The 6 Keys To Being Awesome At Everything

Tony Schwartz, The Energy Project :

Pursue what you love

Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

Pursue what you love

Do the hardest work first

We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain.

Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else.

That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

Do the hardest work first

Practice Intensely

Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break.

Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity.

The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

Practice Intensely

Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses

The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments.

Too much feedback, too continuously, however, can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.

Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses

Take regular renewal breaks

Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning.

It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

Take regular renewal breaks

Ritualize practice

Will and discipline are wildly overrated. As the researcher Roy Baumeister has found, none of us have very much of it.

The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them — build specific, inviolable times at which you do them,

so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

Ritualize practice

It takes several hours of daily practice to achieve excellence, so prioritize

I have practiced tennis deliberately over the years, but never for the several hours a day required to achieve a truly high level of excellence.

What’s changed is that I don’t berate myself any longer for falling short. I know exactly what it would take to get to that level.

I’ve got too many other higher priorities to give tennis that attention right now. But I find it incredibly exciting to know that I’m still capable of getting far better at tennis —

or at anything else — and so are you.

It takes several hours of daily practice to achieve excellence, so prioritize

Here are the recent books on this subject:

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Why Everyone Needs a Mentor — and How to Get One!

Amanda Augustine:

The Sensei
Look to senior executives within your company or well-known leaders within the industry who inspire you. You’ll uncover a number of potential role models by getting involved in relevant professional associations: Step Up Women’s Network (SUWN) or the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). These groups provide countless professional development and networking opportunities for women of all ages and stages of their careers.

The Entrepreneur

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you should check out MicroMentor or WomenUp. From building business plans to raising capital, these groups provide mentorship opportunities to help you become a successful business owner.

The Peer

Peer mentors can be helpful when you’re joining a new company, but especially beneficial if you’re looking for a job. Approach a fellow job seeker who’s in the same line of work and check in with one another on a weekly basis — by sharing information, you’re automatically doubling your job-search efforts and resources. Concerned about the competition? It’s unlikely that both of you will have identical goals and be perfect for the exact same job.

The Protégé
If you’re looking to gain management experience before your first management job, flipping the table and mentoring others is a great place to start. Find out if there are opportunities to mentor your organization’s summer interns or approach a more junior colleague and show her the ropes. The perks of mentorships only grow as your careers progress — should you decide to look for a new opportunity, your former apprentices are great resources for job leads and likely to be enthusiastic advocates.

The Unconventional Teacher

It takes time to find the right person to be your mentor, and even more time to build a meaningful connection with that person. Until you find that person, there are a number of alternative ways you can get advice.

Whichever type of mentorship you decide, consider him or her your own personal board of directors. He or she should help you learn and make decisions when it comes to your job search and professional development.

Innovators Get Better With Age. You Too?

Gijs van Wulfen:

Innovators get better with age. The stereotype of an innovator is a youngster bringing his dream alive like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple. But they are not the rule. They are the exception.

Tom Agan wrote an inspiring article in The New York Times on innovators and age. According to research by Benjamin Jones of Northwestern University, a 55-year-old and even a 65-year-old have significantly more innovation potential than a 25-year-old. He based his conclusions on data on Nobel Prize winners and great inventors.

Do innovators in companies also get better with age?

I am 53 now, and have been working for 25 years. I think I became a better innovator, for three reasons:

1. I first had to learn the patterns before breaking them. As junior manager I was very eager to learn at the first companies I worked for. I learned what made them successful in the past. And to be effective I adapted myself to "how things are done around here". As I got older I dared to challenge and break patterns within the companies I worked.

2. I learned from my mistakes. Breaking patterns wasn’t always successful. But I learned continously from my mistakes. This created a better business intuition of what will work and what will not.

3. Grey hair helps convincing others. In companies you can’t innovate alone. You need a lot of others to get an idea out there on the market. Getting older, growing grey hair helped me in getting confidence of others to follow me and my innovative concepts and methods.

Hiring Wisdom: Top 10 Ways to Guarantee Your Best People Will Quit

Mel Kleiman ;

© vladgrin -

Here are 10 ways to guarantee that your best people will quit:

10. Treat everyone equally. This may sound good, but your employees are not equal. Some are worth more because they produce more results. The key is not to treat them equally, it is to treat them all fairly.

9. Tolerate mediocrity. A-players don’t have to or want to play with a bunch of C-players.

8. Have dumb rules. I did not say have no rules, I said don’t have dumb rules. Great employees want to have guidelines and direction, but they don’t want to have rules that get in the way of doing their jobs or that conflict with the values the company says are important.

7. Don’t recognize outstanding performance and contributions. Remember Psychology 101 — Behavior you want repeated needs to be rewarded immediately.

6. Don’t have any fun at work. Where’s the written rule that says work has to be serious? If you find it, rip it to shreds and stomp on it because the notion that work cannot be fun is actually counterproductive. The workplace should be fun. Find ways to make work and/or the work environment more relaxed and fun and you will have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day.

5. Don’t keep your people informed. You’ve got to communicate not only the good, but also the bad and the ugly. If you don’t tell them, the rumor mill will.

4. Micromanage. Tell them what you want done and how you want it done. Don’t tell them why it needs to be done and why their job is important. Don’t ask for their input on how it could be done better.

3. Don’t develop an employee retention strategy. Employee retention deserves your attention every day. Make a list of the people you don’t want to lose and, next to each name, write down what you are doing or will do to ensure that person stays engaged and on board.

2. Don’t do employee retention interviews. Wait until a great employee is walking out the door instead and conduct an exit interview to see what you could have done differently so they would not have gone out looking for another job.

1. Make your onboarding program an exercise in tedium. Employees are most impressionable during the first 60 days on the job. Every bit of information gathered during this time will either reinforce your new hire’s “buying decision” (to take the job) or lead to “Hire’s Remorse.”

The biggest cause of “Hire’s Remorse” is the dreaded Employee Orientation/Training Program. Most are poorly organized, inefficient, and boring. How can you expect excellence from your new hires if your orientation program is a sloppy amalgamation of tedious paperwork, boring policies and procedures, and hours of regulations and red tape?

To reinforce their buying decision, get key management involved on the first day and make sure your orientation delivers and reinforces these three messages repeatedly:

A. You were carefully chosen and we’re glad you’re here;

B. You’re now part of a great organization;

C. This is why your job is so important.

Congress Should Listen To Marissa Mayer



Congress could learn some lessons from Silicon Valley. Extreme partisan gridlock over the federal budget is inching the country closer to drastic spending cuts, known ominously as “the sequester.” Yet, members of Congress used to be far more agreeable back when they weren’t occupied with four-day weekends raising cash in their districts and, instead, could spend time face-to-face with the colleagues at bi-partisan family BBQs.

The extraordinary benefits of face-to-face communication convinced Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer that the company needed to eliminate telecommuting to repair her own beleaguered organization. Congress should follow Mayer’s advice and spend more personal time with their colleagues.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” declared a leaked internal Yahoo memo. “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”

The science of distance-based communication corroborates Mayer’s instincts. During experimental trust games, business consultant and University of California Professor Judy Olson found that face-to-face communication far outperformed calls, video conferences and chats. Our finely tuned ability to read people unconsciously places a premium on facial expressions and intonation. A disembodied voice can’t inspire trust.

President Bill Clinton once recommended that Congress ditch the new practice of weekend fundraisers to get back to its more cooperative roots. Back when Republicans and Democrats used to attend family picnics with one another, he recalls, “They got to rest, they got to see their friends, they got to meet with members of the Senate and both parties and talk through issues.”

In a more endearing example, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told a crowd at the Aspen Ideas Festival that she used to break partisan gridlock in the Arizona state legislature by inviting people over for dinners. “We used to have pot-luck dinners at my house and I’d fix ‘em chalupas and we’d get some beer,” she reminisced, “it would be a good chance to get acquainted and make friends. And, believe me, I could get enough votes on most of the legislation that we had to pass.”

But, the spike in fundraising pressure soon overwhelmed the (relatively) collegial D.C. culture,dramatically reducing the number of voting days and committee meetings. The result has been an inability to pass Congress’s most important bill — federal budget — perpetually leading the nation to the edge of crisis, and potentially causing serious cuts in defense and social programs.

Unlike a tech company, Congress gets rehired regardless of its past performance. So while it doesn’t have to adopt the practices of high-performing companies, perhaps it should anyways