There was a time — long before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask or Dumb and Dumber — when Jim Carrey was a nobody, just another struggling actor trying to make it big in Hollywood.
Carrey worked as a stand-up comic, but was finding it hard to make the transition into television and film. Unsurprisingly, not everyone was convinced that his particular brand of manic comedy would work on screen.
But Carrey refused to give up. Instead, he would travel up Mulholland Drive every night — where there was a great view of Los Angeles — and picture himself becoming a huge success.
“I would visualise having directors interested in me and people that I respected saying that they liked my work. I would visualise things that I wanted coming true,” Carrey said on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997.
“I had nothing at the time, but it just made me feel better. I would drive home and think: Well, I do have these things, they’re out there, I just don’t have a hold on them yet.”
Carrey even wrote himself a cheque for $10 million (for acting services rendered), and dated it Thanksgiving 1995, which was about three years away. “Just before Thanksgiving in 1995, I found out that I was going to make $10 million on Dumb and Dumber,” Carrey said. So visualisation had clearly worked for him.
Carrey added a caveat, however, saying: “Visualisation works if you work hard. You can’t just visualise and then go eat a sandwich.”
Looking back on the interview years later, Oprah Winfrey said: “That was such a powerful moment for me. I was not a person who did visualisation or thought about my belief system in such a practical way. I learnt a lot from Jim Carrey on that show, and he is absolutely correct, if you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it.”
The Real Secret
There’s a pretty good chance that the story above reminded you of a little book called The Secret. And that might not necessarily be a good thing. Since its release in 2006, the book has achieved massive success — it has been translated into 46 languages and sold around 20 million copies — but it’s not for everyone. Some people (especially cynical and pragmatic business people) tend to baulk at the pseudo-science-laden cosmological talk of energy and vibrations.
But it would be a mistake to dismiss the concept of visualisation simply because of the New Age language of The Secret. The basic premise underlying the secret has actually been around for a long time.
In simple terms, this is the argument: If you spend all your time thinking about all the things you don’t have, you’ll stay unhappy. However, if you spend your time thinking about and visualising the things you want, you’ll attract those things to you.
Related: Stop Being So Damn Positive
The Law of Attraction
This is commonly called the Law of Attraction, and just about every uber-successful self-help book of the last hundred years has been punting this single idea. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, even Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Giant Within, these books all tout the power of visualisation and positive thinking.
And there’s no shortage of successful people who believe in this law, either.
“What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“It’s sort of like a mantra. You repeat it to yourself everyday: Music is my life, music is my life. The fame is inside of me, I’m going to make a number one record with number one hits. And it’s not yet, it’s a lie. You’re saying a lie over and over and over again, and then, one day the lie is true,” says Lady Gaga (who, incidentally, is more intelligent than people often give her credit for.
She was once a member of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, which was only open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams. Other members included Mark Zuckerberg, Google founder Sergey Brin and mathematician Terence Tao).
Will Smith, one of the few truly ‘bankable’ stars in the world whose mere presence in a film guarantees increased ticket sales, has said: “I believe, wholeheartedly, that our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas are physical in the universe. If we dream something, if we picture something, we commit ourselves to it, then we are going to command and demand that the universe becomes what we want it to be.”
What about some examples that aren’t from the airy fairy world of entertainment? Well, there’s Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, who both famously always visualised themselves as victorious before an event.
And then there’s the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who once said: “I am no longer cursed by poverty because I took possession of my own mind and that mind has yielded me every material thing I want, and much more than I need. But this power of mind is a universal one, available to the humblest person as it is to the greatest.”
Why it Works
When an idea remains popular over a long stretch of time and keeps resurfacing in one form or another, you have to question why this is. Is there perhaps something to it?
Just for the sake of this argument, let’s assume that it’s not because there are physical vibrations or energies gravitating towards the happy, shiny people of the world. Let’s also assume it’s not about unblocking your chakras, vanquishing your bad aura, or opening your third eye.
What else could it be, then?
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers one of the most convincing reasons: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Mahatma Gandhi said something similar: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
It really comes down to reaping what you sow. Focus on problems and irritations, and you’ll find them everywhere, which will leave you despondent and unproductive. Focus on the good things, and you become happy and productive. You start seeing solutions instead of problems, and without knowing exactly why, your life starts to change — things start going your way.
Let’s Talk About Rituals
“This could be the greatest time you ever live if you control what you focus on, if you find a more empowering meaning, and if you decide to model the actions of those who succeeded before you,” Tony Robbins says.
“It can be the best financial time, the best emotional time and the best spiritual time of your life, but you better take control of your state. And if you think you’re going to do it just by today, you’re wrong. You’re going to need to find yourself some rituals. Everyone is controlled by their rituals.”
Your life (you can call it your destiny, if you like) is determined by your rituals, says Robbins. Importantly, these are not rituals like burning incense, sitting in the lotus position or reciting mantras. It’s about the simple stuff you do every single day of your life — it’s about what you have for breakfast, how often you work out, what you do just before going to bed, how you spend the first 60 minutes of your day.
Robbins himself, for example, has a very specific ritual every morning. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time for it.
“I prime myself every morning. I start off with a radical breathing pattern, and then I spend ten minutes on gratitude. I pick three things I’m grateful for, one of which needs to be very simple, like the wind on my face or the faces of my kids. The emotions that trip us up are fear and anger, and you can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time, and you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.”
After this, Robbins spends a few minutes visualising the things he wants to achieve. “I pick three results and outcomes, I’m very committed to them and I see them as done and fulfilled.”
The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss starts his day with five rituals that he believes create the right sort of mental attitude and sets him up to have a successful day. “If you win the morning, you win the day,” he says. “And if I manage to do at least three of these things in a morning, I’ve won the morning.”
He starts by making his bed (it gives you a small win and makes you feel as if you’ve already achieved something for the day). After this, he meditates, which is something he finds most high-performing individuals tend to do.
According to Ferriss, he gets 50% more done in a day if he’s meditated because his mind is focused and not as easily distracted. Thirdly, he hangs, from his arms, for a few minutes. He says it decompresses his spine, and he does it a few times every day, just to break up work sessions.
After hanging, he makes himself some tea, usually herbal tea from China, to which he adds some turmeric and ginger. Finally, he writes in his journal, usually on things he needs to achieve and things he is grateful for.
Begin With Yes
Tim Ferriss’s morning rituals are rather esoteric, to be sure, but the exact nature of his daily habits aren’t really important. What is important is that he has identified specific rituals that help him attain his daily goals, and he sticks to them religiously.
The problem is this: Positive thoughts and words of affirmation are easy to cling to when you’ve got loads of time and few problems, but it’s tough to stay positive when life gets hectic. Maintaining a sunny outlook is near impossible when the kids are sick, traffic is a nightmare, your quarterly sales report is overdue and your landlord is demanding last month’s rent.
That’s when it’s important to have rituals to fall back on. Once you’ve created the habit, your specific mindset in the moment becomes less important. It allows you, in a sense, to ‘go through the motions’. You don’t meditate or write in your gratitude journal because you feel like it (in fact, you probably don’t feel like doing it at all), but you do it anyway because it’s become a habit.
You start off feeling rushed and irritated, but by the time you’ve meditated or written, you feel better. The same is true of preparing healthy meals, working out or volunteering at your local charity. Some days, those feelings of positivity will leave you and you’ll just want to go home and stare at the television, but if you’ve created a ritual, you can fall back on the habit and not depend on your emotions to get things done.
Begin with Yes author Paul Boynton calls this ‘The Law of Action’. The problem with the Law of Attraction is that it demands a positive attitude, something that can be hard to muster when you’re really dealing with a tough situation.
So, instead, he proffers the Law of Action, which doesn’t demand a positive outlook, but simply asks for a dogged determination to keep pushing forward.
As the title of his book suggests, he argues that, even when you don’t feel like it, you just need to keep saying ‘yes’ to life. You take the action, and the emotion will (eventually) follow. (Coincidentally, Jim Carrey once starred in a movie called Yes Man that deals exactly with this. It’s not a masterpiece, but still worth seeking out).
Related: How to Find the Entrepreneur Within
How exactly do you start saying ‘yes’, though? For television mogul Shonda Rhimes it literally meant saying ‘yes’ to everything that came her way for a year.
“So a while ago, I tried an experiment,” she said during a TED Talk on the subject at the beginning of 2016. “For one year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that made me nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to. Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes.
Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes. Did I want to try acting? No, no, no, but yes, yes, yes.
“And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. ‘Yes’ changed my life. ‘Yes’ changed me.”
For Tim Ferriss, meanwhile, it meant embracing what he calls anti-complaining.
Echoing Gandhi and Covey, Ferriss says: “Word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. It’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though. It requires conditioning.”
To condition himself, Ferris embraced a system created by church minister Will Bowen.
“Will designed a solution in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he offered to his congregation with a challenge: Go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day zero. It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training.
“I made it 11 days on the first attempt, then I slipped back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month. Once I cleared 21 days at around month three, I no longer needed the bracelet.”
As the new year approaches, this is the perfect time to come up with some rituals that will help you achieve your goals. These need not be large and daunting habits. Don’t vow to run 10 km every day if a single flight of stairs currently leaves you winded. Start with small thoughts and small actions, but be consistent. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
Don’t Victimise Your Mind: The 6 Keys To Develop Yourself And Your Business
This writing offers six keys to self and business development.
“Plan your work and work your plan” – Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder
Considering the plethora of permutations within the self and business development fields it is truly hard to develop yourself and your business. The good news; however, is that it is possible for all to achieve fulfilment and sustainable business success should we consciously choose to and act on our choice with a mountain of good old-fashioned ‘grit’ to underpin our efforts.
This writing offers six keys to self and business development:
1. Find your purpose
It is highly probable that a number of readers might roll their eyes when they read again that they have to find their purpose and brand such a suggestion as cliché. Well the thing with clichés are that they are mostly true but they require investigation and reflection beyond surface judgements and thoughts in order to have true practical meaning in your life.
Finding your purpose for yourself personally and for your business means that you attach a lot of positive and transformative meaning to what you are doing. This meaning transcends yourself and adds value to society. Having sincere purpose is a source of inspiration and can get you through severe challenging times.
2. ‘Stack’ your inspirations
I prefer the term inspiration over the use of the word motivation. Motivation is as fickle as your will power and is finite. True inspiration mainly fuelled by a strong and enduring sense of purpose has the power to help you overcome the most challenging circumstances.
For the purposes of enduring success and fulfilment you need to connect the dots between whatever inspires you which will create a powerful and symbiotic effect that will give more meaning, confidence and improved results to what you are doing.
In practical terms this means to:
- Listen to music daily if music inspires you.
- Workout daily if well-being is a source of inspiration to you.
- Read the work of others daily if knowledge inspires you.
- Sing in the shower if your own singing inspires you.
- Meditate daily if seeking within for answers inspires you.
- Sleep deeply and at least six to eight hours if deep rest inspires you.
- Look at images of great works of art if art inspires you.
- Daily look at your written Vision and goals.
- If dancing inspires you dance every day.
The above are just a few examples of what might inspire you. You need to ‘stack as many inspirations’ as possible in one day in order to experience a great day.
3. Unlearn the victim mentality
The victim mentality presupposes an inclination towards a life of excuses and justifications however valid or invalid they appear to be. Several ancient teachers have taught us to look deeper into our own trials and tribulations and shift the paradigm of suffering them to honestly learn from them and become stronger as a result:
“I take pleasure in my infirmities” – St Paul
“The wound is where the light seeps in” – Jalal ud din Rumi
Reflect on the challenges in your life purely from a learning perspective and stop assigning blame to others or even yourself. Changed behaviour is the only true apology. Past guilt and less than desirable past results can weigh us down within a state of fear and anxiety within the present moment.
Direct your energy towards actionable solutions to challenges as opposed to diluting your finite energy reserves by overthinking on past negativity.
4. Unlearn the desire to always be right
Do not get stuck in the perpetual cycle of frustration caused by you thinking that everybody thinks or should think like you. Yes, you are mostly right but only within the realms of your own perspective.
Be open to other alternatives, truly listen to opinions and learn from others. Instead of holding on to an opposing view for the sake of defending your ego and the desire to be right attempt to ‘connect the dots’ between opposing philosophies and find the common ground between them. This attitude builds relationships and slowly but surely builds bridges between enemies.
5. Unlearn your need to ‘do something in order to get something in order to be something’
For most an expectation is to do well at school, then university, find a great job and build a family. All of this has to be done to truly be someone in society. A key and paradigm shifting realisation for me in life was that ‘you don’t get what you want but what you are’ – This means that you attract both your empowering beliefs and your limitations of who you are to yourself not what you want.
Therefore if you want more love in your life, first be more loving. If you want more money first truly develop an abundance mentality and not only pay lip service to the idea of abundance.
6. Take swift and confident action, daily
Procrastination is the top enemy to success. Overthinking leads to more anxiety. Yes think but do it rapidly and effectively by asking and answering key questions such as:
- Will this serve my purpose?
- Will this be worth it?
- What are the potential risks and what can I immediately do to counter act them?
- Does this resonate with me and does it align with my values and mission?
- How can I build capacity for this?
If I am unsure I should immediately take action on quickly finding out more and then execute. Procrastination reduces productivity by a great deal and builds your level of anxiety.
How To Leverage Your Skills To Start A Side Business
Start a service-based business with knowledge you have acquired over the years.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016 report, more than 25 million Americans have initiated entrepreneurial ventures. Being an entrepreneur is synonymous with being a risk taker, and one of the best ways to minimise this risk is by starting on the side, from home. In fact, according to the same report, more than half of U.S. entrepreneurs start and operate their businesses from home.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs fail to start a business due to lack of funds and business knowledge. The truth is, in most cases, none of that is required. Entrepreneurs get rewarded for solving people’s problems exactly the way employees get paid for their services. Starting a business is about creating value by solving problems and addressing needs, therefore, capturing an opportunity to serve others and getting compensated for your work is entrepreneurship in its purest form.
Especially for service-based businesses, this does not require a website, marketing campaign, business plan, round of investment funding or any other assets but your existing skills, knowledge and a laptop.
In my experience mentoring entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and visions, I found that most aspiring entrepreneurs worry too much about their 100th customer when they haven’t even acquired their first. Most entrepreneurs worry about growth stages before building a foundation.
This article shares three simple steps to help you clear your thoughts and focus only on the activities that matter in the beginning of a business venture.
1. Define your service
The key is to stick to your area of expertise. While you may have plans to start a thriving business with many products, services and customer segments, thinking too big too soon will have failing consequences. The challenges entrepreneurs face trying to run before they walk is overwhelming, and this causes failure.
What is it that you do today? This will be your service. If you were hired to do a job, chances are you are good at what you do. If you are a social media marketer, other companies need your services and consulting. The same applies to project managers, designers, programmers, teachers, engineers, researchers, assistants, scientists, coaches, speakers, etc.
Grab a piece of paper and write down your solution – “I offer X.” Before defining your ideal customer, start by writing down your service. It’s fine if your solution is as general as, “I offer social media, consulting, accounting or research services.”
Defining your ideal customer in the next step will help you become more specific and targeted.
2. Define your ideal customer
Service providers are often challenged with the ideal customer definition. This is understandable because virtually speaking, using some of the services mentioned earlier, many companies of different sizes need project management, design, programming, teaching and coaching services. Focusing on the ideal customer doesn’t just save time and money in finding and serving the customer but more importantly, it helps in the outcome of your contribution and your results. An ideal customer is “ideal” because you know how to help them get results. They need people like you.
The ideal customer definition process starts exactly like service definition. Start with the company that trusted you to do a job — your existing or previous employer. Chances are, many similar companies need your help and expertise. You may want to avoid serving your employer’s competitors, however, using them and their needs as a benchmark will quickly help you identify similar companies in different categories or industries.
No matter how competitive your space is, the barriers to acquiring the first customers will still be much lower than learning a new skill to serve customers in less competitive industries. Stick to your background. Especially in the beginning, focus on customer segments with the least players. The bigger the company, the longer the sales cycle. In this case, even if your experience is in helping Fortune 500 companies scale, you may want to focus on smaller companies with similar profiles and help them grow as big as your current or previous employers.
Your value proposition combines service and ideal customer definition. I help [ideal customer] with [your service], and I do it differently or uniquely by [how are you different].
For example, I help professionals leverage their skills to launch service-based businesses by providing them with a clear roadmap to paying customers, and I do it uniquely through a tested and proven framework that aims to minimise costs and reduce time to acquisition while bringing clarity and trust in the entrepreneur’s journey.
3. Define your acquisition channel
This step is simply about connecting the first two steps. In other words, how do you convey your service to your ideal customer? Use this as a rule of thumb. Your first customers are hand picked. Yes, social media, SEO, funnels, affiliate marketing and all other marketing strategies can help, but you must get your hands dirty to close your first customers quickly.
When you start and don’t have proof or case studies, people will invest in you, therefore, presenting and selling yourself is your best bet. From experience, here are the two best channels to accomplish this goal.
- Cold emailing, including using the power and network of LinkedIn. Drafting a personalised email or message that goes directly to your potential customer’s inbox is one of the best ways to grab their attention, especially when you are addressing businesses. Keep your message short, mention an interesting fact about their industry, comment on one of their recent posts or accomplishments, and present your services and how it can help them drive results.
- In-person events, especially smaller conferences, meet-ups or social events. Defining your acquisition channels is essentially about finding a way to signal your availability to your ideal customer. Local and national events are a great way to build personal relationships that can soon turn into business partnerships. Spend time developing and nurturing relationships and the rest will follow naturally.
Finally, and above all, the world needs your skills and expertise, and people are ready to compensate you for your contribution. We are all entrepreneurs in one way or another. Entrepreneurship is about creating value through solutions. You do that already, so it’s about time you capture other opportunities on the side or full-time.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Healthy Habits Businesses Should Adopt In 2019
Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019.
When we think of adopting healthy habits, we usually think in terms of our bodies or our personal lives. But as an entrepreneur, shouldn’t you be adopting healthy habits for your business too? After all, like our bodies, businesses perform better – and are better able to withstand the occasional storm – when they’re functioning at an optimal level. So how does the concept of “health” translate in a small business context? Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019:
1. Streamline your cash flow
You can have all the impressive clients you want, but if they’re not paying you on time (or at all), your cash flow will suffer – making it very hard for your business to function. Similarly, if you don’t strategically keep money in your business (for example by only paying bills when you need to), you can also run into trouble. Since cash flow is so important to a healthy business, take a high-level view of the money that’s coming in and the funds going out on a regular basis. Then, make sure that the two work in tandem, so that your bottom line stays as stable as possible.
2. Apply the KonMari method
Author and organising consultant Marie Kondo has exploded in popularity in recent years, and her 2011 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has been published in 30 countries. In a nutshell, the KonMari method is all about keeping only those things that spark joy in your life – whether it’s clothes, books or furniture. The result, Kondo believes, is a happier, calmer, more contented life.
You could apply this principle to business too. For example, which clients are more trouble than they’re worth – and conversely, which ones give you joy that you could find more ways to work with? Or, what services does your business provide that your heart’s really not into – and which ones are you passionate about? This mindset could apply to almost any business context, from a branding refresh to streamlining your service offering, or even just clearing the clutter from your office.
3. Use tech to get organised
Admin tasks can often be overlooked in a small business, because employees are typically wearing so many different hats: they’re salespeople, account managers, the HR department and more. But if you let the admin slip, your business can suffer, and this can spill over into your dealings with customers. Luckily these days, there’s lots of tech available to help you with almost every aspect of business administration, from invoicing and budgeting, to timesheets and project management. Most of these are available at a minimal cost (or even free), so they don’t require a huge outlay. Making this small investment can pay for itself many times over in helping your business run more smoothly.
4. Get the pipeline rolling
The key to keeping your business healthy is to keep the momentum going, which means keeping the flow of new customers. Even if you’re in a comfortable position right now, you never know what’s around the corner in terms of your industry, new competitors or the economy in general. That’s why it’s important to keep stoking your sales pipeline by looking for new leads all the time. Be proactive: go to networking events, ask to be introduced to companies you want to work with, or even just try and upsell to existing clients.
5. Keep your people healthy
When it comes to the health of yourself and your employees, the personal and business worlds definitely merge. After all, if you or your employees are constantly sick, they can’t be giving their best to your business. Several medical schemes, such as Fedhealth, have a medical aid offering specifically for corporates and their employees. Besides helping to lower absentee rates and improve productivity, you’ll also boost employee morale by the improved benefits you’re offering.
By adopting just a few healthy habits within your business, you’ll make sure that in the long run, it’s as successful as it can be. It works the other way too: A successful business will have a positive impact on you as the business owner – you’ll enjoy going to work and be happier in general, which will go a long way to keeping you healthy too.