Natural success 2: Would you have killed the Goose that laid the Golden eggs?

Principle 2: After planting, you need patience.

Hi it’s Shaun here again, and today I wanted to share with you the second principle that I learnt from re-designing and improving my garden.

Last time I shared how I believe that the first thing that needs to be done is to prepare the ground for planting. We can use that principle in our own lives by making sure that we have prepared properly for what we would like to have in our lives. You can read the rest here: https://sbrowne83.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/natural-success/

Today I wanted to talk about the power of patience.

When I first planted my bulbs in the ground, there was nothing to see. Although I had a clear idea in my mind what I wanted to produce, I had no visual proof at that stage that it would manifest itself in reality. What I did know, was that I had to water my bulbs on a regular basis in order to keep the conditions for growth optimal.

After a few weeks we had the first shoots. I was really excited, because I could finally see the beginning of something. Now, some of my plants grew very quickly like my lettuce seed and sunflowers. However, some things did not emerge from the ground until a month or so later. The key to making sure that everything grew as it could was to be patient and provide the right conditions and environment for life.

This principle really hit home, because I realised how lacking it is in today’s modern world. Everything these days is sold on it’s speed. Words like accelerated, instant and rapid are used as promotional tools everywhere I look. When it pertains to success, I have found the following to be true. No patience = no progress.

I see this constantly when people decide to lose weight quickly. The first thing most people (including myself in the past) do is go on an all-out assault to shed the fat as quickly as possible. They hammer the exercise, go on an extreme diet and think they can go to war with their body. The problem is, our bodies are like the bulbs I planted in the garden. They have their own intricate systems and patterns of development and will produce best results when there is a consistent and steady period of optimal conditions.

Apply this to relationships. The phrase moving too fast again nods to the idea of rushing headlong into everything without giving the relationship the time it needs to evolve naturally and develop into a solid and secure relationship.

I have fallen for the trap on a regular basis. I think most people fall foul of this at some point in their lives. I now look for progress as quickly as possible, rather than rapid progress. The distinction is subtle, but profound at the same time. By having the patience to understand that sometimes things will take longer than I anticipated rather than trying to force an unnatural rate of progress, I can accept the results, and focus my energy on consistency and effort rather than stress and worry.

By developing the right work ethic, mental and physical health, network and skills, I can help my business grow as quickly as possible without trying to force growth.  In reality, this would work out far quicker than constantly stopping and starting because of the principle I will share in my next post.

A question to ask yourself: Are there any areas of your life where you are being impatient with yourself or the results that you are getting?

How could you change your approach so that instead of rushing for results, you were getting them as quickly as possible?

Is patience a virtue?

Are you mistaking patience for procrastination? Procrastination is the absence of enough action to generate favourable results.

Think about the questions and see if they help you gain a new insight into how patience could help you in your life today.

I wish you the best

Shaun

Speed up

I have always turned planning my next week at school into an all weekend affair. A little bit on the Saturday afternoon, and then loads of work on the Sunday. Not the ideal way to end a relaxing weekend. This week I set myself a challenge. I gave myself two hours at work and challenged myself to get my planning done for the following week. Not only did I manage to do all my planning for every subject, but I also managed to get other things done as well in the time and had time to do extra paperwork. I couldn’t believe it. I had managed to sit down and dominate my workload in a very short period of time. The question is how did I manage it?
I realised I was a ditherer quite late in life. A job that could have taken 20 minutes would take me 40. I would blame this on being a perfectionist and to an extent that was true. I would allow my desire for a perfect outcome to delay me from taking action. Sometimes this delay would be permanent. When I realised that aiming for perfection was utterly ridiculous, I let it go and things started to speed up big time. This has value because we then create time in other areas and can enjoy more activities because we are taking care of business quicker.
I now make a conscious effort to get jobs done as quickly as I can! Think about how much time you can save if you get your jobs and tasks done as quickly as possible. It is the main reason I can now post blogs so often. I know I can create posts quickly and I am getting quicker with more practice. Also, working on the same thing often creates more ideas and insights that lead to even more things to work on. I have got more blog ideas than I have ever had before and want to get them all down on paper.
Now this all sounds so simple and it is. But it isn’t easy. There are some things that have to be in place so that the process can happen. Here are some of the things that have helped me speed up. All of the tips work on a basic but powerful principle: You need to be completely focused in order for this to work.
1. Make sure the job you are doing has big value: Nothing is a bigger waste of time than working on jobs of low value. It means we have been very busy and worked hard but have got no closer to our goals. The fab five method helps with this because the night before you reflect on the jobs that will provide the biggest return on your time.
2. Set your own personal noise level. People always say to work in silence, but I disagree with that. I believe you need to find your own personal noise level. When I work best is when I have headphones in that block out the environment I am in. This allows me to home in on what I am working on very quickly. However, I need to choose what I a listening to very carefully. I listen to either, motivational audios that I have already heard or music with no singing or lyrics in. These two styles work best for me, but you must find what works for you.
3. Get off the internet unless it is needed. The internet is a little like T.V in that it can fill your time if you let it and you won’t have achieved anything. When I used to have Sky T.V, I would browse through all the channels looking for something to watch. If I didn’t find anything, I would browse through again, or browse through the recorded programmes I had on my hunt. So before watching anything, I had already wasted loads of time. I see people doing this on the internet all the time and I am guilty of it as well. You don’t have to log in every time you get an email or someone posts a picture on Facebook. Stay away from it, as you cannot focus on two things at once.
4. Find your time limit for concentration and take a break when it is near its end. Rinse and repeat if the job isn’t done. I’ve found that about 45 minutes is my sweet spot for staying focussed on one task. This has built up over time and I see focus like a muscle that need to be conditioned. After this amount of time I need a small break and I schedule little treats to keep me motivated. I could browse the web for five minutes, or have a snack or whatever it is that you would look forward to after your period of time is over.
5. Make sure you have a clear workspace before starting. Having a clear workspace means that you are able to focus full yon the task at hand and stick to it. Make sure you also have all the things that you need to complete the task before you start so you are not constantly looking for things to complete your work.

There are other things that can be done that may also help to increase productivity. I have listed some of my favourites here. What ideas have I not mentioned that you think are powerful tools to help you speed up when doing work?

Remember that your time is your life. So finding any way to save time is an awesome thing to do because you can then spend the time you saved on other things that will make your life even better than it already is.

Let’s pick up the pace!!
I wish you the best
Shaun

How I doubled work rate.

At work I have been trying to figure out how to speed up my work rate for some time. I used to be someone who was liberal with their level of tidiness. I would be ok with mess and could operate quite well in a messy environment or so I thought.

When I was walking to work, I was re listening to the audio-book time power by Brian Tracey. He has so many ideas for saving time that I couldn’t list them all here in this post. I have incorporated three of them and it has literally halved the time it takes for me to get things done.

I was sceptical about the effectiveness of these techniques. Let’s be honest, who hasn’t been suckered by outrageous claims by people trying to sell you a product? The difference with what Brian Tracey was advising is that he could explain the benefits behind the processes he would suggest and give real world examples of these strategies being executed. One such example sounded so much like me – The messy person who thought that he was saving time by leaving the tidy up until some day that never came. He was forced by Brian to use one of these strategies and found it to be revolutionary. OK. Enough hype. Here are the ideas that I have taken from Brian Tracey that have rapidly sped up my work rate.

End each day with a clear desk.

This one has been huge for me. It took a while to get the desk up to scratch because there was so much to sort out. However, once it was done, I challenged myself to maintain the same standard. Every night before you leave your office, make sure your desk is tidy.

This worked for me because tidying your desk means that everything is ordered so you can get to work straight away on your most important tasks without having to waste time looking for something you might need. It also means that I always have a clear desk so I never lose any paperwork anymore. There is something very productive about working in a space that is clear and uncluttered. It frees your mind to focus on the task.

The fab five

This is where you spend some time the night before the next work day, deciding what your five most high priority tasks are. Then you write those things done and they become your sole purpose for the next working day. This has been so good for me because of the nature of my job. I can work on my fab five before the children come to school and after they have left for the day. I realised that I had to be super focussed during those periods of time or I would not get everything done. Having a fab five list also means that you can politely but firmly say no to the jobs others have lined up for you when you arrive at work. Planning out the exact things you want to do with your day is proactive and effective. Anything that you do not complete gets added to the fab five for the next day. It also allows you to create a list of accomplishments that you can look back on to say you have completed them.

Have an effective filing system

Paper was the bane of my life. I had no idea what to do with it or where to put it. In short, the task of managing all my paper overwhelmed me until I was given this tip. I created a massive list categorising every piece of paper I could possibly get in alphabetical order. As soon as I receive a piece of paper from anybody, I then write on top of it where it’s going to go.

For example, I received a report about computing. I wrote computing on the top of it and filed it in C under computing. I have a file for A-E, F-J, K-O, P-T, and U-Z. Anything I’m given must be in the system by the end of the day because of rule one (*End with a tidy desk). So I leave work with all my papers in an order that has been personally organised in advance by me. This is great because I can find my work and any other paper I am given and access it within seconds. Another great tip with this system is to throw out anything that is not worth keeping. This means not being a hoarder (I was guilty of this) and making a decision on everything that is put in front of you. If you can find it somewhere else, or you will likely never look at it again, then don’t let it pile up. Throw it in the recycling bin and move on.

My insights from “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.” by Robin Sharma

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I’m indebted to my good friend for this blog post. He was the one who bought this book for me as a gift on my birthday. He had told me how much he enjoyed it and so I looked forward to seeing what I could take from it. There are some major principles to be found in this book that will have a major impact on your life if you take the advice on board.

Principle 1: Control and cultivate positive thoughts at all times.

“Enlightened thinkers know that their thoughts form their world and the quality of one’s life comes down to the richness of one’s thoughts. If you want to live a more peaceful, meaningful life, you must think more peaceful, meaningful thoughts.” Pg 52

There are several quotes throughout the book that point to the power of the mind to create the world around you. This comes from the paradigm that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Therefore negative thoughts create a negative environment internally which creates negativity externally. One action point suggested is to replace any negative thought instantly with a positive one. I’ve found this to be challenge at times, but its getting easier and definitely helps with keeping things in perspective. A good example would be if I am fed up with a child in class, if I have a negative thought about that child, I then think about what good I could do for them if I maintain a positive attitude and focus only on helping them improve. I think the trick is to see the reality of the situation, but see it from a positive perspective. Kidding yourself with fake positivity doesn’t work.

Principle 2: Kaizen: Constant and never ending improvement.

“You practice the art of Kaizen by pushing yourself daily. Work hard to improve your mind and body. Nourish your spirit. Do the things you fear. …………………….. Do the things you have always wanted to do but tricked yourself into believing you were too old, too rich or too poor. Prepare to live a soaring, fully alive life. In the East they say that luck favours the prepared mind. I believe that life favours the prepared mind.” Pg 100

This is a powerful principle. It could be the most poignant within the whole book for me personally because it sums up beautifully the pursuit of personal development or progress in any area. We all long to improve and get better. This principle tells us that fear and doubt are the blockers of progress. If we are to truly progress, we must eliminate the bottleneck of fear that can stand in our way. I am now at war with my fears. I pick a fear, and will focus on trying my best to eliminate that fear from myself. For example, although I am a good singer, I developed a real fear of singing out and showing off my voice. I think that fear is linked to a host of other ideas such as fear of being humiliated in public, the fear of making a mistake in public and the fear of being rejected. What a list! To combat this, I am going to be singing the first dance song for my best friend’s wedding at the end of May. This will be in front of all my friends and family. Am I scared? Absolutely! But I now recognise that growth lies on the other side of fear. If we can master our fears and see them as obstacles to overcome, we can reach personal greatness far faster as nothing will be able to stop us.

Action point: Try to identify some of your fears and then go to work on eliminating them when you are ready. This is challenging and takes serious self-reflection but I believe the rewards are more than worth the initial effort.

“When you conquer your fears, you conquer your life.” Pg 101

Principle 3: The power of rituals.

“You sow a thought, you reap an action. Reap an action, you sow a habit. Sow a habit, you reap a character. Sow a character, you reap a destiny.”

Robin invites us to start cultivating certain actions into our lives that will help to improve the quality of your life experience. They are all powerful ideas. The synergy of these rituals is what makes this a highly effective book. Each idea flows well into each other. So when you read them, you will see that it wouldn’t be as challenging to incorporate all of these ideas into your daily life as it might sound. For the sake of brevity, I will just list the rituals very briefly.

1: Solitude – silence and peace

2: Physicality – movement and breathing

3: Nourishment – live healthy foods

4: Life-long learning – commitment to reading

5: Personal reflection

6: Wake up early

7: Music – raise your spirits

8: Using mantras

9: Congruence – when intent and action match up.

10: Simplicity – “Reduce your needs…… unless you reduce your needs you will never be fulfilled.” Pg 135

Action point: If you are interested in taking on some of these ideas, then do an audit on yourself and see where your biggest gap lies. The chances are, that you will be partaking in some of these rituals anyway, but there may be something missing that might just complete your wellbeing jigsaw. For me, I had never tried mantras before and I have started trying to use these in quiet moments of reflection. One mantra suggested in the book to try is: “ I am more than I appear to be, all the world’s strength and power rests in me.” Pg 153.

Principle 4: Live with discipline.

This concept isn’t new to anyone and is so simple to say, but challenging to do. Mastering our will and doing things that are important but not urgent is the cornerstone of this principle. Learning to delay gratification and keep the bigger picture in mind is something that I battle with daily. Just half an hour before writing this, I had been tempted to watch the T.V for an hour or so instead of finishing my blog post. What is helping with this is my raised level of awareness about what I am doing and the consequences it might have. I judge the value of my choices much more than I used to and this helps to develop my discipline. I have a long way to go with this, but I can see improvements.

Principle 5: Value your time. It is all you really have.

“ The most important moment is now. Learn to live in it and savour it fully.”

Another powerful concept and one that is persistent in many books I have read recently is the importance of time and understanding how important it is. Sharma talks about the need to keep life simple in the aims and goals that you set for yourself. He also talks about having the courage to say no when it is appropriate and people are trying to take your time away from you in a way you don’t like. I have been guilty of this in the past and now make a conscious effort to speak out when I feel my time is being wasted either by a person or an activity. I also try to stay conscious of when I am wasting my own time. I have developed a little mantra for this that I say to myself. Make each day memorable. I try and make sure that within each day I search for the things that make that day unique and special. Today it was taking some children after school for football training. We all had a great time and the children are developing their skills. Watching one of the children charge through some nettles to get one of the balls back was a memorable moment for me and a painful one for him! It’s the little things that count. It doesn’t have to be a grand Hollywood moment every day.

Living for the day used to have connotations of recklessness for me, and for some that may be how they choose to interpret it. For me it means being engaged and connected to the world around you. Taking time and energy to fully invest yourself into whatever it is you are doing, and making sure your life is full of awesome memories. I live for the day when I play fight with my son, or take a moment to just breathe and take in my surroundings. I appreciate where I am and who I am with. Living for the day means mind body heart and spirit are awake and engaged. It is the best way to live.

“ Today is the day to live fully, not when you win the lottery or when you retire. Never put off living.” Pg 184

Action point: I have started a journal that I write in for five minutes at night before bed. This action alone is powerful in helping you to remember key moments and insights from the day. It allows you to also learn from the lessons that are staring you right in the face. Try it for 20 days and see what you can learn about yourself.

Principal 6: Serve the world.

This was a powerful insight for me. This quote sums it up and there isn’t much more to say beyond that as it is perfect:

“The quality of your life will come down to the quality of your contribution.”

I am proud of the blog I have created because I made a conscious choice to share my thoughts with others and give them new things to ponder and think about. In my own little way, I am sending out a message and it feels good to do that. Therefore the quality of my life feels better. There are so many ways we can do this in our day to day lives.

Action point: Think about what you can contribute to others that is of value. Contribution adds to your sense of belonging to the world and massively benefits those who receive your kindness.

These are the powerful ideas that I took from the book, but there are many more in there as well. I would invite anybody to read the book who is looking for a refreshing way to view the world and our place in it. I would also suggest that people who seem out of balance or overwhelmed give this book a try. It could help them to see that they need to take the time to care for themselves before they burn out and forget how to enjoy life.

Choose success