8 Common traits of the worlds most successful people – it takes 8 to be great

 

Whilst each persons path to success is different, the world’s most successful people share some distinct common traits.

In his book, “The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common,” author Richard St. John conducted intensive interviews with more than 500 highly successful people, from Bill Gates to Martha Stewart and collated the data to see if any common traits existed.

He found all those interviewed shared 8 traits, which he calls the “8 to be great” because “they’re the foundation for success and greatness in any field.”

1.Passion – they do it for the love

They didn’t start their field to make a quick buck, they started and continue to work because they genuinely enjoy, believe and love what they do.

It makes sense that business phycology today shows the most successful business marketing is the most authentic – “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it – Simon Sinek”

2. Failure is an art

Failure is a means to develop and nothing less. When hit with a curveball these people use it as a stepping stone to learn and become even better.

“Failure can be heartbreaking, and when it happens you have a choice,” St. John writes. “You can let it be your school or your funeral.”

The right choice, of course, is using failure as a stepping stone and building off it. Once you do, St. John says it’s all about relentlessly moving forward.

3. A niche

To be successful, it’s important to specialize in a certain area and build your expertise – become indispensable to your industry.

“Success means narrowing down and focusing on one thing, not being scattered all over the map,” St. John writes.

4. They habitually stretch their comfort zones

Richard Branson during his interview told St. John, “I think whatever you’re doing in life just push yourself to the limits.”

You must push through shyness, doubts, and fear, St. John writes. Remember if it scares you, thats a good thing, you are actively challenging yourself and developing as a result.

5. They never stop thinking of new ideas

“Ideas light the way to success,” St. John writes. This is true across the board – ideas form innovation – innovation is the difference between success and market dominator.

The key here is creativity. St. John lists eight ways to come up with big ideas:

1. Have a problem, because big ideas come from everyday problems.

2. Be observant: Eye-Q can be more important than IQ.

3. Listen: Ears are antennas for ideas.

4. Asking questions leads to ideas.

5. Borrow an idea, and build it into a new idea.

6. Make connections: Take one thing and connect it to another.

7. Make mistakes: Mistakes and failures lead to great ideas.

8. Write your ideas down.

6. They seek to continually learn

Self development plays an integral role in these leaders lives. They are never too old or wise to be students – this eagerness to learn keeps them at the forefront of trends, innovation and allows them to be reactive.

Continuous learning means becoming good at something, then getting better, and then seeking to be our absolute best, St. John writes.

7. They provide value to others

It’s important to ask yourself who you serve

Once you’ve determined who you serve, you need to figure out what unique value you can offer. Martha Stewart, for example, learned to be a master homemaker, and “her expertise had high value for millions of women clamoring for tips to make a better home,” he writes.

According to St. John, shift your focus off of yourself and onto the people you serve, to set yourself up for financial success: Do what you love. Serve others what they love. Get money in return.

8. They work hard and play hard

All of those interviewed admitted to working very long hours, on average each person was working up to 14 hour days. Oprah Winfrey, for example, told St. John that she “would never see daylight.”

Whilst hard work is necessary, it’s also important to have fun whilst you work – this allows you to avoid “burnout”. St John writes that successful people aren’t workaholics; they’re “workafrolics” because they have fun with their careers.

He recommends having an 80/20 split – meaning 80% of your work should be enjoyable and the remaining 20% should consist of the serious, not-so-fun stuff.

One simple trick to boosting your memory

 

Can you remember what happened 3 days ago? It’s difficult for us to pin down the value of our working days, when we are so busy. However, each day matters and to think we could forget what we achieved, on any day, is a crying shame. To avoid this mishap, try this very simple trick.

Make Time to Reflect

According to research conducted by Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, those who take the time to take in each day are more successful, memory-wise.

The best things is, all you need is 15 minutes. 

Over the course of the research study, participants were asked to either reflect on their day when their shift ended, or to continue along as they normally would. Those who needed the 15 minutes to journal about their activities were also relieved from their job earlier.

After 10 days, the results of the study showed that those who reflected on their workday at performed nearly 29 percent better than those who did otherwise.

Why Those Reflective Minutes Matter

When we spend time to reflect and write about our days, whether it’s a few minutes or 15 as the research study suggests, we essentially add context to our working life. We have hectic working days, we undergo stress, tackle challenges, and accomplish tasks, and when our day is complete, we need to process all of this for it to make sense. Otherwise, honestly what is the point?

Once we reflect on our experiences, we are better able to examine ourselves and actions and improve upon them.

Remember

It’s important to take the extra step and write down your reflections, thoughts and feelings at the end of the working day because otherwise it will be difficult for you to remember. If you really think about it recognising and understanding the effects of our life experiences is a fundamental part of our existence – failing to do this simple makes it harder for us to achieve our goals.

 

The psychology of charisma – what charismatic people have in common

 

Charisma is the ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you. There are people who radiate such inexplicable magnetism that absolutely everyone reaches to them. They wish to be like them, to win their friendship or approval. So, it’s unsurprising that psychologists have studied charismatic people and complied a list of their most common  characteristics;

1.Confidence

Confidence and charisma go hand in hand. Confidence doesn’t mean being the loudest in the room, or gloating about your accolades – it must be authentic. Charismatic people are confident in that they make courageous decisions, feel comfortable relying on themselves, don’t need external approval and typically, in speech, avoid words like “I guess, I hope, I suppose, I expect, maybe, probably”.

2. Gesticulate

Behaviour demonstrates confidence – slouching, fumbling or playing with hands communicates insecurity. Charismatic people have no problem with making wide hand movements when they explain their stories. They stare intensely into their audiences’ eyes and focus on locking engagement through, animation and face to face connection.

 

3. Great story telling abilities

This isn’t something that comes naturally to most but it is a by-product of both confidence and gesticulation. A good story teller is someone who tells a story from the heart, unafraid of the audiences reaction or their potential loss of interest – the story teller knows they will be interested. A great ability to engage an audience through story telling is at the heart of the charismatic individual.

4. Mirror effect

Charismatic people, either on purpose or intuitively, mirror their interlockers body language.   The mirror effect, or simply mirroring, is an easy way to make someone like you by repeating their facial expressions, intonations, and gestures. It always works because the method is based on the nature of human narcissism: an interlocutor unwittingly begins to feel that you’re in sync with them.

5. Positivity

Charismatic people don’t complain, in fact, they do the opposite, they are, on balance, more optimistic than others. Remember people don’t remember what you say but they remember how you make them feel – charismatic people attract others through their positive vibes.

The top 5 brain hacks everyone should know

 

Why improve yourself using slow traditional methods when you can rely scientific research telling you the short cuts?

1.Memory Brain hacks – take a walk down memory lane.

Why can we remember hundreds of places or locations but struggle to recite a much shorter grocery list? Well, it’s all down to evolution. A lot of our mental horsepower was (and still is) is devoted to spatial memory – that is learning the layout of our environment. So, if you are seeking to remember a long list of information, the best method is to create a story involving each item, in the preferred order (if any) you wish to remember. This method of remembering is used by memory champions and they call it creating a memory place.

2. Practice Hacks – virtual training

Scientific breakthroughs show that your brain cannot really tell the difference between completely imagining something, and actually experiencing it.

So, for example, if you don’t have time to practice throwing baskets into the hoop one day, you can imagine throwing basket after basket, and your brain will actually improve your skills when you get back to the court. This was tested on a variety of disciplines from learning the piano to sports and all results showed the same thing, an increase in ability after simply imagining practising.

3.  Productivity Hacks – capitalise on the hours

One of the best ways to keep your brain focused is to write out the tasks that you want to accomplish within the next hour and then time how long it takes until completion.

 By writing out your key tasks each hour, you will refocus your brain on most important projects, and by timing yourself, you will add a sense of urgency that will help you stay focused.

4. Concentration Hacks – music for the mind

Classical music has been shown to change neural pathways in your brain, allowing you to focus longer and work harder. It has the ability to reduce stress, reduce pain, stop seizures and can even help you to battle insomnia. So, next time you need to power through your to-do list, set the mood with some classical music.

5. Minimalism Hacks – don’t overthink it

Over thinkers complicate any task. When you over think you create ficticious problems though hypothetical worst case scenarios – it creates more stress, pressure and undeniably obstructs your motivation.

Research has shown that chronic stress and anxiety can actually shrink your brain. A relaxed mind is better able to focus and solve problems.

To counter a tendency to over think a problem, make sure to keep your goals simple. Take on the minimalist mindset and strip the baggage.

How to use negative thoughts for good

 

Stop fighting negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts are normal, they are an intrinsic part of the human condition.

They are sometimes helpful as they give you the worst case scenario, preparing you for every event.

In his book, The Happiness Trap, author Russ Harris says 80% of our thoughts contain some sort of negative content. So it’s entirely normal to have negative thoughts.

It’s part of our evolutionary heritage.

We’re constantly scanning our environment (generating negative thoughts all the while) looking for problems to fix. The problem isn’t negative thoughts but instead how we decide to use them.

How to use negative thoughts for good

1.Acknowledge negative thoughts but reinforce your control

There is nothing more liberating than feeling an emotion, for example, fear and then dismissing it one you have logically deconstructed it.

Show your brain who is boss and constantly rein power through this logical process. Your emotions should not be controlling you.

2. Have negative thoughts? Do it anyway

Feeling anxious? Scared? Remember you can have a thought and perform any kind of behaviour at the same time.

If its something you want to do, it’s worth just letting your thought float away. It takes practice to diffuse an emotion and not let it prevent you from taking action but once this is mastered, it’s a life long trick for success.

Remember if something (career related) scares you, it’s often a sign that you should step out of your comfort zone and just do it.

3. Be grateful

Thank your mind for protecting you through anxious or over cautious thoughts  but, always remember and reinstate (though self talk) that you have a handle on the situation.

This is another form of self empowerment but instead, it helps you to understand where negative thoughts come from. Your thoughts are not the enemy, more often then not they are trying to help you but, it’s up to you to make the final decision on their rationality.

 

How To Monitor Your Thoughts and Why

 

An average human being thinks about 50,000 – 60,000 thoughts on any given day. We are an embodiment of our thoughts. They influence our day, happiness and overall life satisfaction. Here are a few reasons why we should monitor our thoughts

  1. Thoughts turn into actions

Our life is not a dress rehearsal, every choice matters. To truly act in line with our objectives we need to monitor how we speak to ourselves. Many people are unaware of their negative thoughts. For example,  “You’re never going to get that job, don’t kid yourself” influences a person to remove themselves from an opportunity whether the thought is rational, or not. Normally negative self talk is not factual but based on an insecurity. Do you really want your insecurities to guide your choices?

2. Thoughts precede emotions

The most painful emotions are immediately preceded by some kind of interpreting thought.  For example, a new connections doesn’t telephone when they said they would.  If your interpreting thought is, “They don’t like me after all,” you would feel sad at being rejected.  If your thought was, “They deliberately lied to me about calling,” you might feel anger at their lack of authenticity .  This simple insight forms the heart of why we must monitor out thoughts: You can change your feelings by changing your thoughts.

How to monitor your thoughts

1.Practice awareness

This should be your overarching rule.

Take time to really unpick why you feel a certain way, at any one time. Awareness derives from the practice of mindfulness which is, being present, in every moment and objectively understanding why you feel and in turn act in any given way.

If we take the above example regarding a new connection that doesn’t telephone when they said they would – awareness allows you to insert rationality into the thought process – before you act out a negative emotion and become either sad or angry.

2. Honesty

Is this thought honest and based on fact?

3.  Evidence

Do you have factual evidence/experience to support your thought?

4. It is within your remit?

Is this thought something you can do something about, if not is it worth your thinking time?

How to learn a new skill in the least amount of time

 

Josh Kaufmann, founder of PersonalMBA.com has been making dents in our learning processes through his book, The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast.

In this Book Kaufmann teaches you how learning a new skill can be done in 20 hours or less, without quitting your day job or sacrificing time with your family. Sounds too good to be true? Kaufmann suggests he has learnt to do the following in just 12 months

1. How to code.
2. How to do yoga.
3. Learned how to windsurf.
4. How to play the ukulele.
5. How to play Go.
6. How to touch type (again).
7. How to shoot and edit a movie.

How? It’s not rocket science says Kaufmann. If you’re smart about your learning, you can go from knowing absolutely nothing about it to being quite skilled in only a few hours. Put in as little as 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice, and you’ll easily outperform 99% of the human population.

Kaufmann’s learning methods focus on practicing in an intelligent and strategic manner and it goes something like this;

The Kaufmann learning strategy

1. Set a concrete, specific Target Performance Level

Setting a target performance level makes it much easier to identify exactly what you’ll need to actually practice. It sounds simple, but this is an extremely common point of failure: most people never decide what they want, so it’s impossible to figure out how to get it.

2. Deconstruct the skill

Most of the things we think of as skills (like “public speaking” or “playing the piano”) are actually bundles of smaller sub-skills that are used in combination. By breaking the skill into more manageable parts, practice becomes less overwhelming, and you can work on improving one sub-skill at a time.

Like so many things in life, skills follow the law of critical few(often referred to as “Pareto’s Law” or the “80/20 principle”). Breaking down the skill into smaller parts is the first step in figuring out which sub-skills are critical.

3. Use 80/20 research tactics to unearth the most important subskills, quickly

Next, find resources about the skill. Don’t try to finish them all in detail: skim them all, consecutively. The most important techniques and ideas will appear often, in multiple sources, allowing you to establish which sub-skills are critical with more confidence. Seek to identify these patterns.

An hour or two of research is all you need: too much research is a subtle form of procrastination. You want to do just enough research to identify the critical sub-skills (and patterns), avoiding the inefficiency of “just getting started” without actually achieving anything but internet scrolling.

4. Anything that gets in the way of focused practice is an enemy that must be destroyed

The more effort it takes to sit down and begin, the less likely you are to practice. Instead of relying on willpower to force yourself to practice, it’s always more effective to change your environment to make practicing as easy as possible.

5. Use precommitment psychology to break through early resistance

This Kaufmann explains is  the moment of truth: are you willing to rearrange your schedule to complete at least 20 hours of deliberate practice? (That’s roughly 45 minutes of practice a day for the next 30 days.)

Sit down, take out your calendar, and do the math. When exactly are you going to practice? What are you going to give up, reschedule, or stop doing to make the time? If you don’t commit the time – wave goodbye to skill learning.

And, there you have it – an explosive way to learn a new skill. Let me know what you think if you try out this method. Kaufmann is certainly kicking up a storm in corporate America.

The scientific way to learn a new skill twice as fast

Traditional skill learning

Learning a new skill is something everybody should face in their later life.

It can get you a promotion, take you into a new field of work and develop and strengthen your brain. The issue, in todays fast paced world, is time.

When we think about learning, we think of sitting at desks, drilling information into our brains through repetition. This method of learning is called the “blocking” strategy. This instructs us to go over a single idea again and again (and again) until we’ve mastered it, before proceeding to the next concept.

Not only is this incredibly exhausting (and boring) but several neurological studies now show it to be an inefficient way to learn. (yay!)

Science and skill retention

Scientists recently exposed that contrary to popular teaching methods, doing the same thing over and over again might not be the most efficient way to learn foreign concepts. Instead, (thankfully!) there is a quicker (and more enjoyable) way to learn a new skill.

“What we found is if you practise a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practising the exact same thing multiple times in a row,” said lead researcher Pablo Celnik, from Johns Hopkins University.

The study asked 86 volunteers to learn to a new skill. The skill was moving a cursor on a computer screen by squeezing a small device, instead of using a mouse.

The volunteers were split into three groups, and each spent 45 minutes practising this.

Six hours later, one of the groups was asked to repeat the exact same training exercise again, while another group performed a slightly modified version of the same task.

At the end of the training period, everyone was tested on how accurately and quickly they could perform the new skill, the results starkly showed that the group that modified their training did twice as well, on performance, as those who’d repeated the exact same skill. They remembered more and performed the task better.

Why? Scientists believe it’s down to something called reconsolidation, which is a process whereby existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge.

The results are important because they show how simple manipulations, during skill learning, can lead to more rapid and larger motor skill gains. Further, whilst scientists has often supported the reconsolidation method of learning there were no concrete facts supporting it’s learning advantages, until now.

**An important note to take away is that whilst the results show modification can speed up learning by up to 50%, the modification must be subtle or it can have adverse effects to the learning process.

The perception of confidence

 

Self-confidence is considered one of the most influential motivators and regulators of behavior in people’s everyday lives (Bandura, 1986). A growing body of evidence suggests that one’s perception of ability or self-confidence is the central mediating construct of achievement strivings (e.g., Bandura, 1977; Ericsson et al., 1993; Harter, 1978; Kuhl, 1992; Nicholls, 1984).

Confidence isn’t a skill set in itself, it’s your perception of your abilities – can you handle it or not?

A common mistake most people make when going to interviews is having a “give me a chance attitude”, employers don’t want to give someone a chance, they want someone with confidence, someone who believes they can handle it.

So if confidence is a perception it’s open to influence, right? Right.

No matter how unconfident you feel in any given situation, you can elevate yourself, above your fears, by focused thinking here’s how;

1) If you are unsure ask questions, unapologetically

Asking questions, without apologising is a sign of confidence. You are unafraid to show what you don’t know because you are confident in what you do know. Instead of being a sign of weakness, asking questions is a sign of leadership, this perception is important in job interviews, especially, where employers want to know whether you can handle it, or not.

2) Make eye contact

Don’t look around the room, look your audience in the eye. Whilst in theory it may seem scary, it’s actually comforting to look people in the eye.

Looking people in the eye, gives them a strong perception that you are confident.

3) Lower your tone

Take a look at the most famous speeches in the world. You’ll find that most of them have lower tones of voice – this is no coincidence. People view speakers with lower speaking voices as having more authority and confidence. Practice speaking in a lower tone of voice. Don’t force yourself or you’ll sound unnatural, but if you can get yourself a tone or two lower, it can make a real difference to how you are perceived.

4) Gesticulate

The practice of using your hands and arms to punctuate or enhance your verbal statements – is another perceived sign of confidence. Speakers who use body language actively in their presentation tend to be viewed as more confident and more authoritative than those who do not.

5) Pause

Public speaking pauses are inserted by the absolute pros. It gives the perception of a cool, calm and collected speaker and also, allows you to gather your thoughts and think of what you are going to say next. Whether you use it, to collect your thoughts or simply to add impact to what you say, make sure you remain calm during the pause and try to keep eye contact with your audience.

How to boost your confidence in minutes

 

Moments before you deliver a presentation, one anxious thought can entirely derail your confidence.

Imagine if you could have control over your thoughts? Well, you can and it can take just moments to boost your confidence – when it really matters.

Whether you’re about to enter an interview, exam or publicly speak these 5 tips have been proven to boost your confidence in just minutes;

1.Power pose

I’ve written extensively about behaviour phycologist Amy Cuddy and her ground breaking research on “power posing“. Simply standing in a powerful stance, i.e taking up as much space as possible, hands on hips, feet apart, for up to 2/3 minutes can reduce cortisol (anxiety hormone) and increase testosterone (confidence hormone), it’s an ideal trick for before an interview.

2. Smell your success

Studies suggests that not only, can a scent influence confidence in men, but the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confidence he might feel. Equally the same study found that 90 percent of women feel a boost in their confidence while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free. So make sure to put on your favourite fragrance before an important presentation or interview.

3. Back straight

Mum was right all along – sit/stand straight.

Sitting with a slumped posture sends messages to the brain that you are feeling unconfident or insecure, whether you are or not and this in turn influences your thoughts. Avoid this downward spiral before an important appointment and monitor your posture.

4. Picture winning

Experts suggest that imagining yourself winning in a particular scenario increases your confidence when it comes to the real thing. The mental process of imagining the win can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prep your brain for a successful outcome.

5. Nod along

Research suggests nodding your head can boost your confidence. It’s advised to nod whilst you are speaking because you feel more confident as you talk when you do it — and you’re sending a subconscious signal that makes others agree with you. Not only does this trick boost your feelings of confidence but it subtly encourages your audience to agree with you and builds their confidence in your words.

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