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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 March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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