Treat Yourself Like a Role Model

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In December I completed my first 200-hour yoga instructor certification. With New Year’s resolutions in full gear and Q1 initiatives in motion, I’m often reminded of an idea I explored during my certification and has guided me since, in both my personal life and in all of my work at Zirtual.

The idea is simple yet stunningly important: You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Our society has an intense quest for productivity and endless improvement. We look at our past with a dissecting eye and zoom in on what we didn’t accomplish. We set goals and record what we did, day in and day out.

But how do we use this data? Is it to celebrate each accomplishment? Hardly! We usually use what we have done to highlight what we haven’t, and everything starts to center around what’s next. “Tomorrow I’ll get through this,” we say. Or “next quarter I’m finally going to tackle that.”

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Your Only Sustainable Competitive Advantage: One Vital Lesson for Success from 99U Pop-Up School

imageIt’s hard not to feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland these days, perpetually anxious and reaching into your pocket to look at your gadget and fretting, I’m late, I’m missing out, I need to catch up.

This anxiety only intensifies when you’re trying to get a project, your business, or even yourself off the ground. It’s tempting to always look outwards as you try to launch, because that seems like a smart, finger-on-the-pulse competitive approach. “Am I getting further than them? Am I catching up to them?” you wonder while looking into your telescope.

But all this fretting and fussing can be as much of a distraction as the always-receiving-information, always-working, and always-have-to-be-doing-something-itis that’s afflicting our culture. And when you pay too dearly for these distractions with your time and energy, you never get to really soar.

Then how do you take flight? These days, “self-awareness is the only sustainable competitive advantage.”

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Why Does Your Work Matter?

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What’s the point of work? Why does your work matter? What are you working towards? Some people would say towards a paycheck, others might even say towards glory if they were being honest, but there are not so many who would say towards value and meaning.

In an illuminating TED talk about motivation at work, behavioral economist Dan Ariely says that people know that meaning is important but don’t grasp just how important it is. And for some reason that makes me think about how one of the most common deathbed regrets is wishing that you’d worked less, because at that stage, I’m guessing, what’s on your mind, what you’re reaching back for is the stuff that mattered.

Meaning, that connection to something larger than ourselves, is essential. But it is pushed aside in the often superficial yet tempting notions of self-improvement, that you’ll be better and happier, you’ll be a winner, when you’re fitter, faster, richer, thinner. And it slips away like a breeze from the principles of efficiency and productivity that continue to dominate the modern workplace despite persistent, crushing degrees of disengagement.

Getting motivation at work right seems like it will unlock success, but we pay a heavy price in not understanding that meaning is the master key.

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Taking Risks Through Doubt

Strangely enough, doubt need not impede action. If you really become friends with your doubt, you can go ahead and take risks, knowing you will be questioning yourself at every turn, no matter what. It is part of living, a healthy evolutionary adaptation, I would imagine. The mistake is in trying to tune out your doubts. Accept them as a necessary (or at least unavoidable) soundtrack.

Philip Lopate, in the NYT’s Opinionator blog’s “The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt”.

Are You Checking Your Attention’s Blind Spots?

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Ever get so caught up in a task that you don’t notice something in plain sight? There’s actually a term for that — inattentional blindness — a state of unseeing created by where you’re focusing your attention.

A famous example of inattentional blindness is the invisible gorilla study. Before participants watch a video of two teams of three people passing a basketball, they are told to carefully count the number of passes made by the team dressed in white (the other is dressed in black). Halfway through the video, a woman in a gorilla suit walks through to the middle of the screen, beats her chest, and then walks offscreen.

About half the viewers fail to see the gorilla at all, but without the instruction to count the passes, a person in a gorilla suit would’ve been pretty hard to miss.

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/)

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Know Yourself to Have the Confidence to Breakthrough

James Chin is a guest columnist and a professional poker player living in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He has a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas.  

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On the one hand, if you’ve had bad results for an extended period of time, then you must be receptive to the possibility that you’ve been doing something wrong and, if so, have the courage to change.  On the other hand, if you’ve analyzed your decisions and can find nothing wrong (i.e., if you could have a do-over, you’d do the same thing you did before), then being results-oriented can be the worst mindset because it causes you to doubt your decisions.

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