The Blog

Comfortable Being You

"If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started."

~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Does this quote sound like something you've ever said or thought?

"I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here?"

One of the most accomplished and famous men of the 1960s made this statement.  Here's the rest of what he said:

"They've made amazing things. I just went where I was sent."

Surely we’ve all found ourselves in a group where we felt unqualified. The fact that Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, felt this as he stood at the back of an awards ceremony for scientists, artists and inventors proves that fears of our own inadequacy tend to afflict everyone.

Some of the most talented people convince themselves that they'd be seen as the imposter amongst the noble, if only the truth were known. It’s part of what psychologists call "imposter syndrome", and it's a very real problem.

The sad truth is that we identify with this negative paradigm way too often. Most of the time these thoughts aren't true – it’s just the devil in our heads talking. Believe that insidious voice, however, and it will hold you back from achieving your full potential.

Here are three simple strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome.

The first is to understand that you don't need to be the best in something to be a so-called expert. You can contribute value at any skill level.

Second, don’t compare yourself with anyone else. This was where Neil Armstrong went wrong. He compared himself with doctors and artists, saw their great work and felt inadequate. But he failed to realize they probably felt the same way each night as they stared at the moon.

Finally, make learning your lifelong mission. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome wrongly believe that the fortunate few are born with the traits that make them experts or the skills that make them rich. They’ve convinced themselves that they aren't so lucky, and so they don’t belong among the “elite”. It's not true.

Nothing that devil in your head says is true. If you want to succeed, shut him up. Be confident in the knowledge that you’ve done your best, and experience all the joy you deserve from your accomplishments.    

Reaching For The Sky

You can't hit a target you cannot see, and you cannot see a target you do not have.

~ Zig Ziglar

The Wright brothers’ invention of the airplane is a fascinating story of creative genius, hardship, perseverance, and spectacular triumph. I would like to retell it here because it also beautifully illustrates the power of vision and partnership in belief.  

Wilbur and Orville Wright grew up in late 19th century Dayton, Ohio in a family of five children.  Their Victorian home provided few of today’s comforts – no electricity, running water or indoor plumbing – but it did have a large and diverse book collection. Orville wrote: "We were lucky enough to grow up in an environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests; to investigate whatever aroused curiosity."  When Orville and Wilbur were ages 7 and 11, their father brought them a "helicopter" based on an invention by French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Penaud. The little toy made of bamboo, cork and rubber bands sparked their first interest in flight.  

The two brothers opened a bicycle shop in 1892, the same year German aviator Otto Lilienthal died in a glider crash.  His pioneering work had a great influence on them, and they decided to continue where he left off. They read everything they could about the subject, studied the motion of birds in flight, and designed experiments of their own. They built a small wind tunnel in the back room of their bicycle shop and spent hours conducting hundreds of tests. They would trust nothing they couldn’t prove themselves, no matter how widely accepted the information.  In November 1899, Wilbur wrote to the chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau to find a place with wind conditions suitable for flight. Kitty Hawk in North Carolina’s Outer Banks was a perfect fit, and Orville and Wilbur spent time there during 1900 to 1902 making successful trials with kites and gliders.  Here their vision became crystal clear—they would fly a powered machine.

Back in Dayton they immediately went to work on the project, only to meet stiff obstacles. Wilbur could find no engine manufacturers willing or able to build a motor light enough for a flying machine. Propeller design was also more difficult than the brothers had anticipated.  They also faced financial challenges – their work was entirely funded with profits from their bicycle shop, amounting to about $1000. Undeterred, the Wrights resolved to do the work themselves, assisted only by their shop machinist.

They returned to Kitty Hawk in late 1903 to test their Wright Flyer.  While the brothers contended with torrential winter rains and high winds, Samuel Langley was preparing to test his Great Aerodrome flying machine with great fanfare. Langley, a respected astronomer and aviation pioneer, was celebrated by the press and backed by more than $70,000 in grants from the US Army and the Smithsonian Institution.  On October 7, 1903 the manned Great Aerodrome shot out of a catapult mounted on a houseboat anchored in the Potomac River. It immediately nosedived into the water, in the words of one reporter, “like a handful of mortar.” 

Meanwhile the Wrights worked quickly to make their own attempt at powered flight. Stormy weather delayed their progress, and equipment failures and repairs added to their troubles. The sensible thing would have been to pack up their camp and return in the spring. But after having come so far with their goal within reach, they chose to keep going.

On the cold and blustery morning of December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers achieved the first controlled flight of a power-driven, heavier than air plane. Wilbur flew the longest of four successful attempts, an impressive 852 feet in 59 seconds. They surpassed their own milestone two years later when they built and flew the first fully practical airplane at Le Mans, France.

Intelligence, curiosity and an inventive spirit transformed the Wright brothers' vision of flight into reality. Faith and mutual support helped them overcome disappointment and keep that vision alive.

The Gift Of Today

“Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.”

~Leo Buscaglia

For many of us, September 11 is a date etched deeply in memory. Yesterday marked sixteen years since more than 3,000 people lost their lives in the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC.  It seems as good a time as any to reflect on the gift of today.

Planning and time management are celebrated concepts in our achievement oriented society. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – most of us would agree that goal setting and being organized greatly enhance our professional and personal contentment. The trouble is we tend to spend so much time planning for the future that we risk missing out on the great moments appearing in front of us. This is sad, because we don’t know how many more moments we will be fortunate to experience.

You can’t live in the present, and experience all the joy and zest life has to offer, if you’re constantly planning for the next stage.  It brings to mind Dr. Doolittle’s “pushmi-pullyu”, the animal with a head at either end of its body which attempts to walk in two directions at once.

The present is the only moment in time you can control.  You can choose to enjoy it or despise it, waste it, capitalize on it or ignore it completely. Whatever you decide, the fact is that there’s no guarantee on the total number of moments you get, so take full advantage of the one you’re in right now.  It doesn’t mean you should stop setting goals – by all means make plans when necessary, just not at the expense of the life you’re living now.

As the familiar quote goes, Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.

How To Make A Living From Doing What You Love

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. 

~ Steve Jobs

Pursuing your passion and following a soul-fulfilling career is a big part of a happy and satisfying life.  Once you’ve found your passion, though, how can you manage to do it every day and make money doing it?   What keeps many people stuck at jobs they don’t like is the fear of not being able to provide for themselves or their families. But fear doesn’t have to hold you back, because your passion truly can pay. Here are four important tips that can help you do what you love every day and make a living from it:

1. Learn from others and build on their success. 

You don’t have to create something totally new and innovative.  Watch, consult with and learn from people who are already succeeding at what you’d like to do. You might be surprised at how willing they are to help you.

2. Hire others to do what you don’t like to do or don’t do well. 

Getting inspired can be easy, but staying motivated in your business or career can be challenging when you struggle with tasks you don’t love. One of the best investments you can make is to outsource the tasks you don’t enjoy or you don’t excel at. You’ll maximize your job satisfaction and boost your productivity at the same time.

3. Set realistic goals. 

The secret to getting things done and staying encouraged is to break down one big goal into manageable parts.  If you check even one small task off your list everyday, you’ll feel as though you’re making progress. Little by little it will add up, and you will accomplish your goal quickly and almost effortlessly.

4. Don’t quit when faced with failure. 

Thomas Edison had thousands of unsuccessful attempts before he created a working incandescent light bulb. He said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Don’t quit the first time you come up against a serious challenge as you follow your dream. Even if things don’t go as planned, you’ve still gained valuable knowledge and experience to use on your next project. 

To Your Success!


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