5 Important Lessons We Can Learn from ‘Failure’

Failure is inevitable. You are going to experience it many times in your life. However, it’s what you take away from it that really determines whether you failed or not. While it can be hard to go through, there are many important lessons that you can walk away with. Some people choose to let failure hold them back. But the most successful people see it as a learning opportunity.

Know your motivating factor.

Often times, we fail because we’re doing something for all the wrong reasons. We don’t feel personally invested in the outcome. When you’re thinking about your goals, understand the reason behind them. What’s motivates you to do something? If there’s nothing you can come up with, it’s time to reevaluate and redefine your goals. You won’t get very far when you can’t motivate yourself.

Hard work will eventually be rewarded.

Sometimes, it may seem like no matter how much hard work you put into something, you never get it right. That feeling can be very disheartening. But know that hard work will eventually be rewarded. Regardless of whether or not you succeed at the task at hand, you tried your best. And someone will notice that.

Risks are worth taking.

Have you ever asked yourself ‘what if I had just done that?’ The thought of not knowing what might have been can be a tough one. And it really doesn’t go away unless you try. That’s why risks are worth taking. If you succeed, you made a good choice. If you don’t, you at least know that you tried. You won’t ever have to think about the ‘what if’.

Try again.

There are very few things that done right the first time. Some things takes multiple tries to get it right. If you fail, try again. Don’t view it as the end of the road. It’s just a setback. Whether you realize it or not, you always have the opportunity to try again. There’s a time and a place to call it quits but define that for yourself.

Failure doesn’t really exist.

Even though we’ve discussed failure up until this point, the funny thing is that failure doesn’t really exist. There are hiccups, setbacks and roadblocks. But those aren’t failures. They only become failure when you let it stop you from pursuing whatever it is you want to pursue. So the next time you think you failed at something, just brush it off. Instead, learn from it and become better than you were before it.

3 Ways To Work Less But Get More Done

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Putting in 40 hours a week at work is the norm but for so many, that’s the bare minimum. 50+ hours in the office per week is becoming not only more and more common but expected. Many of us have the mentality that the more hours we work, the more we get done. But that’s not always true.

Many people don’t consider the effects of burnout and fatigue when thinking about productivity. But it’s a real issue and it’s something a cup of coffee can’t cure. Working more doesn’t mean you’re being more productive. And there’s actually proof behind it. Recently, John Pencavel of Stanford University did a study on this exact topic. One interesting point he discovered was that productivity drops off significantly at 50 hours of work a week and exponentially after that. So do you just work less to counteract this so-called burnout? No but you do need to be more cognizant of what you do with your time in order to be more productive. Here’s 5 tips to help you find some more balance with work:

Disconnect & unplug

While you may think being connected 24/7 will make you more productive, it can actually do you more harm than good. For the vast majority of your emails, you don’t need to respond immediately. When you check them constantly, you’re just wasting time. You’re also throwing away a great opportunity to just unwind and relax. Don’t be a slave to your phone and email. Disconnect and unplug in the evenings and on the weekends. You also want to set reasonable expectations. If you respond at all hours, people will contact you at all hours.

Delegate what you can

You can’t do everything yourself. That’s why you delegate what you can. The most successful people usually don’t do the bulk of the work themselves. They analyze, assess and then delegate. It’s important to find good and reliable help so that you can feel comfortable handing tasks over to others. Even though it can cost you more, your time is much, much more valuable.

Cut down on meetings

Meetings can take up the entire day. But are they really that important? Most of the time, no. If you’ve even gone into a meeting just to talk about having another meeting, you know exactly how frustrating that can be. Cut down on unnecessary meetings. Most communication can be done over the phone or through email. If you must have a meeting, make sure there is a concise agenda so that everyone knows exactly what needs to get done.

Pursue your passion

There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. It’s true. You can spend all the time in the world at work but if you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s difficult to be happy and find purpose. You don’t necessarily have to be passionate about your job. But it is important to make time for something you’re passionate about, whether during work or after. Cut down on your working hours so that you can spend time on yourself doing something you’ll enjoy. These moments will make a drastic impact on everything in your life, both personal and career.

8 Important Skills to be Successful

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Success. What is it? That’s hard to say. The definition of success is different for everyone. There’s no magic formula that will get you there and you definitely don’t learn ‘Success 101’ in school. Being successful has a lot of to with trial and error. Not everything you do will turn out to be a big hit. You will inevitably fail. But that isn’t to say that success is purely luck. You can definitely set yourself up for a higher chance of success by playing your cards right. Take a look at these 8 skills you need have to be extremely successful. Do you have them all?  Any skills you would add to the list?

Communication.

Communication is the key to many things in life, especially success. You will come across many different people in your professional and personal life and it’s absolutely crucial that you learn how to communicate effectively with each one. This not only allows you to share your thoughts but also gives you a world of other perspectives.

Ability to Listen.

Similarly, while you have to be able to communicate, you also have to be a good listener. It’s one thing to be present. But it’s another thing to be an active listener. Take in what other people are saying, digest it, and then ask questions.

(Positive) Attitude.

Even in the last months of his life, when he was suffering from cancer, my Dad always had a smile on his face. If you asked him how he was doing, he’d always answer, “Fantastic!” That kind of positive attitude can help you overcome any challenge — or at least deal with it courageously and honorably. Even in the most stressful or frustrating of situations, strive to have a positive attitude. Having a ‘can do’ outlook can really help motivate you. Try to think about how to move the situation forward, not what has been keeping you back.

Presentation & Public Speaking.

I run across a lot of smart people who have great difficulty communicating their ideas. Steve Jobs was brilliant — but so was his ability to communicate his ideas and innovations. At some point, whether it’s a business pitch, a job interview, or a speech to 500 people, you’ll need to give a killer presentation to get ahead.

Writing.

Do you write well? This is one of the most important skills that is lacking in today’s workforce. Perhaps its the penchant for today’s younger generation to send text messages with LOL’s and OMG’s. Writing, however, is a skill that needs to be mastered for success. It’s not just grammar and spelling that’s important — it’s the ability to clearly communicate your ideas.

Time Management.

You only have so much time in one day so you need to learn how to make the most of it. Time management can make or break you. Learning how to prioritize your tasks is one of the keys to productivity. You want to make sure you’re working on the right things. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.

Humility.

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance. A confident, successful person realizes that he or she doesn’t have all the answers and benefits from the ideas and contributions of others. When I was young, I was arrogant. I thought I knew it all. One of the greatest skills I’ve learned over the past few decades is humility. I’m never afraid to ask questions, I know my limitations, and I’m always happy to learn new skills and new ideas.

Innovation.

One of the marks of a successful leader is their ability to innovate. You don’t get very far when you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Learn to think outside of the box. How can you do things better?

 

5 Tips to Be a Better Project Manager

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Most jobs require a high level of efficiency and productivity in order to be successful. But one role that takes it to another level is a project manager. Project managers can be found in almost any organization these days. These roles help understand the ins and outs of what their clients or customers want, interact with many different teams, and manage the flow of key projects in the organization. Even though you might not officially be called a project manager, many people take on such a role in their everyday jobs. And it’s not easy. In any given project, there are a lot of moving parts and it takes a special set of skills to organize them effectively. Here are 5 tips to help you become a better project manager:

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to work with a number of teams and people. That’s why communication is the key. There’s going to be a lot of different hands touching the project and it’s up to you to make sure that nothing is getting lost in the shuffle. Be sure to openly communicate with all parties involved so that you know what’s going on and they do too.

Identify challenges before you start.

One of the most frustrating things you can encounter as a project manager is facing issues you could’ve prevented beforehand. To prevent this, identify challenges and risks you might face before you start. Have a solution prepared so that if you do encounter these issues, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress. The goal is to be proactive, not reactive.

Think differently.

Sometimes you have to get creative to get the job done. No matter what you’re working on, always think outside of the box. While tried and true methods might work, they might not be the best approach. Every project is different so aim to look at it with a fresh perspective. Ask yourself: how can you do it differently to make it better?

Roll with the punches.

As a project manager, you have to be nimble. There are always going to be curveballs thrown your way. Instead of getting flustered, roll with the punches. The mark of a good project manager is not how fast you can complete something but how well you can adapt to change. Your project will not going according to your timeline 99% of the time. But don’t let that drive you off course.

Be approachable.

When you’re heading a project, you have to work with many different types of people in order to be successful. As a project lead, you have to be approachable. You want everyone you’re working with to be comfortable to come to you with any issues or concerns as they arise. Adapt a open door policy that you can tackle an questions your colleagues might have as soon as they arise.

It’s not easy being a project manager but it can be very rewarding. With these tips and a little bit of practice, you’re well on your way to getting it done.

5 Great Ways to Take Advantage of Your Downtime

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Most days, you’re super busy. But inevitably, you experience periods of downtime. We seem to complain about how hectic our schedules can be that when we actually have some free time, we’re really not sure how to handle it. Downtime can be very valuable but sometimes, we just let it slip by without putting it into use. Don’t let that happen. Be more productive with your downtime, starting with these 5 tips:

Spend Time With Family.

Nothing should be more important than spending time with your family. Have you finished your work early? Read a book to your son. Take a walk with your daughter. Take your kids in the backyard and kick around the ball. Go to lunch with your significant other, or just sit on the couch and have a chat with him or her. These are the moments you’ll cherish and miss when the kids get older.

Read.

I spent 15 minutes reading non-fiction in the morning and 15 minutes reading fiction at night. It’s a great escape for my brain (and the fiction takes my mind off work or other “tasks” before I go to bed). Every time I finish a chapter, it also provides me with a sense of accomplishment as part of my day.

Organize your desk.

If you have some spare time on your hands, take a few moments to organize and clean up your desk. De-cluttering your space can help you de-stress. It also saves you lots of time. You won’t have to rummage through stacks and stacks of papers anymore to find the right one. Take it a step further by organizing your files on your computer and email as well.

Learn a new skill.

It’s always a good time to learn something new. If you have the time, try to pick up a new skill. It doesn’t necessarily have to be job related. Try something you’ve never had the chance to before or just take the opportunity to hone an existing craft. For example, if you’ve always wanted to write, start by writing a poem or a journal entry. Two years ago, I started taking banjo lessons, and I take 15 minutes every day to practice. It’s a great escape and stress reliever.

Just relax.

Lastly, when things are slow, take a moment to relax. Not the kind of relaxation where you sit there and stare into space. But do something that relaxes you and your mind. Read a book, listen to your favorite music, or just meditate. Take advantage of your downtime now because you might not get it again.