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8 Boulders You Need To Remove On Your Way To Success

8 Boulders You Need To Remove On Your Way To Success

Success is not one simple act, it’s a summation of your habits. In today’s world so many people want to become an overnight success. However, what you don’t realize is that the most successful people work extremely hard. For example, Jack Ma (founder of Alibaba) credits his success to hard work and dedication. NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant would wake up at 4:00 A.M. to practice free-throws by himself before official practice started with the Olympic team hours later. He literally practiced before practice!

Perfecting and practicing your craft are keys to success. The best way you can systematize doing those things is by creating positive habitsLike Jim Ryuh says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Today, I want to share eight bad habits standing in your way of massive success, and how you can tackle them head-on to achieve your dreams.

Bad Habit #1: Not being disciplined with your time

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, time is our most precious and limited resource. There are only 24 hours in one day. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that you’ll wake up tomorrow. That being said, it’s critical that you’re disciplined with your time. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, gets up at 4:30 A.M. every day. How’s that for discipline?

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Sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday is good for your body and helpful in setting a disciplined, daily routine. Besides being strict about when you wake up and go to bed, it’s also important to be protective of your time. A great tactic to do this is to designate a few days or specific hours throughout the week for “success time.” These are blocks of time where you only focus on doing things that contribute to your personal goals, whether it’s learning a new language or working on a side business. By designating your “success time,” you’ll be able to focus on the things that matter most to you and will be less tempted to say “yes” to last minute social invitations or distractions that can get in your way. You also have to be able to say “no” to committing to things that don’t interest or benefit you. Remember, the few hours you spend doing something you’re not that into are hours that you could have spent learning or growing yourself.

Bad Habit #2: Analysis Paralysis 

Do you spend way too much time trying to decide minor things, like what you’ll order at a restaurant or which toothpaste to buy? Successful people have a track record of making tough decisions with limited time and information. You have to develop habits that can help you do the same. If you struggle with analysis paralysis, challenge yourself to make better decisions faster. Contemplating over minor decisions is inefficient and time-consuming. Humans have limited willpower, so you’ll want to use your willpower for decisions that really matter.

One of the best ways to simplify decision making is to limit the number of options to choose from. The paradox of choice (which has been proven in numerous studies) states that when we’re presented with too many options we become overwhelmed and are then unable to make any decision at all. By narrowing down your choices to the top two or three options you’ll be able to decide faster.

While you can limit the number of options, you can also limit the amount of time that you have to decide something. If you’ve ever had a job offer, you know how effective a deadline can be when it comes to forcing you to make a decision fairly quickly. So if you’ve been debating about an important decision for years, give yourself one week to decide and see how much faster you’ll pick a path!

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Bad Habit #3: Dwelling on the Past

We’ve all done things that we may have regretted, perhaps it was that missed promotion or the company you could have joined that just IPO’d. While it’s great to observe the past and learn from your history, dwelling on the past will only hold you back. Like the Buddha taught, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream in the future, concentrate on the mind on the present moment.” Focusing on the present moment will help shift your mind’s focus from the past and into the moment. It will help you feel more connected and grateful for the journey you’re on now, rather than thinking about the mistakes of the past.

How do you break out of this nasty habit? Set a reminder that alerts you a few times a day to do what I like to call a “mental double check.” It’s simply a way to check-in with yourself to make sure that you’re focused and engrossed in the present moment. When you get the reminder, check-in on your mind and figure out where your mind is. If you find yourself focusing on the past, take a few deep breaths and close your eyes to feel grounded in the moment so you can reset and get present again. If you realize that you actually are living in the moment, celebrate that achievement!

Bad Habit #4:  Negative Self-Talk

Does that little voice in your head get you down? Remember, we become the things that we tell ourselves. Like Henry Ford says, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t. You’re right.” Your mental habits can make or break you. It’s important to get a hold of that little voice in your head, especially when it’s telling you that you suck.

So how can you start controlling that voice in your head so it doesn’t control you? Start taking note of the cues that trigger negative self-talk, it may be when you make a minor mistake or step into the office. Next, realize the routine that you’re in, are you complaining and being negative or telling yourself you’re not “good enough” to be there? Finally, rather than give into that negative voice, transform that thought into a positive one. Rather than beating yourself up for making a small mistake, immediately turn that thought into a positive statement about yourself. Another alternative is to simply own the mistake and propose how you will make sure that you will improve the next time. By distracting your mind with a positive thought or brainstorming how you’ll improve the next time around, you’ll stop yourself from triggering the usual negative self-talk that makes you feel like crap.

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Bad Habit #5: Taking Things for Granted

No matter what issue you may be facing or how horrible the world may seem at a given moment, there is always something that you can be grateful for, it may be a family member or friend or something “minor” like a roof over your head. Being grateful is such an important habit to develop. Successful entrepreneurs like Oprah and Tony Robbins constantly practice it. Practicing gratitude is not only good for the soul, but studies have shown that it also lowers stress levels and increases quality of life. Grateful people also tend to exercise more and eat healthier.

An easy way to practice gratitude is to make a daily or weekly list of things you’re grateful for. These can be big or little things from people in your life, to running water in your apartment! Write it down in solitude. Find a quiet environment to truly internalize the things and reflect on what you’re grateful for. 

Bad Habit #6: Staying in your Comfort Zone

Being successful means trying new things, meeting new people, and being open to different opportunities. With big risk comes big reward, so don’t limit yourself to your current comfort zone of your job, usual friends, and activities. Switch it up and start challenging yourself! The road to success is not easy, so learning how to adapt in different environments now can help you down the road. Like successful business coach Brian Tracy says, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

So how can you start expanding your comfort zone? A great resource is Meetup.com.  Explore an interest you don’t have a lot of expertise in but want to learn more about and dive even deeper. Get to know new people who you can learn from and aren’t part of your usual social circle. Other ways to step out of your comfort zone include reading books or watching movies that are totally out of the usual genres you expose yourself to. 

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Bad Habit #7: Hanging Around Limiting People

You are the company you keep, so be sure you’re surrounded by supportive and positive people. Take a quick survey of the people who you spend the most time with. Are those people optimistic and positive? On the road to success you don’t have any time for negativity or pessimism. If you notice that the people you spend time with aren’t supporting you, then distance yourself. Find people who share your interests and encourage you to reach your goals. In today’s age there are so many awesome forums to find like-minded people, like Facebook groups, Slack, online forums, and Twitter where you can find a supportive tribe or even create your own!

Bad Habit #8: Comparing Yourself to Others

On the road to success be sure to define your own path. It’s easy to look at other people in the media or on your social networks and feel jealous of what they’ve got, but you never know the story behind the story. What may seem like an “overnight” success was usually years and years of blood, sweat and tears. Comparing yourself to other people can make you feel like you’re not good enough. To kick this habit, limit your time on social networks. This study showed that more than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings after using Facebook. They were also more likely to feel envious and experience lower levels of life satisfaction.

If you want to be really vigilant of the time you’re using on social media you can track it using apps like RescueTime or MinutesPlease. Remember, you’re on your own unique journey. You’re the only person who truly owns your own experience, so don’t worry about what other people are doing. Spend your time focusing on your own growth and achievement.

Conclusion

The path to success is paved with twists and turns, in order to achieve your dreams you have to build the right habits to get you there. Understanding the boulders that can get in your way will make you better equipped to tackle them head-on so you can attain massive success!

Featured photo credit: Paxson Woelber via flic.kr

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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