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Linchpin: How To Be Indespensible

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Personal Development | 0 comments

Photo by pickinjim

Photo by pickinjim

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Over the last few decades businesses have become all about lowering costs. Finding cheaper materials, cheaper processes, and cheaper labor. Because of this, many jobs have been shipped overseas or automated. Job security has become a thing of the past, and “keep your head down and work” is no longer effective. So what can we do to protect our jobs and make ourselves more happy at work?

According to Seth Godin, become the “linchpin”, the person who is indispensable at work and holds everything together. Not by just being more efficient, which is also good, but by being more creative and human, an artist. A restaurant can replace a good server without too much trouble. But it is much more difficult for them to replace a server who is so friendly and helpful that customers actually come because of her.  She becomes the linchpin, holding the customers and the restaurant together.

If you just follow rules and do your job, you are likely to get bored. You are also likely to get replaced if your job can be done somewhere else for cheaper. But by going beyond your job duties and creating, making things better, and doing work that matters, you become irreplaceable to the company. You can do the work and solve the problems that no one else can.

In classic Seth Godin style, the Linchpin is short and sweet.  He makes his argument, gives examples, and then sets you on you way to go try it out. There isn’t a lot of fluff.

What you do get is a lot of emotion. He really believes in the ideas in the book. In fact, he begs that you put these methods to use.

A great read with a lot of great advice.

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How to Achieve Your Goals

Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in How To, Personal Development | 0 comments

What was the last goal you set? What was your New Year’s resolution? Did you accomplish it? As we approach the end of the year, people will be making new resolutions for things they want to accomplish or changes they want to make in their lives. But with such a high failure rate, less than 40% of people in their 40s complete their resolutions. This drastically drops as we get older, with only 14% of people in their 50s achieving their resolutions (you can find more of the data here). Why is it so easy for us to lose our way or give up? Simply put, we don’t make clear enough goals. Without a clear goal, timeline, and plan you are likely to fail. Below is a list of steps you can take to help make sure you follow through with your next resolution.

Choose something you care about

Most of us are easily influenced. Watching a movie about a rock star can make us want to learn to play the guitar. The problem is that feeling will wear off and you will eventually give up when you reach the first difficulty. If you have always wanted to learn the guitar, and it’s something you often think about, then go for it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try new things, but when you set something as a goal/resolution you should have a better reason than “it sounds like fun”. It should have a positive impact on your life. Decide how doing this will make your life better.

Be clear

Goals that aren’t clear can be changed or even forgotten. The more specific you make your goal the more likely you will follow through. If you are finding it difficult to make  your goal specific, then it might not have met the first criteria. People usually choose a goal such as: I want to lose weight. The problem is that you don’t know where the finish line is. I would ask “What is your target weight?”, “Are you looking to bulk up or just slim down”, “Why do you want to lose weight?”, “What will you do when you lose the weight”, “When is your deadline?”.

Choose a deadline

Choosing a deadline allows you to break what ever you are doing into smaller units and create a timeline. Without a date you can draw an activity out endlessly. If you plan to accomplish it in a year, you can break it into smaller pieces and set up landmarks to meet for each week or each month. You can then reward/punish yourself for making or not meeting them. Without a deadline, a goal is really more of an idea. Choose an agressive, but realistic deadline.

Do your research

There are many methods to do just about anything and they are not all equal. Take your time to find the best materials and methods. They may not be the most common. Choosing the wrong ones can mean the difference between easily achieving your goal or giving up.

Have a backup plan

What happens if you get off track. Your diet was going perfect and then the holidays came. It happens. Everything may not go perfectly. Have a backup plan for when you get off track. Also, schedule in times when you can get away from your goal (if it is something difficult) and go crazy.

So what is your goal for the New Year?

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My Trip to Taiwan and Living Deliberately

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Personal Development | 0 comments

Yesterday, I returned back to Japan after spending eight wonderful days in Taiwan. I had a great trip and was able to travel and stay in 4 different cities while I was there. The whole trip was a complete blast and one of the best I have ever taken. Taiwan really is a beautiful place and the people are very, very friendly. I spent a lot of time on trains and buses, and so was able to finish the book Living Deliberately.This is what I want to talk about today (more to come on Taiwan soon).

Seeing a completely new culture and experiencing the way that they live can make you question the way that you live. It makes you evaluate what you consider to be normal, important, and accepted. Things that aren’t okay in your own culture might be perfectly normal in a different country. Since I was already questioning various things about cultures, it was a perfect time to finish a book about deciding how to live.

First, let me say that I really did enjoy this book. It has a lot of great points, and I truly believe that the way of living described in this book would allow us to make a much better society. I also believe that it will allow each person to live more to their full potential and be much happier.

Put simply the main focus of this book is that we need to take responsibility for our own actions, words, thoughts, etc. We need to think of the person that we really want to be and the things that really make us happy, and then go about making them our actual situation. These things are decided by paying attention to what brings us positive feelings. The things that truly make you happy may not always be what you think (why do millionaires commit suicide and a monk can be content with almost nothing at all?).

The methods described in this book asks us to evaluate who we are. The average person may react pleasantly or hostilely to a particular situation, but rarely evaluates their own feelings to ask why they are feeling that way or if they want to feel that way. By doing so, it allows us to control all aspects of our life. We aren’t a slave to our emotions, but we understand them and have the choice on how to react and how to feel. This is not easy, and something the author says he is still working at, but also something that is worth doing.

To me the weak part of this book isn’t in the content, but in the actual writing itself. I found that I was commonly re-reading sentences and paragraphs. Each time I picked up the book it was difficult to get back into it. I think this may have to do with the authors background as a computer programmer. On the good side, he does include a number of examples that are much easier to read. The content of the book is great, and I think this is a book that everyone needs to read. I do believe that by putting the methods in this book to practice that we would all live better lives. I know this may sound a bit dramatic, but considering the state of the world today, I think we have a lot of room for improvement. You can find it on amazon here: Living Deliberately

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Living Deliberately: A different kind of self help book?

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Personal Development | 1 comment

  A couple weeks ago I was contacted by an author who had just published a new book. He told me that it was called Living Deliberately and was about how to live life better. He sent me a copy, and I have had time to read the first few chapters. Here are my early impressions.

It’s not your typical self help book. Most self help books now days tend to focus on how to improve a set of skills, do something faster, or change something in your life that makes you happier. Someone teaches you the tricks that they have learned to make learning quicker. This book is a little different.

It doesn’t focus on teaching a the best way to learn a specific set of skills, but instead, how to analyze your decision making and understand your thought process. It tends to look at your life as a bigger picture. The other thing I like so far, is that the book uses examples. The author takes an idea, and then puts it into a real world example so you can see possible outcomes.

The one negative thing I have found so far is that it is a little too wordy. The beginning of the book states that it will describe things very simply so that anyone can understand, but I feel that many of the sentences were drawn out and more complex than they needed to be. I’ve only read the first few chapters, so I will give another update once I have finished the book.

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I’m a Beginner

Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Enjoying Life, Personal Development | 1 comment

It’s interesting that many of us want to avoid the stage of being a beginner, when in fact it is actually something we should try to prolong.

Think of all the advantages of being a beginner.

  • You have the freedom to make mistakes
  • The ability to make mistakes allows you to practice and become better
  • The freedom to try new methods
  • You have a more open mind, and aren’t held back by what is possible
  • You are more flexible and can change more easily
  • There is less pressure

So what are the negatives of being a beginner.

  • Learning new things can be frustrating, especially if everyone is ahead of you
  • Pride. We don’t like to be labeled the beginner

Obviously you can’t be a beginner forever, but you can think like one.

Once we get to a certain level, we start to take pride in what we know. This pride slows down our learning because we are less likely to want to admit that someone else might know more than us. If you can get past your pride you will realize that it is perfectly okay to say “I don’t know”, and ask others for advice and help. Especially if they are beginners who may be able to offer a unique perspective.

This is something I learned studying Japanese. When I first started learning, I would get help from anyone. Anything I could learn was great. However, once I got better, I felt I had to show a certain level of fluency to demonstrate my level. I felt that if I asked a question, people would think that I didn’t know as much as they thought. I had pride in my level of Japanese. Not being able to ask questions meant that my learning dramatically slowed down as well.

So here is the secret I figured out. I was the only one who felt that way, not the people I was worried about.Most people are usually much more impressed by someone who isn’t afraid to keep learning, than someone who acts as if they know it all.

You won’t be able to stay a beginner forever (at least not in other people’s eyes), but you can keep the beginner mindset. Not only will you learn more, you will have  lot more fun without the pressure of trying not to look like one.

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Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Personal Development | 0 comments

Like most people my interests tend to shift over time. I get really interested in something, focus on it 100%, and slowly my interest gets pulled to newer and more exciting things. I think this is a pretty natural part of living. Most of us are trying to find excitement in our lives and learning new things definitely keeps things fresh. Something starts out exciting, we get used to it, and many times end up losing interest all together.

This also happens with skills and knowledge. When you first learn something new it is exciting and you are doing it a lot. This can be something as simple as a certain way you clean or organize or a the way you go about doing you work. It might have been that the skill was something very helpful to you and a large time saver, yet over time you stopped. It may not have been intentional, but at some point that skill/knowledge lost it’s newness or appeal and you stopped doing it. In fact, unless you are reminded what it was, you probably can’t even think of it.

Every once in a while you have to relearn. Or better yet, you have to KEEP learning. However, in order to keep learning, you do need to occasionally review what you already know.

I find that reading is a great way to keep my skills advancing, but there are also additional things you can do to help. Putting things on schedules so you are reminded to keep doing them, writing down the important things you learn and reviewing them later, and of course asking for advice from others. It seems that there is always someone who has tried something I am interested in, and that person’s advice is always so valuable. Even if I don’t use their idea or information directly I can still use it to help create my own ideas.

Recently I decided I wanted to brush up on my Japanese skills. I live in Japan, so speaking isn’t really an issue, but I decided I wanted to start studying again to improve my grammar and vocabulary. As I started considering how I wanted to go about studying and exactly what my goals were, I came across a number of sites and techniques I had basically forgot about.

Now I can take that old knowledge and combine it with anything new I might have learned since then to create an even more efficient and effective study method.

I am also re-reading “The 4 Hour Work Week” to relearn a lot of the tricks and time savers in that book. If nothing else, it is a great book to get motivated.

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