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5 ways we can all be smarter

5 ways we can all be smarter

How many of you entrepreneurs have felt burnt out, tired or unmotivated? Chances are you have, probably more often than you’d like. It’s common to be frustrated with your efforts and feel unsatisfied with where your business is going. It seems like you’re doing all the right things, so where are the results?

Thankfully, humans have the innate ability to learn vicariously through other people’s experiences. Our civilization has had tons of incredibly intelligent, pioneering people come and go for us to learn from. We’re also fortunate to have the Internet, which lets us research these individuals at any time; the power of knowledge is a click away.

This article will focus on five ways you can work smarter as an entrepreneur. We’ll talk about work/life balance, networking and what needs to be done to succeed as an entrepreneur, supported by quotes from talented people in our society.

1. Get rid of the need for perfection!

 

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    “Your first projects aren’t the greatest things in the world, and they may have no money value, they may go nowhere, but that is how you learn – you put so much effort into making something right if it is for yourself.” – Steve Wozniak

    Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak knows a thing or two about working and self-effort. Perfection can be a monster that forces you to strive to meet the standards of others. Perfection can drive you crazy from the amount of time and effort you spend chasing it. Smart people realize that their best work won’t come on the first, second, third, fourth or even fifth try. Don’t let perfection be your Achilles heel.

    Perfection holds us in the past and disrupts our ability to focus on what’s important. Once you deem something perfect, it loses its ability to grow or get better. When it comes to your business, this is absolutely unacceptable. Just like with the people in our lives, sometimes it’s the little quirks and flaws that make you special. Striving for excellence in what you do and how you serve people is necessary, but looking for perfection in every area of your business will have you spinning your wheels.

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    “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    2. Get ready to give before you receive

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      To make the transition from entrepreneur to running a full-fledged business, you’ll need the support of your community. It’s easy to run a successful business when people in your community know who you are and recognize you for being helpful. Giving back works best, when you expect nothing in return. Think about it as your “civic duty”. You can take pride in helping out other people in your community, and if you’re lucky you may be repaid in opportunity.

      Giving back to your community is a great way to meet prominent people in local companies, local business owners, local media persons and just people in general. The smaller the place you live, the more important this becomes.

      “The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.” – Mary Ritter Beard

      While you should give back without looking for anything in return, volunteer work inevitably comes with some benefits. Volunteering helps with branding your business as one that cares and at the same time you’re actually helping real people. If you have employees, volunteering is great for engaging everyone and building team camaraderie. As an entrepreneur, you should strongly consider including giving back as a part of your business routine.

      3. Practicing gratitude will help you feel less overwhelmed

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        The life of an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Even the most grizzled entrepreneur veterans will admit to this, it takes an almost inhuman amount of discipline and focus. While you work may seem to be never-ending, it’s important that you still enjoy your life.

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        Finding happiness as an entrepreneur will follow finding a balance between your work and the things that make you happy. You can’t just plow away through your life and work at full speed all the time. Without setting aside the time for breaks, you’re guaranteed to crash and burn out.  Remember that taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important as getting work done.

        “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” – Maria Edgeworth

        It’s easy to become consumed with your work, especially if you have a burning passion for success or to attain your goals. Although an entrepreneur’s life is associated with freedom, sometimes this freedom can turn you into a slave to your own desires. Staying in the moment is an excellent way to avoid this. Think back to why you started your own business, was it to work 24/7 and still feel stressed about getting nothing done?

        Remember that your work will always be there, and that half the fun is in the journey anyways. You’re almost guaranteed to endure your fair share of failures, especially if you want to attain high levels of success. Taking the time to relax every day will help you mentally put things in perspective and return to work with a new energy.

        “You can’t be an entrepreneur for other people. You can’t start a company for other people. You have to love it more than you ever thought of loving something that wasn’t a human being. The demands will kick you down and rob your life – but yet, it is so rewarding.” – Blake Lively

        4. Read, Read, Read. And when you’re done, read some more.

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          “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” – Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

          It goes without saying that knowledge is key to your success as an entrepreneur. Knowledge makes it easier to make good decisions as well as save you time and money. An uneducated entrepreneur does their own business a disservice by not being committed to growing their knowledge base. New insights will help you find new unique and efficient ways to get things done as well as discover new opportunities.

          Reading is also a complex task that gets multiple parts of your brain active at the same time. Reading makes you sharper, promotes brain health and can even slow diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia from developing. When you read on a regular basis, it helps to improve your short-term memory ability.

          Think about it: to read a story you have to remember the characters, where they came from, the important keys to the story and the subplots. Getting your brain to do all of this helps with your memory, and it will also expand your vocabulary. As an entrepreneur, you really have no reason not to read! Even if it’s for fun, you should try and read daily.

          5. It’s not going to be easy!

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            Entrepreneurship is rewarding in many different ways: monetarily, spiritually and mentally. Entrepreneurship is also difficult, demanding and lonely. It’s important to remember as an entrepreneur, and in life, in general, you have to take the good with the bad. Your time as an entrepreneur won’t be all sunshine and roses; in fact, you’ll probably experience more stormy days at first.

            Entrepreneurs aren’t very likely to have many friends who understand their stresses of running a business on a daily basis. You might even be forced to sacrifice relationships for your work, which can further make you lonely. Your inner motivation and desire to achieve your goals is what will keep you going.

            “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee

            As Bruce Lee said, you “survive by bending with the wind”. Both good and bad times will come; it’s up to you what you focus on during those times. It may be tempting to do nothing and brood in self-pity during difficult times, and sometimes you may even be justified in feeling like a victim. But any entrepreneur who wants to make progress needs to keep a clear mind in the face of adversity.

            During bad times, ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing now going to help me get out of this situation? Will it help prevent similar situations?” If the answer is no, then it’s clear what you need to do. Don’t shy away from hardships as an entrepreneur. Everything you avoid because it’s “hard” is a chance that you pass up to get better.

            Applying these five things to your business will help you plan out smarter steps to your success. Remember that it’s not always about how hard you work compared to what you work on. The five things discussed in this article will contribute to the growth of your network, business and help you achieve balance in your life.

            Getting rid of the need for perfection, embracing hardships and cherishing your life will help you approach problems with a new perspective. Reading and giving back to your community will make you more knowledgeable about your industry and your community.

            Featured photo credit: New Scientist via newscientist.com

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            Last Updated on August 20, 2019

            How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

            How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

            Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

            Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

            I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

            You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

            Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

            When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

            I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

            Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

            Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

            Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

            1. The Inner Critic

            This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

            • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
            • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
            • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
            • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

            The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

            Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

            2. The Worrier

            This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

            The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

            3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

            This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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            This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

            The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

            4. The Sleep Depriver

            This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

            The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

            • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
            • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
            • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
            • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

            How can you control these squatters?

            How to Master Your Mind

            You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

            Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

            There are two ways to control your thoughts:

            • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
            • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

            This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

            The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

            Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

            For the Inner Critic

            When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

            You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

            For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

            You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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            “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

            If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

            • They rile up the Worrier.
            • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
            • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
            • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
            • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

            Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

            Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

            For the Worrier

            Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

            Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

            You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

            • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tense

            Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

            If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

            Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

            “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

            Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

            If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

            Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

            Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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            For example:

            If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

            “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

            Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

            “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

            Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

            For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

            Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

            The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

            • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tension

            I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

            Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

            Breathe in through your nose:

            • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
            • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
            • Focus on your belly rising.

            Breathe out through your nose:

            • Feel your lungs emptying.
            • Focus on your belly falling.
            • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

            Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

            Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

            One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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            Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

            For the Sleep Depriver

            (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

            I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

            Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

            1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
            2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

            When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

            From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

            For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

            If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

            You can also use this technique any time you want to:

            • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
            • Shut down your thinking.
            • Calm your feelings.
            • Simply focus on the present moment. 

            The Bottom Line

            Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

            You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

            Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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            Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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