Self Development



                    




"As a Man is, so he sees"
--William Blake



Why believing in yourself is important 

To live a life of high achievement, you must fully believe in yourself and your ability.

Find me an extremely successful person who doesn’t greatly believe in themselves. It’s not going to happen. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Jordan, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban are just a few highly successful individuals who benefited greatly from this confidence. However, it’s not their levels of success that I want to talk about. It’s their willingness to get up again and again when they failed or experienced a setback while in pursuit of creating the life of their dreams.

They were only able to keep going and achieve success because of the level of belief in themselves despite the enormous amount of failures they had experienced for years leading up to their big breakthroughs. Their belief is what created a vision so big that they didn’t care how many times they failed at something. They were eventually going to get to where they wanted to go.

Especially as a business owner and entrepreneur, you are most definitely going to fail and experience a loss or setback at some point. If it hasn’t happened already, it eventually will. That's not to be negative or discourage you, that's just life. But when it does happen, and when your belief is strong, no failure or setback will have the power to completely wipe you out. Belief in yourself is the name of the game. 

Here are two of my daily habits that have consistently helped me increase my belief in myself and shatter all self-imposed limitations.

Count your wins.

As human beings we naturally have the tendency to get stuck on the negative and think about all of our losses for the day, instead of counting our wins and finding all of the good that took place.

I use my gratitude journal to capture all of my wins at the end of each day. This can be the wins from today, last week, last month or even last year. It doesn’t really matter when, but the key is to just get in the habit of capturing all of your wins. This will bring you a complete sense of joy that will let you know that you have done some incredible things in the past and remind you that even bigger things can happen in the future. 

Whether big or small, it doesn’t matter -- just count your wins! 


Talk to yourself like a champion.

Just as my friend and bestselling author Jon Gordon always says, "Talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself." Just for one week, try talking to yourself like a champion instead of listening to yourself as a victim. I guarantee that you will be blown away by the results. It may seem weird to talk to yourself, but give it a try and then see if it's worth the "weirdness."

Thinking positive and empowering thoughts is one thing, but talking to yourself like a champion reconditions your thought process in an instant. When you form the habit of talking to yourself like a champion you don't give the negative and discouraging thoughts the time of day.

With power and conviction, repeat phrases such as, “I am the greatest at what I do,” “There is nothing that I can’t do when I fully commit myself,” and “There is nothing ordinary about me. I am a champion.” 

If you don’t have a huge amount of belief in yourself, then there is no way you can expect anyone else to believe in you. If you are an employee, you can’t expect your boss to fully believe in you if you don’t even believe in yourself. If you are an entrepreneur, you can’t expect an investor to believe in your ideas if you don’t even believe in yourself.

The men and women that change the world all understand the incredible power of belief.

Matt Mayberry

Entrepreneur Magazine




Why Reputation is your most valuable asset


“I had never done tech. I had never worked in fashion. I had never worked in a startup, so of course I was going to go work in a fashion tech startup,” said Beth Kaplan about accepting — with some hesitation — the job of president and COO of Rent the Runway in 2013. The New York-based online company, founded in 2009, loans designer dresses and accessories to women for special occasions or to expand their professional wardrobe.

Last month, Kaplan spoke about her career at the Wharton Women in Business conference, sharing experiences not only from her tenure at Rent the Runway, but also at such household names as Bath & Body Works, General Nutrition Centers, Rite Aid and Procter & Gamble. Recently, Kaplan stepped down as president and COO of Rent the Runway, but she remains a strategic advisor and board member at the firm.

“Dream big and go for it,” is how Kaplan summed up what she learned about initially taking the job at Rent the Runway. She called the company’s co-founders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss “amazing rock stars” and said she was impressed from day one with their fearlessness. Rent the Runway, she said, had done things no other company had done: come up with the concept of renting out dresses; convinced designers to sell those dresses to it in the first place; and built a “100% reverse logistics platform” to allow the garments to be rented out 30 times on average. “Because there was no one to tell the two co-founders that it couldn’t be done, they just — with enormous bravery — went out and did it.” Such an attitude is infectious, said Kaplan. “When you believe you can do, you actually can do.”


Kaplan had always worked in large organizations, and as “blown away” as she was by Hyman and Fleiss when she met them, she couldn’t imagine working for a startup. Yet she noted, “What I really learned was that it wasn’t about the size of the company; it was about the size of the mission and the aspiration.”

“I had never done tech. I had never worked in fashion. I had never worked in a startup, so of course I was going to go work in a fashion tech startup.”

Kaplan told a favorite “near-death” story of how the company had to move its entire operation over the weekend before Thanksgiving. It had outgrown its warehouse space, as well as space for what, unsurprisingly, is the country’s largest drycleaning plant. “The next Monday we were up and running,” she said, and the all-important Christmas orders were shipped out on time. “There will be days — many days — where you will experience near-death, and you just have to believe that your dream is worth going after,” Kaplan noted.

Reputation Matters

“Your reputation is everything,” said Kaplan, illustrating that point with tales of her experience as the senior executive vice president of marketing and merchandising at Rite Aid in the late 1990s.

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Most of her time there was “a great run.” Rite Aid Drugstores’ stock went from $5 a share to $55 a share while Kaplan was there. In 1999, she was named Drugstore Marketer of the Year. “Every other drugstore retailer wanted one of me…. At least on paper we were all really wealthy, and I was helicoptering to work, so it was all a very big deal.”

But a massive accounting scandal changed everything. Of the top five officers of the company, three went to prison (including CEO Martin Grass, whose father had co-founded the business); one wore a wire and turned the three in — “and then there was me,” said Kaplan. Her reaction was to put her head down and keep “bailing the water out of the boat,” until an acquaintance, who was an investment bank analyst, asked pointedly why she was still there. “She said, ‘You have such a great reputation. Why would you stay at a place that’s becoming so tarnished?” Kaplan resigned “literally the next day.”

During her talk, Kaplan was asked if she was concerned that her departure during the crisis might have been interpreted as an admission of guilt. She said that while it was in “her DNA” to just keep on working, and that she wanted to be perceived as part of the solution instead of the problem, there comes a point where one’s reputation can be affected by association. In addition, she assumed that the company would soon be bringing in a new management team in which she would not be included. Kaplan added that she had been called to testify in front of a grand jury, and also had been interviewed by the FBI. (“You haven’t lived until that happens,” she commented. “Windowless room with an FBI agent? Really?”)

“There will be days — many days — where you will experience near-death, and you just have to believe that your dream is worth going after.”

It took her some time to find another position, she said, because she had a “press release problem”: Companies wanted to hire her but were concerned about discussing her former company in the hiring announcement. Finally, in 2002, she joined Bath & Body Works as executive vice president of merchandising. “I started over. But I had my reputation intact.”

Leaving with Grace

Kaplan was hired at Bath & Body Works by legendary retailer Les Wexner (who was recently profiled in Fortune as “the longest-serving Fortune 500 CEO,” and whose company L Brands also owns Victoria’s Secret). But while she loved the job, she found she was expected to spend more and more time onsite in Columbus, Ohio, away from her husband and two small children in Baltimore. “It was not the easiest lifestyle,” she said. During this time, her father passed away, which she said was a devastating loss.

She came to a crisis point. “One night in Columbus … I stood out in the parking lot. It was cold and dark; I looked up at the stars and said, ‘What am I doing here? My kids are in Baltimore, I’m re-envisioning apothecaries [for Bath & Body Works], but is this really what life is about?’ And so, I decided that probably it would make sense to leave.”

Kaplan asserts that “leaving with grace” from a job is important, and that “how you leave is as important as how you enter Twitter .” It impacts one’s professional reputation. But, she said, “It’s amazing to me that people don’t talk about how to leave an organization. They all talk about how to join one, but they don’t talk about having to leave.” She noted that Bath & Body Works had an extensively documented six-month onboarding process, provided in a large binder to new hires, which made no mention of how people should behave when leaving the company.

She talked with her boss, and together they designed a program with which, Kaplan said, she compiled all her insights and learning, and then “left with grace.”

“In our linked-in world, your reputation is more important than anything else you have.”

Among other things, leaving with grace helps you preserve your relationships, according to Kaplan. “I knew instinctively that these incredible people I worked with at Bath & Body Works were going to be important to me later in life…. Many of those people that I worked with, almost 15 years ago, remain some of the closest members of my professional network.”

Kaplan outlined “certain ground rules” about leaving with grace. Be transparent with your manager, she said. “You go to your boss and say, ‘Look, I found this other opportunity, but I really care about this organization and I’m very thankful for everything you have given me.’ By the way, say that even if you don’t mean it.” Ask your manager how you can help make the situation a win-win, and discuss how much time it will take to wrap things up, she added.

And, if you’re in an organization and doing important work, don’t give only two weeks’ notice, said Kaplan. “I’ve worked with people who’ve given two days’ notice…. That’s not graceful.”

Write up the things you’ve learned, and leave your files in good order, advised Kaplan. She noted that the CTO of Rent the Runway, who had recently left the company, had given a “last lecture.” Another idea is to write an email to the company or to your department describing all that you took away from the experience.

“And you thank people,” said Kaplan. “Thanking people is a very powerful thing.” Treat people the way you would want to be treated in a similar situation, she added. “Because I promise you, in our linked-in world, your reputation is more important than anything else you have. And it matters.”





January 28th, 2015

My Three Years Old son reminds me of the idea of Personal space

The past few occasions while my son and myself waited in the car for my daughters and wife to get ready and join us few minutes later, I noticed more than once my son who is barely three years old wanted to sit in the exact same 
place in the car. When the rest of the family joined, he would insist on sitting in the same place and th
en literally fight with his sister for his personal space. It was an interesting observation and reminded me of our foreign student orientation at Indiana Institute of Technology as a freshman back in Spring of 1991. We were a group of about ten students, all from South East Asian background. The concept of the gathering was to familiarize us with the cultural aspects of American Culture with a lot of emphasis on personal space. It was our first week in the United States of America. While our instructor talked about personal space, we all looked at each other while we rolled our eyes as it was an absolute alien concept for us. Personal Space? Now what in the world is that? Only to realize later in personal and professional life that we all have a personal space, no matter from what culture or background we belong to. It's just that most of the time we don't pay too much attention to it, especially in South East Asian part of the world. However the amount of personal space varies and is dependent upon what part of the world we are in. 

We as humans, define and guard our personal space. When our personal space is violated, it results in a feeling of discomfort, anger, frustration and sometimes violence. To take it a step further, even in the animal world, the personal space is defined as "territory" and is guarded jealously. 

As I exited on the main road that day with my family, suddenly a car pulls in front of me and gives me a feeling of anger as if someone has intruded into my personal space. In this scenario, my car and the predefined space in front of me in my mind is my personal space. Though I keep my calm, but the feeling is once again the violation of my personal space. 

We reach the restaurant where we frequently dine in and subconsciously I am looking for the table that we usually occupy. I figure that it is occupied, but we are seated by the waiter at another closer table. Since am used to sitting at the specific table, subconsciously I have claimed ownership of that table and space. Once seated, we all five family members subconsciously divide the table in five parts and we all claim our personal space on the same table. So a sense of personal space is inbuilt in all humans as their nature. 

I had a chance to visit a government official today in his office to drop off some personal documents. As I sat across his table while he was briefing his assistant and I was observing his office closely since he had returned recently from overseas, I noticed his family picture in a frame on his desk. Though an uncommon practice in this part of the world, the family picture depicts his ownership and claiming his office and the desk as his personal space. 

The bubble of personal space varies from culture to culture. While the personal space bubble is much bigger in America and Europe, it's much smaller in France and the Middle East. You can literally offend an American by getting too close to them whereas in France and Middle East or Latin Americas, the bubble is small, but still exists. 

According to Dr. Edward Hall, the personal space between two people tell and define their level of relationships. It varies with each culture. According to American Standards, Dr. Hall divides the personal space into four zones. He refers to the first one as "Intimate Zone". It represents an area sixteen to eighteen inches from our bodies. To enter this space is highly selective and anyone other than our partner, family, relative or close friend is restricted. He calls the next Zone as "Personal Zone" which is approximately one and a half feet to four feet from our body. Such space is reserved for friends and acquaintances. The third zone he refers to is the "Social Zone". The distance for this zone he says is from four feet to twelve feet away from your body. It's a distance you keep for repairmen, strangers, new employees at work and such. The fourth zone Dr. Hall defines is the "Public Zone" where the space is twelve feet or more where he gives a typical example of a speaker addressing a group. 

Similarly in group situations in America, such as in a crowded elevator or a concert where personal space cannot be maintained, there are unspoken laws for such situations. You find most people staring at the floor in an elevator or avoiding eye contact during a concert. Starring at others is considered extremely offensive and against etiquette. It is interesting to look around in our daily lives how each one of us try to guard and protect our personal space, and most of the time are not aware of it while safeguarding it. Even more important, are we violating the personal space of others and are not even aware of it?

Ahsan Bashir
Zarak International 
www.ZarakConsulting.com




Why Self-improvement begins with Self-reflection

When people feel a need to transition into a new phase in their lives, they often think the shift needs to be external: new job, new house, new relationship. While those changes are often warranted, I recommend taking stock of your inner world to help guide your decisions. You may discover that you don’t need to change jobs; you just want to move to a different division. Or you would prefer downsizing into an apartment versus owning a two-family unit.

But finding clarity takes some effort. It requires asking the right questions that invite us to consider what really matters to us. And our answers encourage us to pursue new possibilities that are more aligned with our true values and goals.

Based on my Leadership: A Master Class video series, HRD Press and More Than Sound developed a solid personal inventory in one of the modules for coaches, trainers and HR professionals to guide their teams through a self-exploration exercise. Below is an excerpt from the survey* to give you a sense of the types of clarifying questions to ask yourself, or work on with a coach or mentor.

There are 10 descriptions of major life purposes or primary motives covered in the sample worksheet.

  1. For each category, read the description and place a capital “P” at the scale position that best describes your present estimate of self.
  2. Then place a lowercase “p” at the scale position that best describes your past, where you stood five years ago.
  3. Finally, mark “F” on the scale to indicate your goal aspirations for the future, where you want to be in the next five years.

Click on the image below (or here) to open a .pdf of the survey. Print it out or grab a sheet of paper to tally your responses.

After you have completed each scale, review the entire set of dimensions to evaluate where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be in the future.

For further reflection, identify some areas from the list in which you would like to change and enumerate some strategies for achieving personal change.

  • Areas that need improvement
  • Obstacles to overcome
  • Strategies to achieve goals

Positive Planning 

Now that you have a better sense of your primary motives, brainstorm some methods for achieving your new goals.

“Talking about your positive goals activates brain centers that open you up to new possibilities. But if you change the conversation to what you should do to fix yourself, it closes you down,” says Richard Boyatzis, a psychologist at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.

Boyatzis argues that focusing on our strengths positions us to be open to new opportunities. On the other hand, concentrating only on our flaws results in feelings of negativity and guilt, which ultimately stifle growth.

“You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive,” says Boyatzis. A positive outlook can sustain the pleasure of learning and growth at work. This is often why many professional athletes and performers still actually have fun when they practice.

This willing attitude also applies to coaching, Boyatzis notes. Spotlighting a person’s hopes—whether you’re a parent, teacher, or boss—offers a very enjoyable knowledge exchange. This type of exchange may also extract actionable goals, help determine how to achieve such goals, and then distinguish which capacities should be developed to arrive there.

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