The Best Way To Create A New Product

There are two ways to create a new product when you are starting out as a business owner or entrepreneur. The approach you choose can have a major impact on the success or failure of your business.

RightDecision

The traditional way to create a product is to lock yourself away in your study and tap away at your keyboard until your product is complete.

The BIG problem with this approach is that many authors, software developers and product creators spend months or even years creating their product only to find that when they finally make it available online – no one is interested in buying it.

In order to avoid wasting time, effort and money, many product creators are now adopting a “lean” approach to product development.

Lean product development involves testing the viability of your business idea before actually creating the product.

If the product seems financially viable, you then create a minimal viable product (MVP) and get it into the marketplace quickly so that you can start gathering feedback from real customers as soon as possible.

Here’s an example that illustrates how you can use a lean product development approach to test the financial viability of your next product, and bring it to market as quickly as possible.

Brian Turner was an architect who’s real passion was photography, and he was interested in exploring ways to turn his passion into a profitable business.

He started out by selling some of his prints at local craft markets, and he always got a positive response from the people who stopped by to chat and look at his photos.

While chatting to his customers, Brian discovered that a lot of people who owned powerful digital SLR cameras, didn’t know the first thing about using them.

In a flash of inspiration, Brian realized that he could help a lot of people discover the joy of photography by creating a beginner’s guide to digital photography. However, before starting to create the actual product, he decided to test whether people would be interested in his product idea.

To do this, Brian posted a sign on the community board of his local library advertising a 7 week course called “A Beginner’s Guide To Taking Great Digital Photos” – which would commence in one months time. He priced the course at $197 and indicated that there was only 20 spots available.

To his surprise, Brian’s phone started ringing the very next day and his course sold out in less than a week. He took this to be confirmation that there was significant interest in his product idea.

Brian then got to work and prepared the material he needed to run the course. As he was now working towards a specific, immovable deadline, he avoided wasting time and created the best possible course he could in the time that was available to him.

When he was done, Brian then conducted the course in the community room of his library.

The best part of doing this was that he was working with real people, and he quickly gained a much better understanding of what their problems and difficulties were.

photography-class

While the members of Brian’s course thoroughly enjoyed his material, Brian felt that he learned as much from them as they did from him. Conducting the course allowed Brian to see through the eyes of a beginner again, and he was able to modify his course to make it much more relevant and engaging for his target market.

After running three photography courses at his library and improving the course each time, Brian was convinced that he now had a truly fantastic course to turn into an online training program.

So the next time he conducted the course, he used some of the money he had earned from teaching to pay a professional to film his lesson presentations. In this way, Brian was able to capture his teaching in a natural environment rather than feeling awkward in front of studio cameras.

By adopting a “lean” approach to developing his product, Brian was able to:

  • Test the financial viability of his business idea before spending time, money or effort on it.
  • Incorporate feedback from his target market to rapidly improve his product
  • Get his product created quickly instead of spending months or years locked away in this study

So if you are beginning your entrepreneurial journey, or you are currently looking to create a new product for your business, I’d encourage you to think about adopting a “lean” approach to product development.

By testing your product idea first, and getting a minimal viable product into the market quickly, you will save time and money, ultimately create a better product, and avoid the heartache of creating a product no one wants.

Question: How else can you adopt a lean approach to testing product ideas, and creating new products in your business?

 

The Popcorn Business Model

I often get asked how to find a good opportunity for a profitable home business. My answer to this question is to start using The Popcorn Business model…

popcorn
As you go through life you will find that problems unexpectedly pop up in front of you, like popcorn popping in a pan.

Whenever you are faced with a new problem, your first port of call is usually to jump on Google and search for a solution.

If you find a simple, cheap solution to your new problem, that’s great – problem solved.

However, it’s when you can’t find a simple solution for your problem, that you should think about using The Popcorn Business model.

The fact is that if you can create an effective solution to a problem that “pops up” in your life, chances are you can then help other people solve the same problem, and at the same time create a valuable source of additional income.

Here’s an example that illustrates how the Popcorn Business Model works in the real world…

Several years ago, my nephew Michael was learning to play the piano. After a few months of lessons he was getting  frustrated with learning to read music and was thinking of giving up.

Michael-Playing

As a concerned uncle I jumped on Google and started searching for a software program to help Michael learn to read music.

The programs I found were generally very dull and boring, and I knew they would not keep my nephew’s attention for more than a few minutes.

This was a typical Popcorn Problem…

It was an issue that “popped up” directly in front of me. I searched for a solution and didn’t find what I was looking for, so I decided to do something about it and create a solution myself.

It’s important to note here, that initially I didn’t think of this as a business opportunity. I really just wanted to help my nephew get over the hurdle of learning to read music so that playing the piano would continue to be a part of his life.

Over the next few months I worked on creating a software program for Michael and got a lot of feedback from him in terms of what he liked and didn’t like in computer games.

When I finished the program, I dropped off a copy to my nephew and asked him to give it a go…

Later that evening, Michael’s mom rang me to say that he had spent the entire afternoon playing the game, and would not stop until he had completed all the levels. The great thing about this of course, was that he was learning to read music at the same time!

I was delighted to see how much the program helped him, and that it really did seem to solve the problem he was facing.

A few weeks later, when Michael’s piano teacher asked to buy a copy of the program to help her other students, I realised that perhaps the software could be a small business opportunity.

And the rest as they say – is history. That little software program has now helped over 7000 children and adult beginners around the world learn to play the piano and has been a great little home business.

So today, if you’re thinking about starting a home based business, I’d like to encourage you to think about using The Popcorn Business model.

Step One: Be aware of any problem that unexpectedly “pops up” in your life.

Step Two: When you identify a problem, explore the existing solutions available, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, make the decision to do something about it.

Step Three: Create a solution that genuinely helps solve the problem for a single person.

Step Four: Once you have a great solution that works, use the Internet to share your solution with the world.

The Popcorn Business model is a great way to create a business that genuinely helps others and adds value to the world. This is turn is a solid approach for building a profitable online business that stands the test of time.

Question: Have you ever had a problem “pop up” in your life that could be turned into a profitable home business?

How To Stay Calm In A Crisis

Whenever you face a confrontational situation in your business or personal life, an area of your brain called the amygdala sounds an immediate warning alarm.

Picture of brain with Hypothalamus sounding an alarm

In response to this alarm, your brain’s command center (the hypothalamus) sends signals to your adrenal glands which pump adrenaline into your bloodstream.

This flood of adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster, your pulse rate to skyrocket and your muscles to tense in preparation for immediate action.

However, the problem with this automatic “fight or flight” response is that it can often hijack our rational mind and inhibit our ability to think clearly about what is needed in a particular situation.

If you ever react to situations “without thinking” by getting very angry or frightened then you know what this is like.

In business and in life, one of the most important skills you can develop is the ability to stay calm in a crisis, and not react emotionally to confronting situations when they arise.

A great example of this is the Apollo astronauts who were rigorously trained to maintain a clear head and control their emotions even when facing life and death situations.

JohnGlenn

In fact John Glenn, who was the first American to orbit the earth, spent nearly a day in space and maintained his heart rate under a hundred beats per minute – Now that’s self control!

While you or I will most likely never have to deal with the rigours of space travel, we do encounter confronting situations in our businesses and lives every day.

Instead of losing our perspective, and making bad decisions based on fear or anger, it is important to develop the ability to focus on what actually needs to be done.

By being aware of your body’s automatic response to stress, and training yourself to let go of that initial flood of adrenaline induced emotions, you’ll be able to make important business and life decisions based on clear headed analysis.

A great way to practice this powerful mindset is while driving…

When someone cuts you off, you’ll immediately feel your sympathetic nervous system kick in and a flood of adrenaline pump through your body. Instead of responding with anger or fear, practice letting it go, and get back to a clear thinking headspace as quickly as possible.

Over time, you will be able to develop and utilize this clear, focused mindset whenever you encounter a crisis. Instead of responding emotionally with fear or anger, you’ll be able to analyse the situation and immediately take the appropriate action.

Question: How do you currently respond to stressful situations in your business or life?

When To Quit And When To Keep Going…

One of the best questions I’ve ever been asked at a seminar was “How do you know the difference between when you should quit and when you should keep pushing forward?”

Many people in the personal development world will tell you that you should “Never, ever quit and that you should always keep pushing forward until you reach your objective” However, in my experience this is not always the best advice…

Imagine for a moment that you live in Town A, and your goal is to reach Town B.

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Now let’s say that you leave Town A and travel West.

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In this scenario if you adopt the “Just keep going” mindset, chances are you will need to circumnavigate the globe in order to reach Town B!

Clearly in this simple example, it makes a lot more sense to stop travelling West, and change directions in order to reach your objective.

Quit3

When it comes to achieving your most important business or personal goals, a lot of people get confused about when they should keep pushing forward, and when they should stop and change directions.

The real answer is that it all depends on whether or not you are pointing in the right direction, and the best way to determine this is to carefully observe the “signs” you see around you.

Let me explain…

In the example above, if you continue to drive West in the hope that you will eventually reach your goal, chances are, you will not see any signs relating to your goal – Town B.

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However, if you are travelling towards Town B, you WILL periodically see signs that let you know you are heading in the right direction and that your goal is gradually getting closer.

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In the same way, when you are working towards achieving an important business or personal goal, it is important to learn to read the “signs” you see along the way.

For example, let’s imagine that your goal is to create a stay-at-home business and that you are considering two possible options:

1. Selling hand drawn greeting cards

2. Selling hand made scarves

You start out by putting your greeting card designs up for sale on Etsy.com. However, after a few months you check your Etsy visitor stats and discover that 1034 people have seen your card page, but only 2 have ordered.

These stats are a “sign” that suggest that even if your get a lot more traffic to your page, you will struggle to make sales. So in response to this sign, you make the decision to stop selling your cards, change direction, and try your scarves.

Once again, after a few months you check your shop stats, but this time you discover that you’ve had 173 visitors and sold 4 scarves. This is a “sign” that suggests that if you keep going, work hard and increase the traffic to your Etsy page, you could build a profitable business. In this scenario, you are much more likely to continue to push forward.

So next time you are faced with the dilemma of whether to quit or keep going, remember to always check the signs you are seeing along the way for evidence of whether or not you are heading in the right direction.

If you are clearly moving in the wrong direction, stop, change directions and make a new start. On the other hand if you are moving in the right direction, make the decision to focus, continue to take action and push forward to make your goal a reality.

Question: Have you ever faced the question of whether to quit or keep pushing forward? If so, how did you approach it?

How To Avoid Physical And Emotional Burnout

Whenever you are working towards achieving a particular goal, it’s important to understand the three different zones of personal activity, and how they impact your effectiveness.

The three zones of personal activity are the Grey Zone, the Green Zone and the Red Zone.

ActivityZones

The Grey Zone

When you are operating in the Grey Zone, you become easily distracted, you procrastinate, you waste time and generally make no real progress towards achieving your goal. Living in the Grey Zone is frustrating because deep down you know that you are spinning your wheels and getting no where.

The Green Zone

In the Green Zone, you have a much better sense of focus. You take regular action and begin to see some initial signs of success. You feel good about yourself, and the progress that you are making.

The Red Zone

When you are operating in the Red Zone, you are pushing yourself to the extreme limits of your capability. You can only maintain this level of activity for a limited time before you experience physical or emotional burn out.

A Dangerous Pattern

Here’s an example that illustrates how these three zones of activity work in the real world…

Dominic was dissatisfied with his lot in life. He ate poorly, drank too much and rarely exercised. While he often made fun of the “gym junkies” in his office who went to the gym every lunchtime, deep down he knew that life was passing him by, and he needed to make a change. What he didn’t understand at the time was that he was living in the Grey Zone.

GreyZone

As time passed, Dominic became more and more angry and frustrated with himself and the world around him. Eventually this anger and dissatisfaction reached a boiling point, and he decided that enough was enough. After months of excuses and procrastination, he made the decision to make a change in his life.

He began by cleaning out all the junk food in his cupboard, and committed himself to walking around the park across from his office each day at lunchtime.

After a few weeks of walking, Dominic started to glimpse the first results of his new lunch time routine. A number of his friends commented on how well he was looking, and his pants started to feel a little looser around his waist. For the first time in a long time Dominic felt good about himself – He had entered the Green Zone.

GreenZone

However, having tasted the first fruits of success, Dominic began thinking about how great it would feel to be really fit. He saw an advertisement in the window of a gym he walked past on the way to work that promised to totally transform his body in just 5 weeks. He signed up for the “Body Battle Bootcamp” and looked forward to enjoying his new physique.

The Bootcamp involved 4 brutal exercise sessions a week. At the end of the first session, Dominic lay on the floor of the gym gasping for breath. His heart pounded, his head throbbed, and he felt as though he might be physically sick. Dominic had entered the Red Zone.

RedZone

After his third bootcamp session, Dominic’s body reacted to the violent change in his routine, and he felt a sharp stabbing pain in the front of his right shin. When the pain got worse after the next session, he went to see a physiotherapist who informed him he’d developed shin splints, and should refrain from vigorous activity for a few weeks.

Suddenly Dominic was catapulted from the Red Zone, back into the Grey Zone where he was unable to do any exercise, and became extremely melancholy and depressed.

GreyZone

Over time, Dominic’s shins healed and he realised the mistake he had made. Instead of staying in the Green Zone and sticking with what was working, he had got impatient and pushed himself into the Red Zone in order to achieve the results he wanted as quickly as possible.

The next time he launched a fitness campaign, things were different…

This time he realized that he wasn’t going to get fit in 5 weeks, and that it was ridiculous to try. Instead he resumed his walking, and then gradually introduced a few gym sessions into his routine.

At the end of his new exercise routine, Dominic felt energised rather than exhausted. He once again began to feel good about himself and the actions he was taking, but this time he had one vital new weapon in his goal achieving toolbox – Patience.

Dominic realised that the real key to success was to take regular action to move into the Green Zone, and then develop the patience required to stay there, while resisting the temptation to push himself into the unsustainable Red Zone.

GreenZone

So today I’d like to encourage you to be aware of the three Zones of activity while you go about achieving your most important goals. If you are currently living in the Grey Zone, make the decision today to take action and get started.

If you are operating in the Green Zone, continue to do what is working, have faith in the process, and focus on developing the patience you need to succeed.

If on the other hand, you are currently living in the Red Zone, understand that you cannot operate at the upper limits of your capabilities indefinitely, and look for ways to release the pressure valve, and reduce your level of activity back to a more sustainable level.

Question: What zone of activity are you currently operating in and how is that working for you?

Why Some People Succeed And Others Do Not

Once there was a wealthy Texan ranch owner who knew his life was coming to an end, so he sent a message to his two sons and asked them to come and visit him one last time.

Texas Fields

His eldest son arrived first and the old ranch owner told him that he was leaving him the entire North pasture because he had a hunch that there was oil below the ground that could set him up for a prosperous life.

Later that day the ranch owner spoke to his youngest son and told him that he would receive the entire South pasture and that there was a good chance that he’d find oil below the surface.

Several days later the old rancher died and the two sons inherited their respective allotments of land.

The eldest son started digging immediately. He dug down 10 feet but did not hit oil, he dug down 20 feet but did not hit oil. He then decided that he was digging in the wrong spot, so he moved to a new location in the pasture and started digging again.

Once again he did not strike oil at 10 feet or at 20 feet so he moved on to another spot.

He repeated this pattern 5 more time before coming to the conclusion that his father had been badly mistaken and that the field did not contain any oil.

He sold his field to his younger brother, took his money and moved to the city.

The younger son took a somewhat different approach. He selected a spot in the south pasture and started digging.

He dug down 10 feet but did not hit oil, he dug down 20 feet but did not hit oil…

However, instead of moving to a new spot, he kept digging. He brought in more machinery and continued to dig – 30 feet, 40 feet, 50 feet, and finally at 60 feet down he struck pay dirt and tapped into one of the biggest oil reservoirs in the State which made him several million dollars.

The moral of this story is that a lot of people (especially entrepreneurs and small business owners) start projects and spend a few weeks or months trying to make them work, but when they don’t strike oil, they move onto a new opportunity.

In the end all they are left with is several empty holes. However, the person who learns to focus on a single opportunity and go deep is much more likely to strike oil and achieve the results they are looking for.

So today I’d like to encourage you take a long term approach to achieving your goals. Get crystal clear on what you really want to achieve, start digging, and most importantly – focus your efforts and make the decision to dig deep.

Question: How do you stay focussed on a single project without getting distracted by other opportunities?

The Goal Setting Problem No One Ever Talks About…

If you’ve ever listened to any personal development programs relating to productivity, time management or goal setting, then I’m sure you’ve heard the “Write Your Goals Down” mantra many times before…

2014Goals

However, one thing no one ever seems to talk about however is WHERE to write your goals down.

For a long time I used to write my goals down in a notebook. The only problem with this approach was that I would then fill the book with notes on other topics, and it would eventually get lost in the back of a cupboard or drawer.

The next time I’d think about my future and decide it was time to set some goals, I’d go out and buy a brand new notebook, and start the process all over again from scratch…

One of the most useful things you can do to develop clarity around what you really want to achieve in life, is to make the decision to write down and keep your most important goals in a single place that you’ll always have access to – Your Goal Repository.

This makes it much easier to review your goals on a regular basis, and it also helps enormously when you come to revise or update your goals.

The Ultimate Goal Repository

After trying a number of different options for storing my goals, I settled on the web-based software Evernote as my ultimate goal repository.

Within Evernote, I set up a specific Notebook called “My Goals” and within this notebook are two special Notes…

Evernote

My Five Year Vision 2014

The first note is my Five Year Vision which outlines where I would like to be in every aspect of my life on January 1st 2019. In this note I describe my ideal physical health, relationships, financial situation, and how I’d like to be spending my time in five years.

While no one can predict the future, having a clear vision of the future you WANT to create is a powerful tool that can help you navigate through the tough times, and stay on track no matter what unforeseen obstacles life may throw at you.

Yearly Goals

In addition to my Five Year Vision, the second note I keep in my Evernote goal repository is a note describing my Goals for the current year.

This note contains more specific goals relating to my health, relationships and financial situation.

For example, my health goals for 2014 are:

  • BMI < 25 kg/m2
  • Total serum cholesterol <200 mg/dl
  • LDL < 100
  • HDL >60
  • Cholesterol Ratio <4
  • Blood Pressure < 120/80
  • Fasting blood glucose <100 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides < 150 mg/dL
  • 10% body fat

One thing you’ll notice is that I like to set METRIC driven goals. When you set specific metrics for your goals, it gives you a concrete way to determine whether you’ve achieved them or not.

So if you’re one of the millions of people who writes down their goals in notebooks, on the back of envelopes, or on small scraps of paper that inevitably get lost, I’d like to encourage you to make the decision to set up a Goal Repository to store the written description of your most important life goals.

When you do this you will gain an incredible sense of clarity, purpose and confidence that comes from knowing what you really want, and having it written down in one specific place.

You’ll also be able to review your goals regularly, and modify them when needed to steer yourself towards achieving your annual goals and your Five Year Vision.

Question: Where and how do you write your goals down?

The Study Secrets Of Successful Students

With her final exams rapidly approaching, Casey knew that she desperately needed to start studying. However, with everything that was going on in her life, she was finding it hard to concentrate…

Casey college student

After recently breaking up with her boyfriend, receiving a huge repair bill for her car, and arguing with her father yet again, Casey was finding it difficult to focus on what she needed to do.

Instead of revising her notes, she often found herself spending hours on facebook or watching random videos on YouTube. This made her feel even more guilty as deep down, she knew she was procrastinating and wasting valuable time.

Finally, one morning she decided that enough was enough, and made the decision to get back on track.

Here’s what she did…

Step 1: Find Your Why

Casey’s first step was to sit down and think about why she was really doing her course. Her ultimate goal was to become a pharmacist, so to remind herself of this, Casey created a poster that included a picture of a pharmacist and the words “I Am A Pharmacist” in bold print.

Goal Poster

She then stuck this picture to the ceiling above her bed so that it was the first thing she saw every morning, and the last thing she saw when she went to sleep. This helped her to get moving each day and focus on what she really wanted from life.

Step 2: Exercise In Moderation 

Next, Casey made the decision to incorporate some simple exercise into her daily routine. Every morning, she put on her headphones and listened to her favourite playlist while going for a brisk jog around the local park.

Instead of pushing herself too hard and feeling exhausted, Casey just focused on getting her body moving, her heart pumping, and clearing her head as a great way to start the day.

Step 3: Create A Positive Work Environment

When Casey looked around her room, she realised that it was dark, stuffy and messy. She also noticed that this was a good reflection of how her mind was feeling.

Rather than falling into the trap of using “cleaning” as a reason to procrastinate for two days, Casey time-boxed her clean up activities and gave herself an hour to tidy up her study space.

She opened up the curtains to let the light in. Opened the windows to get some fresh air, and cleared the junk off her floor and bed. This had an immediate and surprising impact on her state of mind and attitude to her studies.

Step 4: Use Study Sessions

Now that she felt better about her physical surroundings, Casey made the decision that instead of trying to study all day, she would study in focused 25 minute blocks.

Before starting a study session, Casey switched her mobile to silent and put it in her bag. She also unplugged her Internet connection so she wouldn’t get distracted by email, facebook, or twitter.

Next, Casey grabbed a kitchen timer and dialed up 25 minutes for her study session. Once the timer started, she focused entirely on what she had to do to revise for her next exam.

Kitchen timer

She also kept a blank sheet of paper on her desk, which she used as a “Distraction Catcher”. If she thought of something she needed to do while she was studying, she just jotted it down on her Distraction Catcher so that she could deal with it later. This helped her to avoid distraction and stay focused.

Step 5: Take Regular Brain Breaks

At the end of each study session, Casey would have a 5 minute break to grab a drink or go to the bathroom. She would then kick off another session.

After completing four study sessions, Casey would then take a complete break for half hour. During this longer break, she would check her phone, go for a walk or have something to eat.

Step 6: Use Auditory Learning 

One of Casey’s friends told her that the recordings of all their lectures were available online. Casey downloaded the recordings and listened to them while she was driving.

She found this was a great way to make use of her commute time, and also a fantastic way to get an overview of what had been covered during the semester.

Step 7: Use Visual Learning

As Casey reviewed her lecture notes, she focused on understanding the material rather than simply trying to memorise it. One visual technique that helped with this was to create a mind map for each of the topics she was studying.

Mind map

Casey would review her own notes and then create a mindmap using the Freemind software to explain the concepts in her own words. She would then compare her mind map to her notes, and add in anything that she had missed out.

Step 8: Use Kinesthetic Learning

Casey also discovered that she enjoyed learning by “doing”. So she organized with a few friends to have a group study session. During this session, they took it in turns to present a mini lecture on a specific topic.

At the end of the mini lecture, they would ask each other questions which further enhanced everyone’s understanding. Casey found that the ideas that came up during these discussion really stayed with her.

She also realised that the people she spent time with had a HUGE impact on her own attitude, and made a conscious decision to spend more time with her friends who were working hard and trying to do well.

Step 9: Get Help Sooner Rather Than Later

Occasionally Casey came across a concept or question she didn’t understand. Rather than wasting time trying to figure out everything for herself, Casey made the decision to get help as quickly as possible. She collated her questions and arranged to see her tutor or lecturer as soon as they were available.

Instead of feeling bad about having a lot of questions, Casey focused on getting as much information as she could to help her prepare for her exams.

Step 10: Practice Specifically For Each Exam

As her exams got closer, Casey focused on practicing exactly what she would need to do in each of her exams.

For her essay based exams, she used her study sessions to write non-stop for 25 minutes. For her problem based exams, she completed as many practice questions as she could during her session.

The more she practiced exactly what she was going to do in her upcoming exams the more confident she became.

After getting back on track, organising her study sessions and working hard, Casey felt much better about her exams. She realised that preparation really is the cure for nervousness.

With a solid preparation under her belt, and a positive mental attitude, Casey was ready to blitz her exams…

So if you have exams coming up sometime this year, I encourage you to use these 10 steps to clarify your goals, develop a positive mental attitude, improve your environment, optimise your preparation, and make your academic dreams a reality!

Question: What is your single best exam preparation tip?

The Power Of Connection

As we travel through life, each of us encounters people who disappoint and deceive us. In response to these negative experiences we often create a protective mental wall to keep people out and prevent us from experiencing this pain again.

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And in some ways, withdrawing from those around us and putting up our mental defenses DOES work. It keeps corrupt people out, and protects us from their malicious intentions.

However the problem with living life this way, is that in addition to keeping us isolated from the relatively few malicious people in the world, we also isolate ourselves from all the truly good people around us.

Wall2

When we become isolated from the world at large, we miss out on so much joy, happiness and laughter that the right people can bring into our lives.

The big problem is many of us live with our protective mental walls UP by default, and we only occasionally lower our defenses and let people in.

One of the most powerful ways to transform your relationships is to turn this strategy around, and learn to live with your protective mental walls DOWN by default, and only occasionally raise them to block out the negative people you may encounter.

Wall3

Here are three ways to practice bringing down your protective mental walls and connecting with those around you.

1. Disconnect To Reconnect

These days one of the common ways to create a “wall” to block others out is to use our mobile phones.

On trains, at social events, and even family gatherings, many people are so engaged in their virtual world that they don’t even realise that they are losing their connection with the people around them.

One of the best ways to expand and deepen your relationships is to disconnect to reconnect, and make the decision to only use your phone to check facebook or the Internet when you are alone.

When you are with your family, friends or even just out and about, put your phone away and focus on connecting with the real people in your life.

2. Make eye contact and smile

All too often we rush through life with our head down, and our mind busily reviewing the next twenty things to do on our ‘To Do’ list.

We are so busy and focused that we never take the time to stop and make eye contact with those around us.

The simple act of making eye contact and smiling, can occasionally open a doorway that changes your life forever.

For example in 1968, my mother met her dearest friend at a bus stop in the small town of Tamworth in England. A simple smile and hello led to a cup of tea, which ultimately led to a connection that has spanned 3 continents, and provided them both with 46 years of priceless friendship.

3. Live authentically

When we talk with those around us, it can be tempting to create a facade that always presents our life in the best possible light.

When someone asks “How are you?” we automatically share a quick superficial overview of our life – “Work is busy, our partner is fine and the kids are doing great.”

It is amazing what happens when you resist the temptation to present this “vanilla version” of your life, and actually think about your response.

While you don’t need to divulge the details of your problems to everyone you meet, lowering your protective wall and sharing the challenges you are facing with people you care about is a wonderful way to deepen your relationships.

So today I’d like to encourage you to lower your protective mental wall and live with your barriers DOWN by default. When you develop the habits of putting away your mobile phone, genuinely smiling at those you encounter, and speaking authentically from your heart, you will establish and nurture positive relationships that will enrich your life for many years to come.

Question: What can you do to expand and deepen the relationships in your life?

The Key Ingredient For Business Success

If you are thinking about starting a new business this year, or looking to take your current business to the next level there is one key ingredient that you will need in order to make your dream a reality.

Hairdresser

The one key ingredient you will need to achieve success in any business endeavour is BELIEF.

Here’s why…

The reality of any business is that as soon as you begin, you will be faced with a series of problems to solve and obstacles to overcome.

  • Your business partner suddenly backs out
  • You can’t raise the capital you need to get started
  • Your planning proposal is rejected
  • etc.

Faced with this seemingly endless list of obstacles, if you don’t have a strong sense of belief in what you are doing, it is more than likely that you will eventually give up on your business dream.

However, if you DO have belief in yourself and your business you will continue to push forward, find or create a solution to every problem you encounter, and ultimately achieve the success you are looking for.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of belief before, but here’s where things get really interesting…

Whenever I ask business owners, how important they think it is to have a sense of belief in themselves and their business, they usually respond by saying “It’s critical”

Next I ask them how many hours a week they work on their business, and the answer is usually 40 – 70 hours a week.

I then ask them, how many of those hours do they spend developing their sense of belief…

All too often the answer is “0” hours.

So even though they understand that belief is a critical ingredient for achieving success, most business owners simply do not spend any time developing their sense of belief.

You see, what most people don’t realise is that belief is a learned skill.

Developing a deep sense of belief is not something that happens automatically. You can’t just switch on your sense of belief when you need it. On the contrary, belief is something that you need to develop and grow through consistent daily practice.

Here’s an example that illustrates how this works in the real world…

For as long as Christine could remember, she had wanted to open her own hairdressing salon, however each time she thought about making a move, her fear prevented her from taking action.

Then one day at a seminar, Christine learnt that belief is a learned skill and that in order to develop a sense of belief she needed to practice every day.

Unlike most people at the seminar, Christine took this on board, and added a new routine to her morning schedule.

Here’s what she did…

First she would find a quiet spot where she could be alone. Then she would close her eyes, meditate for 5 minutes by focusing on her breathing and say a prayer of thanks for the day ahead.

Next she would read out a written description of her goal and spend some time visualising her hairdressing salon in every detail.

In her mind’s eye she saw herself welcoming people to her salon and chatting with them as she cut and styled their hair. She imagined the delight in her customer’s eyes and the gratitude they expressed for transforming their appearance.

As Christine made visualisation a part of her daily routine, she began to develop a deep sense of belief in her dream, and it was this sense of belief that compelled her to take action.

She put together a business plan and approached her bank to obtain a business loan. Unfortunately her loan application was rejected and Christine was devastated. Ordinarily this is where she would have given up on her dream and returned to her regular job.

This time however, Christine continued with her morning visualisation and her sense of belief did not waver.

Instead of renting a store in town, she decided to clear out the spare room and convert it into a home based salon.

There were many obstacles and problems along the way…

Initially she didn’t know anything about marketing or how to get clients in through the door, she didn’t know how to balance her books or keep track of her expenses, and she had no idea what records she needed to provide to her accountant at tax time.

However by actively developing her sense of belief each morning, Christine was able to meet and overcome each and every problem that came her way.

Two years later, with a proven track record and a solid understanding of how to run her business, Christine was able to obtain the bank loan she needed to open her first salon in the city.

So today I’d like to encourage you to understand that belief is a learned skill and make visualisation a part of your daily routine. When you take the time to visualise your dream in detail  each morning, you will gradually develop a strong sense of belief that will help you to meet and overcome any obstacle that stands in your way.

Question: How do you develop and maintain your sense of belief in your goals?