(By Vanessa Loder)
“Be kind to yourself, especially when you feel bad. Learning how to fail without hating yourself in the process is probably the best business skill anyone could ever learn, in addition to being one of the most important life skills. This is linked to happiness, a feeling of worthiness, success, and even will power. Self-compassion helps you bounce back faster from the setbacks and seek out new opportunities without letting fear get in your way.“
Would you spend $200,000 on something if it didn’t make you happier? As it turns out, you can invest over $200,000 on a top MBA program these days and while you will on average earn more and have a better network upon graduation, that $200,000 investment does not guarantee you will feel happier.
I’m grateful to have attended Stanford Business School. And, now that I’ve quit my “safe” job in private equity to run my own business teaching people how to create Success with Ease, I’ve learned some universal principles that are highly effective at increasing happiness and increasing success – and, surprisingly, I was completely unaware of these concepts while I was at Stanford.
I believe learning these seven practices is the best investment any individual can make in her or his career, and the research backs me up:
Be kind to yourself, especially when you feel bad. Learning how to fail without hating yourself in the process is probably the best business skill anyone could ever learn, in addition to being one of the most important life skills. This is linked to happiness, a feeling of worthiness, success, and even will power. Self-compassion helps you bounce back faster from the setbacks and seek out new opportunities without letting fear get in your way.
Start by talking to yourself the way you would talk to a good friend. There is no one else whose voice you’ll hear more than your own. If you think your Board of Directors has the most say, think again. Stanford is now teaching a class on Compassion at the Business School
2. Visioning Your Future Self.
One of the best ways to make your vision a reality is to get clear on it and then see yourself in it as if you already are that future self. Most Olympic and professional athletes incorporate this technique in their training and yet corporate athletes are completely under-utilizing this tool. If you want a promotion, see yourself already in that position. If you want to start a company, see yourself as that future entrepreneur. You will draw in people and opportunities that lead you towards your ideal life by visualizing it and feeling the feelings in your body as if you already have that life.
3. Appreciation & Gratitude.
The more you appreciate what you already have, the more you will get. Simple as that. If you want to grow your sales territory, appreciate the territory you already have, even if you were assigned the smallest, crappiest region at your company. Once you start to appreciate it, you will suddenly see a new opportunity within your little region that you hadn’t noticed when you were taking it for granted, or someone will give you a larger territory, or nothing will change right away but you will feel happier about your job in the meanwhile. Sounds like a win/win to me.
4. Trust and Patience.
We are taught to be impatient, to get results FAST. But when you act from a place of impatience, fear, scarcity, or trying to be overly “strategic,” you often swim upstream and are ineffective. Hiring employees is one example of this. When we rush to fill a need, we often create a bigger problem by hiring someone who underperforms and needs to be replaced at a future date. Start by being aware of when you might benefit from slowing down, trusting your gut and being patient with the process.
5. Practice Mindfulness. Being is more important than doing.
Being busy has somehow become a sign of prestige. We have it completely backwards. Being still and quiet can give us ideas for our business that have a much greater impact than when we run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, firing off emails left and right and constantly multi-tasking without thinking about the big picture. When we act out without being mindful, it can lead to disastrous consequences in business. We literally become more stupid. One study showed that when we are reactive, we lose 10-15 IQ points. Simply by stating “I’m feeling anxious,” we regain 10-15 IQ points.
By being aware of our inner state, we can name it and act from a place of greater truth and possibility. This leads to better choices and higher performance.
6. Follow your heart and intuition. Not your mind, ego or wallet.
I give this advice to all my clients, and it has really worked. Many of us get caught up in trying to prove our worth to others (did I mention I went to Stanford?), and that rarely leads to us feeling good in the long run. We may get a short boost when someone validates our ego’s needs but it’s not sustainable. The real path to success and fulfillment is in following your heart’s desire. Next time you are making a decision, notice whether your heart and intuition are driving the bus or your ego, mind and wallet and see if you can follow the former.
7. Our thoughts create our reality.
You write the story of your life, no one else. Believe it or not, the placebo affect can essentially be magnified and applied to all aspects of life. Here’s a deep truth I’ve learned: You become what you think about. Positive thoughts lead to positive results. Negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes. If you’re upset about an underperforming employee and you focus on it obsessively, you’ll start to see flaws everywhere you turn. If you instead focus on what is going right and take action to correct the underperforming employee, you’ll start to see more positive results.
I believe these principles should be taught at every school. The good news is you don’t need to go to a top school to learn and apply these tools. Anyone can do it, and it’s free. You can start small. Commit to appreciating three things about your contribution at work right now and notice how you feel afterwards. What have you got to lose?
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”
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