There are so many people who could make a full-time income from giving advice, but do not follow it or will not listen to advice from others. Not a wise move! When it comes to looking for practical advice on how to master anything, I personally look to the following people in my life: those with significant life experience who are happy to share what they learned and where they went wrong, successful people in general, and others who have mastered the particular skill or task I need to master. Of course, it is also wise to look beyond these examples and spend time in reflection, reading and self-education to keep the mind exercised and focused on self-development.
However, if I were to list around 25 pointers of practical advice for you, they would consist of the following as a minimum.
1. Find your life’s purpose.
You will feel drawn to certain people, and certain things will hold your interest longer than others and be more meaningful. It is always easier to succeed when you know what your life’s purpose is. Even if you think you don’t know, just be open to try new things and see what you can identify with the most.
2. Find a niche where you can dominate.
You are good at some things, bad at others, but there are some things you can excel at with little effort. Go, be brave and allow yourself to dream and try new things. See how you can make it better and add more value to your and everyone else’s life in doing so.
3. Love your subject at a very basic level.
Remember being at school and how some subjects dragged and were torture to sit through? Don’t go down this road because you have choices. You must at least love your subject or have a strong desire that this is something you are willing to spend time on. If you don’t like something, it will show!
4. Find the ideal apprenticeship.
Find someone who can teach you what you want to learn. Study and model them closely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, express yourself and be open to their advice. The right mentor will shortcut the learning process, give you the push you need and help keep you task focused.
5. Engage in deep observation.
Do not fill your entire day with “to do” lists. You also need time for reflection, observations and quiet time to take on board any new ideas, things learned and also to simply allow your mind to wander. You never know what this “down time” will uncover when the pressure is off.
6. Practice incessantly and experiment.
Practice does make perfect and sometimes short cuts will give little value so don’t give up. Think of the great masters and what they endured. Look at how their memory and legacy has lived on long after they are gone. Think of Thomas Edison and all he invented and how it positively impacted the world and still does today. Look to Henry Ford for examples of how he revolutionized the automotive industry.
7. Value learning over money.
Yes, “show me the money” is all some people can see, but if you are in it for the long haul then be prepared to learn everything there is to learn, not straight away but over time. The money will follow when you can apply what you learned.
8. Rely on trial and error more than anything.
Sometimes you just have to let go and simply experiment. So many inventions started off from things going wrong, so break the mould and create your own masterpiece. Even if you don’t know where you are going, just start somewhere, it will always lead to somewhere else. Look at George Crum and how he invented potato chips by trial and error after a diner complained the fries were too thick and he kept reducing down the thickness following complaint after complaint!
9. Absorb a master’s power (that is, get a mentor).
Absorb everything there is to learn from your mentor. How can you do things differently? Where is his or her weakness? Most likely it won’t be yours. The right mentor will empower and motivate you to greatness and not be ego driven. Take it all in and someday return the favor to another.
10. Choose someone who will intensely challenge you.
How will you know how far you have come if you do not meet and overcome challenges? Challenges are not setbacks. They are simply life’s ways of requesting you use the tools available to you to resolve them.
11. Transform what you’ve learned from your master/mentor.
Not only must you learn, but you need to apply and carve out a niche for yourself using all the tools and resources you learned from your mentor, otherwise what real benefit will you have gained? Look at Leonardo Da Vinci and how he thrived under his mentor Andrea di Cione, known as Verrocchio. Even after he served his apprenticeship, they continued to work together!
12. Accept criticism.
If you cannot accept criticism, then your ego is getting in the way of your best judgment. Just ensure any criticism directed towards you is constructive and justified.
13. Craft your own persona.
You really don’t want to be a carbon copy of anyone else now, do you? Are you not enough? Stand in your own personal power. It is always enough when you are giving your best and are at your best.
14. Don’t let impatience derail your plans.
When you have a great idea or are learning something new, it is easy to be impatient, but it takes time to master and perfect yourself so you will be a real asset. Don’t try to peak too soon because of impatience. The best things come to those who wait and pick the right time.
15. Shape your world around your strengths.
We all have natural strengths and others that can be developed. Use your strengths wisely to re-create life on your terms.
16. Know that practice is as important as innate skill.
Again, coming back to practice, sometimes even being willing to put in the time and effort and to apply the right mindset to practice is a skill that needs to be mastered. Review how you really feel about practicing!
17. Be self-driven not ego driven.
It is so easy to spot egos out there. Be self-driven. It is far more worthy of praise, acknowledgement and service. Egos are phony. When you are successful, you will be able to demonstrate success through your actions and achievements and not from inflated bragging and boasting. Sure, be proud and confident and self-assured. This is self- not ego driven.
18. Give to others and you will get in return.
Even though you feel it is all about you, it isn’t really. To be successful you need to prove yourself, and show others how you can help or benefit them. Give your time, service, knowledge or whatever to others, and do so willingly. You will be amazed at the ways you will gain! It may not happen immediately but believe me every one good deed you send out comes back! Look at Mother Teresa, Ghandi and so many more who influenced millions globally!
19. Be curious.
Think of ways to make things different, better, shake things up a little. Be curious and set your mind free and don’t let failure hold you back. Success may be one short step away.
20. Write down your goals.
Sure, goals may change over time and that is fine, but write down the goals that just don’t seem to go away or change. It will serve to remind you of what is important for you to achieve.
21. Review and take stock of where you are.
Take time for a breather and review and take stock of where you are and how much you’ve achieved since the last review. It will also show up if you have gotten sidetracked!
22. Be selective with whom you share your dreams.
Some people will poke holes in your dreams. Remember they are your dreams and don’t deserve to have anyone trample over them. Be selective with whom you share this information. Who knows, it may be useful to them!
23. Surround yourself with the right people.
The right people can be the thinkers, dreamers, creative or artistic types. Choose people who bring out what is best in you and are in alignment with your dreams.
24. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.
Be willing to take risks, but try to take calculated risks that won’t be such that you lie awake at night worrying in case the worst happens. A certain amout of risk may be necessary and it will also help you work harder to ensure the risk is managed or minimized.
25. Give thanks.
I left this ’til last because it is the simplest thing to do, yet the one most easily forgotten. Even things that went wrong in your life have helped you get to where you are today and have taught you many life lessons. Give thanks for everything learned from failures, just as you need to give thanks for all the things that went right in your life. Give thanks to others for a service performed well. Give thanks for being alive and for being on the receiving end of so may blessings that shaped you positively and will continue to influence you positively.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie