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The Secret to Creating a Life of Incredible Stories

The Secret to Creating a Life of Incredible Stories

As a kid, I always found myself in trouble and looking for adventure.

I’ve listened to lectures about what not to do more times than I can count. Being extremely gullible, and a bit of a daredevil consistently landed me in front of teachers and parents discussing my future.

I can’t help it. I love spontaneity, being myself, and living on the edge. And I’m competitive and have an unyielding belief that one’s thoughts control the outcome of one’s life. So I never hesitate to take opportunities that others are afraid to engage.

The truth: I’ve always wanted the best stories to tell my friends and family. Consequently, I do. The funny part is that I don’t work hard to makes my life filled with great stories. Instead, I simply take the thousands of opportunities given me:

  • A beautiful girl everyone is scared to talk to at a party, but me.
  • Giving in when someone asks me to go with them on a last-second road trip to explore Yosemite National Park.
  • Or even the one time when my brother convinced me to swing on a branch hovering thirty feet over a canyon.
  • And the countless other stories…

Not all the stories have ended in a positive way, but each one is a learning experience. Also, I’ll talk about every story, even the ones that hurt, and that’s why I have so many to tell. What I realized: If you can’t speak about your stories that are painful, then you won’t take the risks to make your life filled with stories.

It didn’t take long to understand why I put myself in risky situations and uncomfortable settings—I believe in magic. Not wizards casting spells, but the magic of life’s truth that you can become almost anyone.

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For most of us, we believe this when were younger. It started when I was a little kid playing pretend war with my friends. We threw acorns that we pretended were grenades and used Lego and K’Nex to make hand-held weapons and armor. We caused so much of a ruckus that we had to duct tape everything we made. For us, our imagination was our reality, and no one could tell us different.

Going to sleep and waking up as a kid who believes they are their own hero is truly magical. Whether you want to believe your Superman or Tony Stark, it’s time we comprehend the impossible is possible. Hopefully, you don’t forget this feeling as you age. Even though some of this feeling is likely to disappear, but for those who live a life of incredible stories, the best part remains: believing you can be anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I think that to be true. Each obstacle and opportunity to live my intended story—I take. It’s not always easy, you’ll find your hero moving in unintended directions. But then you remember that even heroes have to overcome hurdles, and that’s a critical part of each story, too.

We should all trust ourselves that we can live our stories and not someone else’s. We don’t need to live through celebrities, T.V., or movies because we should be living a life of stories worth telling. Moreover, a life full of stories doesn’t take time for anything ordinary when we should be extraordinary.

If you’re wondering who your hero is, then think about your favorite books where you have the strongest connection to the protagonist. It’s possible that’s the story you should strive to create out of your life.

I fell in love with stories that have an adventurous protagonist who conquers evil. Correspondingly, I take many risks and live life on the edge. Reading a story about a small kid who grows up to become a warrior and defeat a dragon leads me to believe I can go up against anyone.

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It’s a fact that fiction novels help people beyond increasing their vocabulary and keeping the interest piqued. Reading fiction books can aid in developing a stronger emotional intelligence; as a result, this can give your success a nice jumpstart.

The best part: Great fiction stories are memorable.

Sad to say, but many college graduates can’t name ten things they learned in post-secondary education. However, they can tell you countless stories of risk and adventure. Stories are clearly one of the best channels to absorb information.

The hard part is that stories are not created by themselves. You have to take the initiative to make them happen. But the easy part is that you don’t have to look far because the opportunities are everywhere. Remember, creating stories is not so much about risk-taking as it is about creating a life worth living.

Let me ask you:

If you’re creating a story not worth being told, then why are you living?

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The next time you see one of the thousands of opportunities around you, don’t doubt yourself. You can become whomever you want. That’s how people become president, and Elon Musk becomes Tony Stark.

You have the ability to live a hero’s life where you never waste an opportunity.

So what we need to ask ourselves: Why did we stop believing?

We became convinced that we couldn’t live as a hero unless we went through systems ingrained in our culture like attending college and working specific jobs. Progressively we accepted that we are not heroes, we are not unique, and dreams only live in fiction books.

It’s time to stop listening to the people who tell us what we have to do. Instead, listen to the people who turned their dreams into reality so they can see their hero every day in the mirror. These are the ones who know the world’s best-kept secret: you can turn fiction into fact.

If I stopped my child-like curiosity and dreams from propelling me forward, I wouldn’t be nearly as successful as I am now. Sure there have been a couple of bumps in the road, but no one starts as a hero, they must conquer challenges to become a champion.

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Just like fiction heroes can overcome their fears, we can too.

I’ve never sat through a lecture and felt inspired. What has inspired me were fiction stories that told me I could be better than a student falling asleep in a college lecture. These same stories told me I could improve a small part of the world each day if I worked hard enough. Those are the ones I believe in because life is not worth living if that’s not true.

Keep in mind: If you don’t see yourself as having potential to change the world, then you won’t ever change it.

Ask yourself: What hero do you want to see in the mirror?

Remember, a hero always has an inner fire to drive them through the toughest times. And just maybe part of overcoming your hardest obstacles is understanding you are your own hero.

And because we can’t live someone else’s life, we must face ourselves.

The secret to living a life of incredible stories: find your fiction and turn it into reality.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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