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Stop Waiting, Take The Chance And Start Living

Stop Waiting, Take The Chance And Start Living

Looking back on my younger days, I find it incredibly ironic how much of my life I spent listening to Pink Floyd, whose hit song “Time” is specifically about not sitting around and letting life pass you by.

But, like oh so many high school and college students, I wasted a lot of my time in the short- and long-term. I would sleep late on Saturdays, lose hours “hanging out” with friends and scrolling through Facebook and Tumblr endlessly.

In the long-term, I also was never sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I drifted through the easiest college courses, never really pushing myself to do better. It wasn’t until I hit around 25 that I realized I’d missed a large chunk of my life for absolutely no reason. The “good times” I’d had weren’t that great, and, in truth, I was always just passing time until something better came along.

What I realized is that nothing simply “comes along.” Life is what you make of it. If you’re unhappy with something in your life, there is nothing stopping you from making moves to change it.

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My problem in college was that I’d figured I’d already sunk time and money into studying toward one degree, so switching majors in the middle of my college career would be a hassle. Well, it would have been a minor hassle then, but it’s a major hassle now that I’m in the real world without a clue of where to go from here.

If I were able to go back in time and visit my younger self, first I would smack the beer can out of his hand and tell him to read more. Then, I would tell him to, as Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption says,”get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”

Stop Waiting, Go Out and Live Life

1. Good things don’t come to those who wait

The idea that good things come to those who wait works for children who rely on their parents for everything they desire in life. Once you have control of your own life, you need to go out and earn everything you desire and hope for in the world.

You’ll certainly need to be patient, such as when waiting for a call back after an interview, but you shouldn’t waste the time in-between just waiting for your phone to ring. In this world, you’ll reap while you sow, so you better make hay while the sun shines (ugh, two metaphors in one sentence. I apologize).

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2. Risks are necessary

Let me rephrase that: Calculated risks are necessary. I’m not saying you should do the whole “YOLO” thing kids talk about these days and put yourself in danger. But you definitely should take the leaps of faith that are necessary to push you forward in life.

If you never step out of your comfort zone, you’ll end up sitting on your couch watching sitcom reruns your entire life. Try to do something that scares you and makes you feel vulnerable every day.

There’s no point in getting out of bed today if you’re going to do the exact same thing you did yesterday. The world has a lot to offer; try to get as much out of it as you can.

3. Check your “what if’s” at the door

Again, do so calculatingly. If you’re thinking of taking a risk that will endanger you or someone else, you should definitely let “what if’s” dissuade you from acting maliciously or imprudently.

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But if the risk you’re taking involves public speaking, or asking a girl out, don’t let “what if’s” cripple you to the point of not going for it. The truth is, the negative thoughts you have about taking a risk are most likely greatly overblown.

If you drop your cue cards or stumble over your words while giving a speech, the worst thing that’ll happen is your audience might chuckle sympathetically. In the grand scheme of things, such small embarrassing moments are only remembered by you.

4. Your regrets and your past don’t define you

Everyone likes to say they have no regrets because they’ve learned from their mistakes. I highly doubt that’s true; everyone regrets something in their past, and would do anything to take back their mistakes.

But the past is the past, and if you truly have learned from your mistakes, you’ll never make them again, and you’re a stronger person for having learned from them. Life is a constant learning experience; if you find you’ve stopped learning, you should start taking life more seriously.

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5. Keep moving forward

Like I just said, if you’re not learning, you’re not living. I know life keeps you busy, and some days you just want to turn on the TV and stare into space for hours on end. But remember, you’ll never get that day back again. What good is “working for the weekend” if you spend your weekend half asleep?

Try to take advantage of every waking moment you have on this planet. It’s hard to do, but just think of how far ahead you’ll be of all the people binge watching a show on Netflix for the fourth time in the past year.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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