Archive for the ‘Business’ Tag

Live Life from a place of Inspiration Instead of Motivation

There is difference between inspiration and motivation, and we will know which one is in charge by the way we feel about something. When inspiration is still present, we are naturally motivated and can achieve all things required. But when we resort to using our will to motivate ourselves despite the writing on the wall; we will feel exhausted, worried, and overwhelmed. Be mindful of these two in all areas of life. Motivation is of the ego and inspiration is of the soul.

When something has run its course and served its purpose, the soul begins to withdraw its energy and focus. This can be confusing. The inspiration felt in the beginning disappears and motivation enters the scene. The soul is the giver of inspiration and it permeates everything that we do. There is ease and effortless flow. Things feel good and feel right. However, we tend to forget that things are not permanent and believe it will last forever, so when inspiration is gone we resort to using our will to motivate ourselves.

Culturally, we are motivated but not inspired. We live our lives by motivation and wonder why we are so unhappy. Motivation forces us to keep up with others, compete against others, and measure ourselves to others. This kind of living is a testament of a collective who use will or motivation to achieve their ends in life. When they do, they realize they are not better off for it; misery is still sitting at the dinner table. Despite achieving objectives, the soul is left unfulfilled and therefore the achievements are not imbued with the soul’s light. It all feels empty. Rather than investigating this state of being, we rush off to the next motivational adventure.

Motivation compels us to act, to do, give, expend, push past limits, and push the envelope. We all need to take certain actions in the world to get things done. I am not in any way saying passivity is a good thing. We need to learn to distinguish between the two. Many of us have been guilty of using motivation when we should have been waiting upon the soul to inspire our course of action. We had to keep the momentum going. We were not willing to just sit and wait for that moment; we have too much to do and no time to waste. This kind of urgency is not really being productive. In fact, it is depleting. When motivation is running the show, the very thing that we are so desperate to accomplish becomes distorted in the process. We lose our passion and begin to question if we are doing the right thing or even if we are on the right path. Self doubt creeps in and infects our plans, our intentions, and eventually the outcome.

That is why stepping back before any new undertaking to assess; who is in the driver seat is crucial. Be mindful as we embark on a new adventure whether it is love, career, or starting a business. Always remain conscious of how one feel before, during and after. Our feelings will let us know if inspiration or motivation is dictating the execution of our plans. If inspiration is guiding, our steps then continue on and can rest assured that the outcome will be magnificent. If on the other hand, motivation has become our compass then we need to stop, get quiet and wait upon the whisperings of the soul to spur and inspire us on. Living our life from a place of inspiration instead of motivation will enrich us beyond measure.


The Psychology of Success

The go getter loves ‘The Chase’ first and foremost. Many successful people looking back on their lives never even felt the entrepreneurial zeal arriving. Many times these people are too poor even to imagine that they’ll ever get rich. But once hooked, their desire to achieve is often fanatical. More than half of the entrepreneurs got divorced along the road to success.

Adding to this perspective is the idea that business success also comes from taking more risks than the average person. This perspective was made popular when Harvard Business School’s Alexander Zelaznick said: "To understand the entrepreneur, you first have to understand the psychology of the juvenile delinquent." Entrepreneurs don’t have the normal fear or anxiety mechanisms, seem to act on impulse and act somewhat recklessly. Successful people have a compulsive, unconscious drive to push themselves forward towards success which is both a source of inspiration as well as a potential limitation leading to disaster. Their drives represent an instinctive, impulsive, unconscious, or biologically driven impulse of Sensation Seeking which is very hard to control. It is not specifically linked to either success or failure but is simply a drive to learn, explore and be curious about the world. Sensation Seeking provides the instinctive exploratory drive to push us forward even though these instincts can lead to either functional or dysfunctional learning.

To see business success only from compulsive deficit model of instinctive drive doesn’t provide credit for the conscious and complex goals which produce business success. On its own, the instinctive and exploratory drive of Sensation Seeking is not enough and this is perhaps why so many business failures occur. Conscious factors direct, harness and discipline the unconscious drive of Sensation Seeking to achieve business success and functional learning. The conscious factors in learning and personality usually are learnt from role models, parental socialization, peers, mentors, education, socio-economic opportunities and situational factors. These are related to understanding of business success and are associated with goal setting and self-efficacy that provide the direction, allocation of resources and delay of gratification needed to achieve complex plans. Next, the emotional intelligence that provides rational and independent thinking. Conscientiousness, that makes one responsible and ready for hard work and deep learning that provide knowledge, experience and insight.

Gates and Simplot are two of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. To psychologists, their stories raise fascinating questions. In what ways are the two men, born generations apart and raised in completely different surroundings, alike? More importantly, what makes them different from the great majority of people who never started a business, watched it succeed and become incredibly rich?

After decades of what at first amounted to little more than guesswork, scientists are collecting data they think can answer those questions. Enticing clues indicate that telltale bits of psychology may spur people to start businesses and even help determine who succeeds and who fails. The venture capitalists of the future may use psychological profiles to pick entrepreneurs who are more likely to create winning companies.

The first step psychologists took toward understanding entrepreneurs were based on anecdote, not experiment. Alexander Zelaznick, a professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard Business School, says years of interviewing entrepreneurs led him to the dramatic conclusion that they simply did not feel risk, or weigh consequences, in the same way as other people. Anecdotal evidence creates caricature of the typical entrepreneur: A young man with an appetite for risk and a persuasive personality, a gifted salesman with an independent streak. The evidence that entrepreneurs have a particular personality ‘type’ is mostly unconvincing, however, data collected over the last decade has allowed psychologists to confirm or disprove parts of this picture.

For instance, the notions that entrepreneurs are risk takers. Psychologists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has shown that entrepreneurs are more successful when they are persuasive and have strong social skills, in other words, that being a charismatic salesman is a big help. That would be no surprise to Steve Jobs who famed for being so convincing; he seems to temporarily distort reality.

Here, another problem rears its head. Most studies of entrepreneurs look only at people who have been successful. That is, they pick out people who have already founded businesses. Instead of first finding entrepreneurs and then asking what makes them successful, researchers are left looking at a group of winners, at least relatively speaking.

To make matters worse, researchers often have asked these entrepreneurs to describe themselves at their career’s beginning. This, it turns out, is almost impossible for anyone to do. We all craft stories about our lives that exaggerate some factors while leaving others out. Could Larry Ellison really give an accurate assessment of what was going through his mind when he founded Oracle, even if he wanted to?

Researchers are trying to get around this through a survey called the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, which started in 1995; 64,622 American households were called at random, and, from this large group, the researchers found 800 entrepreneurs who had not been in business more than three months. They also assembled a representative sample of 400 people to use as a control group. From this data, researchers have already been able to draw some basic conclusions. For instance, entrepreneurs and normal people seem to worry equally about financial autonomy and or a feeling of being motivated in their jobs. Neither a need for financial nor personal independence seems to have caused any of these people to start their own business.

The entrepreneurs did not seem to be devil-may-care risk takers. Only a subtle difference in the way they appreciate risk emerged. The entrepreneurs are worse at coming up with reasons they might fail. Being able to generate more unpleasant possibilities might be making non-entrepreneurs more afraid, but we don’t know that. So far, there is one other big difference between those who go into business for themselves and those who don’t. Entrepreneurs don’t care what other people think about them. They really don’t care much. They’re just happy to go ahead and do what they’re doing.

Statistically speaking, then, Simplot and Gates would seem to have two things in common: They have trouble imagining failure, and they don’t care what you think.

You Are Incredible

Image Credits: Raul Nunes on Fivehundredpx

I, like you, am just a normal person living a normal life. By normal I don’t mean mundane. Nothing that exists in this universe should ever be seen as mundane. Take a moment to breathe. Look around you right now. You see a computer, a desk, maybe a window and trees outside. You see your hands. You feel your clothes against your skin. Perhaps you smell dinner cooking, or notice the familiar scents of your office.

Everything you have noticed just now is a miracle. Once, none of it existed. Can you picture the total absence of everything? When was the last time you stopped and thought about where it all came from? Everything you see around you, everything you eat, the air you breathe, is all made up of the remnants of stars, cooked up in their fiery bellies billions of years ago. We are all made of stardust. The universe wants to live, so stardust gathered together and became planets, just as cells joined together and became you and me.

Trillions upon trillions of these tiny living building blocks work together every second so that you can experience life. They work to turn oxygen and food into energy, allowing you to learn, create, laugh, and love and spread joy. We don’t give a thought to how much our bodies are doing to keep us healthy, and make sure we achieve the experiences we need in order to grow as humans. We abuse our bodies daily, and then poke at them with disapproving glares in front of a mirror. We take our bodies, and thus, our lives, for granted.

It is true that we cannot spend every moment fully aware of what our bodies need, but we can and should stop to appreciate all that our bodies are doing for us. When you go to bed tonight, take a moment to thank your body for taking such good care of you while you were busy rushing from one place to another. Thank your body for seeing you through without requiring any thoughts or time for it. Remember how it all began; from nothing, to stardust, to you. Your body is amazing. You are amazing. The entire world around you is amazing. Enjoy it, and live in gentle awe of existence

Understanding from the Inside Out

We all are busy complaining about the decline of civility. Business once tried to attract and retain customers by emphasizing the superiority of their product. Now they are hoping we will buy because you are friends. Charities and nonprofit organizations traditionally solicited donations with appeals to conscience. The current approach features friendziness.

The boundaries between private life and business are blurring and eventually all but dissolving. People of good conscience stay silent. Many decry rudeness in the public square, and mourn the loss of manners and refinement. We watch as civility goes the way of privacy, both rapidly fading to quaintness. Most of us don’t want to return to the days of white gloves and girdles, but we’d like to retain some old-fashioned courtesies, like offering your seat to an older person or using their last name until specifically invited to do otherwise. If we do not serve mankind whom should we serve?

Instead of the respectful distance that formality once imposed, we have now rudeness masquerading as casualness. Being free, is freely offered in place of service; friendziness instead of authenticity. My local bank has added fees upon fees in recent years: fees to withdraw your own money, fees to use a human teller, fees for a paper copy of a bank statement. In an attempt to mollify their anger, alienated customers were provided greeters who now welcome them to the bank and thank them for coming as they exit.

Ways We Get Energy from Food


Glucose and other food molecules are broken down by controlled stepwise oxidation to provide chemical energy in the form of adenosine-5′-triphosphate and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. There are three main sets of reactions that act in series; the products of each being the starting material for the next. Glycolysis, which occurs in the cytosol; the citric acid cycle, which occurs in the mitochondrial matrix, and oxidative phosphorylation, which occurs on the inner mitochondrial membrane. The intermediate products of glycolysis and the citric acid cycle are used both as sources of metabolic energy and to produce many of the small molecules used as the raw materials for biosynthesis. Cells store sugar molecules as glycogen in animals and as starch in plants; both plants and animals also use fats extensively as a food store. These storage materials in turn serve as a major source of food for humans, along with the proteins that comprise the majority of the dry mass of the cells we eat.

Thinking outside Yourself

We generate more creative ideas for other people than for ourselves. The commonplace phrase of thinking outside the box is thought to come from the puzzle below. The idea is to try and join up all the dots using four straight lines or fewer without taking your pen off the paper or tracing over the same line twice.

The ‘box’ that the expression refers to is the implicit one formed in your mind by the dots. To get the solution you have to ignore this implicit box. You have to, as it is, think outside it. If you’re stuck in the box, google the ‘nine dots’ puzzle for the solution.

Puzzles like this challenge us to reach novel solutions by avoiding habitual ways of thinking. But as well as thinking outside the box, you can also try thinking outside yourself. Here is another puzzle, one that reveals a fascinating aspect of creativity.

Imagine there is a prisoner trying to escape from a high tower. All he has is a rope but it’s only half as long as the drop from the window. Still, he manages to escape from the tower by dividing the rope in half and tying it back together. How is that possible?

People were given slightly different versions of this test in a new study by Polman and Emich in 2011. Half were given this version of the puzzle while the other half were told to imagine it was they themselves who were stuck in the tower, rather than an unnamed ‘prisoner. Both groups then had to explain how the escape from the tower was possible.

What happened was that 66% of people got the answer right when told it was a nameless ‘prisoner’ who was stuck in the tower. But when told to imagine they were stuck in the tower themselves, only 48% got it right. The answer to the problem is, the rope is divided in half width-ways rather than length-ways. Then you can halve the width and double the length.

In a second study, they tested the same thing in a different way. This time it was to see how creative people could be when they were thinking up gift ideas. People were asked to think up ideas for themselves or for other people. The other people were also divided into two categories. Some were people who were socially close and others were socially distant.

When the ideas were analyzed, participants who were thinking up ideas for socially distant others were most creative. The other two conditions lagged behind. The reason this happens is to do with the way the mind represents problems like this. When we think about a ‘nameless other’ or the prisoner in the high tower, our minds tend to think more abstractly. In an abstract frame it becomes easier to make creative leaps because we aren’t stuck thinking about concrete details.

So, perhaps the old and tired expression "thinking outside the box" should be replaced with the new, evidence-based expression "thinking outside yourself."

Following Passion is Different than Cultivating Passion

Do you want to love what you do for a living? Follow your passion. This piece of advice provides the foundation for modern thinking on career satisfaction and this is a problem. We follow different strategies to pursue happiness in our work. It is clear early in this process that the suggestion to "follow your passion" is flawed.

The first strike against this advice is the lack of scientific evidence. Motivation and satisfaction in the workplace is a major research topic, as happy employees are better employees. It’s difficult, however, to find studies that argue the importance of matching a work environment to a pre-existing passion. Most studies instead point to the importance of more general traits, like autonomy or a sense of competence; see, for example, the voluminous research literature on Self-Determination Theory for more on such findings. These traits are agnostic to the specific type of work performed, contradicting the idea that you must find the exact right job to be happy.

The second strike against this advice comes from the anecdotal evidence. If you study the career paths of people who end up loving their work, you’ll find that clearly identified pre-existing passions are rare. Some people do figure out early on what they want to do with their life, but most follow much more complicated paths on which passion emerges slowly over time.

Just because "follow your passion" is bad advice, however, doesn’t mean that you should abandon the goal of feeling passionate about your work. This reality instead emphasizes that the strategies that work are more complicated. Below is how people actually end up loving what they do.

Different people are looking for different things in their work, but in general, if you study people with compelling careers, they enjoy some combination of the following traits: autonomy, respect, competence, creativity, and or a sense of impact. In other words, if you want to feel passionate about your livelihood, don’t seek the perfect job, instead seek to get more of these traits in the job you already have.

The problem, of course, is that these traits are rare and valuable. Just because you really want a job that allows you to autonomously tackle respected creative projects doesn’t mean that someone will hand it to you. These rare and valuable traits require that you have rare and valuable skills to offer in return, and building these skills requires time and deliberate effort. If you’re unfulfilled in your current position, therefore, start by asking how you can become more valuable.

Passion is elusive. Many people develop the rare and valuable skills that can lead to passion, but still end up unhappy in their work. The problem is that the traits that might lead you to love your work are more likely to be useful to you than your organization. As you become increasingly valuable, for example, your boss might push you toward traditional promotions that come with more pay and more responsibility, as this is what is most useful to your company — whereas you might find more passion by leveraging your value to gain autonomy in your schedule or project selection. Getting good, in other words, is not enough by itself. You have to use your ability wisely. This pattern is common in the stories of people who end up loving their work: after they develop rare and valuable skills they then use these skills as leverage to take control of their career path, often veering far off the standard trajectory. This act of leverage requires courage, but can return great rewards.

Passion is dangerous. Some argue that "follow your passion" is harmless advice. If it can help even a small number of people realize that they don’t have to settle, what’s the problem? I disagree. I’ve seen too many of my peers fall into anxiety and chronic job-hopping due to this flawed advice. The issue is expectations. If you believe that we all have a pre-existing passion, and that matching this to a job will lead to instant workplace bliss, then reality will always pale in comparison. Work is hard. Not every day is fun. Building the skills that ultimately lead to a compelling career can take years of effort. If you’re seeking a dream job, you’ll end up disappointed, again and again.

Don’t set out to discover passion. Instead, set out to develop it. This path might be longer and more complicated than what most upbeat career guides might preach, but it’s a path much more likely to lead you somewhere worth going.

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