The four agreements that will forever change your world

four agreements

The Four Agreements is a global best selling book by Don Miguel Ruiz. It draws on the traditions of the ancient, indigenous people of Mexico named the Toltecs. By studying their fascinating and perceptive way of life, Ruiz concluded that present society lives within self-imposed limits and are “domesticated from childhood”, he highlights how these internal rules make people miserable and suggests four agreements that people can make, with themselves, to break free from restrictions and truly live a happy and conscious life.

Think about it, as children we accepted our own names, without choice. So, what else have we adopted that we don’t even realize? Ruiz discovered through his studies of this wise Mexican tribe that the biggest human fear is not death but instead to be alive. The biggest fear we have is taking the risk to be alive–the risk to truly express who we are. We have learned, from birth, to live our lives in accordance with other people’s demands. We have learned to live life, in line with principles we didn’t create, through fear of not being accepted.

The four principles are not profound and we have undoubtedly heard them at least once in our lives. They are drawn on by Ruiz because they are the four areas, most over-analyzed and typically misunderstood by society. It is Ruiz’s belief that by respecting these four simple mottos we eliminate man-made limitations and live our happiest lives.

The Four Agreements according to Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be impeccable with your word

This really means that a person is only as good as their word. It is our most powerful tool as a human and in essence, separates us from navigating the world like animals. Recognize the power of your words in the world around you. Don’t use the power of your words to encourage or spread gossip, it only attracts negative energy into your own life.

Impeccability means without sin. A sin is anything you do which goes against yourself. So mind how you speak with yourself and never do yourself harm with your words.

2. Don’t take anything personally

Thinking that everything is about you, is the maximum expression of selfishness. Nothing other people do is because of you. Any negative words or emotions from others, towards you, is simply a projection of their own reality and not a projection of you or your characteristics. Once you understand this very simple concept you avoid many upsets in your life. To really appreciate this concept you must be confident in yourself and know who you are as a person. This way the words of others can’t turn your world upside down.

3. Don’t make assumptions

When you make assumptions you invite problems into your life. You create and believe a false reality and this creates drama around you. You have a duty to yourself and others, to communicate with utmost clarity. If you don’t understand something you must ask for clarity, instead of making assumptions. By doing this you avoid misunderstandings, sadness, mistakes and the break down of relationships with others. With just this one agreement you can totally transform your life.

4. Always do your best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment, for example, you won’t have the same productivity output in bad health. If under any circumstance you just do your best, you can avoid sadness, self-abuse, and regret.

 

8 ways to use fear as a means of motivation

fear

Fear targets everyone. Even the most confident and successful people around you suffer from this common human emotion. The only difference between successful people and everyone else is that they have learnt to use fear as a means of motivation. Instead of seeing fear, as a sign to stop or as a block towards goals, they use it to fuel their next step, here are the ways you can do the same:

1. Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

If everything is the same and you get highly alarmed by any signs of change or struggle, you need to work on expanding your comfort zone. Only when you step outside of your comfort zone can you truly develop yourself and your career. Success isn’t easy. The only way to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable is to routinely step outside of your comfort zone. You can start small for example, try changing your daily route to work or eating lunch in different places, then move on to the bigger stuff. Before you know it you’ll be readily embracing change and it won’t feel like such a scary concept.

2. See fear as a lesson

Really spend time unpicking why you feel scared about something. Then fix it. Is it an underlying insecurity? Are you holding on to failure from the past? Whatever it is, see fear as a lesson, helping you to become the best version of yourself. Every time fear crops up use it as a valid and urgent reason to work on yourself.

3. Focus on what you can control

If you are fearing something outside of your control then rationalize this thought. Only focus on what is inside of your control otherwise you are just wasting your time. For example, if your fear is losing your job and not being able to support your family then understand you can’t control redundancies or business streamline decisions which could impact your job. However, you can control your performance. You can control how well you network within your industry to make a backup plan. Never feel vulnerable to your fears always make sure there is a solution.

4.Focus on gratitude

Fear is a negative emotion and is usually accompanied by things such as insecurity, sadness or past resentment. Try to reframe your thoughts and think about all of the things you have to be grateful and happy about. For all of the milestones, you achieve in life, make sure to celebrate them well and remember them. This will help your brain to focus on the good in your life rather than the bad.

5. Recognize that a little bit of fear is good

A little bit of fear can motivate us to do the best job possible. If we thought a task ahead was easy, we wouldn’t feel challenged by it in any way – lack of challenge in our life leads to unfulfillment and this is a whole other battlefield. Use your fear to push you in the right direction and appreciate it for the little adrenalin boost it gives you.

6. Focus on positive critique

Negative critique can be a huge blow to our confidence. It can destroy us from taking future opportunities because of the fear of failure. So, instead of feeling fearful of repeating a similar experience, focus on all of the good critique you have received in your life. Use this to wipe out the fear and stop doubting yourself.

7. Focus on your future self

If you look into your future and see everything you want to achieve – could you really forgive yourself for letting your fears stop you? In an ironic way, use the fear of never fulfilling your full potential as a driver – your future fulfillment is worth so much more than any fear you may be experiencing now. Don’t let your future self down.

8. Utilize support

Understand when it’s time to seek expert help to help you with your perceived issues. Don’t try and tackle everything on your own. Understand when it’s time to seek help. The most successful people in the world have experienced coaches them helping them along their journey. There are coaches for every type of industry from legal coaching, leadership coaching and even non-career life coaching.

For more information on experienced coaches, click here.

Nature could be the key to your stress reduction

stress

We all fall foul to stress. It can hit us at any time and it can really dominate our thoughts for the rest of the day, week or even month. Stress is an indication that you are over-doing it, or that you are overwhelmed by aspects of your life. In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes exhausting hard work, is unavoidable, especially if you’re the ambitious type. However, there is one very interesting and scientifically proven way to help reduce your stress, permanently. It’s called forest bathing or also known as shinrin-yoku, in Japan where it is a very popular method to reduce the stress of urbanized city workers.

Forest bathing for stress – what the science says

A University of Rochester study found that just by simply looking at natural landscapes (as opposed to man-made environments) we feel more generous, connected to others, and in tune with our inner selves.

However when we actually immerse ourselves in a forest, (Japanese studies recommend a 2-hour walk, per week, to see a reduction in stress) the benefits are so much higher. Here’s why:

1. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol (making us less stressed)

Since 2004, the Japanese government has invested some three million euros in scientific research on the therapeutic effects of forests, particularly for stress reduction. Researchers, at the University of Chiba, measured the concentration of cortisol (a stress hormone) in individuals exposed to a forest environment in comparison to those who had remained in an office environment. The researchers found there was remarkably less cortisol in those exposed to the forest environment.

2. It increases our pleasure and empathy towards others

With advanced neurobiology techniques, the scientists were further able to confirm that walking or simply just being in a forest decreases the activity of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain where cognitive functions focus on activities such as, planning, solving problems and making decisions. Instead, activity shifts to other parts of the brain related to emotion, pleasure, and empathy.

3. It builds our immune system

The immunologist Qing Li, from the Tokyo School of Medicine, has shown that a walk in a forest or a park significantly increases the concentration of a type of white blood cell that contributes to the fight against infections and against cancer. The beneficial effect of the walk of the forest can increase the white blood cells and anti-cancer proteins for up to to a week. According to Li, the volatile compounds emitted by trees are mainly responsible for this beneficial effect on the immune system. This is because plants produce something called “phytoncides”, which have been found, for centuries, to boost the human immune system and are still used and sold in popular homeopathic medicines, today.

Why you should use nature in your life for stress reduction

I heard a very inspiring quote yesterday, by Chris Pratt, a Hollywood actor, “I’m sharing this video….to entice any of you watching this who may feel unease or anxiety with the state of our world. Just breathe, slow down, go outside, find something not man-made and give it a good look“. Whilst I am not one to usually support Hollywood press, or advocate using it to find self-development meaning, this quote showed me that nature is a tool open to absolutely everyone. From the stressed-out single parent, trying to make it work in a demanding career, to Hollywood billionaires. It’s right outside our homes, free and can be found within a few hours of your urbanized city. There really is no excuse to not utilize this tool, to aid with the reduction of your stress.

Read more about the Japanese science of forest bathing here.

5 reasons why fun in the office is good for business

fun

Work doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. You can execute serious tasks and have fun at the same time. Investing effort into making your workplace more fun has tangible, positive benefits for employees, and organizations.

Here are 5 reasons why fun should be part of your HR strategy.

1. Having fun improves communication and encourages collaboration 

Enjoying time with colleagues in a relaxed and fun environment, including the workspace, encourages honest and open discussion. If employees are friends with the people they work with, as opposed to simply being colleagues, then they’ll work better collaboratively and communicate more effectively. They will understand each other’s traits and it will reduce the risk of miscommunications. Having fun with people is an excellent way to build genuine trust in the workplace and employees will work together towards shared business goals.

2. Having fun makes employees more productive

A 2015 study by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy found that happier employees are more productive by an average of 12%.

When an employee feels low or sad for any reason, their morale and motivation drops, they may communicate less or less efficiently, and their productivity suffers.

People cope better in environments where they feel supported, even loved. Work doesn’t have to be much different.

3. Happy employees are healthier

A Harvard School of Public health study found that

“A vast scientific literature has detailed how negative emotions harm the body. Serious, sustained stress or fear can alter biological systems in a way that, over time, adds up to ‘wear and tear’ and, eventually, illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Chronic anger and anxiety can disrupt cardiac function by changing the heart’s electrical stability, hastening atherosclerosis [plaque deposits on the lining of arterial walls] and increasing systemic inflammation.” It’s true unhappy employees mean an increase in absenteeism.

Absenteeism is a significant problem. UK businesses lose 6.9 days a year per employee because of absenteeism, at an estimated cost of £554 per employee. Nearly a quarter (23%) of UK organizations say ‘non-genuine absence’ is the top reason for short-term absence for non-manual workers, with this proportion rising to 30% for manual workers.

4. Having fun encourages public sharing 

Employees who have fun and enjoy work are far more likely to spread the positive word. Having a good image for your business through a marketing campaign is one thing but having it through word of mouth is so much more powerful. If every one of your employees shared news about your business to their social groups, then your audience will increase exponentially, genuinely and for free.

5. Fun breeds innovation

Social ‘play’ is crucial to creative development. An individuals’ ability to learn improves when the task is enjoyable or even fun. Play can also stimulate imagination, helping people adapt and problem solve. Innovation is the crossroads between two ideas when employees are placed in an environment that nurtures creativity a business is far more likely to find and develop innovative ideas.

This creative culture can be created through problem-solving exercises, collaboration meetings and innovation hubs in the workplace. It can also be enhanced by fun and effective group training sessions which can be organized by the following coaching firm.

5 books you need to read before you die

books

We always struggle with finding time for things (especially the luxury of time for reading) outside of work and family. However, what if I told you that these books could shape your life, in numerous unimaginable ways? These tiny bunches of paper can give you a different way to look at the world and for this reason alone they are well worth your time investment. So, here are 5 books you need to read at least once whilst you’re alive.

1.Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

This is a diary of the last great emperor of Rome, written during his military campaign against present-day Germany. Hailed as one of the cornerstone pieces of Stoic philosophy this book is a collection of bullet point style recommendations on how to live a morally just life. Last but not least it was written by the most powerful man in the world at that time.

2. Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amore

This is an autobiography following L’Amore from impoverished beginnings with little formal education as he goes through life taking up various jobs. We learn about his journey as a boxing prize fighter to a deckhand in south-east Asia, to an army officer in WW2. Quite simply through self-discipline and a ferocious appetite for reading L’Amore was able to become Americas most prolific Western genre author. A truly inspiring read.

3. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

*disclaimer – this book is some 900 pages, however, even the first few chapters are worth your time investment if you can’t commit for the whole thing.

This book artfully depicts the spectrum of human emotions, allowing you to self-develop through the progression of the main character. This book follows an escaped convicts flight to Bombay India, where this Western man is pushed to the bottom of the Indian class system to later become a “slum-doctor”. This book invites you to explore the hard choices that come with love, loyalty and the pursuit of personal growth.

4. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This brilliant book by Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman is a fascinating account of all the incredible behavioral economics research he has done over the years. This book explains how our psychology affects our decisions – and explains how our thinking is divided into two systems: one fast and one slow. The fast thought process is governed by our hardwired instincts and includes things such as emotions, pulls from our evolutionary past and shows us to be an unconscious irrational animal, at best. The slow thought process is governed by purpose and logic, but can easily be distracted and takes a lot of effort. Both play a large role in our lives and Kahneman explores in laymen’s terms how these two thought processes shape our reality. It is a truly fascinating and mindblowing read.

5. Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa

This is the dramatic retelling of the life and story of Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s greatest swordsman. Set in feudal Japan, it chronicles his life and training, notable for the more than 50 duels he fought with other samurai, each time emerging victorious. It showcases the hardships and sacrifices one must overcome when fully committed to perfecting their craft, be it sword fighting or scholarly pursuits. It is a captivating tale which provides a glimpse into the philosophy of Bushido and the Japanese martial spirit, an excellent choice for anyone on the path to get a little better each and every day.

Self-development is an ongoing journey, by reading the right information and surrounding yourself with the right support such as experienced business coaches, you can obtain your goals.

 

How to create your own reality

reality

 

The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe – Albert Einstien

The phrase “you can create your own reality” has been buzzing around the self-development world for a while now. Without really understanding it’s significance it can seem like a vacuous, self-righteous statement when the truth is, it’s so much more. In fact, it hasn’t just been made up by an enthusiastic life coach, others have expressed the same thought for centuries: Buddha said, “What you dwell upon you become.” Hindu teachings from Shankaracharya says, “Whatever a person’s mind dwells on intensely and with firm resolve, that is exactly what he becomes.” Mahatma Gandhi says “Your beliefs become your thoughts and it says in the Talmud, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

Your thoughts control your reality

So what does all of this mean? In simple terms, it means that your system of beliefs, whether conscious or subconscious in their existence, actually control the reality you experience. This rather bold statement is also supported by science.

If you think you’re incapable of something, it’s very unlikely that you will ever prove yourself wrong. This in psychology, is called the “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  A widely accepted principle that your own beliefs, shape your behavior and therefore directly influence your reality.

On a subconscious level, our beliefs have a stronger influence on the reality we perceive. Dr. Leonard Mlodinow explains it in his book, “Subliminal—How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. “The point is that we are not like computers that crunch data in a relatively straightforward manner and calculate results.  Instead, our brains are made up of a collection of many modules that work in parallel, with complex interactions, most of which operate outside our consciousness.”  Mlodinow goes on to make a very interesting point about our memory in that we “smooth out memories”. This describes the process of us adding information to, or self-editing past memories when they seem incomprehensible to us so that those past memories can fit in with our current realities. In short, we are making stuff up!

What does this mean for us? Well, it’s an important reminder that our life experience is constantly being shaped, motivated and influenced by our existing beliefs. Our belief system is a collection of the memories/experiences we have absorbed from our past. It impacts our reaction to new situations as our unconscious will automatically search our belief system for easy and automatic responses and fill it in.  If our belief system is primarily negative, in relation to a certain new experience—the experience will automatically be filled in with negative responses.  If our belief system sways to the positive— then the circumstance will be created with a positive spin.

How to create your own reality

  • Have a concrete idea of what your core beliefs systems are
  • Try to be self-aware about how past experiences can shape future reactions. It won’t be easy to dip into your subconscious but writing a timeline of life events and gaining an understanding of how these could impact your future reactions is a great start
  • Work towards eliminating any negative beliefs such as insecurities and fears – this is not an easy process but you cannot hope to achieve the reality you desire if you carry all of this baggage.
  • Enlist the help of someone who believes in you. The most successful people have done this by hiring professional coaches. There are coaching and mentoring providers in every industry from legal coaching providers to communication and performance training coaches – for more information read here.

Becoming more self-aware is no easy task and in fact, it’s a lifelong lesson but every day we can make progress and become the best version of ourselves.

To read more about the science of creating your own reality, read here

 

10 lessons successful people learnt in their toughest moments

successful

Dr Cloud, a clinical psychologist and author of Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again, spent the last decade researching and compiling data on the certain “awakenings” that successful people have—in life and in business. He wanted to understand the significance in their awakenings and whether they could help others on their paths to success.

Although life has many lessons to teach us, Dr. Cloud observed 10 “doorways” of learning that high performers go through.

10 lessons that will make you more successful

1. They never return to what hasn’t worked

They never return to the same situation and expect different results. Whether it be a career, job or a relationship they understand that it ended for good reason and respect that lesson.

2. They never pretend to be someone else for a career

In everything they do they ask themselves. Why am I doing this? Does this require me to be someone I am not? Does it suit me? Is it sustainable?

3. They never want to change another person

They understand that they cannot change people and do not try to. When you realize you cannot force someone into doing or being something, you give them their freedom and you keep yours too.

4. Understand they cannot please everyone

They appreciate that it is impossible to please everyone. This simple fact allows them to live more purposeful lives as they only focus on pleasing those who matter.

5. They focus on the long-term

If something requires a lengthy sacrifice or uncomfortable lifestyle for a while, they’ll do it. They don’t mind taking a painful step because it will give them a long-term benefit. Dr Cloud explains that this is a defining and fundamental difference between the successful and unsuccessful.

6. They never believe something or someone is flawless

They love excellence and believe in its existence however they are unwilling to trust anything that seems too good to be true. They understand that the world is imperfect and successful people question everything.

7. They never take their eyes off the prize

They have their end goal tattoed on their brains. Their overriding objective is written at the top of their to-do lists and reflects everything they do. This allows them to streamline their tasks and time so that they only do the things that actually matter.

8. They always remember that their inner self reflects their outer success

Success often has little to do with external factors. People are most fulfilled by their internal constitution as opposed to external materials. Things like happiness and even feelings of success come from things like feeling secure, high confidence and being self-aware. Succesful people spend a lot of time and effort developing themselves from the inside to ensure they are the best versions of themselves.

9. They never play a victim role

Succesful people take responsibility for their actions and dislike apportioning blame to external factors. Excuses serve little purpose in their path to success. They always ask themselves what part have I played in this? This mindset allows them to learn from their mistakes. They do not see themselves as victims, even when they are.

10. They always perform due diligence

They question everything from investments to productivity hacks. They have a clear understanding of why they do the things they do. They take deep and honest looks at everything which allows them to always make informed decisions. This type of due diligence involves looking comprehensively at their own capabilities and understanding their own flaws. It’s no secret that the most successful people in the world have experienced business coaches behind them. If you want extra support on your journey to success then click here for more information.

5 ways to dramatically advance your self-development with communication

communication

“The way we communicate with ourselves and others ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” – Tony Robbins 

Communication and self-development are two concepts inextricably linked to one another, you cannot improve one without improving the other.

Effective communication is your ability to clearly articulate information and ideas to yourself and others.

If you think about it, our entire lives are influenced by how effectively we can communicate concepts;

  • By effectively communicating to an interview panel we can advance our careers
  • By defining our personal goals, with clarity, we can construct efficient paths to success
  • If we properly and genuinely communicate with a significant other, we can have more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

We cannot expect to advance our lives without mastering the art of communication. So, here are 5 ways to improve your communication and in turn enhance your self-development.

1. Communicate with intention

When you communicate, in any context, communicate with intention. Don’t just state facts to yourself or your audience, explain the relevance of why this information is important. For example, if your personal goal is to make X amount per month, always support this goal with your intention. This type of communication is far more influential than just listing points. It adds meaning and inspires action. Everything becomes clearer with a purpose.

2. Support your communication with emotion

If you want to inspire yourself, or anybody else in your life, you need to be emotive in your communications. This doesn’t mean become dramatic or overly enthusiastic but simply be true to your emotions. If a particular piece of information makes you feel excited, show it. If something you are communicating makes you feel sad, then don’t be afraid of showing vulnerability. “Stone-faced” communications are both boring and uninspiring. Further, when you allow yourself to connect your emotions, to external information, you are increasing your own self-awareness by understanding how you interact with the noisy world around you.

3. Relate communications to stories

By giving context to your communications, through stories, you can become a highly engaging communicator. The stories you rely upon should be real-life events and not fictional fairy tales. Stories help yourself, and others to comprehensively understand new information by relating it to similar past experiences. It gives your communications much-needed context and is also a bulletproof way for you and others to actually remember the information.

4. Be mindful of phrasing

The way your phrase communications has a powerful impact on your motivation. For example, when you are thinking about what you need to complete in a day, how often do you say “I have to do”, as opposed to “I get to do”, something? The people who’ve built the most fulfilling and successful lifestyles are those that spend the majority of their time in the “I get to” zone. This type of self-communication actually redefines how you perceive your life. If you spend more time in the “I get to” zone, you boost your self-confidence, morale, self-control and overall self-development. It’s a communication trick that increases your daily motivation.

5. Simply communicate

Injecting unnecessary big words into your communications only stands to make what you say, confusing. If you can’t explain something in a few sentences than, you haven’t grasped the concept and your audience won’t either. Intelligent and effective communication is about clarity. Express all communications, in their simplest form. If a complicated word is the only way to express a point, then, of course, use it but don’t bolster information with long words to simply show intelligence because, in fact, it communicates the contrary. Learning how to simplify concepts also helps you to understand what you want from your life. Goals might sound great on paper, but when broken down to their core concepts might not actually provide what you desire. Ensure you understand every concept within your career and personal goal sphere, by breaking it down to it’s simplest form.

If you are determined to enhance your communication skills there is no better way to do this than by hiring an experienced coaching or mentoring provider. Professional coaching providers will find a coach most suited to you and your personal needs. Find out more here.

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