Is a good life and a successful one compatible?

hiking Crawford Falls photo credit machiine.com

Have you noticed all this focus on the perfect habits of successful people as if the cause for their success can be summed up as a daily 8 hr sleep, 30 min exercise, and 30 min reflection time? But it’s not real.

New Years Eve, Christmas Day, birthdays… we’re pretty good at celebrating important occasions. In between these holidays our days can often be forgotten as the pace of life demands our time for work, errands, exercise, etc.

As a person I’ve gotten pretty good at forgoing fun to reach a goal. Often knowing that a holiday is coming is all I need to keep the sacrifice going.

When a goal is achieved it’s rewarding. It makes the sacrifice worthwhile. Inspirational speakers talk about the impact people can make if they choose growth over comfort and work over fun.

It’s hard not to praise people like Steve Jobs, who epitomized what it looks like to die for your company and dreams. At his end he remarked that it may have been the strain of working as the CEOs of both Pixar and Apple that brought about his cancer.

When you achieve your goals or hit the jackpot it’s easy to look back at that sacrifice and feel it was worth it. Yet, what if the road is longer than you anticipated and you’ve fallen short of your quarterly goals. Even though you are made of the stuff of champions – character and perseverance – the years go by and the goal remains aloof.

Is the sacrifice worth it if the reward is the end?

Sacrificing fun over work makes for a purpose-driven life, but not a good one.

Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying that, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living.”

I see two important parts to what he said. Firstly, passion is found when you live up to your potential. And secondly, you are capable of living a larger life.

It’s easy for personalities like my own to miss the nuance of his point. Because I’m oriented towards action, when I read Mandela’s words I know them to be true and am motivated to work even harder.

But working harder isn’t living larger. It isn’t really living at all. It’s might even be playing small.

I’ve heard it said that we get to choose our habits and our habits choose our future. I agree with that. I’ve also learned from others that there is a difference between good trade-offs and bad ones.

Living a life that you are capable of requires trade-offs. Each person is unique and their trade-offs will be different. Perhaps it means giving up security for an opportunity. Or giving up the 80 hour work week for time to invest in your family.

As 2014 has come to a close here’s what I’ve learned and will be taking with me in 2015. Good luck this year as you pursue the large life that you are capable of living.

  • To attract people to your cause you need a mission and a vision that’s easy to articulate.
  • Find fulfilment in your vision because it will become real.
  • Focusing your attention on growth and development rather than on goals makes the journey worthwhile.
  • It’s hard to control outcomes but it’s easy to control activities.
  • Measuring activities make outcomes more predictable
  • People are motivated and/or held back by fear, security, and fun.
  • Make fun an intentional part of your day.
  • Celebrate everything.
  • Working smarter is better than working harder, combining the two will get you further than either.
  • Working with others who also understand this will multiply everyones efforts.
  • If you are motivated you will be more likely to continue.
  • If you continue you will be more likely to reach your goals.
  • If your attention is on growth you will have achieved success on the entire journey.

All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck – who keeps right on going – is the man who is there when the good luck comes – and is ready to receive it.
Robert Collier

  • Successful people attract success.
  • Life’s a long journey – make time for fun. It’s not a trade worth making.

There is no passion to be found playing small - Nelson Mandela

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Mandela

You have everything you need to be successful

Muhammad AliIn part 1 of this series I posed the question, are you building something bigger than yourself? “A company needs a core vision, a rally cry, that everyone on staff can come behind.” Today, I want to focus on the second half of the question, “What does it mean to actually believe that you have everything you need to build something way bigger than yourself?”

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Mark Twain

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Achieve great things

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. – Leonard Bernstein

Motivational Quote - challenge your limits

Struck by the response I received from last weeks post, Why Motivated People are Waaay More Productive, I asked myself this question, “What does it mean to actually believe that you have everything you need to build something way bigger than yourself?” If you are an entrepreneur who wants to build something great then you need to ask yourself this question as well. This is part one of this series.

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How not to get market traction in your startup?

Airplane taking off

Almost everyone has it wrong about how to get market traction in a startup. It doesn’t matter if you are bootstrapping your company or have raised 35 million dollars. A lot of companies hire a sales team right away. They are looking to scale their business and jump on the sales wagon. WRONG. Don’t hire a sales team, don’t hire a VP of sales, the only people who should be making sales are the founders. I’ll explain why in the next few paragraphs.

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How to maintain your focus

Mountain Climbing - Focus Goal

It is no secret that keeping ones focus in business is challenging. I’ve found this especially true in a startup. That uncertain phase after you’ve got a few early adopters and now are going after the early majority. It can be tough crossing that chasm. Customers went from liking your product because it was new, to now being a bit skeptical and reluctant because… it’s new. V973KE5R5TCC

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Innovation is a necessary ingredient for success

InnovationHave you ever experienced creative block? You need a good idea and you can’t seem to think of one? I used to run a small clothing company out of my house. I was doing everything from designing t-shirts to manning events and following up with sales. Then my creative juices stopped. I was having a really tough time coming up with new creative designs. My friend Jaron is chatting to me one day and says, “Why don’t you go out find clothing styles you like, and then ask yourself, ‘How can I make this even better?'”

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3 simple steps to test the validity of your new tech idea

Web app Idea validationWithout practical business experience, going to conferences and reading books on starting and running a tech business can give people the wrong impression. Starting a new venture appears to be really easy. Have an idea, go through a tough grind, come out the other end prosperous and successful. Best case scenario, you start a new idea get bought by Google or Facebook and don’t even need to go through the grind. Listening to the self-promoters, I mean teachers, can leave someone with this impression. I mean they got me. Continue reading “3 simple steps to test the validity of your new tech idea”

As the captain of your startup are you keeping your ship pointed in the right direction?

Ship wheel steer your startup

It’s funny how things tend to take a shape over time. Like this blog, I can see that it is becoming a kind-of anecdotal story of where we are going with our business and some of the lessons I have learned. That’s not what I had intended with it, but at the same time I don’t mind the direction it is going. I find that the direction of a company tends to take a shape overtime too. But you need to be careful, because if you aren’t the one defining the shape as the company grows, it may take a shape very different from what you would like it to take.

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