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7 Ways To Live A Fruitful And Successful Life

7 Ways To Live A Fruitful And Successful Life

The success business is an emerging area of influence and entrepreneurship. Talk show host and comedian Steve Harvey has created his “Act Like a Success” brand, which includes seminars, coaching, and books. Richard St. John, an expert who has conducted research about success, may be best know to global audiences via his TED talk, “8 Secrets of Success,” which has been viewed almost 8 million times. Although success can be defined and taught in numerous ways, it is not only connected to money and fame.

Through taking deliberate actions, anyone can become a success.

Below are 7 simple steps to make every day of your life matter, and to live a more fruitful and successful life:

1. Reflect purposefully on what you currently do, and on your values and beliefs.

For a day, keep a small journal with you. As you watch TV or interact with others, take time to reflect about what you think or hear. Also, reflect on your perspectives and determine if you like your responses. To help you to identify your values, listen to others and imagine what you would do if you were in another person’s situation. If difficult situations occur at work, do you respond in a way that reflects your true values and beliefs? If not, what held you back? After reading your day’s reflection, determine what you want to change and what you don’t want to change.This list will be the beginning of creating a happier you.

2. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you and don’t just tolerate you.

Care about what other people think, and you will always be their prisoner. – Lao Tzu

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Abuse is not limited to physical blows. Life is too short to be unhappy and to be surrounded by negative people. Take inventory of the 10 closest relationships in your life. Classify them in one of three ways:

  1. People who give you energy
  2. People who neither take away or give you much energy
  3. People who take energy from you.

If you discover that you have too many people who drain you in your daily life, it’s time to remove many of them. This might not mean that you stop talking to them altogether, but deliberately reduce the amount of time that you allow them to pull energy from you.

On the other hand, if you find that you have few to no people in your life who are bringing positive thoughts and energy into your life, add new people to your personal and/or professional network. Your positive contacts should include people who care enough about you to tell you what you need to hear- not what you want to hear.

Evaluate your top 10 contacts for one week like this, and notice the positive changes that will occur in your life.

3. Bloom where you are planted.

This advice is some of the best that I have received. When I moved to Lafayette, Indiana, from Nashville, Tennessee, ten years ago, and realized that there were limited cultural resources available for black women, I was angry and disappointed. I had moved from a metropolitan city to a place where approximately 2.5% of the people in the county were black. In ten years, I have relied on cable television, social media, and satellite radio to stay connected to the resources that were important to me. Although we still don’t have a great soul food restaurant in town, I have learned to use Pinterest to find ways to expand my cooking and professional skills while staying connected to the things and people that I love.

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Whether you are in a situation that is uncomfortable or you are engaged in activities that don’t align with the expectations of where you should be or what you should be doing, identify positive aspects of your situation. Seek advocates and mentors who can serve as bridges between your current situation and your proposed situation.

Also, develop a gratitude and success journal so that when positive occurrences happen in your life, you can refer back to your enjoyable moments. You may archive pictures, letters, cards, e-mails and other artifacts that reflect celebratory times in your life.

4. Set reasonable short-term and long-term goals.

Many people think that success happens by chance.

I’m not one of those people.

People need to develop both personal and professional short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals may consist of plans for the next 1-6 months, while long-term goals may consist of plans for the next 5+ years. My professional short-term goals are to graduate three engineering doctoral students next spring and summer and to set up a project management plan for a $1.4 million grant that is to be awarded in the next few weeks. My professional long-term goals are to grow my educational business to multi-million dollar status and to become a Dean, Provost, and/or President of a university.

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To achieve your short-term and long-term goals, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my ultimate dream?
  • What would I be willing to do for free if money was not an issue?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?

Document these responses in an app, or an electronic/ paper journal. Translate your thoughts into actionable tasks so that you can track your progress.

5. Thank people for their support.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

A few years ago, when a top official at my university took time out of his schedule for me to interview him, I thanked him by writing a thank you note and by sending him a small box of homemade chocolates from a local candy shop. Three years later, he became the president of a major university. Last year, I asked him to serve as a reference for me for an amazing new position, and he didn’t hesitate to speak on my behalf. I have no doubt that his reference carried much weight in the decision process.

Nothing makes people feel better than gratitude. When you appreciate others, they want to help you. Good seeds produce good fruit. In a world when many people are selfish, want to be first, and want to acquire the best of everything for themselves, gratitude stands out in a big way. Establish your gratitude reputation by writing handwritten letters or sending electronic cards of appreciation to people who have supported you, given you a gift, or have influenced you in a positive way. Although your intention for being kind to someone should not be to get something from someone, the people who you thank will not forget that you took time out of your busy schedule to think of them and to appreciate their presence in your life.

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6. Resurrect your dead dreams.

As children, we are taught to dream and to dream big. At some point in our lives, however, the practicality of adulthood settles in, and we start being safe in most, if not all, areas of our lives. Success, however, sometimes requires us to become radical in our thinking and in our actions. Think back to that one thing that you wanted to achieve when your teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. For me, it was to become the Governor of Alabama. I don’t know why, at the age of 7, I wanted to achieve that goal. As I’ve gotten older, however, I realize that I really enjoy people and politics. I want to make life better for others, and I want to create and implement policies that improve education. Last month, I seriously thought about what a political future might look like for me. Look out, Kanye West, I might see you at a presidential debate in 2020!

In the same way, take time to reflect deeply about your dreams. List them, note which dreams are still burning within you, and connect to people and resources that can help you to achieve the short-term and long-term goals connected to your dreams. Don’t forget to share your dreams with the people who give you energy.

7. End each day in peace.

Life can be stressful, but happiness is a choice. You must decide on purpose not to let others’ baggage become your baggage. Shut down e-mail and all technology at least one hour before bed. Engage in an activity that calms you and allows you to reflect on the positive occurrences of the day. This might be writing in your journal, enjoying a warm beverage, or meditating. No matter how bad your day may have been, know that the next day brings an opportunity to start over and to change the world.

In conclusion, you have the power to become a success regardless of what you look like, how much money you make, or who you do or do not know. Your success begins with deliberate choices to make positive changes in your life.

No one is stopping you but yourself.

Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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