Dare To Be Unrealistic

Jacob Sokol asked the following question to 48 online experts:

What is the most “unrealistic” thing that you’ve ever accomplished and what did you learn from the process?

I highly recommend reading through the whole post but here are a few of the most inspiring highlights for me:

When you choose the “unrealistic” choice every day, you’ll be surprised how uncrowded and welcoming it is.
Derek Sivers ··· CD Baby

I learned that if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to do something and you’re committed to going for it and willing to work on it thru the inevitable “WTF am I doing moments” you can pretty much do anything.
Brian Johnson ··· Philosopher’s Notes

What I learned (or rather, an affirmation of what I knew before that): Focus on value, and money will fall in place itself. While I track my income, I have never once set income as a primary goal and have always focused on coming up with best ideas that will bring the best value for my readers instead. This has translated itself into results in all areas.
Celestine Chua ··· the Personal Excellence Blog

You have to take the first step. Then, do that everyday until you reach your goal. If you keep moving, you can do anything – write a novel, be a good parent, quit your day job, get out of debt, lose weight. Just focus on one step. Repeat.
Melissa Gorzelanczyk ··· Peace and Projects

As for myself, I feel some unrealistic things brewing. Last year, my Master’s thesis was reformatted and published as a book. Now I have the desire to author more content. I got more serious about blogging and found myself as a guest blogger on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today. This is just the beginning for me and it has opened up other opportunities which I am exploring.

Another relatively unrealistic thing I did was a few years back when I lost a great deal of weight, 75 lbs in fact, and I felt fantastic. Unfortunately, life took over and I lost that focus and I gained quite a bit of it back. But I’ve done it once and I can do it again. But this time, I’m wiser, I’m stronger and I can anticipate hurdles. I’ve got practice and experience on my side and there is no reason why I cannot do this.

The most common question I get is: How did you manage to accomplish this? and the answer is simple: I set a goal and just do it. I combat resistance daily, but I keep my eye on the prize. Also, I reflect regularly on what kind of person I want to be. The following quotes are some of my mantras:

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
― Seneca

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
― Gandhi

Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
― Steven Pressfield

Reference:

Reading Breeds Success

“I wish I had more time to read.”

Do you find yourself saying the above? I definitely do. It seems that when I make the time to pick up an article, a book, anything, I become engrossed in it and can’t put it down. Though conversations and interactions have the power of being enlightened, nothing pushes my analytical buttons like reading a well developed argument. But I have to remind myself to make time to do it. Too often, when I get home from a long day at work, I want to just “shut off my brain”. But the reality is that reading is like exercise for the brain, it reenergizes it.

In his blog post entitled The Most Important Thing You Can Do…, Mitch Joel explains how some of the most successful people he encounters are avid readers, and even writers. I particularly appreciate when Mitch shares the following observation:

The majority of newspaper and magazine articles are probably right on the edge of valuable reading, but the guts of reading that will truly make you smart and successful comes from the high brow stuff. The books, periodicals and longer thought/research pieces.

Mitch goes on to write:

The depth, the journey, the time alone that allows your own brain to wander and think is a critical part of where creativity and originality come from.

Kudos Mitch! I truly relate to this statement and feel too many people become satisfied with surface knowledge of things and neglect to dig deeper. Granted, we cannot be experts in every field, but specifically in our professional field, we must ensure that we include quality pieces in our reading diet.

Reference:

This post is cross-posted with Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Getting Ideas Off the Ground

In yesterday’s blog post, I wrote about how one must work at becoming successful, presenting Doug Belshaw’s reflections. Rosabeth Moss Kanter made a post along the same lines that presents five powers that successfully get ideas of the ground, which are:

  1. Showing up: the importance of being there in person.
  2. Speaking up: the framing the debate and articulating the consensus.
  3. Teaming up: the importance of partners, teams and communities.
  4. Looking up: the importance of seeing the picture, articulating setting strong values and setting sights high.
  5. Not giving up: the importance of persevering and being optimistic.

I can personally speak to the importance of these five powers. The first power, in particular, is an important one to remind ourselves of. In this era of digital communication and Web conferencing, there is nothing like being face to face with someone to foster strong relationship building.

The blogger concludes by reminding us that:

Achieving goals is always a matter of hard work, and success is never guaranteed.

And of course, as W.C. Fields put it:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Every effort brought forward, every attempt is a learning opportunity and valuable experience.

Reference:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Tips for Staying Organized and Efficient When on the Go

Helpful article by Gina Trapani presenting techniques of how to stay organized when travelling for work. She calls on David Allen, author of Getting Things Done with whom she co-created a clever little Popplet* with some easy tips to implement.

*Note that since this blog post was made, the Popplet stopped working, even on Fast Company’s site. A PDF of the Popplet is however available for download.

I’d add that being on the plane is actually a very opportune time to get things done as you can’t receive any distracting email or phone calls. Take advantage of that time.

Reference:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today

Practice Makes Perfect, or at Least Expert

The premise of Tony Schwartz’s article is that any talent, skill or ability can be developed like a muscle, that is by working it out, by pushing past the comfort zone, breaking it and then resting. It reminds me very much like Steven Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw.

Schwartz refers to Aristotle’s “We are what we repeatedly do” explaining that repetition and practice is the key to real performance improvement as well as overall benefits for focussing, being creative, empathic and less stressed.

If you want to be really good at something, it’s going to involve relentlessly pushing past your comfort zone, along with frustration, struggle, setbacks and failures. That’s true as long as you want to continue to improve, or even maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you’ve earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here, then, are the six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

He details these keys in his post, giving tips on how one might start on this path of self-improvement.

Reference:

Social Networks for Lifelong Learners

Jeff Cobb recommends 20 social networks for lifelong learners. He states that:

When most people think of social networks, they think of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, or similar sites, but there are many other types of social networks popping up on the web. Some of the fastest growing networks are designed specifically for education. These sites allow people to learn in a social context through discussion, file sharing, and collaboration.

While many are school-based networks, the following I find are well geared towards workplace learning:

LearnCentral – LearnCentral is an open environment that is half social network and half learning community. The site can be used to create courses, host meetings, connect with other education enthusiasts, and find learning resources

Udemy – Udemy encourages members to teach and learn online using the site’s many free tools and applications. Members can create their own online courses or search for courses that have been created and posted by other people.

Academici – This web-based site for academics and knowledge workers makes it easy to network, collaborate, and conduct commerce online. Members can post articles, share resources, and much more.

Academia.edu – Academia.edu is an online community that helps academics connect with colleagues and follow the latest research. Members can also share their own research and be notified when someone searches for them on Google.

iMantri – iMantri is a peer-to-peer community for people who are seeking mentors or offering coaching in a particular area. Members can use the site’s tools to assess their competencies and find people who are either willing to help or in need of help.

Check out Jeff’s full list for other novel sites for life-long learners.

Reference:

Initially published on Brandon Hall’s Workplace Learning Today