Archive for the ‘Self-Improvement Success’ category

In College? Don’t Bore Yourself, Get Involved!

February 8, 2008

Depending on who you are and what college you are attending, the “College Experience” people talk about can either be a miserable experience or an unforgettable one. Someone once told me, “Don’t blink because high school will be the best four years of your life, and then it’s all work from there.” When I was in high school I heard both ends of the story. When I asked people if they enjoyed college, some said they hated it and some loved it. I wondered why the people who hated college despised it so much. They’d tell me how difficult the curriculum was, and that it would only get tougher. The enthusiastic ones loved it because they enjoyed the parties and friends they met. Those responses made me feel both concerned yet excited at the same time.

When I finally went to Cal Poly Pomona that fall, I saw what everyone was talking about. I had fun my first quarter in college. I would go to parties, meet new people, and everyone was just down to do anything. Little did I know this would only be short-lived. My winter quarter wasn’t as fun as fall, and neither was spring. I didn’t understand why. I found that all the people who I hung out with found where they wanted to be. Many enjoyed being involved in their major, others pledged for fraternities and sororities, and some were kicked out of college because they partied too hard. I wasn’t left with many options. The very next year was the same. I decided to get involved in a Filipino organization on campus, but they only met up on Thursdays, and their events conflicted with my schedule frequently. I knew I needed more.

Two years later, I decided to pledge for the fraternity Zeta Phi Rho. I made more than just friends, I made brothers. Up to this day I still keep in contact with the fraternity. After those short ten weeks of pledging they became my friends for life. Not to mention all of the benefits that came with it (I’ll get to those benefits in a second). Getting involved on campus was the most important and BEST decision I probably have ever made in my life. Now, if a high schooler ever came up to me and asked how college was, I’d say that it was 10 times better than high school. The difference with me is that unlike the people I talked to about college, I would tell them exactly what to do to keep college fun: GET INVOLVED!I highly doubt you are looking for a miserable college experience. If you are still in college, it’s never too late. Here are the benefits that go along with getting involved on campus:

  • Friends– Everyone needs friends. You’d be boring and be bored without any. You can’t go to a club or a bar by yourself. I mean you can, but imagine telling someone that you came alone and knowing down inside that you have no one. It sucks. Having friends allows you to experience things with other people than yourself. Who knows, a person in your circle of friends might be your future spouse.
  • Networking– This is what I love about being involved. Many of my fraternity brothers have found their first jobs after college through other people. Somehow, some person knows some guy who knows a manager that is looking to hire new college graduates. The advantage of finding a company to work for after college increases exponentially since you are exposed to more people. Not only that, someone you know will probably work at a McDonald’s or Verizon Wireless store and give you some discounts :-).
  • Exposure– Do you have a talent? If you can sing, dance, play an instrument, or write, then you are in a class separated from everyone else. What does that mean? Someone’s going to find you somehow. Someone is going to see you. You’re chances of being noticed goes far beyond everyone else’s, and maybe someone will sponsor you. You’ve got to get involved to find out.
  • Memories– No one wants to receive their degree, only to look back with regrets and wishes they should have fulfilled. I never wanted to tell someone that college sucked. It’s as if those who hated college started the real world four years too early. I’d want to party it up and have fun before I knew I had to buckle down and start working.
  • Advantage in the Real World– Employers aren’t just looking for smart brainiacs. Employers look for well-rounded individuals who can deliver in all aspects to the company. The more you keep your grades up and show that you were involved, the higher your chances are in getting that position over everyone else.

If you are scared that you won’t have any fun in college based on what everyone else is saying, don’t be. It’s fun and exciting. You just need to connect with others, and others will do the same. Throw yourself out there and pretty soon you’ll get a response. Don’t make your college experience a bad one when it doesn’t have to be. Get out there and do something! 

Don’t Stress Over Your To-Do List

February 8, 2008

Breathe slowly. Calm down and relax. No one’s going to hurt you. I know you feel a bit stressed out, but not to worry. Here are some pointers:

Write it down.

I would advise investing in a PDA phone, pocket planner, or a bulletin board at home. Write down the due date for each task for the whole week. Don’t look at it from a monthly or yearly view point, it will only stress you even more. Take it one step at a time. Write down what must be done, and the time frame in which you will be working on them. This will give you a bird’s eye view of the week, and will allow you to position yourself to work on stuff when you have gaps in your schedule. Not only that, you really don’t want to forget!

Write down MORE!

Although this may sound contradictory, this method allows you to feel a sense of completion. For example, let’s say that I have to do an oil change on my sister’s car, practice a sophisticated piano piece by Bach, and cook dinner. If these things were a bit difficult for you, do something that will allow you to feel like you are almost done with your obligations. Write down the simple stuff. If I had three major things to do, I’d double or triple the things on my list for the day. This would include picking up my sister from volleyball practice, walking the dog, depositing checks at the bank, checking e-mail, feeding the fish, clipping toenails, calling the doctor to set up an appoinment, eating, and so on. Even though they may not count toward what I really need to do immediately, the motion of crossing it off your list feels so good. You have finished something, and it’s time to advance and move forward.

Alarm your mind.

Are you forgetful? There’s always that ONE thing we forgot to do. This is where creativity kicks in. You can do anything you want in order to remember every single duty of yours. Here are some examples. If you have 5 things, remember that number and don’t forget it. You can also make acronyms. When others ask you what your plans are, say that you have to WIN. WIN could be Water the lawn, Ice down your sore back, and Negotiate a better price with the real estate agent. Maybe Walk the iguana, Improve on your reading skills, and Name your baby that will be due in the next two weeks. Also, simply set up an alarm on your phone or computer. For an alarm on your computer, go to www.3M.com and download digital Post-It notes so that you can get see a big yellow Post-It with all your To-Do’s on your desktop.

Take these steps to get those tasks out of your way. The feeling of accomplishing a goal feels so good once it is done. Remember this saying next time you feel overwhelmed: How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.

4 Ways to Better Speaking

February 7, 2008

There’s been a point in time where we’ve said something of value, yet the person receiving the message took it the wrong way. It’s all about how you present yourself that will make the difference. The way you regurgitate your thoughts into words can make or break the decision of an employer to hire you, or the way a person views you for the first time. Here are four ways that will help you:

If you must talk about your weaknesses, mention steps you’ve taken to deal with the difficulties.

You’re nervous. Your hands are getting clammy. You don’t want Mr. or Ms. Employer to ask the dreaded question: “What would you say are some of your weaknesses?” The worst way to approach this is to be completely blunt about it. Don’t just give them the answer of “I tend to get lazy” or “I can be late at times”. You will just incriminate yourself and the chances of getting your dream job will seem like a longshot. What should you do? Tell them the truth, but fire back immediately with your plan of action. “Mr. Employer, i’ve faced the difficulty of time management and organization in the past, but I have improved the setback through the use of pocket organizers, planners….” This will show the employer that you aren’t being lazy about it, but actually putting some sort of effort to better yourself.

Constructive Criticism

When you have something to say, be nice. Make sure the words that come out of your mouth contain value. Let’s say my girl cousin comes up to me and says, “I really don’t think I look good today…do I?” What will your response be? If you agree with what she’s saying, don’t just say “Yes”. She’s looking for more, maybe to be comforted and told that it’s okay to not look so dazzling. Rather than hurting her feelings say, “You don’t look your best, but it’s cool, don’t even worry about it! We all have those days.” Then after you can say something like, “We’re just going to the park to play basketball it’s not like anyone cares.” Simply affirming that you agree with her will hurt her feelings. It will seem as if you feel strongly about her plain looks even if you say yes the nicest way possible. You DO believe she doesn’t look her best, but you’ve said it with such comforting words that her confidence and self-esteem will only increase because she knows she has support.

Never say NO

“No T.V.! No Radio! No Computer! Go back and do your homework! Homework is first before anything!” Imagine your mom saying that to you after you come home after a long day of elementary school. It only made me want to bend the rules even more and find a way to do the things I wanted with no interruption. I hated hearing “No!” and being put down. It felt like I was mentally spanked in the behind. Now when my dad came home, he would sometimes catch me and take me aside. “Oliver, you can watch T.V. until the episode is over, then go back and do your homework.” I would reply, “But I want to watch T.V. because my favorite show is going on soon.” My dad would then say, “Okay that’s fine. You can watch T.V. whenever you want, but you have to finish your homework first and then you can watch, okay?” Did you see the difference between the two? The second example was much more encouraging. The incentive was freedom, and in order to get there my only obstacle was homework. What do you think I did? I did my homework. See how easy that was? When the opportunity arises, try that.

 Keep your cool.

It was January 5th 2003. I was on a plane from Rome, Italy to Los Angeles. We were above the Atlantic Ocean until turbulence hit. All of us passengers felt the plane go up and down as if some big baby took our plane and shook it with its hands. I tried to sleep through it until 20 minutes later when I heard the capatin’s voice over the speaker. He told us that due to the turbulence the left engine has stopped working, but not to worry because we are at cruising altitude and will be redirected to the Reykjavik, Iceland airport. We didn’t notice any engine failure, and we landed safely in Iceland. Imagine the captain speaking in a loud voice “Attention everyone! We are still over the Atlantic and the left engine failed on us! We hope we can make it to another airport. Please stay in your seats!” I don’t think I want to hear that he “hopes” to make it. We later found out that the left engine caught on fire inside, but the plane shot chemicals inside to contain the flame. If you are tempted to say something that isn’t that devastating (even though that flame was kinda serious), or can be gone without being said, then don’t speak. Never create doubts in others’ minds that don’t even exist. You just dig a deeper hole for yourself. Talk calmly, but get the point across.

Remember when you attempt these suggestions, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

Stop Putting Things Off Until the Last Minute

February 5, 2008

We all put things off at some point in our lives; it’s a part of our human nature. But have you ever counted the times that you’ve procrastinated until time expired? You’ll be amazed at how much opportunity is lost if each little thing put off is recorded.

Do this: Cut out a blank piece of paper the size of a business card. On the top write a brand new task that needs to be done in the near future. Write the time frame it must be completed in on the upper left hand corner, and rate the difficulty on a scale from the 1 to 5 (5 being the most difficult) on the upper right hand corner. Every time you fail to use an open spot on your schedule to work on your undertaking, place a tally mark on the piece of paper. Keep this in your wallet or purse. This will help you to understand how much you REALLY do procrastinate.

I had to study for my finance test that was coming up in two weeks. I rated the difficulty a 3.5 and wrote that I had 9 days to study. I only ended up receiving an 85% on the test, and I wrote 8 tally marks on my paper. Those 8 missed opportunities could have been used to get me an A on the test.

Don’t lie to yourself when you are evaluating, you will only be hurting yourself. You cannot improve on your weakness when you try to ignore your faults all the time. Be true to yourself and you’ll be able to take better control of your life. When you evaluate your tasks, always compare similar difficulties and time frames. If you slack off on an average of 10 times for a certain obligation, bring it down to 9 or 8. Go at a steady pace, but keep on improving. You’ll feel better about yourself for knocking off those annoying chores that linger around, and you will have more time on your hands.

Utilize Intangible Assets

February 5, 2008

This is by far one of the most important factors that any person must take advantage of. Although intangible assets have no physical value to them, they carry enormous weight. Intangible assets are the reason why people are successful. It is what makes a person come from rags into riches. Yet because we do not see any real assets such as money in our hands from these benefits, we tend to overlook their real potential in making our lives better.

Time

Many things can be associated with time, but for now let us take this example. Imagine that you’d like to invest some money into a mutual fund of your choice that you know might perform well. You still know that there is risk involved, time for research, and the paperwork of opening an account. You dream of doing all this, but you are stuck with your 9-5 job making $40,000.00 a year with two boys at home and you can barely pay the mortgage. You know you want a better life, but you put it off to the point where you think that it probably isn’t a good idea anymore. You think that you should just put it into a CD, Bond, or something easy to set up.

So what do you do instead of putting in work? You go to the beach, eat, sit around and watch t.v., and take long naps. Does this sound like you? It’s hard to do all the things involved with doing a certain task and no guarantee of a return. What if that person just did exactly what he thought of doing? It frightens people sometimes because they don’t have a boss who is paying them to research stocks, and it’s taking time out of their weekend. If they are paid $20/hr and they research the market for 5 hours each weekend, that’s $100.00 of their time that they aren’t getting paid for. This is what I call an opportunity cost. One must outweigh these small sacrifices in the way in order to obtain better results.

Some of you may have heard this before, but imagine that we are given $86,400.00 each day. At the end of the day the unused portion goes to zero and the following day we start with another $86,400.00. What would we do with all that money? We’d spend it all especially since we get $86,400.00 again the next day right? Well, we really are given 86,400. 86,400 seconds each day. 86,400 seconds each day to put our ideas and knowledge to good use. Any excess time spend lying around doing nothing is a loss in our journey to become great.

Don’t value $100 bills more than time. Money is what happens when you sacrifice. Money is what happens when you use what you know. Money is what happens when you put time to use. Don’t forget that.

Application of Knowledge

“Knowledge is power.” Is it really? Depends if you are using it to the best of your ability or just letting it rot away in your head. What happens when you apply knowledge? Wonders. Teachers, professors, mentors, tutors, trainers, instructors, and coaches are paid because they share their knowledge. People invest in them to obtain a better return on life.

That’s not all. You know who applied knowledge well? Millionaires. Billionaires. They knew something no one else knew. Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. What if Google’s founders kept their secret to themselves or never took the initiative to create their empire? What if they just slacked off and watched t.v. all day? They wouldn’t enjoy their $16.6B networth right now i’ll tell you that. Not only that, they wouldn’t have been able to help all those who use their site daily.

Mistakes

This is one of the most overlooked intangible assets we are given everyday. The gift of mistakes. We must understand and accept that mistakes are used as evaluation tool in determining where we stand. Imagine if mistakes did not exist. People would be ignorant in every aspect of their lives. They would think that every action they did was correct, and there would be complete chaos. What makes mistakes so valuable is the fact that we learn from them. Instead of making a costly mistake twice, we avoid that second mistake by learning from the first one.

Want to obtain the benefit of mistakes by not making any of your own? Learn from others’ mistakes. This is a technique used by the successful. If you aren’t sure if you should go into a certain endeavor, learn from the people who have been there already. Ask what not to do and what to avoid. It will save you time, money, and frustration.

Use these assets each day; they will certainly contribute to your accelerated growth and success.

Dreamer vs. Doer

January 21, 2008

I firmly believe that knowledge is power. Knowledge has no price tag on it. It can make a homeless, uneducated man into a wealthy scholar. But what is knowledge if it isn’t put to use? Value everything that is taught to you by family, friends, and past experiences, but weep if they rot away in your mind, only to be digested and not acted upon.

Do you know what the number one difference between a dreamer and a doer is? The intention of achieving greatness. A dreamer can visualize a successful business, and coming home to a big house after a long day of work. On Friday, the dreamer tells their spouse to pack up because they are going on a carribean cruise. When they come back from the ship, they drive home from the port to their big house in Beverly Hills, CA in their Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG. The dreamer feels so confident that their great business idea will work. After they have their 5 minute day dream of what could be, they go back to their old habits and wait another day until they get another inspirational idea.

The doer, on the other hand, already had a thought out plan. Of course, they thought of acquiring a house on the hills with nice cars and enjoying life, but they actually know their idea will work. They write out a business plan, determine how much time must be put in to make it work, and they set a time frame by estimating when the project should be finished. They actually go out and make calls, file for the business license, negotiate prices with wholesalers, etc. Pretty soon, by tweaking the business plan here and there, they are on their way to financial freedom.

If you really have the entrepreneurial spirit like you say you do, you are going to find a way no matter how many road blocks come in between you and your desires. Don’t just think about it, DO IT! I know what’s going to happen. After reading this post you are going to feel so good because you filled yourself with inspiration and motivation. Then you are going to go to sleep and wake up forgetting the feeling you had the day before. You will go back to your old habits, stay at your 9-5 job, and claim that “you don’t have time for it.”

Are you sure you aren’t just going to be a couch potato? Let me tell you something, the reason why people don’t succeed is because they put things off and give excuses, and if work gets too hard they whine like a baby. Are you one of those people? Don’t be. After sitting down and actually attempting to try it out, don’t get all overwhelmed by what must happen in order to become great.

The nation’s affluent accepted way ahead of time that there was going to be hard work, sacrifice, and critiques about their undertaking. With all that, they remained stubborn as bulls and plowed right through everything. Start that idea already. What are you waiting for? If you’re scared of the risk factor because no one ever tried what you are about to attempt, and success is not guaranteed, at least you can say you tried to throw yourself out there. It will haunt you for the rest of your life if you just sit there and wonder what could have been if you just decided to take that opportunity.

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” – Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Corporate Management

PERFECT Practice Makes Perfect

January 21, 2008

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, right? I guess it does, but it’s more of perfect practice making perfect. If someone were to shoot a basketball 1 hour a day, every single day for 1 year, he probably would be a lot better than he was a year ago. Now, if someone shot a basketball for 1 hour a day, and someone was there telling him how to drive to the hoop, how to finger-roll, and how to align their shot, then that person would definitely improve 10 times more than the person without any formal instruction. That’s fine if you rely on books, audio, or video instruction to help you out, but think of someone actually being there by your side to point out your every flaw. Remember that when you practice, practice “Perfectly”, and your chances of success will go through the roof.

I truly believe that anyone in this world is capable of anything. I don’t care what others may think. There are many factors such as believing in yourself, motivation, etc., but let me touch on the art of practicing. I know I am not the best when it comes to golf. I currently have a 6 handicap which is better than most people, but I know that there are certainly others better than me. I know that if me or Tiger Woods never picked up a golf club in our lives, and decided to play a round of golf, he would win. He’s a lot stronger and more talented than me athletically. Now let’s say Tiger never picked up a golf club in his life and he decided to challenge me today. I would win because I have been playing golf since I was 12, I knew how to position my ball for the next shot, avoid a lake or bunker when I needed to, and align my putts. Also, I had a golf coach teach me everything that I knew, and I practiced 2 hours a day, 4 times a week. Now, Tiger is obviously a fierce competitor which is why he is ranked #1 in the world right now. Yet if he never had formal instruction, or if he never practiced golf perfectly for countless hours each day, he wouldnt’ve been the outstanding player that he is today.

Don’t believe that you cannot do something because you think you aren’t as talented in a certain thing like other people. At least attempt and try to be better at something. Try it for 2 short weeks. 2 weeks of practicing something you’ve never done before, whether it’s drawing, dancing, etc. If you really try your hardest and put forth effort with someone checking up on you every now and then, I guarantee that you will be better at that activity you chose to pursue than you were 2 weeks prior. Try it out for yourself.