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The Success Formula Stephen Hawking Taught Us

The Success Formula Stephen Hawking Taught Us

How would you react if you were told that you had motor neuron disease (ALS) at the age of twenty and had just a few years to live? That was Stephen Hawking in 1963. Yet, not only is he still alive in 2014, but he revolutionized physics for half a century. Stephen Hawking is an inspiration because he transformed our understanding of the universe. He has also succeeded in making science popular as witnessed by his best selling book A Brief History of Time. To say that Stephen Hawking’s life and work has been a success is an understatement. Here are 8 lessons from his extraordinary life and achievements that can inspire us.

1. He has used technology to overcome his disability

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

As Prof. Hawking explains in the video below, the power of technology to transform lives, communicate ideas which lead to great discoveries is truly astounding. In his own case, he cannot speak and uses a voice synthesizer as we hear on this video. He has made extensive use of computer technology and the Internet in his research.

2. He refused to let his disability halt his research

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” – Stephen Hawking

Just after he had been diagnosed and with a only a few years to live, according to his doctors, he fell in love and married Jane Wilde. They had three children. During the same period, he flung himself into his work and research as a physicist. He was determined that his disability was not going to be an obstacle.

“Theoretical physics is one of the few fields in which being disabled is no handicap – it is all in the mind.”- Stephen Hawking.

3. He is always curious

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”- Stephen Hawking

Hawking once remarked that he has a childlike curiosity in that he is always asking questions with ‘why’ and ‘how’. A perfect example of this is his desire to travel in space.

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4. He has never lost his sense of humor

“Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.”-Stephen Hawking.

He has always joked about his zany appearances in The Simpsons, Futurama, Stargate Atlantis and The Fairly Oddparents and Star Trek. Watch the video with John Oliver where his great sense of humor is very evident.

5. He stands by his principles

“No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.” – Stephen Hawking

During his lifetime, Stephen Hawking has been concerned about the lack of funding and mismanagement of funding for scientific research and education in the UK. When he was offered a knighthood, he turned it down on principle.

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6. He never gives up

“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.” – Stephen Hawking

Just a few months ago, Stephen Hawking released a new study on the nature of black holes which has puzzled scientists since the early 20th century. He is determined not to give up in spite of criticism and controversy. This will not stop him and it is an inspiration for everyone striving for success.

7. He values time as a precious resource

“I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.” – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is famous for his research on the definition and nature of time and how time began. He concludes his study on time by remarking that it will be impossible to turn back the clock. The message is clear that we can make money but never get back our time, so we should use it wisely.

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8. He shares his knowledge

“I hope I have helped to raise the profile of science and to show that physics is not a mystery but can be understood by ordinary people.” – Stephen Hawking

Hawking firmly believes that knowledge is to be shared. His ambition was that his books would be widely read and that they would be available at airport bookstalls. That wish has certainly come true as witnessed by the enormous success of his books. The credit is all due to him because he has succeeded in making astrophysics and artificial intelligence accessible to everyone, not just for intellectuals and scientists. He always tells the story that his publisher warned him that equations and formulae in his books would put people off and that his readership would be reduced by 50% for every equation in the book. That is why there is only one, E = mc², in A Brief History of Time. But one equation did not stop 10 million people from buying it! There is a lesson there for all of us. If we do not share our knowledge by communicating it clearly and effectively, we are losing a golden opportunity. What have you admired most about Stephen Hawking? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: Hawking – Egy zseni élete / Lwp Kommunikáció via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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