Life In Half A Second – by Matthew Michalewicz

Life in Half A Second – by Matthew Michalewicz

life in half a second

Background:

Matthew Michalewicz was born in Poland and lived there until his parents decided to escape the Communist regime. Matthew, now residing in Australia, went on to become a technology and software entrepreuener, creating the companies NuTech Solutions in 1999, SolveIT Software in 2004 and Complexica in 2014. Life In Half A Second is Matthew’s latest book, first published in 2013, and details a 5-step plan to achieving ‘success’, whatever that may mean for you.

 

Quick Summary:

Planet Earth is over 4.5 billion years old. Homo Sapiens are 200,000 years old. If we scaled down the existence of Planet Earth to 1 year, homo sapiens have been around for all of 23 minutes. On that timeline, our life only measures half a second. When we’re kids, time seems unlimited and seems to pass so slowly. But when we reach adulthood, we realise that “we’ll be spending the vast majority of our “freedom” at work, paying bills, surviving, often in jobs we don’t like or don’t care about”. Matthew lays out a 5 step plan of Clarity, Desire, Belief, Knowledge and Action. He says that these are the 5 ingredients we need to start achieving more in our short lives.

“The tragedy of life isn’t that we only have half a second. The tragedy is that we waste it.

 

Who should read this:

This is one for everyone. Certainly not limited to those with business aspirations, these principles can be applied to what ‘success’ you want to achieve. Be that in entrepreneurship, health and weight loss, relationships, projects, or ticking things off your bucket list (which Matthew says we should all write down and complete each year!). It’s not a very long book but it has a big impact. Matthew tells some funny stories and uses some great analogies. Well worth the read.

 

Favourite Chapters:

The book is set out in 5 chapters, one chapter form each of the steps. They’re all important, so I’ll summarise the main points from each step. Matthew calls these the 5 “Doors to Success”, and each door has a key that opens it.

 

The First Door: CLARITY

“Successful people get what they want out of life because they know what they want”. The first Door to Success is achieving a sense of Clarity – working out exactly what you want to achieve in life. Matthew argues that you need to set goals, and you achieve success when you attain those goals. Your success is linked to what goals you set. You can set either small goals or big goals, and in turn, your success can either be small or big (small isn’t a bad thing, it’s all relative, as long as you know that you want to aim small and achieve small).

He also points out the differences between ‘success’ and ‘financial success’. Most people immediately think of money when they think of success, but this shouldn’t be your only focus. Of course, everyone needs money to live though, so ‘financial success’ must form some part of your consideration.

Part of the power of setting goals is the mental focus it brings – “once you have a clear goal, you begin thinking about it, and by thinking about it, you narrow your attention and efforts to activities related to the goal”. By having goals in place, you mind can focus and you can begin moving towards your goals.

The key to the Door of Clarity: Set precise goals.

Matthew talks a lot about Visualisation, something I’ve never personally got into but it seems to work for a lot of people! Maybe it’s something worth trying out. Matthew also says that less 1% of the population has goals, writes them down and reviews them (having goals is a lot better than not having them, but it’s even better to write them down and regularly review them to ensure that you’re on track to achieving them). Another thing Matthew advocates is spreading your goals around your trusted circle of friends and family to create some public commitment and gives you a team of people to keep encouraging you towards achieving your goals.

 

The Second Door: DESIRE

“Desire is the reason you do what you do”. If you don’t enjoy your job or you don’t enjoy exercising, you may do them anyway out of your desire to earn a pay check and buy food or your desire to be healthy and look good. Desire influences every decision we make. It’s therefore important to align your goals with things you desire. This will help strengthen your commitment, “help you overcome obstacles, recover from setbacks, and push through adversity and disappointment”. Low desire equals low effort – you will work a lot harder towards goals that you truly desire.

“The key to the Door of Desire is to align you goals with desire”.

I really interesting way to approach this is to list the things that you HATE. We all have things that we think we want in life and we can set goals to go about achieving those things, bu Matthew suggests it may be easier to identify the things we DON’T want in our lives. This is because we know exactly what the things we don’t want are because they already exist, and we don’t have to try and imagine what they might be. So, Matthew suggests we identify the most negative thing in our life right now, and set goals that will go about eliminating those things.

 

The Third Door: BELIEF

After a few funny annecdotes, Matthew tells us that whilst we don’t need to believe everything we read in his book or everything we see and hear in the world, we do need to believe 100% in OURSELVES. He informs us of some crazy medical stories about controlled trials where placebos have worked just as effectively as the actual treatments. Even as extreme as sham knee replacements that led to real recovery! By the same token, there are also nocebos that have the exact opposite effect; a harmless substance that will negatively impact us if we think that it will. Whilst this isn’t a book on medical advice, it really is amazing what can happen if we truly believe.

Matthew asks us “what’s the point of trying if success is impossible?”. If we believe that we would never be able to achieve success, of course, we would never actually take action and therefore we would never accomplish it. Matthew also tells some great historical triumphs where people broke the “belief barrier” and it led to a flood of record breakers.

The key to the Door of Belief is changing your environment. This is because our beliefs are formed as a direct result of our environment. If no one in our family has started a business before, we probably wouldn’t have the belief that we could do it. If all our friends are earning $60,000 a year, we wouldn’t believe that earning $1,000,000 a year is possible.

He references Jim Rohn’s famous quote that “you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with”. By spending time with people who are achieving more than you are currently achieving, your beliefs will shift and you will start achieving more. Keep in mind that a good way to easily change your environment is to start ‘spending time’ will successful people by reading their biographies, reading their books and blogs, listening to their podcasts and watching their documentaries. You may not be able to meet face to face with ultra-successfully people right now. But reading, watching and listening is a great place to start.

 

The Fourth Door: KNOWLEDGE

“Studies have shown it’s easier to achieve success if you know how to achieve it”. Seems pretty obvious doesn’t it. Matthew argues that someone has already achieved pretty much anything we want to achieve; so all we need to do is learn how they did it and repeat. Matthew reiterates here that there are many different paths to success, and generally the faster the path the more risky it becomes. By learning exactly how people have achieved success in the past, our path becomes a whole lot easier.

A major part of achieving success is setting a ‘goal pyramid’. Well worth having a look at this section. It’s a great way of mapping our goals and gives you a clear path of action to achieve them. By the way, you’ll see a free little bonus at the bottom of this post! Hint – Matthew has done a short video series about his book that you can access for free through this link! By setting a goal pyramid, you know exactly what steps you need to take on the way to your goals and you give yourself some obvious milestones you can celebrate along the way.

Invest in Yourself

YOU are your own greatest asset, and the key to the Door of Knowledge is to invest in yourself. There is a massive difference between knowing ‘what’ and knowing ‘how’ – know what you want is a major step in itself, but it is useless unless you know exactly how you can going about attaining it.

An important element Matthew mentions here is the exchange rate between life and cash. It’s a great concept and he also touches on how important it is to OWN something, rather than just being a worker (this may be a business, real estate, stocks, but also the right to a song or book you’ve created). This is where you can really earn money. He doesn’t spend a lot of time on it though, so if this little section intrigues you, I recommend reading something like Rich Dad, Poor Dad or The Richest Man in Babylon to get you even more fired up.

 

The Fifth Door: ACTION

At the end of the day, nothing is going to happen unless you actually take ACTION. You have to get out the and DO STUFF. So go. Now! Go do it.

The reason Matthew decided to take action was because he wasn’t content with living on the median wage of $33,000 at the time for the rest of his life. He had bigger dreams and bigger goals, so he needed to commit and start taking action. He says that whilst many people read self-help books and go to seminars, they still don’t achieve success. The reason? “People aren’t looking for the ‘secrets’ to success, they’re looking for the ‘shortcuts’ to success”. He argues that people want success, but most aren’t willing to put in the hours. Most don’t put in the effort and take the necessary calculated risks to get there.

And what is the major reason we don’t take action? Fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, rejection, embarrassment, change, criticism, commitment… We fear so much that is tranquilizes us and we don’t take action. In the past, our ancestors had fear of war and famine and disease, things that are far more tangible and dangerous than our fears of failure or embarrassment. Ultimately, we are going to regret the things that we never tried a lot more than the things we failed at. So get out there and start trying new things and taking action.

 

Favourite Quotes:

“We’ll be spending the vast majority of our ‘freedom’ at work, paying bills, surviving, often in jobs we don’t like or don’t care about”

“The tragedy of life isn’t that we only have half a second. The tragedy is that we waste it.”

“Can we only live when we’re dying?”

“Because you measure time in ‘years lived’ rather than ‘days left’, the future seems unlimited, so you defer and wait”

“[We] do very little of what [we] ‘have to’ and very little of what [we] ‘want to’”

“There’s a countdown on my life. And guess what… There’s a countdown on yours as well

“It’s not a disgrace to not reach for the stars, but it’s a disgrace to have no stars to reach for” Benjamin Mayes

“There is no question that life is but a moment, a snap of the fingers. The real question is: what are you going to do with that moment?

“Successful people get what they want out of life because they know what they want”

“Success is defined by what you aim for – by what goals you set

“Once you have a clear goal, you being thinking about it, and by thinking about it, you narrow your attention and efforts to activities related to the goal”

“Only one person in a hundred has goals, writes them down, and regularly reviews them”

“People abandon their dreams because of the risks and the consequences of failure”

“Do or do not… There is no try” Yoda

“What the point of trying if success is impossible?”

“Your environment has influenced you since the day you were born”

“A positive environment will feed your self-belief like oxygen feeds a flame”

“Go to the library, borrow books, subscribe to blogs, download podcasts, discover the world, get inspired”

“Anyone can change their environment if they want to, if their desire is strong enough, and when they change their environment, their self-belief will change with it”

“Studies have shown that it’s easier to achieve success if you know how to achieve it”

“Ignorance is the most expensive thing in the world ”

“Knowing the path – knowing what to do – is only half the equation. The other half is knowing how to do it.”

“You will never become wealthy unless you own something”

“People aren’t looking for the ‘secrets’ to success, they’re looking for the ‘shortcuts’ to success”

“In the same way that fears are learned, they can also be unlearned

“Whenever you say ‘I can’t’, what you’re really saying is ‘I don’t want to’”

“The greatest failure you can experience in life is not trying”

“The only person responsible for you success is you

“Make the most of your days left, do everything you want to do, and do it now, before it’s too late”

 

Bonus

As promised, you can get free access to Matthew’s Life In Half A Second video series. Take the challenge today by taking action on what you’ve learnt form the book. Sign up here to get free access. Send us your success stories when you’ve achieved your success.

Matthew Michalewicz – Author of Life in Half A Second (WYWL podcast)

Matthew Michalewicz is the author of one of our favourite books, Life in Half A Second.

The book lays out the 5 steps to achieve success before it’s too late: Clarity, Desire, Belief, Knowledge and Action. Matthew has shared some freebies with us: the first two chapters of his book are available here, and he has a free video series outlining the 5 steps at www.lifeinhalfasecond.com/challenge

Matthew started his first business when he was 18. He became a certified Personal Trainer as a way to make money to pay for his college tuition. Since then, he’s gone on to build and sell three businesses. Most recently, he sold SolveIT Software for 8 figures. He’s currently building his newest company, Complexica, which harnesses Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to improve the effectiveness of salespeople. He hopes to one day float this company on the stock exchange.

This was an incredible conversation. Matthew talked about his path to success and some of his life’s journey so far, as well as some of his favourite books and the best investment he ever made.

You can grab a copy of his book Life in Half A Second here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Life-in-Half-a-Second/9780992286101/?a_aid=adamsbooks

Ideas

Business Ideas

Today I was reminded – DON’T KEEP YOUR IDEAS A SECRET. This is something I hear often. Most recently, I read this in Anything You Want by Derek Sivers and Becoming a Key Person of Influence by Daniel Priestley. Today, I heard it on a podcast I just started listening to – Question of the Day with James Altucher and Steven Dubner. Specifically, this came from Episode 39: “Common Mistakes of First-Time Entrepreneurs”.

It’s a mistake to keep your ideas secret from others. James, a former hedge fund manager and successful angel investor, says he always knows he’s dealing with a rookie if they present a Non-Disclosure Agreement to sign. Amateurs think that other people will steal their idea.

Derek Sivers tells us that “ideas are just a multiplier of execution”. Without action and execution, an idea is basically worthless. Anyone can get ideas, but they don’t mean anything until you do something with them.

Daniel Preistley and Glen Carlson (the KPI guys) talk a lot about sharing your ideas as well. There’s nothing to gain in keeping your ideas secret.

Zero Sum Game?

There is this feeling of it being a zero sum game, that if one person starts building on your idea, its gone. But that’s ridiculous!  Think of the Dassler brothers, Adolf and Rudolf. Together, they created Puma in 1942. Their relationship became strained and they split in 1948, and Adolf went on to create Adidas! Then, the same company that created Adidas also created Reebok. In 1964, 22 years after Puma began and 16 years after Adidas was founded, Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight had an idea to create a sports shoe company. Did they think, “Oh… someone’s already making sports shoes… We better think of something else…”? No. The created Nike. Oh yeah, and before all of this, New Balance had already been making sports shoes since 1906!

Just because someone’s already doing something doesn’t mean you can’t do it too. The idea of “zero sum” means that for you to get a customer, it means your competitor has to lose a customer. Trading Foreign Exchange is a zero sum game – when somebody makes money, somebody loses the equivalent amount of money. The business world however is not zero sum. It’s all about growing the pie. There isn’t a set market that you are limited to. Rather than taking customers from a competitor, you could get your own brand new customers that either had never heard of it before or never decided to purchase form your competitor.

The reality is, most people WON’T try to steal your idea. Mainly because most people wouldn’t even know what to do with the idea anyway. But the upside of sharing ideas means you can learn things for yourself – someone might give you an avenue or a thought you hadn’t considered.

This reminds me a lot of the 3 Hour Brand Accelerator I attended a few months ago hosted by Glen Carlson. If you’re interested, read the section about targeting the “Unaware Population”. In summary, there’s more potential customer and a lot less competition!

My Latest Idea

Taking this advice, I started to share my latest idea. I thought it would be great to have a sock subscription company. I’d just started working full time and I’d just moved out of home, so was slowly getting adjusted to having to wear business socks every day and making sure I washed regularly enough to keep them fresh. I also had a lot of plain black socks. The corporate world is boring enough as it is, and I’d started noticing blokes adding a little bit more colour to their attire and wearing some cool socks. I hate shopping and I wouldn’t be bothered going shopping and trying to pick out socks I liked. So I thought it would be cool to get a new, random pair every month. I wouldn’t have to go sock shopping again and I’d get a bit of variety.

Turns out this idea isn’t very original. I think I’d actually seen an episode of Shark Tank like 12 months prior to this and the idea must’ve been tucked away in the back of my mind somewhere until I discovered a personal need for it. When I say it’s not an original idea, I mean there are A LOT of people trying to do the same thing. Like, A LOT. We’re talking pages and pages of google results from all over the world. But, just because someone’s already had the idea doesn’t mean I can’t try it too!

The Sock Club

Sock Ideas

My main reasoning was that before I started researching, I’d actually never really heard of such a thing (other than the episode of Shark Tank I’d forgotten about). So I started sharing my idea. I told 14 people about it! I had two reasons for doing this. Firstly, I was telling my friends who would be in the target market as customers. I was targeting young male corporate workers, so I wanted to see if anyone would actually consider signing up as a customer. Secondly, I wanted someone to do it with me.

Of these 14 friends, 13 said they liked the idea and would sign up. Of those, 7 showed interest in joining me and doing it together. Of those 7, one loved it so much, he went away and built a website, got some samples from sock manufacturers and set up the back end to get people’s money every month! We’re now 50/50 partners and working at building this thing.

As I write, it’s in the very, very, very early stages! As in, we starting testing the market THIS MORNING. I’ll write another post at some stage about testing the idea. We want to either see a glimmer of hope or fail fast with as small a financial loss as possible. Wish us luck!

 

And SHARE YOUR IDEAS. You never know what may come of them.

Fresh Start

Sometimes, you just need a fresh start. If you can change your circumstances by increased effort, improved efficiency and by forging new, more positive relationships, that would be your best option. But in some cases, a fresh start is the only solution.

This might be in business. You might have been slogging away at your business or idea for an extended period of time. You might think you just need to work smarter or harder or better. But there comes a point where you just need to cut ties and start from scratch.

It might be in the office. If you earned yourself a bad reputation, it can be very hard to turn it around. No matter how hard you work in the future, you might still have that negative aura and people might still see you as lazy. If you’ll be forever linked to previous behaviour and you can’t see a way to rectify it, a completely fresh start with a new attitude might be the answer.

The One Minute Manager (WYWL Podcast)

The One Minute Manager

The One Minute Manager is a parable about a young man who is studying leadership and management. He has interviewed many managers but has never really been inspired until he meets the “One Minute Manager”. Subtitled ‘The world’s most popular way to manage your life and work’, this is a short and simple book that provides you with a short a simple way to manage yourself and others. There are Three Secrets to One Minute Management: One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Re-Directs.

It is only about 80 pages long. As it’s a parable, it presents all of the ideas but allows you to interpret and internalise how you can best apply these in your life. This book isn’t just for “managers”. The OMM is also a great way to approach your own life and better manage your time and output.

You can also download this episode or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

If you’d prefer to read instead of listen, you can check out Adam Ashton’s blog. There’s a full summary of The One Minute Manager here.

Luck

Today’s thought comes from The Richest Man in Babylon. It is from the parable titled “Meet the Goddess of Good Luck”. In summary, the only way to be consistently “lucky” is by recognising good opportunities and taking action.

luck1

 

Financial Shortcuts

You can read a bit more context about the book here, but basically, the Richest Man in Babylon, Akrad, is trying to pass on his financial knowledge to the other citizens in the hope that they can all become wealthy and build a prosperous city. One man said he had just been lucky and found a wallet on the ground with some gold in it. If he could find gold on the ground every day, he would become a rich man. Whilst this man had good luck today in finding the gold, it is very unlikely he will be able to find gold on the ground often enough to become wealthy. The men discuss some other ways in which they can encounter good luck.

What if they bet at the casino? Surely they could quickly become rich? In their casino game, a dice had 5 blue sides and one red side. If it rolled red, you won 4 to 1. If they rolled enough reds, they could become rich. But Akrad quickly points out that they had 5 chances of losing, and only win 4 to 1, meaning the casino wins 20% of every dollar bet. Whilst we don’t play this dice game today, the odds at a casino are always skewed in the house’s favour.

What about the races? You can get lucky at the races and become rich? No again. Betting on the Babylonian horse races is not a reliable route to wealth.

Luck – The only reliable way

luck3

The only way we can actively encourage luck is by recognising strong opportunities and taking action. We must be able to find good opportunities. Those that add value to others. Those that will lead to an increased payout. When we find these opportunities, we need to take ACTION. Procrastinators miss opportunities; “opportunity waits for no man”. If you see an opportunity, please don’t procrastinate. Go ahead, take action, and a little good luck might come your way.

 

Men of Action are favoured by the Goddess of Good Luck” – George S Classon

luck2

 

Parables

Parables

“Parables” are simple stories used to illustrate a lesson. Some of the most well-known books are parables. The likes of The Richest Man in Babylon, The One Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese? and The Greatest Salesman in the World are some great examples of popular parables. Rather than simply stating the facts, these stories force us to analyse and internalise their lessons. Google “parable” and most of the results will involve Jesus. These stories are a great way to teach religious or spiritual lessons. I’ve found them a great way to also teach business and financial lessons too.

Reading the story forces us to think about the lessons, rather than just being handed them on a silver platter. I think that when we interpret the lessons, we feel a little bit clever, and these with stick with us a lot more. By the same token, these lessons aren’t hidden. They’re pretty obvious, but you do have to do a very small amount of work to extract them. I feel that by doing that little bit of work, the morals of the story really resonate with us and hopefully we are more likely to internalise them and act upon them. Below are a few of my favourite examples of business or personal development books that are delivered through parables.

The Richest Man in Bablyon

richestmaninbabylon

This is a collection of parables set in ancient Babylon. These were originally distributed as series of different pamphlets distributed by banks and insurance companies before being compiled into a book. One of the parables tells is of an old, rich man passing on his knowledge of creating substantial wealth. Another uses an examples of the Walls of Babylon to show us that we all need to protect what we have. This is my favourite parable I’ve ever read. Definitely 5 stars (out of 5 of course!).

The lessons are the basic finance lessons our parents tried to teach us when we were young. I feel that if this book simply stated the facts, we would dismiss the advice like we dismissed the advice of our parents and teachers. This is really simple advice that EVERYONE needs to practice, but we don’t like being told what to do. Instead, George Clason delivers these lessons in the form of parables set thousands of years ago.

It isn’t condescending because we are so far removed from the situations of the camel trader and the spear maker, but the morals of the stories hold true today. By reading about the ancient Babylonians and their money issues, we can instead form our own judgements and apply them to our own lives today. If you’d like to learn some personal finance lessons without reading the entire thing for yourself, you can read my full summary here.

 

The One Minute Manager

One Minute Manager

Here is another good delivery of some very simple management techniques that we can use to help manage ourselves and those around us better. Rather than just telling us the three keys to one minute management, the parable helps us move through an office and understand WHY we should be using the One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings and One Minute Re-Directs. This books isn’t just for “managers” as these principles can also be applied to our own lives. Read the my full summary here.

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

WhoMovedMyCheese

This is perhaps the most well known, but the one I enjoyed the least. Again, the parable style was good in making me interpret the lesson for myself, but I found this book really really smacked us over the head repeatedly to make sure we didn’t miss the message. The other I think were a little more subtle but you could definitely still work out the lessons. This one really didn’t try to hide it at all. The message is still great in helping us cope with change. Definitely a must read for anyone about to undergo a big change in their life, be that in their employment, relationships, family, friends, living arrangements and so on. If you don’t want to read the book yourself, here’s my summary.

 

The Greatest Salesman in the World

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Probably my second favourite, but this one is a little lesser well known. This was again set in ancient times. I won’t give away the big twist at the end, but it was set around 2016 or 2017 years ago… Whilst the title suggests this book is for “salesman”, don’t be turned off. The 10 scrolls were fantastic and you can (and should) apply these to all aspects of life. Definitely worth the read! Or check out my summary here.

Getting Started

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. The hardest part is often taking that first step. Similar to yesterday’s post, Biting the Bullet, it often turns out to be easier than you imagined. For me, the two things that become easier once I get started are housework and exercise.

Whenever I see that the dishwasher has finished, I can’t think of anything worse than stopping what I’m doing and putting the dishes away. After enough procrastinating, I’ll eventually get up and get started. Within a few minutes… It’s done!

It’s the same as exercise. The hardest part is just getting out the door. The biggest hurdle seems to be changing into my running gear, putting on my runnings shoes and walking out the door. Once I’m out and get started with that first step, I actually enjoy it!

I need to apply this to more areas of my life. If I spent less time doing anything else but starting and instead just got started, it’d be over before I knew it!

Success?

“Success”

It means so many different things to so many different people. Some see “success” as having a lot of money, some see it as having a great family, some see it as having a job we the can impact others in a positive way, some see it as being a well-respected public figure… There are many different definitions of “success”. A few years ago, I assumed everyone was financially motivated. Now, I’m realising more and more that money isn’t everything. Time and a feeling of freedom are featuring more and more in my personal definition of success.

“Success” is such an abstract, nebulous term that everyone has their own opinion on. As I was reading today, something really stuck out and grabbed my attention. I read every day (you can check out the books I’ve read here), and today, I started re-reading The Richest Man in Babylon in preparation for my podcast this weekend with my mate Adam Jones (check out our What You Will Learn podcast here), this jumped out at me. It wasn’t even in the book itself, it was actually in the foreword! I almost always skip the foreword but this one was only two pages so I read it. This sentence, tucked away in the middle of the page, really resonated with me:

 

“Success means accomplishments as the result of our own efforts and abilities.”

 

Efforts and Abilities

Everyone wants to achieve “success”, whatever that may mean to us. Thishis quote says to me that we like to do things right and we like to be rewarded for it. In this sense, we like to put in effort and accomplish things.

If success to you means having lots of money, you will be satisfied when you build a business and sell it for millions of dollars, or you may be satisfied from working and saving for 40 years and seeing a big retirement package at the end. But you won’t be as satisfied if you win the lottery. Whilst winning the lottery may satisfy your “success” in terms of giving you a lot of money, this isn’t a ‘result of our own efforts and abilities’. Perhaps this is why we hear that many lottery winners find themselves in financial trouble a year or two after a big lottery win.

If success to you means having a job in a position of authority, you derive your success form have a positive influence over people. By using ‘your own efforts and abilities’, you build a reputation, get promotions and earn peoples’ trust and respect. Therefore you are able to lead and inspire those around you. But if you were somehow thrust into a managerial position (perhaps you had friends in high places or used some of your other assets to get you there), I don’t think you would have the same feeling of success and you wouldn’t be able to exercise leadership because you wouldn’t have earned trust and respect.

 

Just a thought that crossed my mind this morning. Tucked away in a foreword I’d normally skip over. Have a think about it…

“Success means accomplishments as the result of our own efforts and abilities.”

"Sucess" from The Richest Man in Babylon

Biting the bullet

I’ll try not to go into too much boring detail about the specifics of this particular scenario, but today I learned that sometimes you just need to suck it up and bite the bullet. It’s usually never as bad as you think it will be.

I had a task at work to complete that had been hanging over my head for a few days. I was first told about it on a Wednesday. I was only told about it in passing in the kitchen though and my boss told me what to do. It made sense, or I thought it did anyway, but without actually seeing it I didn’t totally grasp what was required. It was due Monday. I had to get a powerpoint pack sent from a colleague (which took two days and I had to chase up on the Friday). So I got cracking, but being late on a Friday afternoon, I kind of decided to go home instead. ‘I’ll get it done on Monday,’ I thought to myself.

Monday rolled around and I had some computer issues. Then my boss came up to me in a visibly displeased manner due to the fact that she hadn’t received the finished product yet. I’m pretty passive at work and don’t like to rub people the wrong way or cause conflict so I just apologised and said I would get it to her before I left the office that day. I had to wait until a friend left the office for the day at 5:30 so I could borrow his computer to get access to the files I needed. I was at work for almost three hours and I felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall. The spreadsheet was so big that it kept crashing whenever I tried to manipulate the data. In the end, I got to the point where I seriously couldn’t do it anymore. I had told my boss that I would have it to her that day, and there was no way I could do it. I honestly didn’t understand what she wanted. Looking at the data I had and looking at the graphs my colleague had produced, I just couldn’t see what she wanted. I was honestly getting a little worried, almost scared… I knew she already wasn’t happy with me, and me not delivering this piece of work wouldn’t help that! I thought about just ignoring it and going home and trying again in the morning, but I decided I had to just bite the bullet and tell her.

I sent and email detailing what it was that I thought she wanted, what I had done to that point, and where I could see it going. I finished the email with an honest statement explaining my situation. I said something like “I’m really not sure what this is meant to look like. A little more guidance would be greatly appreciated so that I can delivery exactly what you want as soon as possible”.

I walked in to work the next morning to an email along the lines of “come and see me at my desk at 9am”. Having seen my boss’s discontent the day before, I was more than a little scared as to what this meeting would entail! I thought I was in a bit of trouble… But my boss gave me a nice cheery “Good morning” and a smile and I was instantly relieved. We only had to spend 3 or 4 minutes sitting at her desk. She was able to clearly articulate exactly what she needed done and how she wanted it to look. I was able to go away and complete it quickly and accurately and got it back to her that day.

It was in her best interest to support me so that I could get the job done, and my honesty and humility allowed me to show her that I needed help, which she was more than happy to give. I was pretty scared sending that email telling her that I hadn’t completed the task, and I was a little worried heading in the next day that I might be on the receiving end of a bit of harsh feedback. But in the end, there was nothing to worry about! I was able to get the instruction I needed, I was able to get the job done, and it was no where near as bad as I thought it would be!