“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
The road to success is a hard one that, quite often, leads us to failures that turn into low points in our lives. It requires a lot of hard work, patience and courage to face challenges; things that do not come easy. Failure before success is the norm but the fact remains that it is simply a step towards success.
Many famous people have had to overcome numerous hurdles on their journey to become successful. Their failures brought them to the lowest points of their lives (where many would consider giving up or retreating). Nonetheless, their hard work delivered them what they struggled for and their determination is now an inspiration to many.
If you ever find yourself feeling down about failures in your life and are in need of a little inspiration to push through it, here are some inspirational stories of people who pressed forward through hard times to find success and become famous.
1. Walt Disney
Walt Disney had had his fair share of failures- he was fired from his job in the Kansas City Star paper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”; his Mickey Mouse cartoons were rejected for being “too scary for women”; ‘The Three Little Pigs’ was also turned down because it only had four characters; his first business venture, Laugh-O-Gram animation studio landed in bankruptcy.
Stepping forward through failures, he built the Walt Disney Company which now rakes in billions. Rumor has it that he was turned down 302 times before he finally got financing for the Walt Disney Company.
2. Harrison Ford
Before Harrison Ford was Han Solo and Indiana Jones, he was a self-taught carpenter in his 30s, struggling to take care of his family. He had small roles in TV shows but barely enough to support his family. So he became a carpenter.Advertising
He was building cabinets in George Lucas’s house who offered him a supporting role in “American Graffiti” at age 29. But his big break was 6 years later in Star Wars as Han Solo, created by the same George Lucas.
3. Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone had had a tough break before he was a Hollywood star. In his 20s, he used to be a deli counter attendant and was so broke that he sold his wife’s jewelry. At a point he was so desperate that he had to sell his dog to a stranger at a liquor store for $25.
He says that was the lowest point in his life where he walked away crying. Then, he made “Rocky” happen and the rest of the story is out in the open. Guess what he did with his first pay? He bought back his dog for $15000.
4. J.K Rowling
Now one of the richest women in the world, J K Rowling was once penniless, divorced, raising a child alone and going through series of depressions.
She was so broke that she didn’t even have the money to print the manuscript of Harry Potter which, therefore, she typed all 9000 plus words on an old typewriter manually to submit to the publisher.
5. Arianna Huffington
The president and the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post is a prominent figure in US Politics but she has had a bitter taste of failure when she finished fifth with only 0.55 percent of the vote in 2003 California’s gubernatorial race.
Despite having sold her first book successfully, her second book was rejected 36 times. She has now published 13 books and the success of The Huffington Post is incredible–all suggesting that she learned a great deal from her failures.Advertising
6. Donald Trump
Donald Trump was once $1 billion in debt. He owed billions of dollars in the early 1990s and newspapers were saying he was done for good. One day, he said to his daughter, pointing out a homeless man, “See that bum? He has a billion dollars more than me.” That, he says, was the lowest point in his life.
Then, he made happen the biggest financial turnaround in history for which he is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. He was once $1 billion in debt but Donald Trump net worth now is $4.5 billion.
7. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is, undisputedly, the most famous basketball player in the world. As a kid, he knew he loved basketball and wanted to make a career out of it but no coach would take him because he was short.
The basketball legend was rejected from his high school’s varsity basketball team. Jordan pressed forward through all these failures which defined his success.
8. Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four and he did not read until he was seven. His parents and teachers thought he was slow, mentally handicapped and anti-social. He was expelled from school and was denied admittance in Zurich Polytechnic School.
Now Einstein is a household name, a synonym to “genius”–credited for having changed the world with his discoveries.
9. Abraham LincolnAdvertising
Young Abraham Lincoln was once promoted to captain, but he returned home a low-ranked private. Then he tried on many businesses, all of which landed in failure.
Coming from a very poor family, he went on to become a successful lawyer through a great deal of hardship. He lost several runs for public office, none of which could dissuade him from trying and becoming the president of the United States.
10. Jim Carrey
This successful comedian, at one point of time, was living in a VW bus with his family, parked throughout Canada. His family was so poor that he had to drop out of high school to find a job.
He took a job of a janitor just to support his family. Carrey says that he developed a sense of humor growing up during these financially tough times.
11. Stephen King
We all know about the success of this master of horror. Only a few of us know that his bestselling novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published. He actually threw away the manuscript in the trash out of despair.
He came from a poor family and worked as an English teacher, selling short stories to magazines to supplement his income. Today, he has over 50 novels selling over 350 million copies.
12. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” so his mother took him off the school and taught him herself. Also he was fired from his first two jobs for not being “productive enough”.Advertising
Ironically, Thomas Edison is now considered one of the greatest innovators of all time. His success after over 10,000 failed attempts to invent a commercially viable lightbulb has set a good example of what perseverance truly is.
13. Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest movie makers of our time who gave us the movies like Jaws, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan and a few more. It sounds incredible that he was rejected from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema Arts – not once but twice.
He didn’t let that drag him off track from his dream of movie making; he pressed on and now he’s successful enough to donate money and buildings to the same school where he was once rejected.
14. Henry Ford
Henry Ford set up one of the most successful automotive companies of all time but he is no stranger to failure. In 1899, he formed the Detroit Automobile Company. It went bankrupt.
Again in 1901, he formed the Henry Ford Company. That too went bankrupt. It was the Ford Motor Company, his third attempt that drove him up to the peak of success and revolutionized the automobile industry.
15. Oprah Winfrey
This TV icon has had a very tragic past. Born in a poor family, she gave birth at age 14 and lost the child. She used to be molested by her cousins, uncles and family friends. She rose from all that hardship to work in TV.
Now she is one of the richest women in the world with net worth of $2.9 billion.
Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org
Published on January 16, 2019
How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work
We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.
You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.
You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.
That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.
Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:
1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All
Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.
We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.
To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.
At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.
The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.
2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.
The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.
In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.
It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.
It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.
So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:
- Are you a great strategist?
- Are you an effective planner?
- Is Project Management your strength?
- Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
- Are you the ideas person?
- Is Implementation your strength?
Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.
3. Use the Strengths of Your Team
One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.
Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.
Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.
Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.
4. Take Time for Planning
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln
One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.
You can take the time to think about:
- What’s the purpose of the project?
- How Important is it?
- When does it need to be delivered by?
- What is the best result and worst result for this project?
- What are the KPIs?
- What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
- Who is working on this project?
- What is everyone’s responsibilities?
- What tolerances can I add in?
- What are the review stages?
- What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?
Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.
5. Focus on Priorities
Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.
Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.
One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:
- Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
- Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
- Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
- Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).
James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box
The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.
If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.
If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.
6. Take Time Out
To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.
If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.
Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.
In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.
Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.
7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.
I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.
Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.
If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.
8. Stop Multitasking
Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.
So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.
When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.
If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.
9. Work in Blocks of Time
To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.
I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.
Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.
Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.
Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.
Then take another 10-minute break.
Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.
By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.
10. Get Rid of Distractions
Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.
“Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”
Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.
If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.
11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks
You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.
Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.
Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.
12. Take a Time Audit
Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?
Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.
You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:
Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.
Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.
At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.
If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.
13. Protect Your Confidence
It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.
When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.
Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.
When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.
A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.
The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.
If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.
Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com
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