day with no adverse effects. Here is how you make it:

Roasted Garlic

Ingredients

  • 1 or more heads of garlic
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C (350 F)
  2. Cut the top off of the head(s) of garlic
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic, making sure to get some on each clove
  4. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 30-45 minutes until garlic is soft

Eat cloves whole, smash and spread on toast or crackers or use in your favorite recipe.

 

Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that. As the holiday season

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Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

Many people fight through their days with an unending list of things to accomplish. That increases stress and leads to a sense of failure in the realization that we can’t complete all we thought we could. There should be an answer to manage the overwhelm and get through all those tasks. And indeed, you can manage overwhelm with these 4 tips.

 

Prioritize

Order your list from critical to not essential. What are the few things that absolutely must be done? Are there tasks or assignments that would be nice to accomplish, but are not essential? And I’m sure there are also some that just seem like busywork. This list is going to keep you focused as you realize that only a few of the items on the list will actually get done.

Is there anything on your list that you can delegate? If necessary, you may need to call in some favors. You should focus on the things you are uniquely suited to handle or need to do for your peace of mind. That list is shorter than the list of everything you hope to do. In my Discovering Your Ikigai course, many participants say they do not have time to develop their skills. This is something that no one can do for them. So I stress the fact that they need to schedule time to enhance their abilities on a regular basis, and not give it up. That is much more important than vacuuming the house. Someone else could do that instead of sitting in front of the TV, computer, or checking social media on their mobile phone. Another example is preparing the children’s lunch on the weekend. Train them to do that simple task for themselves.. 

 

Keep your top priority front of mind

Keeping your essential priority at the front of your mind will allow your brain to work on that in between tasks and when you’re doing things that don’t need all of your process power. A sudden gap in your schedule will provide you the opportunity to spring into action and give your top priority the undivided attention it requires.

 

Look for opportunities

You may have a postponed meeting, extended deadline or canceled appointment. These changes in schedule provide opportunities to get busy on priority number one. Since you’ve already thought through what you need to do, you can get a quick start and be productive from the beginning of your newly available time. Use this time, but not a minute more. That way, you are not cutting into the time you need for another important task. Before you move on, reassess what the next steps are and be ready for the next opportunity to work on those.

 

Knowing when enough is enough

When you have finished a task, it is usually good enough. In most cases, spending extra time on it won’t dramatically improve the quality. For example, when I’m creating a presentation, it is good enough to make the slides and have the information in the deck. I will work on accurate wording, animations, and design elements during my rehearsals.

 

Tying it all together

When you prioritize and only work on your most critical tasks, you can consciously take control of overwhelm. That will dramatically reduce your to-do list and help you fit the key tasks and projects into your schedule. Finally, be satisfied with the results you have created. In most cases, no one else will realize the difference between your good enough and excellent work. So be satisfied with your effort too. In this way, you will find opportunities to manage overwhelm and make what seems impossible possible.

 

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best

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How to Improve Your Life Through Ikigai

ikigai chart

A guide to unlocking the best within yourself

To perform at our best making the most of our abilities, talents, and time it’s vital to focus on the areas in which we are most qualified to contribute. This is the core of ikigai.

What is the concept of Ikigai?

Ikigai is a Japanese expression 生き甲斐. 生き (iki) means life and 甲斐 (gai) means reason. Roughly translated then, ikigai is the reason for living or your life purpose. Living with ikigai equates to doing what best suits your skills, interest, and abilities for the betterment of society and also yourself.

What are the benefits of ikigai?

Living with ikigai is being at ease with your surroundings. Being grateful for life and the potential to make a difference. Connecting to your universe also requires embracing your ikigai: the people in your life, the work you do, and your interactions with the environment. 

Living ikigai for me is being grateful every morning. Once I’m up, I’m going to reflect and broaden my thoughts. Making contributions throughout the day that positively impact the world around me, and celebrating that day as I lay down to sleep. This kind of existence is a gift, and it instills a sense of contentment that lasts no matter how terrible circumstances get.

What are the 4 components of ikigai?

Your ikigai, or reason for living, can be found at the intersection of your personal evaluation of four key questions: What are you good at? What do you love? What can you be paid for? And what does the world need? 

What are you good at?

Consider all the things you are good at now or have ever done well. It doesn’t matter if you like them or not. Hobbies, professional skills, technical abilities, chores, for example; make a list of everything that comes to mind.

What do you love?

What are the activities or things that you love? This question asks for your interests, so you do not necessarily have to be good at these things. For example, I love playing basketball, but I am not very good at it. In this area, also reflect on things. Do you have a spiritual connection, a love of music, or something else that makes you happy? 

As with every one of these questions- document everything.

What can you be paid for?

Here, consider everything you could do to make a living. I know people with PhDs that are janitors. Anything and everything you could personally do to earn money goes here. 

One caveat: these income sources need to align with your values and sensibilities. If you don’t like small children, you probably wouldn’t be able to make a living working at a nursery school.

What does the world need?

Apart from the other questions, this one focuses on your perception of areas that need attention in your community and the broader world at large. Consider the benefits of service in this section and the gaps you perceive in the types and quality of products and services.

OK, you’ve done the evaluation. What comes next?

Now that you have your lists, examine how the four areas intersect with one another. What are the parallels between what you love and what you enjoy doing? Those are your passions. Make an passion list that includes those. Your potential professions are the things you are good at and can get paid for. Choosing work in one of these areas will provide stimulation as you continue to enhance your professional skills. Your mission equates the combination of what you love and your perception of what the world needs. Finally, your vocation, the kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make, is at the intersection of what the world needs and what you can be paid for. The kind of contribution you believe you are destined to make. 

You will now begin to see areas where your passion, mission, vocation and professions come together. This is your ikigai.

What is an example of ikigai?

My life mission is to leave people in a better state than when I first met them (I love educating, and the world needs that). As a teacher, trainer, and coach, this is my compass. It’s a job that I enjoy. I’ve developed into an accomplished trainer over the years, and I’ve been able to make a living doing it. I transitioned from teaching English as a foreign language to coaching and am now building an education-based organisation with courses that help people achieve their goals. However, I couldn’t live within my ikigai unless I took the time to reflect on each day and celebrate the ability to live another, while also improving the lives of others. The opportunity to impact lives is my reason to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Even when it’s cold or I don’t feel so great, I wake up excited to serve the world.

A butcher who can talk about the difference in cuts of meat all day long and slices of the most beautiful steaks every time you visit him is also living his ikigai. Similarly, the salesperson who finds joy in providing solutions to their customers’ problems and aiding their success has found where the elements of ikigai merge for her.

What do you get lost in and get a sense of contribution from? These are elements of what comprises your ikigai.

How can you apply ikigai to your daily life?

These six tips will help you live your ikigai not just in the work you do, but also in your everyday life.

Smile

Your life will definitely be better if you choose to smile.

Live in the moment

The past is behind you. The future is unwritten. All we have is this moment, so do your best with it.

Take it slow

When you rush, you create two problems: 

First, you can not fully embrace the moment. If you eat your meal too quickly, you may not even remember the taste, for example. If you spend an evening out with friends and are constantly checking your phone, you are not giving your friends the pleasure of your company.

Secondly, rushing through an activity inevitably means you are not giving your best effort. You will miss details, and the sense of pride you feel from a job accomplished expertly will never materialize.

Surround yourself with good people

You will be more optimistic and create a sense of accomplishment when you choose to be around people who lift you up rather than finding faults. These people generally value life a great deal and want to be part of the solution rather than the cause of the problems. 

Have gratitude

Being thankful for what you have in life, no matter how insignificant, will make your life fuller and more noteworthy. You do not need to have the biggest house or the nicest car to feel gratitude. It’s better to celebrate your health, the people in your life, and your opportunity to serve.

Connect with nature

We are all animals and part of the larger environment that surrounds us. Working in an office building all day and then commuting home creates a disconnect from the natural world. However, we can regain that sense of connection by taking a walk in the park or a hike in the woods. Even listening to the sounds of the sea or a mountain stream on YouTube will take you closer to nature and help to recalibrate your connection to the world around you.

Embrace imperfection

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese expression that means embracing imperfection.  What this suggests is that in everyday life we should be content with our efforts.  Things will never be perfectly the way you want them to be. Celebrate that  you’ve done your best with what was available.  

You may be making a meal for your family, and the vegetables come out overcooked while the meat got cold because it was finished too early. While your family will be perfectly happy with the meal, you find many reasons to complain about it. Instead, you can choose to feel joy by looking at their smiles, appreciating the conversation, and knowing that you are providing energy for their minds and bodies.

Summing up

Applying ikigai to your life will give you a heightened sense of purpose. You will meet each morning with joy and go through your day with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that you have made a difference in the world and to yourself.

Want to discover your ikigai, and live in balance with your environment? Join my discovering Your Ikigai workshop here.

Meet The Me You Don’t Know

Social situations can be difficult unless we bring the right mindset and social skills. Here are three ways to do that.

As the holiday season approaches, we will attend more social events than we have in a long time. Whether with friends, family or business associates, we will be in the company of people we may have spent time with in the past, but don’t know all that well. This is a good opportunity to develop your social skills.

You may have worked with Jane in payroll for five years, but did you know she has a cat and spends her weekends trying new recipes? The same can be said of Uncle Bob, who always sits off by himself and usually drinks too much. His business has been slow the last couple of years and he worries every day about making payroll, so he doesn’t have to lay off any of his employees. Family parties are his opportunity for him to put that anxiety on hold, even if it means downing a few too many drinks to get there.

Three ways to engage

Despite spending time in the presence of these people and countless others, we don’t take the time to get to know them, and that’s a shame. You never know who holds the knowledge that will help you grow to your next level of achievement. You can change that by looking for commonalities, showing interest in others, and having gratitude for sharing an experience. Using these social skills will help you to have a more enjoyable time.

Finding commonalities is a good way to break the ice. This may require some detective work or a keen eye towards observation. What are they eating or drinking? How about their fashion? There must be something you can find in common. Then ask them about that. 

Starting a conversation is the most difficult part. Don’t worry about being socially awkward. Many of us are. It’s the effort to apply social skills that will help you break the ice that open doors of knowledge and social presence. 

Showing interest is a courtesy that one should focus on achieving in every interaction during social gatherings. It is not hard, but it does take effort. If people are shy, you may have to share something to get them to open up. Commenting on the environment, asking questions, and following up on their responses in ways that make the other person believe you are really listening and interested in them are all the tools you need to make a success of casual conversations. 

Professionally, this is a good way to build your network. Personally, you may have added to your circle of friends. It’s always good to have a friend in the payroll department. They can help to ensure you meet deadlines for reimbursements or fast-track a change in status. And learning about running a business from Uncle Bob in a more sober moment would have its benefits, too.

These opportunities will be possible if you treat the other person with respect and gratitude for their taking the time to converse with you. These types of manners used to be commonplace, but have now been given up for more casual engagements. That doesn’t mean you need to do the same. Using people’s names, looking them in the eye, and paraphrasing their answers are examples of how you can demonstrate you are engaged.

In Japan, they call a good conversationalist someone who is good at catch ball, or playing catch. Playing catch ball means answering the question you are asked and throwing back a related question. By doing this, you can virtually keep a discussion going on forever. This will make the time, at a previously perceived as awkward and time consuming, social gathering appear to fly by. And you’ll be wishing the evening could continue. That’s usually the sign of a good time.

Succeeding in social situations requires us to be polite. We can do this by showing interest in others and finding commonalities to converse about. Applying these social skills, you may come out of the year with more high quality relationships than you had going in. That’s a great way to welcome in the new year.

This story originally appeared on Medium.com

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Don’t Be Afraid to Accept the Challenge

The challenges I face today will make me better tomorrow.

The older and wiser version of yourself will be glad you did.

I am finding it difficult to pick up my guitars. They sit just across the room from me, and yet I avoid looking at them or listening as they call for me to pick them up and play. It’s nothing they did wrong. In fact, my difficulty is that I know I suck.

We generally seem to gravitate towards doing those things we are good at and shy away from our areas of weakness. This is a big problem. When trying to develop a new skill or hobby, we are usually unsatisfied with the results that we are getting. Not only that, but we will continue to perform poorly at the new technique until we have enough experience to feel confident, or we decide to leave our egos behind and just make a go of it. Here are four things we can both do to make some progress.

Give yourself some time

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. To make tangible improvement takes effort and time. No time invested results in zero gain. It’s that simple. Start with scheduling time to work on your new skill. Develop a practice routine and stick to it. I find it easier to do this if I put it on the calendar as a recurring task. To get from where you are to where you want to be you’ll need to invest your time, lose your fear of failure, and learn to enjoy the process.

Lower your expectations

It’s not uncommon to give ourselves unrealistic timetables for seeing remarkable progress. Slow down, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. For me, that means learning to play the super-easy tunes from memory. No fancy strumming patterns just simple down strums to the beat from beginning to end. Once I can do that, I can add some upstrokes to make it sound more interesting. What is the most basic level of achievement that lets you know you are on the right track?

Look for incremental improvement

I’m not going to go from complete beginner to improvisational virtuoso in a year, and neither are you. Whether you are growing your spreadsheet skills, learning a foreign language, or have picked up a new musical instrument. You will go further if you are observant of signs that you are getting better. Analyze your progress and identify what you are doing better this week compared to last. That will help you to remain motivated and continue to try.

Choose the tougher road

There will be slips too. You may have a comparable skill that you can substitute for the one you are learning. That makes it easy to revert to your previous habits. Unfortunately, you won’t improve that way. You need to challenge the new skill. Sometimes it means taking a step backward so that you can take two forwards.

In baseball, switch hitters are usually better from one side of the plate than the other. For example, the greatest switch hitter of all time, Mickey Mantle’s batting average was 50 points higher from the right side of the plate (.330 vs. .281 from the left). Just having the ability to do both sent fear through the opposing manager regardless of where The Mick stood (372 home runs lefty and 164 batting right). Would you rather pitch to a right-handed hitter that gets on base an awful lot or a left-handed power hitter? There is no correct answer to that question.

Currently, Shohei Ohtani probably spends more hours practicing his craft than any other player in the majors. Because he needs to be both a good starting pitcher and a hitter worthy of a place in the lineup on the days he is not on the mound. That’s a tall order.

The same is true for you. The only way to develop new skills and abilities is to work at them and put them on display.

Being good at new skills and abilities is fun. Going through the learning process is not. For me, it means not letting my guitars collect dust, and playing easier versions of the songs I like. It also requires that I add guitar time to my schedule and find joy in my improvements, no matter how small. I could write about music. I am pretty good at that. Though I think it would be more fun to play. I know the older, wiser version of myself will thank me for sticking with it.

This post originally appeared on Medium.com.

To Call In Sick or Not

The answer may surprise you When you are not feeling well, your productivity takes a massive hit. It may seem that your time is being wasted, and that the best thing to do is curl up under the covers and sleep until you feel better. This is why companies give sick days, afterall. However, if

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Manage Overwhelm With These 4 Tips

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How to Do Better Live Video Events

Hosting my first live video event.

Recently I hosted my first Facebook Live. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I did, however, learn how to do better live video events.

In this story, I’ll share tips for having a successful live video event. Whether you use Facebook, YouTube, or another channel these strategies can help you before, during, and after your event to ensure success. Not just this time, but in future events as well.

Before

Prior to my live, I organically marketed the event both in the Facebook group and to my own friends. I also got my more influential friends to invite people. Because my group is private, one needs to be a member to participate. So I saw my community grow due to this activity.

I have supporters all over the world. Therefore, choosing one time for my event was difficult. I decided to do the same program in the morning and in the evening. This was a big plus (more about that later).

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same.

My email list is modest, and many of the people on it are also in the group. Nevertheless, I did send out a reminder about the event. My mom emailed me back and told me the links to the event didn’t work. This was true for non-members. So I had the opportunity to send out an “Oopsie email”. Saying there was an error in the initial email. An “Oopsie email” is one where you admit you made a mistake in the one you sent out earlier. This email allows you to re-engage an audience and piques interest for those who may not have seen the first one. It worked! This text-only email actually had more opens than the first fancy one that included images and stylized formatting.

I prepared diligently, and I suggest you do the same. This event was to introduce my book and show appreciation to people for their support. My plan was to read an excerpt from Win the Day then explain the format and finally take questions. I practiced reading, made a simple deck, and practiced about ten times.

No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one.

Checking RSVPs, I found that my morning session had about ⅓ of the participants registered as the evening. A quick check of the morning audience allowed me to more specifically target the presentation and provided a smaller audience to test my content on.

During

The first thing that happened was that my frame rate was too low. Facetime would not let me access my video. So I immediately switched to my phone. That did work. However, the text was so small that I couldn’t tell how many people were actually watching, nor could I read their comments. To remedy that, I turned from portrait to landscape mode about five minutes in.

Ha ha ha, the video was sideways. It turns out that the platform will use your initial video to lock in an aspect ratio, So I was literally sideways for the remainder of my video.

Whatsmore, on the iPhone, I was unable to use my slide deck. I couldn’t read some of the questions and comments either. Luckily my reading glasses were on the desk. So I put them on and was able to read the scroll. That helped the Q & A session to go ok. There were a lot of personal questions about the journey that I hadn’t practiced answering. As a result, I was overly emotional. I am glad I had that first run with a small audience before doing it again later in the day.

For the second session, I had a friend help me to check my video and I had access to the Facebook dashboard. That was helpful, because 35 people attended, and all told there were more than 300 comments. That’s what I call overwhelm. I can’t even begin to imagine how someone with a larger following would manage the constant feed of questions and comments on their own. Talking, planning the segue ways, and reading comments all at the time could have led to panic. Fortunately, my preparation and practice had me prepared.

Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.

Due to having an earlier run at the same content, I was more confident and less emotional in the second session. While I didn’t answer every question, there were more than enough to get me through the sixty-minute session.

After

I received feedback from members of my inner circle and deconstructed the event. It was definitely successful, and I met my goals of authentically engaging with my followers. It would have been better if I had a handle on how to manage the comments and questions. When I watch live events, it seems kind of funny that the presenters are squinting to read the screen. I discovered that is the result of the limits on technology. Having the audience start their questions with “I have a question” helped find those needles in the haystack.

I didn’t really enjoy that the only engagement was messages, and the focus was all on me. Being more familiar with virtual meeting software, maybe using Zoom or a similar platform in the future, would provide a way to better engage the audience.

While not directly related to the event, reading my introduction aloud helped me to find some areas of it that could have been written better. Following this event, I went back and edited the introduction again. As far as writing and editing go, reading stories or chapters aloud definitely helps to write in a tone that is more fluid. After all, most of us silently speak the words we are reading.

Conclusion

Doing a live event is not for the faint of heart. I would recommend you promote your event to get people excited. Encourage your connections to invite their friends and colleagues. They will only share your event if the topic is clear and has value to them. Plan and practice several times, on video if possible. Planning will help you handle adversity and practicing will help you to sound more authentic. Get a friend to do a trial run with you, and expect the unexpected. Then when the time comes to turn on your camera, take a deep breath and prepare to excite your tribe. It’s showtime.