Monthly Archives: June 2017

What You Can Learn From Misty Copeland About Achieving the Impossible

By Catherine Clifford @CatClifford

 

The world of elite, professional ballet is tiny, brutal and exacting. It operates within a long history of well-established traditions to define excellence in the industry. In that world, ballet dancers are long, lean, have delicate waists, small busts, lithe legs and are white.

And then there’s Misty Copeland: 5’2”, curvy, muscular and black.

This week, Copeland, 32, was promoted to the highest rank in one of the premier ballet companies in the world: principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. Her promotion goes into effect on Aug. 1, according to an announcement from the theater.

Copeland is changing the face of the world of ballet and fueling the dreams of so many young dancers out there. But more than that, she’s an inspiration to anyone trying to overcome barriers or achieve what sometimes feels impossible.

Here are five lessons from her story.

1. It’s never too late to get started.

Copeland, one of six children raised by an itinerant and poor family, took her first ballet class at the ripe-old age of 13. That may sound young, but for a female ballet dancer, taking a first class at 13 is ancient. Men often start training older than professional female ballet dancers, but women who are considering a professional ballet career start training by 6 or 7 years old. (Ideally, you want to start training a woman’s body to move in the lines of ballet before muscles and limbs get too rigid.)

The takeaway: If you’re thinking about making a big move — starting a business, taking up a new hobby — don’t let your age be an excuse. Some of the most successful leaders in history found their purpose later in life.

2. Don’t let money be a barrier.

Professional ballet classes are expensive, and Copeland grew up in a family with a lot of kids and not much money. Her first ballet class was a free class offered on a basketball course at a Boys & Girls Club. She didn’t have a leotard, tights and ballet shoes, so she wore gym shorts, a shirt and socks.

Recognizing her natural talent and grace, the volunteer teacher at the Boys & Girls center brought her into her own ballet school on a full scholarship for the next four years. After that, she was accepted at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensives on full scholarship. She joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000 and the main company as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was made soloist in August of 2007.

The takeaway: There’s no price on passion. Pursue your dreams, surround yourself with good people and seek the wisdom of mentors.

3. Don’t let precedents determine your future.

Copeland is the star of a viral Under Armour commercial where she is seen dancing while a girl reads a rejection letter from a ballet company. As someone who didn’t fit the typical ballerina mold, she understood feelings of rejection acutely.

“Because I was being told you’re not right for this role and you’re not right for that role, I really believed it. I thought that maybe I should leave ABT or join a company where I’m surrounded by other black dancers that look like me,” she told Vogue Italia in 2013. “But for me that is completely giving up, because my goal was always to dance for ABT. That went on for most of my early twenties. It was hard to dig myself out of that hole.”

The takeaway: There will be times in your life where you face failure and rejection. Learn from those moments, but don’t give up.

4. Promote yourself.

Copeland is more active outside the ballet studio than most other elite dancers. She published a bestselling autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, was on the cover of Time magazine, is the subject of a documentary, keeps an active presence on social media, and the list goes on.

Copeland’s desire to get her story out is to inspire other girls who aren’t built like the typical ballerina. And getting her story out requires her to be a savvy business woman in a tough market.

“It’s important to believe in yourself. Especially when you get to a professional level, you have to be the one that is promoting yourself. There are so many dancers that you are competing against and that you have to stand out with. And if you don’t believe that you are worthy, then no one else will,” Copeland said in an interview in April.  

The takeaway: Identify what it is that makes you or your business special and run with it. Your belief in yourself will help others take notice.

5. Seize the moment.

When Copeland was a soloist, the rank below principal, she was given the opportunity to take the lead role in Firebird, a Russian ballet about a magical bird. It was April of 2012, and she had six stress fractures in her leg at the time, but she went on with the performance without telling her artistic director.

“Any of those times could have been the last times I danced, had my bone completely snapped,” she told 60 Minutes in December 2014. “I was 29 years old and I was really given the biggest role of my career at that point and I felt had I not done this performance and proven myself that I was capable and mature enough to become this character, that I wouldn’t be given the opportunity again.” She says, with a bit of a nervous, relieved laugh, “I think it paid off.”

Indeed, Misty. Indeed.

The takeaway: You aren’t going to get to most elite levels of success by always playing the safe card. Take risks, but be strategic

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You Need to Give Up These Toxic Habits If You Want to Be Confident and Successful

Confidence plays a huge role in your success — eliminating these bad habits will immediately boost your self-esteem.

According to a study from the University of Melbourne, individuals that gain high confidence are more likely to earn high wages and be promoted earlier and more frequently.

If you want to be exceptionally successful, you must learn to be your own best cheerleader. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

If you emanate confidence, others will be drawn to you. The sooner you can learn to be confident in the workplace, and drop the habits that are holding you back from doing so, the sooner you will see yourself starting to climb that ladder of success.

The good news is that nobody is naturally born confident — it’s something you learn. There’s also evidence suggesting that many of your common habits, mindsets and behaviors could be dragging down your self-esteem in the present.

Without further ado, here are some common behaviors you should give up in order to be more confident and successful. You’ll be surprised at how much they’re affecting your life:

Stop expecting perfection.

American journalist, activist, author of six best-selling books Maria Shriver once said, “Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate.”

Often, we strive for perfection because we seek approval and praise from others. When we obsess over how others perceive us, we are left unhappy, disappointed, and unconfident.

Although you should always aim to do your best work (and you should never be making sloppy mistakes), you can’t expect to take on new challenges without a few slip-ups along the way.

Next time you find yourself in this endless cycle of thinking your best isn’t good enough, take a moment to find gratitude for all you’ve been able to accomplish — and then move on.

Stop slouching.

A great deal of how our mind functions can be influenced by what our body is telling it to do. Not only does our body language send a message to others, but it also sends a message to ourselves.

According to social scientist Amy Cuddy, “power posing” can boost our sense of confidence and directly lead to greater success.

Power posing is when we use our bodies, on purpose and with intent, to create powerful movements that are more spread out and take up more space, creating this message of confidence to ourselves and others. Cuddy found that these movements actually produce more testosterone (the dominance hormone) and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), yielding individuals to take risks and to feel more positive about their abilities to achieve goals.

Stop being lazy with your wardrobe.

This may sound shallow, but remember, this is all about you, not about pleasing others.

You don’t have to be a fashionista to be self-assured (my receipts at T.J. Maxx can attest to that). But dressing like a slob isn’t doing you any favors in the confidence department.

Studies show that our mental state is linked with our wardrobe — if you wear an outfit associated with successful people, you’ll look, feel, and speak like a successful person. And if you dress like a “hot mess,” you’ll most likely act the part too.

So invest in yourself at the mall — your confidence is worth it. You don’t need to bust your budget at Prada, but you should get that sharp outfit, and even consider implementing a dress code to boost your whole team’s confidence.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Theodore Roosevelt

If you are in the habit of comparing yourself to others, and a big majority of us are, it’s time to stop. There will always be someone ahead of you, but the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Whether you are feeling bad because you think your peers are doing better than you, or you are building yourself up based on their failures, both are unproductive and have the potential to be self-destructive. If you feel good about something you’ve done, enjoy it — you don’t need the recognition from others to affirm your accomplishments.

Also keep in mind that your perception of others is likely inaccurate, and the grass is actually sometimes not as green as it appears to be. A study done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology shows that people are much more likely to display positive emotions than negative. So the next time you think the guy from marketing “has it all,” you may want to consider what he is not showing underneath it all.

Stop dwelling on your failures.

“The difference between successful people and others is how long they spend time feeling sorry for themselves.” — Barbara Corcoran

If you’re waking up every morning thinking about what went wrong the day before, you’re going about your career the wrong way.

Learning from your mistakes is Success 101. But the ultra-successful take it a step further by remembering the lessons and then forgetting the rest. Their philosophy and your new one: the past is the past and it cannot be undone. Learn from it and move on.

Stop letting others influence your self-esteem.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Like many other success stories, Roosevelt realized that she couldn’t choose who was happy with her and who wasn’t (and there were certainly plenty of people pretty unhappy with her).

Although she couldn’t control what people thought of her, she could control the way she thought about herself. Remember, no matter what life throws your way, this is something you can decide daily. So choose to realize your greatness — it’s something ultra successful people do daily. Don’t regret the choice of letting others influence your self-esteem.A baby step you can start today is to leave yourself positive notes daily.

Stop fearing the unknown.

Remember how nervous you were when you first hopped on a bike? That slight slope on the concrete sidewalk felt like a freefall down Mount Everest.

But after time passed and you embraced that “terrifying” new venture, all that discomfort washed away.

The phrase “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for,” is truer than ever for your confidence.

I’m not saying you should take on every crazy risk out there. But by realizing that your discomfort will go away over time, you can easily dive right into the uneasiness of those smart risks.

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Financially Sustainable

By Mark Thomasson

The rule of thumb for every business is that they should never run out of cash. Therefore, all the business transactions you make need to have a clear purpose and a tangible financial backup.

Thinkstockphotos 476777720 690x460

Due to the dynamic nature of contemporary business, keeping your finances in order is more of a rocky road than a bed of roses. To help business owners run their ventures as successfully as possible, we’ve prepared a set of crucial prerequisites to not only stay afloat but thrive in the marketplace.

1. Bring an Austerity Policy

From one point of view, it’s better for an inexperienced entrepreneur not to succeed to fast. If you have to struggle to make ends meet for some time, you’ll learn to appreciate both your work and your earnings. However, if you’re (un)lucky – depending on the perspective –to achieve your goals quickly, bring these clear austerity measures to keep your budget under control:

  • Allow for only essential purchases. Nothing but essential business items should be bought.
  • Limit recruitment and payroll. Avoid long-term employment contracts. Go for outsourcing and freelancers instead.
  • Benefit from business plan software. Use software tools to make detailed business plans.
  • Reduce overheads. Encourage employees to work from home and rent a smaller office space.

When your budget is reserved only for necessary business transactions, you’ll always have enough assets for your operations.

2. Open Separate Accounts

Using the business budget for personal expenditure is the biggest temptation new business owners face.

Some entrepreneurs make this mistake due to a lack of experience. However, others simply relax and start spending their business assets for private purposes. If you adopt such a lifestyle, you’ll have a wide range of problems. Your business will be in the red and it will take a lot of time to put it back in the black again.

To avoid such a misfortunate outcome, you need to have two separate accounts. One of them should be registered on your company and used solely for business transactions. On the other hand, your personal account will serve your private purposes. As for the amount of money you will take from your company monthly as a salary, study several different options to find the best one for your business’ long-term financial health.

3. Track Your Payments

… Continue reading

Failure Is Not the End. It’s an Opportunity to Learn.

 


By Ronald Burr @ronburr

 

It was 1998. I walked into my first meeting with my now friend Bill Gross, the founder and CEO of Idealab. I was shown to a conference room that had quotes on the wall, and one of them, from Thomas Edison, immediately jumped out at me: “I have not failed 1,000 times, I have successfully found 1,000 ways that will not make a light bulb.” This quote, or at least some version of it, is the mantra of every successful entrepreneur.

We learn about failure early in life. Kids race each other on the playground and are tested in school and given grades each year, quickly learning what it means to win or lose, pass or fail. Not winning tends to have a stigma around it, and can ultimately lead to labels like “failure” or “loser.” Too many people allow external views to define their self-worth and thus are afraid of ridicule stemming from these unfair labels, which we even give to our own friends and family. Through societal behavior, we teach people to not be risk takers.

I’m not here to say there is no such thing as failure. Failure is very real, but it is not an end destination — it’s another event in the course of life. Experiencing one failure or 100 does not make you a failure. Failure is an external event that happens. It is not a personality characteristic. One who fails a lot, we could say, takes a lot of risks. It’s important to separate the events of failure from the personal characteristic of being a failure.

Failure is an opportunity to learn. When we confuse our personal sense of self-value with success, we are restricting our ability to learn because our ego becomes another factor in this equation. Our ego tells us we succeeded because we’re so smart and so great, or that we failed because we are a loser and can’t win at anything.

This clouds the analytical process of simply looking at the results of a situation and asking ourselves, “What happened?” There are key questions to ask in order to learn and grow from past mistakes.

  • How did I approach this?”
  • How prepared was I?”
  • What was within my control to change and what was not?”
  • Of the things within my control, what other actions could I have taken that might have produced a different outcome?”

Likewise, success can equally blind us from learning. Just like failure, success is an external event and does not necessarily define you as a winner. Many entrepreneurs who have experienced success make the mistake of believing they did it all on their own, forgetting the team and support that helped them achieve their goals. Of course, they made good decisions at the right time, worked hard and achieved success, but in almost all cases, there were other team members who assisted in the win.

Because failure is so bitingly painful, it tends to get more personal introspection than success. However, it’s the entrepreneurs’ optimistic “never say die” attitude that can also get in the way of self-evaluation and looking at the contributing causes of failure. Learn to separate the event of failure from your personal identity and invest in objectively reviewing the situation and trying a different approach next time. This relates to a core message I share with every entrepreneur — be ruthlessly honest with yourself and others. Denial is your worst enemy.

Strive to find flaws in your ideas or processes and eliminate them. You are only doomed to repeatedly fail if you choose not to learn from your past mistake

Catcher

1) Make yourself vulnerable
2) Demonstrate grace
3) Stand apart
4) Identify with the broken people
5) Speak life

Learn from my mistakes
Use what you have
Do everything for the Lord

Wanting Someone Else to Fulfill Our Lives

BY LEO BABAUTA

I have a friend who is lonely, who has such a good heart and desperately wants to find a partner who appreciates that goodness, to share a life with.

We have all felt this, I’m guessing: this desire for a deep connection, this hope that another person will just get us and want an intimate relationship with us, the idea that if we could just find this person and merge with them, we’d be fulfilled.

What if we tossed that idea out on its head?

What if everything we need for happiness and fulfillment is within us?

What if all the requirements for fulfillment were in this very moment, not in some imagined ideal future?

What if the idea of a romantic partner who is perfect (because of their imperfections!) and who fills our every need is just a fantasy that isn’t helping us?

The truth is that even those of us who have partners know that it’s not all honeymoon, and in fact a long-term relationship contains a lot of struggle. The fulfillment that we get in life ends up (mostly) not coming from the other person, but from ourselves.

What would it be like if we let go of this fantasy of a fulfilling partner, this fantasy of a better future … and instead focused on finding fulfillment in the here and now, within ourselves?

Where We Get Fulfillment

Another person isn’t going to fulfill us — at best, they’ll make us feel better about ourselves, and listen to us. The listening part is great, but we can get that from friends or family as well. The feeling better about ourselves is a function we can fulfill on our own as well. I’m not saying a partner is useless, but I am saying that a partner isn’t needed for fulfillment.

So how can we fulfill ourselves, by ourselves?

Well, what brings fulfillment? In my experience, focusing on pleasures like food, entertainment, online distractions, sex, drugs, alcohol, and thrills … these only bring temporary pleasure, but in the end you’re left wanting more.

Fulfillment comes from something deeper — finding meaning in life, finding appreciation for the fleeting beauty of every moment, being in service of others, loving.

But we don’t need a partner for those things. We can find meaning by searching within ourselves and in the world around us. We can start to appreciate the impermanence and joyful moments around us all the time. We can be in service of others in our community. We can love anyone, from those already in our lives (even if they don’t know we’re doing it) to strangers on the street, to all living beings.

Fulfillment From Within

What if we could do all these things just sitting here, doing nothing?

What if this very moment contained all we need for fulfillment?

Try looking within:

  • Stop and be still. Sit and do nothing, finding stillness and just noticing the moment.
  • Notice your body, your breath, emotions that happen in your body (like a tightness in your chest, or a warmth in your heart area), your thoughts.
  • See that there is constant change within you, and a loving goodness as well.
  • Fall in love with all that you see, from the emotions and thoughts to the body and breath, from the impermanence to the underlying goodness.
  • Reflect on a desire to be in service of yourself, and others.
  • Cultivate a love for yourself and all others by radiating a wish for everyone, including yourself, to be free of suffering, to be happy, to find joy.
  • Reflect on your innate connection to others — reflect on how others support your life, how the food that nourishes you is brought to you by thousands of others, how you’ve been created into the person you are because of the influences of every person you’ve met and connected with. This web of connections is how you are always a part of everything and everyone around you, a deep connection that is ever-changing and everlasting.
  • Reflect on your surroundings and in the constant change and beauty that is in every single thing, in the ocean of matter and energy that you are a part of.

These and more are always available, right now and in every moment, in you and all around you.

This practice can bring fulfillment, and nothing is required but attention, appreciation, gratitude and love. You have that in you.