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Feel Like Quitting? These 9 Women Prove Grit Can Lead You To Massive Success

When life knocks you down, true grit is a quality that sustains you.

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J.K. Rowling

Greatness and Grit

J.K. Rowling

Talent and intelligence may help you land some success, but it’s a positive, non-cognitive skill known as “grit” that is the secret sauce in reaching the next level of achievement, according to Angela Duckworth, a psychology researcher and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit is a perfect storm of non-cognitive skills. It’s resolve and tenacity. It’s the resilience to go on with renewed purpose after you’ve suffered a setback, failure or disappointment. It’s commitment to your goals and a belief in yourself and/or to a greater cause. And the beauty of grit is that it’s not just a popular buzzword – it’s a powerful motivational tool that can be used in both work and personal life.

For women, grit is a powerful advantage to possess in entrepreneurship or any male-dominated field. To pay tribute to inspirational female leaders who have shown us that quitting is simply not an option, here are nine examples of amazing women who exhibited true grit.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void: the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is the poster-woman for grit. After suddenly losing her husband Dave Goldberg in 2015, the mother of two young children went back to work and tried to find meaning in her loss. Not surprisingly, she found it through doing what she does best: Helping others who are struggling by sharing her own life lessons.

What emerged from her struggle was the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, where she shares science, research and anecdotes about the concrete steps that can be taken to overcome struggle and build resilience.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

Barbara Corcoran

barbara-corcoran

Barbara Corcoran

“I’ve since learned that you need to treat obstacles just like opportunity – quickly without much thought and move on.”

While building her business empire, Barbara Corcoran, real estate mogul and Shark Tank investor, did what she needed to do in order to survive. Corcoran has spoken about how, during the recession in the 1990s, she had to leave her own real estate company with its 300 employees to work for a salaried job under a real estate developer so she could pay rent.

“Everybody laughed at me because they thought I was a failure,” Corcoran says.

However, she didn’t let that setback halt her determination. She eventually returned to her company, which survived the recession, and her staff of 300 remained at her side.

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki

“I have had a lot of setbacks that I learned from.”

23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki has spoken of growing up with a strong academic mother who spoke out and wasn’t afraid of making waves. Having such a fierce female role model early in life likely prepared Wojcicki for some of the challenges she would face as an adult with her direct-to-consumer genetic testing service. In 2013, the FDA banned her company from selling its services. At the time, Wojicki said the “new user signups dropped by half.”

Wojcicki isn’t deterred easily. After two years of working very closely with the FDA, she was able to successfully bring a less comprehensive version of the testing service back to market while pursuing additional revenue streams for the company.

Related: Women Leaders In Business: 5 Lessons Learnt

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

Oprah Winfrey has been very public about her early challenges. At the age of 19, Winfrey became the co-anchor of a news desk in Tennessee, becoming Nashville’s first black and female news anchor. She then went on to anchor the coveted spot of evening news at a larger station in Baltimore only to be soon fired. She was demoted to a less visible spot doing morning news.

However, her ability to really connect with people shone through. Winfrey was offered a local morning talk show, Baltimore Is Talking, and it shot to the top in ratings. When a talk show opportunity for an affiliate station in Chicago presented itself, she went for it. Winfrey transformed it into Chicago’s highest rated talk show, which became The Oprah Winfrey Show. The burgeoning media mogul formed her own production company Harpo Productions and gained the rights to her show, ensuring creative control.

Possessing the resilience to keep going after disadvantages and setbacks made Winfrey into the mogul she is today. “Not all my memories of Baltimore are fond ones,” Winfrey said. “But I do have fond memories of Baltimore, because it grew me into a real woman.”

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

“Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In her famous TED Talk, researcher and academic Angela Duckworth talks about how at the age of 27, she left her high flying job as a management consultant to teach math in New York City public schools. What she learned while teaching became part of her obsession about “grit,” a non-cognitive skill. “Some of my strongest performers did not have stratospheric IQ scores,” Duckworth said in her TED Talk. “Some of my smartest kids weren’t doing so well.”

She goes on to talk about how although education best measures IQ, her experience and research has convinced her that it’s passion and perseverance that better predicts a person’s academic and professional success. And what emerged from Duckworth’s own grit was The New York Times bestseller Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson

Mellody Hobson

“It would be lovely to think that success was a result of my being extraordinary, but the answer is far more boring. I worked hard. Really hard.”

The president of the respected Chicago firm Ariel Investments, Mellody Hobson isn’t as well-known as her contemporaries, but she is undoubtedly a fierce leader who embodies grit. She grew up without a father, and her mother was a pivotal figure in her development of strong character. A well-intentioned business woman who didn’t have the practical know-how, her mother often got the family evicted from homes throughout Hobson’s childhood.

“Even though I will never be evicted again, I am haunted by those times and still work relentlessly,” Hobson once wrote. “When I think of my career and why I leaned in, it comes down to basic survival.”

However, her mother instilled independence and competence in Hobson from a young age. “My mom would say, ‘You have a birthday party to go to? Well, you can’t go unless you’ve planned how to get there and how to get a present.’” Hobson said. “She wouldn’t do that for me. I found my own orthodontist, my own high school. I set up interviews and did college trips. Despite her incredible concern and caring, my mom didn’t have the capacity for that. It was outside her experience, and she knew I was on top of it.”

J.K. Rowling

JK Rowling author

JK Rowling

Do not ever quit out of fear of rejection.”

Before we heard of her, J.K. Rowling was a single mother living on government benefits in the United Kingdom. She sat in cafes in Edinburgh finishing her book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. When it was complete, her agent submitted the manuscript to 12 different publishers before it was sold.

This past June, Rowling, a Twitter enthusiast, reflected on her days of struggle and offered a message of strength and grit to other writers. She quoted a tweet from a fellow writer that said: “HEY! YOU! You’re working on something and you’re thinking ‘Nobody’s gonna watch, read, listen.’ Finish it anyway.” The Harry Potter author added: “There were so many times in the early ’90s when I needed somebody to say this to me. It’s great advice for many reasons.”

She went on to encourage writers to finish their books. “Even if it isn’t the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way.”

Related: How Ramona Kasavan Built An Organisation That Helps Women Empower Themselves

Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

“I’m not going into that good night. I am going to fire up and live this thing as large as I can live it until I can’t live it that large anymore.”

In September 2013, 64-year-old Diana Nyad attempted, for the fifth time, to swim more than 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. Nyad called the stretch of water she intended to conquer “Mother Nature on steroids,” full of whitetip sharks and jellyfish.

Nyad said that her greatest catalyst to complete the swim challenge was her mother’s death four years earlier. It made her not only aware of the limited time she had left but gave her the will to “find a way” – which became her motto.

Find a way, she did. After nearly 53 hours in the water, Nyad became the first person to ever complete the swim from Cuba to Florida.

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay Ash

“If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

The “sink or swim” moment for Mary Kay Ash, who founded the Mary Kay Cosmetics empire, came after World War II. Her husband had run off with another woman, and she was left with three young children to support. Having a knack for sales, she was employed by various direct-sales companies. Always a top sales performer, she found herself undervalued and dismissed by her male colleagues.

Ash quit her sales job in 1962 and began writing a guide for working women. In it, she described her ideal sort of company and soon realized that she could start her own. She simply had to find a product she believed in to sell to women.

Now in her mid-40s and on her second husband, she took her life’s savings and invested it in the production of a skin softener she’d been using on herself. She rented a storefront, recruited nine saleswomen and was ready to open shop when her second husband suddenly died. Although she was advised against it, a month later she opened shop. One year later, sales reached $800,000, a staggering number for 1964, and her sales force had grown to more than 3,000.

Today, Mary Kay Cosmetics remains a private company specializing in direct sales in more than 40 markets worldwide with over 3.5 million independent consultants and $3.5 billion in sales as of 2016.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Carolyn Sun is a contributing editor at Entrepreneur.com. Find out more on Twitter and Facebook.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

The 7-Step Formula For Goal-Setting

Start achieving success today with the most effective goal-setting plan you’ll ever learn.

Brian Tracy

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Goal-Setting

Goal orientation is a way of thinking practiced by optimists and all successful people. In future orientation, you first develop a clear, ideal picture of what you want to accomplish sometime in the future. With goal orientation, you crystallise that image into specific, measurable, detailed goals and objectives you’ll need to accomplish to achieve that ideal future vision.

Successful people develop the habits of personal strategic planning. They sit down and make a list of exactly what they want to accomplish in the short, medium, and long term. They then use a powerful, seven-part goal-setting methodology to create blueprints and plans of action that they follow every day.

Once you develop the habit of setting goals and making plans to accomplish them, it will become as natural for you as breathing. By following a proven goal-setting process, you’ll increase the likelihood of achieving your goals by as much as ten times, by 1 000% or more. This isn’t just a theory; it has been proved and demonstrated repeatedly by almost every person who practices it.

In February 2003, USA Today reported on a study of people who had set New Year’s resolutions the year before. They found that only 4% of the people who had made New Year’s resolutions, but had not put them in writing, had followed through on them. But 46% of those people who had written down their New Year’s resolutions carried them out. This is a difference in success rates of more than 1 100%!

Related: Goal Setting Guide

The seven-step formula

seven-step formula

Many formulas and recipes exist for goal-setting. As a rule, ‘any plan is better than no plan at all.’ Here is one of the best and most effective goal-setting plans or formulas you will ever learn.

Step one

Decide exactly what you want in a certain area, and write it down clearly, in detail. Make the goal measurable and specific.

Step two

Set a deadline for achieving the goal. If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.

Step three

Make a list of everything you’ll have to do to achieve this goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list until it’s complete.

Step four

Organise your list of action steps into a plan. A plan is a list of activities organised on the basis of two elements: Priority and sequence.

In organising by priorities, you determine the most important things you can possibly do on your list to achieve your goal. The 80/20 rule applies: 20% of the things you do will account for 80% of your results. If you don’t set clear priorities, you’ll ‘major in minors’ and spend much of your time on small and irrelevant tasks that don’t help you achieve your goal.

In organising by sequence, you determine what must be done before something else can be done. You create a checklist. There are always activities that are dependent upon other activities being completed in advance. What are they, and what is the logical order or sequence of completion?

Step five

Identify the obstacles or limitations that might hold you back from achieving your goal, both in the situation and within yourself. Ask yourself, “Why have I not achieved this goal already?”

Identify the most important constraint or limitation that’s holding you back, and then focus on removing that limiting factor. It could be a certain amount of money or a key resource. It could be an additional skill or habit you need. It could be additional information you require. It could be the assistance of one or more people. Whatever it is, identify it clearly and go to work to eliminate it.

Step six

Once you’ve determined your goal, developed your plan, and identified your major obstacle, immediately take action of some kind toward achieving your goal. Step out in faith. Do the first thing that comes to mind. But do something to start moving toward your most important goal.

Step seven

Do at least one thing every day that moves you toward your most important goal. Make a habit of getting up each morning, planning your day and then doing something, anything, that moves you at least one step closer to what’s most important to you.

The habit of doing something every single day that moves you toward an important goal develops within you the power of momentum. Daily action deepens your belief that the goal is achievable and activates the law of attraction. As a result, you begin moving faster and faster toward your goal, and your goal begins moving faster and faster toward you.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Now that you have the formula, here’s how you achieve your goals.

achieving-goals

Step One

Don’t let life and ‘busyness’ derail you

Accomplishing a goal can be hard work. But even if a project is something you are passionate about and want to complete, distractions such as social media, doubts and other tasks can make it nearly impossible to concentrate on it. Don’t fret. We’re here to help.

Check out these eight steps to help you prioritise and clear your mind.

1. Stop multitasking

Instead of trying to do a million things at once, take a step back and tackle one task at a time. And while your inclination might be to start your day with busy work — like checking emails — and then move on to the harder things, you should first try to get your brain moving by challenging yourself with a bigger, more creative endeavour.

2. Block out your days

A good way to hold yourself accountable when it comes to quieting the noise all around you is to specifically block out time in your day — maybe it’s 30 minutes or an hour — to spend on a given project. Colour code your calendar or set a timer to make sure you are accomplishing the goal at hand.

3. Get your blood pumping

You can’t focus if you’re stuck inside and staring at a screen all day long. Turn off your computer and phone, and go for a walk for 20 minutes. The fresh air and the movement will clear your head. Also make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough rest.

4. Help your technology help you

A platform like RescueTime, a software that runs while you work and shows you how you are spending your day, could help you understand why something is taking longer to complete than it should. Options like Cold Turkey, Freedom and Self Control block out the Internet entirely to keep you off your Twitter feed when you should be meeting deadlines.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

5. Meditate

Get a recommendation for a yoga or meditation class, or even make it an office outing so everyone can get some time to quiet their minds. Or look online for a plethora of apps and platforms whose stock and trade is mindfulness, like Meditation Made Simple, Calm and Headspace. For slightly more of a monetary investment, you could look into wearable tech like Thync, a device that produces electrical pulses to help your brain decrease stress.

6. Change up what’s in your headphones

While background noise might help block out a loud office or construction outside your window, you need to be careful that what you are listening to isn’t distracting you more. Music with lyrics can sap your focus from the task in front of you, so consider trying classical or electronic music instead. Or use a playlist that is familiar to you, so you aren’t tempted to turn all your attention to the new sound.

7. Streamline your communication

If you find that all of your focus gets trained on getting your inbox down to zero, think about how you can get yourself out from under a relentless deluge of email. Ask yourself and your colleagues to think about whether this conversation would be most effective through email, on the phone or in person. Taking five minutes to walk over to someone else’s workspace will save you the time and energy invested into a redundant email chain and clarify how you want to attack a problem more quickly.

8. Find an environment with the right kind of noise

To be most effective, you need to strike a delicate balance between too much noise and total silence. According to David Burkus, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University, “some level of office banter in the background might actually benefit our ability to do creative tasks, provided we don’t get drawn into the conversation,” Burkus wrote in the Harvard Business Review. “Instead of total silence, the ideal work environment for creative work has a little bit of background noise. That’s why you might focus really well in a noisy coffee shop, but barely be able to concentrate in a noisy office.”

time-management

Step two

Become a master of time

If you’re serious about achieving your goals, not only do you need to set those goals the right way, but you also have to get serious about avoiding distractions and becoming too immersed in the bad habits that you know you need to quit. Time-wasters need to fall by the wayside, and serious grit-and-bear-it hard work needs to take its place.

One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management. If you’re not managing your time well, there’s no way you’re going to reach your goals at work and the life outside of it. Sure, you might make some progress. But your time management will be an uphill battle if you don’t take your time seriously. People who squander and waste the precious little time they do have, know all too well how difficult achieving even mildly difficult goals can be.

The truth is that time is the greatest equaliser in life. No matter who you are, your age, income, gender, race or religion, you have the same amount of time as the next person. Whether you’re filthy rich or dirt poor, your time is the same. It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time.

The trick? Find a good time management system and work it. There are many. It’s entirely up to you which one to choose. But if you don’t want to become part of the 92% statistic of people who fail to achieve their long-term goals, then you need to pay attention to how you use the precious little time you do have in this world.

Related: 50 Inspirational Quotes To Help You Achieve Your Goals

What are the best tips for managing your time?

  1. Set goals the right way. There’s a right and wrong way to set goals. If you don’t set your goals the right way, then you’ll lack the proper targets, which will force you to fall off track. But when you set them the right way, the sky is the limit.
  2. Find a good time management system. One of the tips for managing your time is to find the right system to actually do it. The quadrant time-management system is probably the most effective. It splits your activities into four quadrants based on urgency and importance. Things are either urgent or important, both, or neither. Neither (quadrant 4) are the activities that you want to stay away from, but it’s the not-urgent-but-important quadrant (2) that you want to focus on.
  3. Audit your time for seven days straight. Spend seven days straight assessing how you spend the time you do have right now. What are you doing? Record it in a journal or on your phone. Split this up into blocks of 30 minutes or an hour. What did you get done? Was it time wasted? Was it well spent? If you use the quadrant system, circle or log the quadrant that the activity was associated with. At the end of the seven days, tally up all the numbers. Where did you spend the most time? Which quadrants? The results might shock you.
  4. Spend your mornings on MITs. Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” His point? Tackle your biggest tasks in the morning. These are your most important tasks (MITs) of the day. Accomplishing those will give you the biggest momentum to help you sail through the rest of the day.
  5. Instil keystone habits into your life. Charles Duhig poignantly coined the keystone habit in his book entitled, The Power of Habit. In architecture, the keystone is the stone that holds all other stones in place. Similarly, keystone habits help to not only solicit other good habits, but also help to eliminate bad habits. Focus on keystone habits and you’ll get much better at managing your overall time by making your habit development much easier.
  6. Schedule email response times. Turn off your email throughout the day. When your email is pouring in, it’s easy to get distracted. Schedule time to read and respond to emails. If there’s something urgent, someone will call or text you. But when you have your email open, those distractions interrupt your thought flow and it’s harder to get back on track.
  7. Eliminate bad habits. One of the biggest time-wasters we have are our bad habits. Whether it’s Netflix binge-watching, excessively surfing social media, playing games, going out frequently to drink with friends, or so on, those bad habits take away the precious little time that we do have. Use your time wisely by eliminating your bad habits if you’re serious about achieving big goals in life.
  8. Take frequent breaks when working. One study suggests that you should work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You might not have the luxury to do that. But you should take frequent breaks. If you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, this is crucial. It’s easy to run on fumes and not even know it. Keep your mental, emotional and physical states at peak levels by breaking frequently.
  9. Make to-do lists in the evening for the next day. Every single evening before bed, make a list for the next day. Look at your goals and see what you can do to help move you closer. This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. But by making to-do lists, you’re effectively setting goals for the day. Daily goals are easier to achieve while helping to move us towards the longer and bigger goals. But that happens by creating to-do lists.
  10. Declutter and organise. Studies have determined that clutter in our environment causes us to lose focus. When we lose focus, we lose time. If you want to avoid that, declutter and organise. Don’t do it all at once. Start small. One drawer today. A shelf tomorrow. Maybe a closet the next day. Just one per day. You build momentum and eventually find yourself turning into an organising warrior.

momentum

Step three

Keep up your momentum

(AKA Learn to see the bigger picture to keep your eye on the prize)

We all have goals. How to achieve those goals is not as complex as you might think. Sometimes it’s just about taking a step back to see the bigger picture.

Related: 10 Great Quotes On The Power Of Goals

Here are three important lessons to learn about achieving your goals as you take on the day (each and every day).

1. Focus on what you need instead of what you want

You might think you want that big house and three cars, but do you really need it? This is such a simple way to set authentic priorities, yet so few people get it.

A simple ‘want’ is nothing but a fantasy. You need to be passionate to achieve what you want to achieve or it’s never going to happen. It must almost be tinged with desperation.

2. Learn the lessons from all of it, positive and negative

Life is never all good or all bad, so we have to learn from both. When you find yourself basking in all that is positive in your life, think about how you managed to succeed. How can you replicate that same success? On the other hand, you need to be able to grow on the negative. Think about why you failed and how you can avoid doing that again.

Set aside some time every week to reflect on your successes and failures. It’s the only way you’re going to grow to a point where you can achieve your goals. Don’t over-think every project afterwards but if you can take one lesson from each experience you know you’ve done it right.

3. Stay focused on the prize

It’s easy to lose focus when you’re taking on multiple ventures at the same time. To make sure you stay focused on the prize always have a plan for the short-term, medium-term and the long-term.

Question everything you’re doing. Ask yourself: “Is what I am doing right now contributing towards my short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals?” Making sure that you’re studying hard is key here.

If the answer is no then you know you need to rethink what you’re doing. Staying focused on the prize is what will prevent you from wasting your time on the tasks that don’t matter.


The main lesson is to think before and after

Think about what you’re about to do and whether it takes you closer to your goals. Think about what you have done and determine whether you could have done it better or whether things turned out the way you wanted them to.

It can be hard to stop when you’re in the middle of something, but this is the most important part of all. Once you manage to do this you’ll get more results for every action.


Related: The 10 Traits You Must Cultivate To Achieve Highly Ambitious Goals

CHECKLIST

Your goal-setting (and achieving) checklist

Here’s the simple reality of achieving success. Unless you have goals, you have no way of knowing whether or not you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your life. But all this tends to be a bit easier to suss out if you have those goals in hand. Setting goals is easy — we all do it. Sticking to them is harder.

Here’s how you can stay on track.

Write goals that align with your values

There isn’t a huge difference between corporate goals and life goals. If your career goals aren’t supporting your life goals, you are bound to have a miserable existence.

Set goals that you can control

Too often, we set goals that depend on other people. Unless every aspect of the goal you set is under your control, you have very little likelihood of ever achieving it.

Think big

Set goals that you don’t think you can achieve and work your tail off to get there. Anyone can follow the advice of lesser men and set clearly achievable goals, but that’s for under-achievers and slackers. There is nothing wrong with setting your sights higher than most might believe practicable.

Give yourself time

If you begin with the end in mind, that is to say, if you start by visualising where you want to end up in life, the things you need to get there are pretty easy to plot out.

Plan for success

Don’t worry that your dreams aren’t realistic or that you might not achieve them. Don’t ask ‘What if I fail?’ Instead, ask, ‘What if I succeed?’ Worrying about failure is pointless and destructive; the surest way to be a failure is to spend time worrying about it. Your goals won’t just accomplish themselves; you will have to have a plan, and you’ll have to work that plan.

Manage your risks

You will never achieve goals you didn’t set, but then again there are precious few guarantees in this life. While most of the things you will do on your journey to success will carry some measure of risk, that’s okay. Just be sure that you consider that risk and weigh it against the reward.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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The Alfa Romeo Stelvio – More Than An SUV

The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession.

Alfa Romeo

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The All-New Alfa Romeo Stelvio draws inspiration from the legendary mountain pass linking Italy to Switzerland, with 48 hairpins in quick succession. The Stelvio pass is widely seen as one of the most beautiful and engaging roads on the planet.

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Setting & Achieving Goals

What You Put In Is What You Get Out – Create Your Own Success

The secret to curating a successful life starts with what you put in.

Allon Raiz

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putting-in-effort

You are what you eat, the saying goes. Your physical and even mental health are highly dependent on what you eat (or consume) daily. There are four fundamental factors of a system:  Input, boundaries, purpose and output. All systems are mostly defined by the combination of these four factors.

A professional athlete will be very diligent about what they consume in order to achieve the best possible outcome, and sprinters will have different guides and regimes to marathon runners. Essentially, high performing athletes curate their input, or design their own lives, to produce a favourable output.

The same is true of the high-performance entrepreneur — they too should be curating their input, not just in terms of what they consume through their mouths but more importantly, what they consume with their ears and eyes.

Related: For Shatty Mashego Success Lies In Maintaining A Positive Mindset

Positive inputs

A few years ago, I began to recognise that even though I might wake up in a good space in the morning, by 10am I would be feeling negative regardless of my daily practices. I had already established the discipline of recording and recognising my successes daily, as well as repeating daily affirmations and visualisations, yet within a few hours of starting my day, I found myself in a negative space.

I couldn’t figure out what was causing this; but after some analysis I realised that my daily routine included listening to talk radio on the way to work, catching up with the news on Twitter before my first meeting, and reading the morning paper which was neatly laid out on my desk. It quickly became clear that my negativity could be attributed to my over-consumption of bad news.

Each communication platform — from Twitter to the radio — has the power to depress anyone who consumes its news, but the combination of all three was toxic to me. It affected my mood, concentration and, invariably, my output. In a single decision, I eliminated these three platforms from my daily ‘diet’ and instead curated a different morning experience to see whether it would change the output. Instead of the radio, I decided to listen to either music or an audiobook; instead of Twitter, I decided to call a friend; and I didn’t renew my newspaper subscription.

The results were instantaneous. This experiment set me on a mission to see what else I could deliberately curate and design, so I began to strategically design my life to inform the successful and positive output that I desired. I subscribed to online newsletters that were informative and thought-provoking, such as Brain Food by Shane Parish; I cajoled my management team to begin listening to audiobooks at the same time that I was doing so to ensure that we included positive discussions in our bi-monthly meetings; and I ensured that there were always three litres of water in my immediate surrounds to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

Create your own success

In case you haven’t experienced the lightbulb moment yet, the simple explanation is this: All systems have inputs and outputs, and the quality of the input results in the quality of the output.

If you see yourself as the curator of your input and as the architect of your environment, you can start to create the inputs, set the boundaries and define purposes to result in the output that commands entrepreneurial success.

Related: Daily Practices for Cultivating a Positive Work Culture to Support Your Business

If something really affects the quality of your life — whether it’s your attitude, your mood or the clarity of your thought processes — it’s time to relook the design and start to curate an environment that is conducive to your success.

And, if you’re concerned about missing out on what’s happening, always remember that, if a news report or update has a direct impact on your life, the chances are high that you will hear it through your friends and family.

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