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Valuable Advice From Highly Successful People For Young People

Valuable Advice From Highly Successful People For Young People

One of the best ways for you to move forward and achieve your life’s goals, is by learning from the people who are already successful. By opening your heart to listen to their advice, you will probably reach your goals much faster. It is important to focus on the kind of attitude that you choose to display when you are at work turning your dreams into reality, rather than what you already know.

In the words of Leonardo da Vinci:

Learning never exhausts the mind.

These successful people have been through what you are currently going through and probably faced a lot of rejections before their companies grew. For them, now the challenges still exist, only on a whole different level. But they consistently have remained committed to their goals nonetheless. Because of this, there are a lot of life lessons you can learn through observing what they did to get to where they are now in life.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is much wiser to follow their footsteps and do the things these people have done to build their successful careers. Here are some valuable pieces of advice from highly successful people you can learn from:

1. Mary Barra: Do something You Are Passionate About

The CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra’s advice is to do something we love. In her own words,

“Do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry”.

You don’t know how long you are going to need do the things you are currently doing until you reach your vision of success. That’s why it is quite common for you to hear a lot of these successful people telling you not to aim for the money. Instead, you should do something you are passionate about. It takes great determination to keep on going, especially when the odds are stacked against you. But if you are doing something that you love, as Mary Barra put it, you are naturally going to succeed.

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2. Maya Angelou: Forgive Yourself

Maya Angelous was an American author, poet and civil rights activitist. She said that it is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you should forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better“.

It is very easy to  blame yourself for the mistakes you have made before. But by realizing that those mistakes can be a very good platform for your growth, you can discover more about yourself and ultimately, your true potential. The co-author of “The Effortless Entrepreneur”, Daylle Deanna Schwartz said “people get into trouble because they try so hard to be perfect and then they beat themselves up when they’re not”.

Instead of trying so hard to pin the blame on yourself for those mistakes, look at it as part of your learning curve instead.

3. Richard Branson: A Setback is Never a Bad Thing

The Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson has provided us with a very good perspective on learning from our mistakes. He said,

I never see a setback as a bad experience. It is just a learning curve.

As a serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson has had his own fair share of setbacks. He nearly failed when Virgin was in its early years. But through a combination of luck and planning, both of them (Richard Branson and the company) made it through the difficult period and prospered. From his setbacks, he learned very quickly to use them as a platform to learn more about the business. One lesson that is valuable to learn is the ability to adapt quickly to changes, and another is the ability to be quick to accept that something is not going well and either change tack or close the business.

4. J.K. Rowling: Embrace Failure

Seven books and eight blockbuster films later, the Harry Potter brand is valued at over $15 billion. Over 400 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide and translated into 67 languages. It is a massive success.

But when J.K. Rowling had just started out almost fifteen years ago, it was a very difficult time for her and her daughter. She had faced a lot of rejections from literary agents until her work was finally accepted by Christopher Little, providing her with the springboard to turn her work into the success that we know today.

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And during Rowling’s speech that she gave at a Harvard Commencement, she said something that could really resonate well with us,

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default“. 

5. Helena Foulkes: Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Helena Foulkes is the Executive Vice President of CVS Health Corporation. Her advice for those who strive to be successful in their lives is:

“You know what the finish line is that you really want to get to but, along the way, it’s not always pure joy. There are really hard moments. But if you keep your eye on the prize, it’s part of what drives you to get there”.

We often find examples of this attitude when we listen to stories of how highly successful people became successful.

Donald Trump is probably one of the best known entrepreneurs out there because of the reality show, “The Apprentice”. Forbes currently estimates his net worth to be at $4 billion.

What’s interesting is, he was in tons of debt in the late 1980s and by 1991, his increasing debt brought him to business bankruptcy. However, he did not take his eyes off the prize. He fought back by putting his focus back on his business and the late 1990s finally saw a resurgence in Donald Trump’s financial situation. He knew what he wanted and with his eyes on the prize, he was able to achieve the massive amount of financial success that we know him for today.

6. Indra Nooyi: Never Stop Learning

The Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi insists that we should never stop learning. She has said:

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“Wherever we are in our lives, whether we are entry-level employees fresh from college, or a CEO, we don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of  weakness. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.”

It is much easier for your learning process if you walk into all of the lessons that your life is giving you, by assuming you don’t know everything because by being a know-it-all, you are already pushing away the opportunities for you to learn something new, which could be very useful in your journey toward success.

In the words of Albert Einstein, “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

Joel Gascoigne, the co-Founder and CEO of Buffer demonstrates this point perfectly. Before Joel launched Buffer, he decided to test whether people would use the product and in order to do that, he created a minimal two page website without building the product at all.

He then shared the website with his followers on Twitter. When a few people visited the website and put in their emails, Joel began sending them personalized emails, asking for their feedback about Buffer. After he had received enough feedback, he got to work and built the full product.

Stories like this exhibit the nature of highly successful people. They never stop learning. Imagine if all of the successful people in the history of mankind settled only for their first major breakthrough, would the world be as magical as it is today?

7. Eric Schmidt: Say Yes to Things

Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt advises young people to find a way to say yes to things.

“Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well. Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”

It is very easy to say ‘yes’ to things, however it is not easy to follow up on this because it requires action, commitment and engagement from you.

When you say yes to an opportunity, you have to be prepared to do the all work that is required to keep your end of the bargain. However, with practice, as well as (again) action, commitment and engagement, this habit will be beneficial for your growth as you are able to learn more and build connections and trust with more people.

It is also a very good practice for character-building, to mold you into the person who is prepared to do what is necessary to turn your dreams into reality.

8. Mark Zuckerberg: Listen to Yourself

We must have faith in ourselves. That’s according to the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. His advice for young people, in his own words, is:

“The most important thing is to just have faith in yourself and trust yourself. When you’re young, you hear that you don’t have experience to do things, that there are people that have more experience than you. But I started Facebook when I was 19”

Almost of us who want to be successful will encounter people, including those who genuinely care about us like our parents and spouse, who will doubt what we do. This is simply because they cannot see clearly what we are currently seeing in our minds. In our minds, we have this great image of us being very successful doing what we are currently doing.

The founder of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie’s words resonate well with Mark Zuckerberg’s advice:

If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger–something that matters”.

No matter how young you are, you are still never too young to achieve something significant in your life and be successful. There will always be people who will tell you that it is not possible for you and all the good ideas are already implemented elsewhere anyway. But remember, Zuckerberg did say, “I started Facebook when I was 19”.

Featured photo credit: Richard Branson/ NRKBETA via flickr.com

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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.

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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