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13 Useful Hacks to Bolster Your Personal Growth

13 Useful Hacks to Bolster Your Personal Growth

When you think of “hack” articles, you might think of articles that feature collections of household goods arranged in creative ways that you would not normally think of, that make life easier. This article, however, is to introduce you to 13 social and mental tricks and principles you can use to improve your life, overcome social shyness, and flex that social muscle.

1. Confidence Pose

If you ever need a boost to your confidence to help you power through your day, adopt a powerful pose, and feel your testosterone rise and your cortisol (stress hormone) fall. Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk here for more.

2. Benjamin Franklin Effect

There’s a little trick called the Benjamin Franklin Effect that says if someone does you a favor, they will like you more as a result. Our brains like to justify our behaviors, so when someone does a favor for you, their subconscious will convince them that they did the favor for you because they liked you. Read more about it here.

3. Unattainability

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Things that are out of reach are always more desirable. Studies show that women find men more attractive if they are married than if they are single. Remember this next time you feel really needy towards someone. Do you want them because you would enjoy a sustainable relationship with them, or because you can’t have them?

4. Contrast Principle

Things always seem better when placed next to something worse. When a salesman tries to sell you a car for 50 thousand dollars, it probably sounds like an unfriendly deal. When they then offer you a 10 thousand dollar car, with a couple thousand dollars in add-ons (sunroof, satellite radio, rims, etc.) then it might sound like a steal. You might not normally get all the special add-ons, but after comparing it to the initial offer, it sounds like a great deal. The Contrast Principle can be tricky in this way. It is best to compare what you are being offered to your own initial expectation, instead of feeling like you have a steal after hearing a much-worse price.

5. Reciprocation

Whether we want to or not, we will feel obligated to reciprocate whatever people give to us. You don’t have to like the person at all in order to be subjected to this feeling. Ever wonder why poor homeless people will clean your windshield while you are on the road? They know you will feel obligated to reciprocate, and they take advantage of it. When you feel that urge to keep the conversation going after someone new has broken the ice with you, that is reciprocation at work.

6. Self-fulfilling prophecy

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Although ominous-sounding, the self-fulfilling prophecy is easy to take advantage of. The premise is simple: give someone a positive characteristic to live up to, and stand back and watch them try to live up to their new expectation. If you tell someone that they are funny, intelligent, or awesome to be around, they will do their best to live up to their standard. They will want to live up to their expectation, and they won’t want you to be wrong about how you think about them.

7. Foot-in-the-door

The foot in the door technique is another simple social hack. If you can get someone to do you a favor, they will be more likely to do more favors for you in the future. They will have convinced themselves that you are someone worth doing favors for, and they don’t want to be wrong about you.

8. Consistency principle

The consistency principle helps explain both the self-fulfilling prophecy, the foot-in-the-door technique, and the Benjamin Franklin Effect. Basically it means that humans are wired to be consistent- and that once we come up with a conclusion in our mind (oh, this person is funny), from then on we will try to convince ourselves that we are correct. Do you ever wonder why people who are thought of as “funny” can say stupid things that people laugh at, while when you say something you deem to be funny and nobody gets it? It’s because they don’t expect it out of you, and they don’t get the satisfaction of feeling like they are right about their initial thoughts of you. Knowing this can help you try to actively change what people think of you.

9. Never fear saying stupid things

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In a recent MIT study (found in this book), they found that what impacts you when people speak to you is not the content of what they said, but how you felt when speaking to them. Instead of worrying about trying to say the right thing all the time, think more about what kind of emotions you bring out in people. Are you associated with positive emotions? If you bring out the right emotions in people, the right things to say will flow freely.

10. Body language indicates success

Another recent study done by MIT found that the outcome of 87% of sales pitches can be correctly guessed by only observing body language. See #1 for more on the implications of having confident body language.

11. Remember people’s first names

Dale Carnegie, one of the world’s greatest pioneers of the self-development industry, offered this great tip for remembering people’s first names. Whenever you meet new people, how many times do you hear of someone that is good with names? The answer is likely slim – almost no-one actually succeeds at this. One of the best ways to show that you are truly interested in what other people have to offer is to remember their name. Everyone wants to feel important, and this is one great way to help them feel that way.

12. Anticipation

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People almost always find more enjoyment in that which they must wait for. According to PhD Larry David, co-author of The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction, drug users will like using drugs more if they anticipate using them. The same holds true for any other pleasure-inducing behavior, like sex. Our brain is wired to seek reward, and remembers what it’s like to flood itself with strong, positive neurochemicals. Do you remember how excited you got for your birthday as a kid? Maybe today, do you get excited about thinking about visiting one of your best friends across the country, going out to your favorite restaurant tonight, or going on vacation next week? This anticipation helps build up the event, and make it better than it really is.

13. Create a bond 

Sure, your dad has probably told you to look people in the eye when you talk to them. What he probably didn’t tell you was that eye contact facilitates the release of oxytocin, a “bonding” chemical. This chemical has also been linked to stress reduction, and biasing the brain by looking at the positives of a relationship. Besides releasing oxytocin, looking people in the eye when you speak to them demonstrates lots of confidence.

So there you have it:

13 hacks to help your personal growth take off.

Use these hacks every day and become the most high-powered version of yourself. Let us know what your hacks are in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: jessicahtam via flickr.com

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Nathan Adlam

Professional Boss

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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