Category Archives: Success

Why You need to Start Copying

“Originality is not a fundamental structural change, it is a very small personal twist to a fundamental basic.” 

Recently, I read an interesting article by a friend of mine in which she spoke/wrote about the redundancy of ideas (inspiration) and the subsequently similar results of those ideas. She wrote about the blurred lines between originality and redundancy and it got me thinking –  where does inspiration end and stealing begin? How can we be inspired and yet be original? After quite a bit of thinking, chaos,  and introspection I think I have an answer and I’m not the only one. From Andy Warhol to Seth Godin, they all know it and have expressed it, in different ways and here is why I think you shouldn’t fall into the “originality” trap.

To be inspired is a feeling of euphoria and of impending achievement.

 Inspiring people are usually found under the umbrella terms of original, authentic, and successful (among many others). So what makes inspiring people so inspirational?  What makes you and me, want to listen to someone or even be like someone?

The idea of originality.  The idea, the perception that the person in front has something that I don’t have and to achieve what they have I must listen to them. To be inspiring one must say or do something that is so unique or so distinctive that it makes you want to listen. And so we listen.

We listen, we get inspired. If the person is an abstract individual in your life, you’ll listen better. But if it’s a friend or an acquaintance we tend to be more envious than inspired, but that’s a topic for another day. So we listen, we get inspired and then we emulate.

Originality is not a fundamental structural change, it is a very small personal twist, to a fundamental basic.

This is where it gets tricky and where the actual article begins. Originality is not a fundamental structural change, it is a very small personal twist, to a fundamental basic. For example, all clothes are made in some basic cloth – denim, chiffon, satin, etc. How one designs it is what makes it different from the rest.

Similarly, life is repetitive, ideas are repetitive, people are repetitive.

To be inspired is to take a step into the pool of one of the repetitive ideas in this world and do something with it that is so unique that you yourself become an inspiration. In essence, there is very, very little that can distinguish you from a million others doing the exact same.  So, here comes the twist. The ‘twist’, that ‘personal touch’ is what will distinguish an idea as original. A million people, actually more, about 42 million people have blogs, yet only a handful are commercially successful.

To be original is a major pressure we put on people. In a world where we seek familiarity but value originality, it’s difficult to strike a balance between telling your unique story in a way that resonates with others and is yet unique.

So when you begin to tell your stories or your business or whatever, you will have more in common with others than you’d like. To put it more simply – a business arises from a need. The need is the idea. The solution is the inspiration.

Be inspired, be unique and then be original. Because business ideas aren’t original but what you do with them is.

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Image Credits – Ben White

On Choosing Mentors – 3 Things to Look at

How often have you asked your dance teacher about the mechanics of astrophysics? Have you ever gone to a basketball coach to ask them about tennis? My guess? Rarely, if ever.

Then, when it comes to your career, the one thing you’ll be doing for over 40 years of your life, why do you go to the most convenient sample?

Often, especially when you are starting out, you go to your parents and teachers. While that’s an excellent support system, they are not always the apt system that you’re looking for professionally. Mentors play a massive role in shaping your future. They don’t control it. But they can make your career path easier, better, and sometimes, faster. 

There is a notion that a mentor chooses you. Sometimes. Maybe. But for the most part, you choose your mentor. You make yourself available and active in circles where you’ll find your mentors. If you sit at home all day, your parents automatically become your mentors. If you go to networking nights designed for tech startups, that’s where you’ll find mentors for the Tech fields. If you go to networking nights for artists and singers, that’s where you’ll find mentors in those fields. So, finding mentors is a two-way street where you actively seek them out and they reciprocate your initiative by mentoring you. 

While finding mentors is an essential aspect of any field, looking at the current trends in bias against women in workplaces, the right mentors become even more important for women. Vittoria Adhami, a  Professional Life Coach, also corroborates that these biases against women are ingrained in society and can hurt women’s chances of success.

All this discussion points to a very important statement- we need to choose our mentors wisely. We need to choose people who believe in our capability, have been in our field long enough to guide us and have the ability to adapt.

People who believe in your capability

While it’s all good to surround yourself with ambitious go-getters, not everyone is a type A personality. People learn and act on their own pace. Finding people who are ambitious but differently ambitious from you may actually hurt you more than help you. They won’t be able to see your work the way you do and so they can’t guide you as well as someone who knows how you work.  Your mentor must see your capability and your potential. Choose a mentor who sees the future you as opposed to the present you. Don’t find someone who flatters you. Definitely not, but find someone who gets you and is willing to guide you.

Have been in your field long enough

20-year-old CEO’s sound like a great idea. They are inspiring and envy-inducing. But do they make good mentors? Let’s see. To become a CEO today, in the start-up culture specifically, is honestly, quite easy. Anyone can become the CEO. It’s not surprising then, that 90% of all start-ups fail. Experience counts for a whole lot in life. Mentors who’ve ‘been there, done that and survived it’ are the ones who will help you tide through the tough times. From bad business deals to a shifting topography to hostile company take overs, an experienced mentor can help you through it all.

Ability to Adapt

While society’s attitudes take a while to change, their behavior can easily change. The market works on behavior. The global market is a dynamic caricature of society. It shifts and molds itself according to the way the world is changing. The Internet changed everything. Tomorrow, something else might. Find a mentor who is changing with the times. A mentor who has continued to grow in her/his field and personal life. After a certain point in someone’s life, our professional and personal lives tend to mesh. A mentor who has grown personally will take those learning to her/his professional life and will be able to learn some new, some useful and some futile tactics. She/he will be able to guide you through those learning as well.

How Can You Be Persistent?

Some things are easy. Doing them every day is easy. They become a routine and we don’t even question them. Writing, however, is not one of those things. Writing is easy when it isn’t careful. When writing is a form of telling instead of showing, it becomes easy, or easier. However, when you write in order to show the world how you think, writing ceases to be about conveying a better opinion or about expressing petty differences, writing becomes a way to introduce people to your mind, your thought processes, and of course, your being.

This new year I decided to write every working day. And I have been. But it’s hard. It takes time, effort, and considerable cognitive resources. Writing is fun when the ideas just flow onto the paper (or screen) and convey every thought that you wanted. It becomes a chore when your ideas take longer to express and harder to condense. Writing becomes a menace when the sentence doesn’t fit quite right or the word doesn’t seem exact. Now, no one is asking me to be perfect or write a Booker Prize piece nor do I expect myself to write the next ‘viral’ post, what I do expect, though, is excellence.

Excellence as a concept is fickle, but as an idea it’s magnificent.

The idea that I can be the best I’ve ever been at it, is exhilarating. It’s like the rush of sky diving, just without the cameras and the height. I may be better tomorrow, but today I’m better than yesterday and the day before and the month before that. Today, I’m the best I can be, as far as writing this piece is concerned. This piece, this idea, is excellent. And for now, that’s enough.

A lot of people have asked me what it means to persist.

This is what it means to persist. Writing for me, was easy, but then it wasn’t as good as it could be and probably will be in the future. When writing got hard, I learned more, I struggled more but I didn’t give up. To persist is to keep doing something even when it’s hard. To persist is to not stop. When you persist, you make time for whatever it is that you want to do.

To persist isn’t an abstraction, it’s a difficult reality.

When you persist, you’ll learn things you never knew before. When you continue to learn them, it’ll get difficult. What was once easy becomes convoluted. And that’s the beauty of persisting. You’ll change what you knew and alter everything you already know. In that way, you’ll grow.

Persisting is doing a little bit extra today than what you did yesterday.

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Image by Scott Webb

How to Believe In Yourself

Belief has had a bad reputation recently. Like Happiness, it’s the new kid on the block who is constantly bullied. Those who have it, are attacked for having it, those who don’t have it, attack it for being so difficult to attain. Belief, unlike confidence, is an abstract term. Belief is a spiritual term while confidence is a scientific term. We have a host of articles and websites devoted and dedicated to increasing one’s confidence. One of the most famous TED Talks was, in fact, on the role of confidence in a person’s life.

As confidence has slowly made its way to the best student in class, belief is still in detention. But it shouldn’t be. There are a lot of myths, if you may, surrounding belief. While confidence is known to be a learned skill, people believe that belief is an inherent trait. While confidence is a work in progress, belief is thought to be an instant process. While confidence is mouldable, people think belief is rigid.

That’s far from the truth. Believing in yourself is a process in which you begin to trust yourself more. Belief helps you fight off your doubts and stick to whatever you’ve chosen. It enables you to worry lesser and work harder without getting distracted by the world. Belief is a skill that shapes your thinking in a better direction, where better can be anything more positive than what you are feeling at a given moment in time.

Belief is a process of learning to accept your boundaries and then slowly pushing them further and further. While belief may have its roots in spirituality, it’s implications are seen in every sphere of life. Even research shows that out beliefs mold our thinking.

If you noticed (as I hope you did) that belief is essentially a thing that changes our thinking. It’s a process. It has its inception in spirituality, but it effects everyday life. And if you still haven’t made the connection (as I hadn’t till a while back) let me tell you – belief is nothing but confidence. 

Belief is a learned skill that needs to be honed and evaluated at every stage in life. Belief, like confidence, is a process that takes days, months, or even years to acquire. Belief isn’t just about thinking positively. It’s a lifestyle that includes learning to trust yourself more, of being open to change and failure. It’s a process in which you learn to pick up yourself after you fail, in which you keep going till you reach where you have to. Belief is internalizing confidence.  While confidence is a state of being, belief is when your thoughts are confident.  Confidence is a temporary phase. It’s your body language, your way of presenting who you are. Belief is a permanent part of you, it’s the way you think of yourself.

In order to believe in yourself more, you need to realize that it’s an ongoing process. While every day changes, so do your challenges and your thoughts. Belief also wavers. You need to remind yourself to believe and to validate your belief with previous successes. To believe more, you have to learn more about yourself at this very moment. To believe in an idea, for example, would mean-

  1. Doing your homework about the idea
  2. Asking and answering all the pertinent questions
  3. Making out an action plan for the idea
  4. And then, finally, running with it.

Believing in yourself is a similar process. To believe in yourself,

  1. See where you stand in life.
  2. Instead of doubting yourself, ask yourself how many doubts are valid and what you can do about those.
  3. Once you have an idea of what you need to do, make a plan and follow that action plan.
  4. Repeat.

Every day is a different day. Every day is a different challenge. And if you’re lucky, every day is a learning day. Believing in yourself isn’t easy. But as someone wise said – nothing worth having comes easy.

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Overcoming The Need to be Perfect In Order to be Great

There’s always one piece of art, book, or music composition that we think of when we think of the greats. From Mozart to Godin, we know and think of exceptional people to have been perfect in their art. However, the notion that exceptional people have to be perfect right from the get-go is misleading at best, and harmful at worst.

People’s idea that, to be great, their work needs to be perfect before it can be published or put into action, turns out to be the exact opposite of what they need to be doing in order to be great! Greatness, like perfection, is in retrospect, or, in the future. The only certainty for today is the work you put in now. So while you might work and produce a lot of pieces of your specific art, not each and every one would be exceptional.

One of the greatest American novelists, Henry James wrote over 20 novels, several hundred short stories, many biographies, travel writing, and literary criticism. The painter, Pablo Picasso is believed to have made over 50,000 pieces of work during his lifetime, averaging at least one a day and composer, Sebastian Bach composed over 1000 pieces of music.  However, all these artists are known only for a few of their works.

Seth Godin, one of the most well-known bloggers of our times and bestselling author of 18 books, writes one blog post every day. During an interview with Marie Forleo, he emphasized on the idea of doing something well enough every day, so that we can only get better at it!

Quantity leads to Quality

When you do something every day or do it many times, you can only get better at it because you are essentially practicing it. Be it writing or executing ideas or brainstorming creative ideas, the more you do it, the more you train yourself to get better at it. Hence, in order to create exceptional, revolutionary pieces of work, we need to first get into the habit of creating a lot of pieces!

Each Piece Markets Itself

When you create a lot of pieces, one step that ought to be common is maintaining a certain level of professionalism. While you are bound to improve in style, the basics must be solid. Each piece must be created as though it is the piece that all your other pieces will be judged on. If you’re a blogger, every blog post ought to be well written, spell checked, and free from errors before posting it.

As a writer and speaker, I make it a point to write on my blog every day and to speak at an event every month. The reason is not to get ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ but because I love doing it and because everytime I do it, I get a little better.

Whatever your calling, be prolific.

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The Art Of Complimenting

At least once a day, I see and hear compliments that, though feel nice, seem superficial. They feel half-hearted and incomplete. In fact, there are only about a handful of times that I’ve received a compliment I liked and that genuinely resonated with me.

The more I looked around, the more I saw people feeling the same way. And then I realized that complimenting someone is an art form. To really compliment someone, is an art that takes time, effort and energy. Complimenting someone is a form of communication, and like most types of communication, compliments too, are a dialogue that can have a lasting impact on someone.

The beauty of compliments is that when done right, they bring out the best in people and remind them of all that is wonderful about them. Compliments remind people of their best selves and become a way for them to see what they are putting out in the world.

While many time people give compliments for the sake of it or to flatter someone, a genuine compliment is one that can really strengthen a bond, create a bridge and deepen connections.

For that reason, I urge you to stay away from fake compliments and to try and embrace genuine compliments.

Most people we know, have something good about them. Find it.Take your time and really search a person. See what makes them, them. Find their strengths. Try to see people for what all they put out in the world and all the good that they do. If you have to, take a little longer and search a little harder and when you’re ready follow these simple guidelines –

 

the-art-of-compliment-1

Replacing Focus with Commitment

When someone tells you to focus on work, what do you think of? I think of doing one task and not thinking of anything else at all. However, whenever I do that, I end up thinking of all the other tasks I need to do. The room I need to clean, the report I have to finish, the dish I had to put away, and the friend I wanted to call. Thinking and rethink this idea of focus, I realized it seemed incomplete.

Focus by itself left out a very important aspect of getting work done. Focus may need an uplift. I was thinking of commit with focus. Instead of focusing on a task, let’s instead commit to a task at a time. In that way, we consciously choose to do one task over another. This is not to say that the term focus needs to be replaced, but focus and committment make a better combination because the first thought one gets when you think of focus and commitment is that in order to focus on a task, we need to commit to it. So, any other task has to take a backseat but it won’t be forgotten because we can come back to it after the task at hand is done.

5 Lessons at 22

I’ve been told that college is the most formative experience of your life -that it shapes you, brings you one step closer to where you want to be in life and opens your eyes to the world around you. I’ve heard that your college friends will be with you forever. I’ve also heard that college is the best time of your life. While at 22, I highly doubt college has been the only best time of my life, I am definite that college began shaping who I want to be and taught me some invaluable lessons that school never did. With each passing year, I get closer to embracing myself and more tuned to my heart. It’s not easy to find your passion and fight for it. I am lucky, I have the support system that encourages and believes in me and my dreams. And this year I learned to appreciate and enjoy this support. To truly believe in them when they believe in me. This year, I learned 5 things in particular –

 

5.  “You are but a speck in the universe – one that forms the sands below the seas.” – SfR

You are not your own person. You are an amalgamation of the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had and the stories you’ve loved. You are someone who is a work in progress. And that’s good. Because you can keep growing and learning.

 

4.  “Your uniqueness is limited only by the normalcy of your vulnerability.” – SfR

You are as unique as your emotions. You are not different or exceptional. You are a result of your insecurities and vulnerabilities. You are a form,of all your cultural identities and legacies and hence you are a complete world within yourself. You may be ordinary but you are whole.

 

3.  “You mind is the chaos of a writer’s world, and the only reality of yours.” – SfR

Strength doesn’t lie in the physical world. That’s muscle power. Strength lies within definition and in abstraction. Strength is, how you define and perceive it. Your mind’s health doesn’t determine ‘weak’ or ‘strong’. Your mental health is the only important facet that you need to nourish and nurture. If your mind is in chaos, your perception of the world will be. Protect your mind at all costs.

 

2. “As the night gathers around rain, success sits in red” – SfR

Two lessons here 1. Your success can only be defined by you. 2.People will flock to you either when you’re successful or when you can help them.  Define your own success, set your own terms. But more importantly, be with people who believe in your dreams as if they were their own. 

 

1.  “The wasp attacks the plastic rose” – SfR

Wherever you are in life, whatever your choices, people will shame you for them. Their reasons may be justified or maybe not. One cannot hide away from the pressure of another’s thoughts and opinions. Find a path and stick to it. NO MATTER WHAT. There are enough of everything in this world – artists, entertainers, healers, teachers, preachers, and even nano scientists, but there will only ever be one of you.

Life is as much in your head as it is outside it. That’s why words are important and lessons even more. This year will hopefully be filled with more lessons and many, many more successes.

How We Can Learn to Be More Confident

How can we be more confident? What can we do that will help us be the best versions of ourselves? Confidence is such an intrinsic part of our emotions and beliefs. It’s how we feel, so measuring it objectively is hard. Yet, in today’s day and age where everyone is doing everything and rushing to the next big thing, confidence has become imperative for one’s self and their work.

The good news is that Psychology is slowly but surely finding all the answers for us. How can we be less hypocritical, what impact money has on us and most importantly (for this article) how we can increase our confidence.

My website, The Psych Way, is replete with ground breaking psychology studies that will help us be our best selves and better members of society. One of the studies, on body posture, have shown that if we stand straight, or hold up out head and keep our shoulders back, we can indeed increase our confidence.

Confidence then, is a belief which we can train and work towards.

Here are a few scientifically backed things we cam do to increase our confidence-

  1. Sit up straight.
  2. Before an important event, stand up and don’t slouch over your phone
  3. Make it a routine to consciously walk and sit up right.

You can read the entire study and recommendations here- The Psych Way Confidence Boost.

I hope you learned something new.  You can follow The Psych Way on Facebook and Twitter.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter as well.

I’ll see you soon!

Love,

Sanah

7 Steps to Deal With Failure

With every success, you risk failure, right at the corner. No matter how successful you are, you will fail at certain things. And every time you do, for that one second, the world will actually seem to come to a stand still. Nothing will feel right.

Now, what? Well, this is what you do.

Breathe

Seriously. Just sit down in a chair and breathe. Let your body calm down, let your mind settle.

Don’t listen to your brain

When we’re upset or we fail, we are our harshest critics. We tell ourselves things we wouldn’t tell our worst enemies. We are mean, obnoxious and accusatory. So don’t listen to your brain and the things it says. Shut out the criticism for your past actions (or inaction) and focus instead on your current course of action.

Avoid “what-if’s”

What has happened, has happened. As terrible, as predictable, as unpredictable as it was, ruminating isn’t going to change that. In fact, it’ll prevent you from moving on. ‘What-if’s’ are an endless trap and once you go down that path, there is only more regret. So if you can, focus on your mental well-being, and on today, not on what could have been yesterday.

Confide in someone

Success is easy to share, but failure is hard to even accept let alone share. However, when we share our thoughts and emotions we realize that failure is a part and parcel of life -that everyone fails at some point and a failure that may seem disastrous to you, may not be so terrible after all.

Go out

Don’t hide. Go out, meet people, enjoy life just as you would on any other day. Failure isn’t a punishment, it’s a learning curve. So never be ashamed of failing. Be glad you at least tried and if you can, celebrate the attempt.

Take a break

Take a weekend off. Go to your favorite restaurant. Pick up a book and curl up with your dog. Take a mental break. Recharge. See what works for you! A weekend get away? A good book? Homemade food? New People? Find your recharge routine and put it to work.

Start over

You tried, you worked hard. You put in countless hours and yet you failed. The worst of it is over. Now start over.

Failures never stop. As a parent, as a child, as a sibling, as an entrepreneur or, whatever your roles in life be, you will be faced with failure. The trick is to not let failure stop you or break your spirit but, to recognize that failure is simply situational. Recognize that the most successful individuals have failed many times before and even during their success stories.  Also, failure doesn’t happen to those who don’t try. So chin up, you’re already ahead of the curve.