It’s Muffin‘s trademark position. Sitting on the windowsill, gazing out into our backyard.
Since her operation, we’ve not dared let her upon that precarious perch. Today, as a stop-gap solution, I pulled up a chair and lifted her onto the cushion. Watchful of any misstep on her part, I sipped my coffee.
The little one settled down – and then remained motionless as a statue. After a while, I set down my empty mug and glanced into her face.
And saw contentment, satisfaction, bliss.
Curious, I lowered my head to her side, trying to see the world as she did.
For a few minutes, I too lost myself in the tranquil view out of our window.
Enjoyed the silence. The lovely, soft green of leaves, dazzling brightly as they caught the sun. The occasional waft of a cool early morning breeze.
And the close companionship of my dear friend, Muffin.
“Sister, the potassium level is 6.1 in this blood sample!”
It’s a medical emergency. But the senior ICU nurse, bent over paperwork at her desk, didn’t even raise her head.
“Recalibrate the machine and repeat the test.”
The process takes 3 minutes. A chastened junior nurse returned with the second blood report.
“It’s only 3.5 now, Sister.”
Her senior just smiled.
It was a familiar problem. After a certain time, the analyzer used to measure blood levels of vital chemicals had to be reset. Several minor tweaks and drifts happen. Collectively, they can skew a measurement – sometimes badly. And that could even create a pseudo-emergency!
It happens in other areas, too. Even with people in our lives.
Lately, I’ve noticed this effect in a few of my relationships. Some of them are 20, even 30+ years old.
At first, I was surprised and upset. But then, after thinking it over deeply, I realized something.
We tend to do two things to people:
affix a label (e.g. “friend”)
assign a set of attributes to it
But over time, things change.
Suddenly, one fine day, it appears as if the attributes don’t quite match the label… and you’re shocked at how everything’s now ‘different’.
Like a blood gas analyzer, our relationships also need to be periodically recalibrated.
“Know what you want – and get it” – Sushmita Sen, Miss.Universe, 1994
‘Take what you want, and pay for it’ says God – Old Spanish proverb
I’m going to tell you a little story.
It’s about a man who wanted to know the secret of success, and decided to find out from a Guru.
Now this was a wise, old sage who knew every secret of Life. He lived in splendid isolation on a mountain-top. Our hero set out on his difficult journey to meet this wise man.
He was determined to reach the top, and so he got over many obstacles on his way. Fighting through thick forests, scaling huge boulders, escaping from wild beasts, at last he clambered to the peak and lay on the ground, gasping for breath.
A few minutes later, he sat up… and beheld the Guru seated in deep meditation.
We’ve heard the sage advice to fake it till you make it.
We’ve also seen devious ways it has been abused to manipulate people and events, to the point that it almost sounds like bad advice. But wait! Before you condemn it, listen to what I have to say about this ‘fake it till you make it’ gag.
I’m all for it – but not in the way you think!
No, I don’t mean that you should pretend to be a doctor without going to medical school.
Or play lawyer before you clear your bar exam.
Or offer financial advice without becoming a certified consultant.
That’s just faking it.
What I’m talking about is how you play games – with your own mind!
“Failure is not an option.”
Optimists believe in the future they want to create.
They are convinced that the world will become a place they conceive in their minds. That’s what gives them the determination and confidence to keep going in the face of difficulties, overcoming one obstacle after another.
No journey to an ambitious goal is ever easy, effortless or smooth.
Things go wrong. Often. Goals aren’t met. Targets aren’t reached. The graph of your upward journey isn’t a slope – it’s a jagged see-saw, going up, then down.
Up, and down.
Over and over.
What gets some people over the hump and soaring higher towards success is their ability to persist. To keep on keeping on. Get going and stay moving, despite the obstacles and problems.
Once you start looking on ‘failures’ as little more than ‘temporary setbacks’ which teach you lessons about what doesn’t work, you begin an exciting journey that’s guaranteed to end in success.
There will be a lot to overcome along the way.
Including some disasters. They’re like terrorist attacks on your hopes and dreams.
The biggest damage from a terror attack is not the horrendous loss of life and property. It’s the destruction of a people’s confidence.
The worst impact of an economic recession is not the amount of money lost. It’s the shattering of hope.
Think about what would happen if you lost everything you had tomorrow, and were forced to rely on social services for survival… but you retained your hope and confidence.
Within a short time, you’ll be able to rebuild whatever you had before – maybe even better.
You have precious assets – knowledge and education, skills and training, years and years of experience. Bringing those to bear and rebuilding your life is child’s play – when you believe you can do it.
Yet what happens when you’re sacked from a dead end job that pays you a pittance and sucks all passion and excitement out of you?
You hit the panic button!
You agonize over the lost income.
You worry if you’ll be able to replace it.
You become desperate for something – anything – instead.
It’s almost like a knee-jerk reaction. A reflex.
And that’s because you suddenly become fearful.
“After all, things went wrong once. What if it happens the next time? And the next? Can I take it? Will I always be able to overcome?”
The negative spiral just gets worse and worse – if you let it.
But when you overcome that instinctive fear and embrace the opportunity to recreate something special, magic happens.
That magic is driven by a force within you.
It’s called optimism.
“Dreamers see the world, not as it is, but how they want it to be.”
Optimism isn’t just a character trait that some are born with. Anyone can acquire it. All it takes is a firm, unshakeable belief that the future you imagine can be created.
Maybe not all alone, maybe not by tomorrow evening, but eventually.
That’s what keeps optimistic people going and going and going – until they succeed.
I read this in a book called “LEAPFROGGING“ by business strategist and innovation coach Soren Kaplan.
An interesting scientific experiment compared two groups of people (one of predominantly optimistic entrepreneurs, the other of rather pessimistic folks) by giving them problems to solve.
On average, the optimists spent 20% more time trying to solve them.
But this wasn’t the most interesting result of the study.
One of the problems they were given (an anagram, mixing up letters which the subjects should form into meaningful words) was UNSOLVABLE.
That’s right. It had no solution.
Yet those in the ‘optimist’ group spent FIFTY PERCENT more time on it than the ‘pessimist’ group!
Yes, even when faced by problems with no known solution, optimists try their best to solve them.
It’s what makes them what they are.
So… what if you’re NOT (yet!) one of them?
Is it all over for you?
Are you condemned – like the pessimists in the study – to just throw up your hands and give up each time you’re faced with a tough problem?
No. Not if you ‘fake it till you make it’!
“Come to the edge. We might fall. Come to the edge. It’s too high! COME TO THE EDGE! And they came, and we pushed, And they flew.”
– Christopher Logue
We all know of con artists, scammers and downright delusional folks who try and pretend being someone they’re not. You probably have a justified revulsion about trying anything like that.
I’m with you.
Faking success or wealth or connections or influence – or anything at all – to fool people or take advantage of them is not right.
But what if you use the principle of ‘fake it till you make it’ purely on yourself.
More accurately, on your own mind.
To try and make yourself behave in a different way. A way more likely to bring you real success. A hack to program your brain, in a sense.
Let me explain with another interesting study.
Two groups of volunteers were asked to adopt one of two different types of postures for a few minutes.
The first group took up ‘power stances’ – to stand leaning forward with hands resting on a desk, or to sit back with feet on the desk. The second group took up ‘cowardly stances’ – sitting with shoulders hunched forwards, or standing with arms folded, almost like they were hugging themselves.
After some time, they were given tests that studied their levels of self-confidence. To the researchers’ surprise, those in the first group behaved uniformly more confidently – while the other group was hesitant and nervous about everything.
And here’s the clincher.
The study participants had their saliva collected before and after the test to measure levels of 2 hormones. Testosterone levels go up when people are aggressive and confident. Cortisol levels increase when stress is high.
In the first group, testosterone was high and cortisol was low. The hormone levels were reversed in the second group.
Brain chemicals don’t lie!
The group adopting confident poses were actually more confident. Those who took up weak stances grew weaker.
So what happens when you fake it till you make it?
Believe it or not, your chances of “making it” GO UP!
It stands to reason.
Who do you think will get something done? A person who approaches the task confidently, with energy and passion, determined to find a solution to any problems that may arise? Or the guy or gal who sets out diffidently, nervous and scared of failing, but secretly convinced that’s what will happen?
If just the act of standing or sitting more confidently can make you seem invincible, what if you extended that way of thinking and feeling… to everything?
Which do you think will be more fun?
Which kind of person do YOU want to be?
New years are about new beginnings.
What’s happened in your past is over and done with. What lies ahead is exciting, ripe with the richest potential, eagerly awaiting your energy and passion, lusting for your enthusiasm, drive and optimism… to bring it to life.
Embrace a ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset internally to give yourself the boost that will carry you ahead of the competition and closer to those hopes and dreams lying locked inside your heart.
Let them flower and flourish, and nurture the world.
The universe needs you, and your dreams.
Step up to the plate with optimism and confidence.
In my new book “Knife At A Gunfight – 5 Easy Ways To Transform Your Life“, I dive deeper into the subject of making magic happen in your life by developing positive habits.
If you want to build new habits that stick, this book will transform your life… in 5 easy steps!
As I decided to write this, I saw a post on a popular discussion forum.
It was from someone who had invested quite a bit of time and effort into building his online business, was nearing the point where it could start being profitable, but was running short of energy and inspiration to keep going.
I’m never giving up. But I need some motivation. Please help!
…was his plaintive cry.
I responded briefly. But that reply got me thinking about how to address a similar problem that every entrepreneur faces at one time or another in their own online business.
That sickening feeling of burn out.
Go Back To Your Roots
I’ve fielded this question several times over the 15 years that I have worked on my online projects:
How do you fit so many things into your schedule? Isn’t it hard? Don’t you feel like giving up sometimes?
And to be honest, it isn’t always easy juggling parallel careers, each of which could be busy full-time jobs. There are often periods when I’m tempted to scale down, to take it slow, to reduce responsibilities – until I ask myself that magical question.
“What Made You Do This?”
Thinking about the answer to your deeper ‘WHY’ is always illuminating – and inspirational. Fame or money, curiosity or circumstance, whim or worry… something pushed you into building an online business.
What was it?
For some entrepreneurs, starting a business was a career decision.
They saw an opportunity in the marketplace, seized upon a chance to profit from it, and ended up building a business that grew rapidly and made them rich. But in many instances, if that was their sole motivation, the sense of satisfaction and thrill they gained from the venture is transient and unfulfilling, at least after the initial rush is over.
That’s why some of them become serial entrepreneurs, creating one start-up after another, well beyond the point where they need to do it from a purely financial standpoint. The thrill and excitement of building something keeps them going.
For others, the stimulus to build a business is rooted in a deeper passion or desire. It may be selfish – or selfless. It may be relevant to many others – or only to themselves. Whatever their motivation, it is often powerful enough to get them to overcome inertia and take action.
Purpose Overshadows Risk
Launching a business, even an Internet based one, carries a certain degree of risk.
There is financial risk, for sure, and there is risk of failure, of time invested into the project, and of not picking the right choices. To overcome all these risks and plunge ahead takes some courage and fortitude, and that’s often provided by one’s passion or sense of purpose.
A person appalled at the state of cleanliness of his neighborhood may launch a garbage hauling business to fix the problem.
Another who sees the daily struggle of her handicapped parent may invest into building a company that manufactures wheelchairs or other aids for elderly folks.
And online, too, the business one builds can be related to a real world problem or opportunity that can be leveraged on the Web.
My own information marketing business, for instance, grew in part as an extension of my love for writing.
But the driving force behind it was the desire to generate enough profit from it to pursue my true passion to carry out life saving heart surgery for children from under-privileged families who couldn’t afford the cost.
So while every business is not directly connected with the purpose behind it, it’s often true that successful small online businesses are run by people with a passionate purpose.
How Does Passion Help?
Does being passionate really matter for business success?
Some would argue that it doesn’t – and maybe they’re right. I don’t believe, however, that working on a business you’re not passionate about is as deeply fulfilling – and even as likely to succeed – as one where you are.
The reason is simple.
Any venture, no matter how small, will bring with it some attendant hurdles and obstacles that you must overcome. As your business grows, these challenges multiply, grow bigger, and take more effort to work through. During these times of challenge and struggle, the one thing that will keep you constantly motivated and focused is the purpose behind the venture.
Why did you begin?
Why did you stick with it?
Why do you want to keep on?
Why does it matter if you fail?
Why are you afraid?
… and above all else…
Why MUST you succeed?
You’ve probably read about the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortez scuttling the ships in his fleet during an attack on the Aztec empire, leaving his army no alternative but to defeat the enemy.
It’s a similar attitude, one that leaves you with no ‘out’ or ‘escape’ but to succeed, that will ensure that you stay on course despite rough weather.
Your equivalent of “scuttling the ships” must be your driving purpose.
An accountant who works with non-profits once taught me a valuable lesson. He said:
When I total up figures in rows and columns for my clients, I don’t see numbers. I see the faces of the children I’m working to help!
Learn to keep your purpose clearly in mind all the time.
See beyond the day to day challenges to the results of your hard work, sacrifice and struggle. Dream and visualize the changed reality that you will be creating through your business.
No matter if it is mundane or world-changing, your personal purpose matters greatly in keeping you motivated and engaged. That’s why its so helpful to keep asking yourself:
What made you do this?
If I asked you that question, what would your answer be?
In my new book “Knife At A Gunfight – 5 Easy Ways To Transform Your Life“, I dive deeper into the subject of developing positive habits.
If you want to build new habits that stick, this book will transform your life… in 5 easy steps!
Late to Bed, Early to Rise, Makes an Entrepreneur, Happy, Cheerful & Nice!
What gets you so excited you can’t wait to begin working on it today?
Think about it while you read the rest of this post.
A few decades ago, I got married. It was barely two weeks later that my wife and I had our first serious argument.
I kept my computer turned on, working late into the night, while she wanted to sleep… and couldn’t stand the disturbance of a flickering monitor screen!
Many years later, we’re still married and occasionally argue about things. The most frequent cause remains the same…
I still work late into the night on my interests!
What makes it worth doing for so many years? Through many acrimonious fights? At much personal hardship?
In a word –
I love writing. I love the thought of my words touching many lives. I love that the profit from my labors helps little children live.
Because I love this so much, I’m up early in the morning, eager to write and stay awake late into the night, grabbing every opportunity to write.
Passion won through and this article you’re reading came about!
Your passion may be different.
Indeed, it would be rare to find two people who share exactly the same passions. But the reality is that everyone is passionate about something.
You probably are already aware of the things you’re passionate about. Or maybe you haven’t yet discovered it. When you identify your passion and align it with whatever you’re doing, a magical synergy happens that will effortlessly carry you to rarefied heights.
Work becomes joyous and pleasurable.
Hours fly by, unnoticed.
Tiredness and fatigue take the backseat as you power your way to greater achievements.
Yes, working on something you have passion for can be very rewarding.
So how do you tap into this powerhouse of energy lying dormant inside you and harness it to your business and career?
It may happen quite by accident and you’re lucky if it does. However, you can also approach your “passion research” as a structured process. I’m going to share that method with you here.
How To Identify Your Real Passion?
Everybody – including YOU – has something they love. Something they know very well and enjoy doing. Something that’s a hobby or a favorite pursuit.
Maybe it’s a technical skill like computer programming.
Maybe it’s an emotional issue like raising children with special needs.
Maybe it’s a day-to-day activity like cooking or gardening.
Maybe it’s something esoteric and exotic like searching for signs of alien intelligence.
Or a hobby like traveling, knitting, racing or yachting.
Regardless of what, you are passionate about something.
The good news, as an online business owner and entrepreneur, is that you can build an information empire around any topic or issue that you enjoy and love, that you like reading, talking and writing about.
You don’t have to be an expert. You don’t even have to know much about your topic. You just have to be enthusiastic about it.
Once you identify such a topic, your passion conveys itself to your audience. It sucks them into your vortex, gets them involved, and converts them into your loyal fans. In time, this audience will evolve into a community with a spirit and ethos of its own – that revolves around your passion.
So, let’s begin the exploratory adventure of finding your real passions.
Ready? Great. Let’s go.
Your Brain Dump Exercise
Before beginning, I want you to repeat this sentence out loud – three times:
“Everything that happened in my life is worth money.”
Now go on and say it out loud.
Do you believe it?
Well, you soon will!
Make sure you will not be disturbed for a reasonable length of time (maybe 30 minutes, or an hour). Sit down with a few sheets of paper and a pencil or pen.
On the first sheet of paper, make a list of your most important experiences, memories and skills. Start from early childhood and follow the events of your life sequentially.
What have you done?
What successes and failures did you experience?
Which ones taught you valuable lessons?
Anything that made an impact on your life could potentially be the one which hides your true passion within it.
For example, let’s say you watched a film star smoking cigarettes, and it led you to take up smoking as a teenager, until today you’re a chain smoker with bad lungs.
Would that make you want to stop this happening to other kids? Would you care enough to tell adults who smoke in front of children to do things differently? Maybe. If you felt particularly strong emotions about your current health, you may even be passionate about this mission.
So make your list.
Add everything to it that you remember as significant life events. In school and college, or later at a job or career. In your family, your community, and in society. As a son or daughter, a sibling, a parent, a grand-parent.
To make it easier to bring these to memory, you can break down your past experience by decade. For each phase in your life, ask yourself the following questions:
What do you consider your best skills, talents and learning experiences?
What specific things did you learn and become expert at?
What were your greatest failures that you later learned to overcome?
What are the lessons that you now consider most precious?
These questions are designed to get your brain charged and to jump-start your thinking. As you pick up steam, you’ll find your list growing bigger, faster.
Take as long as you need to make your list. Then, when you’re finished, go through each item and ask yourself these 5 questions:
1. Does this topic interest and excite you? 2. Can you create useful content about this topic? 3. Do you know a lot about this topic? 4. Are you eager to share your knowledge and experience with others? 5. By sharing this, will you help many people?
At the end of this short, simple exercise, you’ll have a very short list – maybe only one thing remains on it. And it will be what you are passionate about!
It will be something you’ll wake up with the lark (early in the morning) for and that you’ll stay awake with the owl (late into the night) with… because you love doing it, reading, talking and writing about it, sharing it with the world.
When you find a way to tie that in with your business, you’ll enjoy everything you do along your entrepreneurial journey… for a long, long time to come.
But this doesn’t mean you can simply rush out and launch a business around your passion. There’s one more step to take before making that decision, and we’ll address it in another report soon.
What do you think about linking passion to your business and entrepreneur ventures? Share your thoughts and feedback about the “passion research” process in the comments below.
The problem is that many want to become an expert overnight!
Now that may be possible in very narrowly defined niches, but even there the desirability of such ‘expertise’ is in question.
We all know and respect experts as having had long, immersive and intense knowledge and experience with a particular subject or skill. Indeed that’s the reason we look up to them.
Lately I’ve been noticing a flurry to create the impression of being an expert – by writing a book, by building a brand, by giving talks and presentations – which is hard to understand or explain.
True, the authority symbols of being a published author or keynote speaker or syndicated columnist are helpful in enhancing the expert status you attain – but on their own, these things don’t make you an expert.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes before you can appear on your stage wearing ‘expert status’ as the crown on your head.
I'm Dr.Mani, a pediatric heart surgeon and author. I raise funds to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. On this blog, I'll share my thoughts, travel photos, fitness tips and book reviews.