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13 Top Billionaires’ Tips on Positive Thinking—and Why It Matters

13 Top Billionaires’ Tips on Positive Thinking—and Why It Matters

In popular culture, people know that they are supposed to “think positive.” We all sort of know that we should scotch-tape affirmations to our bathroom mirrors and say “I love you” to ourselves, and keep our chins up (presumably while reading those mirror-stuck affirmations)

But why?

Well, on the surface of it, if you think positive, you’re not thinking negative, and therefore, you’re not grumpy and depressed. That’s a pretty good reason on its own. After all, who else but a poet or an emo musician wants to be grumpy and depressed?

But research shows that there are very real and measurable benefits to consciously cultivating and maintaining a positive, optimistic view on life.

The Mayo Clinic has proved conclusively that optimists have lower levels of cardiovascular disease and longer life-spans. Furthermore, they found that pessimists’ health deteriorated more speedily as they aged.

Researchers at Yale and the University of Colorado discovered that pessimism is correlated with a diminished immune response to tumors and infection.

Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, has done landmark work that shows that positive, optimistic people have deeper and broader social networks, are more effective communicators, and are more resilient, seeing failure as a learning experience rather than as a confirmation of their ineptness, and therefore they believe they can do better in the future.

Moreso, in a broad study of insurance salespeople, he found that the optimistic ones sold 37% more policies than pessimists, who were twice as likely to abandon their career during their first 12 months of employment.

Seligman gives guidelines on how to cultivate optimism for those of us who have developed negative habits in his book, Learned Optimism.

But you don’t have to only look at the research to see that a positive outlook on life and optimism breeds success. When you look at the lives of billionaire innovators, you see that a positive mindset keeps the minds of the highly successful focused on what is possible rather than on what blocks them; on alternatives rather than on roadblocks; on creative solutions rather than on blame.

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1. Imagine you’re on the threshold of success.

Andrew Carnegie, though often viewed as a shrewd and tight-fisted Scotsman, was actually a veritable starburst of sunny optimism.

“Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

Carnegie, who famously hired Napoleon Hill to gather up the wisdom of the rich and powerful in a project that produced the book Think and Grow Rich, grounded his optimism in utter 100% responsibility in his own internal resources.

“Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs.”

Positivity gives the mega-successful the internal fuel to power through downturns and what others would call failure.

2. Keep moving forward.

Mark Zuckerberg veritably defined our fast-paced innovation culture with his most famous quote:

“Fail fast and break things.”

3. Think like a queen.

Or in Oprah’s words:

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”

4. Failure isn’t the end; it is the beginning.

Failure among billionaires is understood to be part of the creative whirlwind that is the very life of business. Success in not an endpoint. It’s merely a link in the continuing spiral.

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“Failure is just a resting place. It is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

– Henry Ford

“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas Edison

5. Abundant chance is all around you.

Sheldon Adelson, the toilet-kit salesman come multi-billionaire mastermind of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation expresses the optimistic mindset that failure is not only necessary, but that opportunity is unlimited.

“For me, businesses are like buses. You stand on a corner and you don’t like where the first bus is going? Wait ten minutes and take another. Don’t like that one? They’ll just keep coming. There’s no end to buses or businesses.”

6. Find the courage to continue.

Optimism may come easy to some. For others, it’s the cultivated result of another quality, which Churchill identified as courage:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

7. Own your mistakes—

Optimism and positive thinking feed our courage. Courage need not be heroic. Rather it may merely be the cool-headed outgrowth of a positive belief in yourself.

When Howard Schultz discovered that one of his most costly innovations had utterly flopped and cost the company nearly $100 million, he walked into his boardroom, looked his board in the eye and said, “Tactical mistake. Next.” No hand-wringing. No self-loathing. In fact, his entire ethos is summarized in the title of his memoir, “Onward.”

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8. —and then move on.

Similarly, Steve Jobs:

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

Jobs elaborated on his philosophy by applying his belief in innovation not only to his work, but to himself as well.

“If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away.”

An optimist is open to the adventure of self-growth, and doesn’t cling to the past or present as a pessimist might, believing things can only get worse.

9. Trust your hard work.

Optimism is akin to faith, not merely in yourself but in something greater than yourself. Jobs, a noted mystic, put it this way:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

10. Seek to help others.

Billionaires optimistically believe in a better world and see their efforts as contributing to it. As Peter Diamantis observed:

“The best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.”

Sergei Brin, Co-Founder of Google, when asked what really drove him, and what spurred his company to its stratospheric growth, replied:

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“I would like to see anyone be able to achieve their dreams, and that’s what this organization does”

11. When in doubt, don’t be evil.

In fact, Google’s well-known slogan “Don’t be evil” stemmed from nothing other than a profoundly positive intent:

“We have tried to define precisely what it means to be a force for good—always do the right, ethical thing. Ultimately, “Don’t be evil” seems the easiest way to summarize it”

12. Have high expectations of yourself.

Billionaires often seek to create something great. Some are driven by the desire to have a great impact. Others just expect that greatness is before them. As Sam Walton says:

“High expectations are the key to everything.”

13. Be relentless.

However, this doesn’t mean that billionaires go about their businesses like starry-eyed Pollyannas. Kazuo Inamori, a Japanese entrepreneur who founded two multi-billion dollar companies claims that while developing a new product or strategy, you begin optimistically.

However, once the planning stage begins, he says you must “become a pessimist” in order to spot every obstacle in the way. Then, he says, he returns to optimism for the execution phase.

In the end, billionaires teach us that optimism is not a gift. It is a strategy.

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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