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10 Things Highly Successful People Wish They Knew Earlier

10 Things Highly Successful People Wish They Knew Earlier

It wasn’t all plain sailing for some of the most successful people on planet earth. A few things got in the way but above all, they wished they had known one or two things which could have made the long march easier. Discover what wise nuggets they wished they had grasped earlier on.

1. “You need to be patient. I was the president of a multinational corporation when I was 40, but I wanted to be there at 25! But you need experience, of course.” – Federica Marchionni, President of Dolce & Gabbana Inc.

Federica Marchionni started out in the technology sector and worked for Ericsson and Samsung. Moving into the luxury goods sector was a big change. She has learned to be patient enough to see through projects which have opened up new markets for Dolce & Gabbana. She has shown creativity and flair in nurturing high level relationships.

2.  “I wish that I knew how difficult it is to acquire a customer, get them to pay for your product and believe it’s as magical as you think it is.” – Neil Patel, co-founder of the analytics companies, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics

Neil Patel underestimated how difficult it was to actually get customers and keep them. His advice now is that you have to experiment with where you will find your best customers. He recommends engaging with every potential customer on a daily basis which will give you invaluable insights on what they want.

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3. “After working ourselves to a point of being burned out we realized that if we put in 40 x 2 hours the company didn’t move forward 2x faster.” – Nick Francis, CEO of Help Scout

Nick Francis now knows that long hours are less and less productive. They are not the key to success. He is still committed to making his parents proud of him at the age of 32! Other ambitions are to keep his customers and employees happy. He is thrilled to be able to provide companies with front-end web development products to help them provide top class customer service.

4. “I wish I would have known that the career I started in didn’t necessarily have to be the career I stopped with.”- Chachanna Simpson, business and life coach at Your Stellar Star.

Basically, your career path is not set in stone and that you can change direction, as Chachanna Simpson discovered. Her video interviews with successful women in all walks of life are an inspiration to help with life lessons.

5. “Controlling your expenses is one of the most crucial steps toward the kind of financial independence that you need in order to follow your dreams in the future.”- Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales recommends care with expenses in setting up your dream project and becoming financially stable.  He advises that you should never get into debt to purchase a luxury item. The only exception would be a student loan, he says. Now, I wonder what luxury item he bought?

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6. “We’re so programmed to walk well-trodden paths. But, we live life only once. So, rather than avoiding the risk of trying, avoid the risk of not trying.” – Tim Westergren, Co founder of Pandora Radio.

In a recent interview, Tim Westergren said that you cannot know what you are getting into and that is the risk factor. Follow your gut instinct even it means failure and you will have no regrets.

Pandora is unique in that it uses the Music Genome which delivers your personalized music tracks based on the 400 musical attributes of your initial selections. No surprise to learn that it took 30 experts and five years of work to complete. Tim Westergren has described this particular journey as ‘harrowing’.

7. “Listen more” – Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, global design consultancy.

Paul Bennett did a lot of talking when he was younger and it was all geared to show how clever he was. He regrets that and it is no surprise to learn that as his main job is to inspire people, he has now .learned the art of listening.  No prizes for guessing who thought up IDEO’s motto ‘Talk less, do more’!

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8. “If I had one piece of advice to give my younger self it would be to stop doing what makes you unhappy and focus on what makes you truly happy,” – Philippe Courtot, CEO of Qualys., cloud security company.

Philippe Courtot advises people to do what you really love and not to be distracted by other people’s opinions and advice. He was actively involved in Thomson GR Medical advertising campaign to promote mammography.

In an effort to make the Internet a safer environment for business, he has invested half a million dollars of his own money in TIM (Trustworthy Internet Movement) to help protect cloud computing from cyber criminals.

9. “The canvas of your life is painted with daily experiences, behaviors, reactions, and emotions, you’re the one controlling the brush.” – Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey wishes she had known all about the canvas of her life and how she could have controlled it when she was much younger. This is essential in getting rid of those terrible doubts, worries, anxieties and lack of self confidence. Being the artist of your own life means you can change the colors at will and erase something you have done badly or could do better.

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10. “And above all, network, because networking is working. Your ability will only take you so far. Your relationships will take you the rest of the way.”- Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

Denise Morrison realized too late the value of networking and if she had her time over again, she certainly would have done things differently. She is among the top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women list. She is highly respected because of her innate talent in preserving an iconic brand and at the same time discovering new customer bases.

What are the things you wished you knew when you were younger that could have helped you do better?  Let us know in the comments below.

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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 May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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