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The secret to success is no secret

Success eludes many, but there are paths that lead to more improved chances of business and personal success.

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Seeking out success secrets

Have you sought out the secrets of success and abundance in books, seminars or audio programs? I know I have. Since my late teen years I’ve been fascinated with any material intended for personal and professional development. A large part of the credit for who I am today is due to the many authors, teachers and mentors that I have studied over the years.

Success is not a secret.

The beautiful thing about the times in which we live is that many of the ultra-successful high achievers are more than willing to share what they know, what they have learned and how they came to be where they are today. You are in a position, if you so choose, to benefit from their experiences and be mentored by them, through a book, a magazine, a blog, a seminar or an audio interview.

We like to think we are learning someone’s secrets, but we are simply benefiting from the open book of knowledge they are making available to us.

You already know what you need to do

If you have been a student of personal and professional development then you already know what you should do, right here, right now. You have been given insight and understanding, both from your past experiences and personal study, to know what to do to overcome the challenges you face. Sometimes it just requires that you take a step back, take a deep breath and attempt to view your situation from a more objective standpoint.

Life and business is a succession of challenges to overcome; problems to solve. There are highs and lows, joys and sorrows. I believe part of the purpose of life is to become better and stronger today than we were yesterday. Of course, this is more easily said than done.

Sometimes you may just want to quit.

Why quitting is often harder than winning

One of the problems with quitting is all of the explaining, rationalizing and justifying that has to go along with it.

  • If you quit your job you will need to go through the painful process of either finding another one or figuring out a different way to provide for yourself and those who rely upon you. What about all the time, energy and sacrifice required to get this far? Is it worth turning your back on it all just because you are having a bad day…or week…or month? No, in most cases it is not worth it.
  • If you quit exercising you quickly lose the gains that you had made and will likely lose much of your vim and vigor as a result, too.
  • If you quit your relationship you may suffer emotionally and might struggle to find someone better than the one you left behind.

The grass is not always greener on the other side and more often than not, you will be better off by blooming where you were planted, so to speak. Quitting takes a lot of work and often creates more problems than it solves.

When you are feeling down and ready to throw in the towel, remember the 11th Hour Principle, which is that the night is darkest just before dawn. Sometimes you are so close to breaking through to the other side and achieving extraordinary results; you just have to persist and stay the course.

Disclaimer: You may want to consider quitting anything that is clearly going to have long-term negative effects on your body, mind or spirit. You have to take care of yourself first and foremost before you can effectively serve others.

4 simple steps to winning

Winning is easier than quitting. Keep in mind that what is easy to do is also easy not to do, and therein lies the subtle difference between success and mediocrity. To win you focus in on what you want, ask what needs to be done to achieve it and then set about doing just that. You may not always like the actions that need to be taken, but deep down you already know what you need to do to win. It is just a matter of doing it.

1. Set SMART goals.
Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals. Review them frequently as part of your daily and weekly planning sessions. Create a focused task list based on what you can do next to progress towards achieving the goals you have set. Make a list of the top five or six things that need to get done tomorrow then order them according to their importance.

2. Schedule your time blocks.
In conjunction with reviewing your goals and creating your priorities, plan out your days, weeks and months ahead of time, as much as you possibly can. Schedule in personal time, rest time, family/date time and vacation time first. Next, schedule in your time blocks. Ideally, these should be three to four hour blocks of time, each working day, where distractions are eliminated and you are able to focus on your priority task list, one item at a time, until the time block is over.

3. Honor your time blocks.
You live in the age of distraction, but it doesn’t mean you have to allow distractions to run your life. The forces of the universe may very well conspire against you in your efforts to block three to four hours of time for your most important priorities, but the good news is that you are strong enough to deflect most, if not all, of the distractions that come your way. It’s time to take your power back.

You can share with your family and colleagues what it is that you are doing. You can turn off your notifications or turn off your phone and computer entirely. You can disconnect from the Internet if you need to focus on tasks that do not require a connection. You can work from a different location than normal to ensure you can do your best work without unwanted distractions. Get creative and protect your time block at all costs.

4. Say no to everything else.
In order to successfully implement Steps 1-3 you will need to become a No Ninja. Your default answer should be, you guessed it, “No”. This one has been hard for me, but it is a sure-fire way to instill and restore confidence and power in your life. You own your life and you own your schedule. Period. It may not come easily and requires some real creativity, but figure out a way to say no to as many things as you possibly can. Doing so makes the select things you choose to say yes to that much more meaningful.

These concepts can be found in various books and magazines. I have most recently read about them in The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. Refer to the book for further insights and inspiration for getting your one thing done without interruption.

What matters at the end of the day is getting the results you want, personally, professionally, mentally and emotionally. You get what you want by doing things in a certain way; by thinking, planning and executing based on the goals you have set for yourself.

Now is the time to go and do it.

Munro Murdock is a Realtor-Associate in the Kahala office of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers in Honolulu (catch "Hawaii Life" episodes on HGTV). His passion is for luxury real estate and exclusive Hawaii vacation rentals. He enjoys writing about technology, travel and real estate trends. Munro’s active lifestyle also includes SCUBA diving, stand-up paddle boarding, cycling, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

How to keep Pride month going year-round (without rainbow washing)

(BUSINESS NEWS) Pride month is over and companies have deleted their rainbow website adornments. Without much effort, your company can easily keep the commitment to kindness going – here’s how.

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Pride month in the US is behind us now and already the rainbows have faded from mega-corporate logos and branding. Making a constant commitment to inclusivity and anti-discrimination isn’t always easy and marketing has minefields aplenty.

So how does a small business navigate this? We’re starting from a deficit of trust and there are a few reasons why.

The large scale, mega-corporate marketing and PR targeted at the LGBTQIA+ community that goes on in June for Pride month, collectively referred to as “rainbow washing” (or sometimes even less flattering pandering accusations), has come under fire for being largely lip service and sometimes downright harmful by community advocates.

For example, one independent journalist just penned an editorial, putting AT&T on blast for publicly supporting LGBTQIA+ causes while funding political initiatives that negatively impact the community. I’d consider this a prime example of what not to do.

Businesses who want to be genuine in their commitment to pride have plenty of options that don’t require vast marketing or PR budgets.

Pride is ultimately about celebrating progress and obstacles surmounted by the community and highlighting the work needed to promote equality for everyone, regardless of identity or orientation.

The first thing any business can do is reflect internally. Address any dirty laundry that might be kicked behind the couch in the corner.

Try asking these questions:

  • Are our policies gender neutral?
  • Do any job titles involve gendered terms?
  • Is the language in morality clauses modern?
  • How do your benefits packages handle LGBTQIA+ health issues?

The other thing businesses can do, even if you are a business of just one person, is be an active member of your community.

Below are a few accessible, actionable suggestions on how to promote a welcoming and inclusive world:

  • Listen – Be informed about what goes on in your locale. Sometimes just being aware is more than half the battle.
  • Speak – if there is something going on in your community that you have a strong opinion on, speak up. Twitter is popular these days. Few things are more impactful than a call to city hall or the commerce department from a local business owner. You have more power than you probably realize. And yes, it IS good for business because it builds trust and loyalty within your customer base. Good things happen to those who make an effort to do the right thing.
  • Ask Questions – Nothing beats good old honesty and accountability. Colleagues, customers, and the community at large will respect you more if you are willing to open a dialog. This can be individual conversations, or a short survey in a newsletter or social media post. This builds trust and gives you an opportunity to serve as a role model for others.
  • Back Local Events – Get your name and logo out there. I know this one feels inaccessible to smaller businesses, but hear me out. Obviously, organisations running events like financial or in-kind contributions. If you can do that, great! A lot of organisations struggle with finding safe meeting spaces- can you unlock the office for 2 hours one evening after work one night a month? Something as simple as volunteering your parking lot for some extra space or putting a banner on your webpage for a week makes a big difference too. Push their events on your socials. Can I borrow your printer?

At the end of the day, every day, everyone just wants to be treated equally, with kindness and compassion.

Last I checked, those are two things we haven’t put a commercial price tag on yet. So, above all else, be kind. It’s amazing how far that can get you.

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Business News

How a study on a 35-hour workweek will impact post-pandemic life

(NEWS) With a successful study regarding a shortened workweek, conscious and proactive companies should be looking at making adjustments.

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As we approach an “after” phase of pandemic life, many companies are asking for science on how to envision a new normal for the workforce. As experts warn of a silent mental health pandemic in the aftermath of COVID, employee wellbeing is top of mind for proactive companies, especially for those already losing employees to “The Great Resignation.”

One multi-year study conducted from 2015-2019 (notably pre-pandemic) coming out of Iceland, sheds some light on one method to improve wellbeing with no impact to productivity – give your employees 5 hours of their week back without docking their pay.

The study involved more than 2,500 workers, representing about 1% of Iceland’s workforce. Trials included maintaining the take home pay of the participating workers while requiring 4 or 5 less hours a week for traditional office and shift workers across a number of industries.

The results were positive for employees and employers across the board. The report analyzed employee retention, stress levels, burnout, health, and other quantitative and qualitative data.

People overall reported feeling more respected and rewarded with having extra time and flexibility. For some that was time for hobbies, travel, exercise, or simply the freedom to pick up their kids from school in the afternoons leading to more engaged, meaningful family time.

The results in Iceland have widely been codified into practice by unions. The Icelandic Committee on Labour Market Statistics reports approximately 170,200 union workers are now participating in a shortened workweek. The following is from the official report jointly published in June 2021 by Iceland’s non-profit Association for Democracy and Sustainability (Alda) and Autonomy (think tank based out of the UK), summarizing the information as such:

“This means that 86% of Iceland’s entire working population has now either moved to working shorter hours or have had new mechanisms made available to them through which they can negotiate shorter hours in their workplace.”

The BBC reports that after the overwhelming success in Iceland, similar studies are currently underway in New Zealand and Spain.

Kickstarter has announced their own testing of reduced schedules slated to begin in 2022. A report out of Platform London suggested that the carbon footprint of the entire UK could possibly be lowered by shortening work weeks as well.

Takeaways:

  • Employee well-being and burnout prevention are big items to address in pandemic aftermath.
  • A shorter workweek has been shown to maintain or increase productivity while providing benefits for employees and employers both, on the condition net pay is unchanged.
  • Now more than ever before there is opportunity, evidence, and momentum to transition away from the old definition of traditional work schedules and pioneer a new normal.

What would you do if you could have 5 hours of your week back? Carpe Diem.

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