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Why you should pack your stuff and travel the world right now

Why you should pack your stuff and travel the world right now

There are a million great reasons to quit your job to travel the world, but here are five things that matter right now. There’s never been a better time to get out and experience the world.

1. The US Dollar-Euro exchange rate is at a 10-year best
While traveling in Europe is the quintessential trip – and much cheaper than most Americans tend to think – the catch has always been the 25-30% ‘tax’ on travelers coming from the U.S. in the form of the Euro-Dollar exchange rate.

But things have changed in the last 6 months, and dollar is now as close to the euro as I have ever seen it. As I write this a dollar is worth about 0.94 euro.

That means your USD are going a lot further, not just in Europe but everywhere.

But currencies fluctuate, and who knows how long the current trend will last.

2. Air travel is at its cheapest
Alright, people say things like this every decade, but I am not really making predictions about the price of oil here.

Check this out: In December I flew from Budapest to Las Vegas to Mexico to San Francisco and back to Budapest over a 6-week period for about $300.

The moral of the story is: gas is cheap (oil is down to $51.14 a barrel as I write this) and airline miles will never take you further.

Even paying cash you can currently book a last-minute (for tomorrow) round-trip ticket half-way around the world (Budapest to Bangkok) for $600. Whether or not that seems expensive to you, the good news is, analysts are saying the price of airfare will continue to drop in 2015.

While the future is impossible to predict, it is hard to imagine flights getting cheaper than they are right now. Add to this the ubiquitous discount airlines that can get you around a region (like Europe or in SE Asia) for as little as $12, and you can get all over the world for next to nothing.

Yes, the price of oil will go up again, the dollar will probably lose value, and flights will probably be more expensive in the future.

3. Traveling is easier than ever
Some people will argue that we already missed the Golden Age: a time before everything was exploited, when travel was harder, there were fewer tourists, and it was easier to get lost.

Sure, while I would have loved to join Sir Richard Burton for one of his expeditions, I will skip the high-percentage chance of death or being carried away from my discoveries by porters because of disease-caused temporary blindness and paralysis.

While ridiculous convenience can cheapen the experience of travel, it also means more people can travel.

It also brings a huge number of new possibilities for those of us who live and work around the world.

Last month on the Budapest metro I booked the following on my phone: airfare, accommodation, and tickets to a concert in Amsterdam. It took about 15 minutes. When I arrived in Holland a group of friends and I used Uber to book a private driver to the event, at less than half of the cost of a regular taxi.

I can get phone calls at a U.S. number routed to my phone anywhere on earth. I pay no fees to withdraw money anywhere, and ATMs are everywhere. I can work from a hut in Indonesia while using my phone as a WiFi hot spot.

Airbnb has opened up a whole new class of accommodation options. I have got more books on my 6-ounce kindle than the book shop at the airport. And so on.

And just in terms of places to go it feels like more of the world is accessible to travelers and unrestricted by governments, warfare, disease, sanctions, or other issues than ever before.

Sure, technology will get even better, but the party might not last forever. Things will probably get more crowded and more expensive, not counting the potential for large catastrophic events that may change the game.

It is impossible to predict what will happen in the next 5 years, but in my perspective we are living in a time of incredible prosperity.

Do not miss the window while it is open.

4. You have been dreaming far too long
Stop kidding yourself. How long has it been since you said “if I just get to X I will take that trip”?

Americans have been trained to fixate on goals and endpoints as tangible objects, like ‘when I have another $10,000 in the bank I’ll take that trip.’

But most of us have learned by now that the endpoints are illusory, and as soon as we ‘arrive’ the rules have changed on us. The need for $10,000 becomes $20,000. Something else comes up. Too much time has passed and our interests have changed (or we think we are too old).

This is all a normal, expected part of life, and it’s only disappointing if we are not kidding ourselves that someday we will do something we actually care about.

That being said, maybe it is time to play your own game. In the long run, authenticity is more important than money, and if you have been putting off travel all these years it is time to sit down and seriously contemplate what you think is stopping you.

My advice: Buy a plane ticket. Make a “worst case scenario” disaster plan, sell all your shit, and do something new because:

5. Your comfortability is bad for you
“Comfort is death.” Quote by my dad.

People comment all the time that traveling “must get easier for someone who travels so much.”

Actually, it gets harder.

By definition, real travel is uncomfortable and based on shaking routines up, and while this always has tremendous value it is less and less appealing as a long-term practice.

What extensive travel ends up teaching is the importance of a fixed location: every day I stay in one place I get stronger, healthier, smarter, and my business does better. Every day that goes by I am more committed to higher-level experiences and the routines that produce huge results for me.

This means the natural trend makes it less likely I will travel as much in the future.

But the point at which I get too comfortable is exactly when I start to get nervous. While routines produce massive results, they can also form a tangible barrier to new experiences. It is easy to forget that uncomfortable experiences are exactly what expand our sphere of comfort, making new challenges easier to tackle and giving us the ability to see things in a whole new light.

Cycling things is always more effective than wallowing where you’re most comfortable.

My interpretation of the Spartan ideal here is combining the efficacy of routines with the mental strength to break them at will – knowing that when I come back for the next round I will be that much stronger.

So break out of your routine now, while you can. Waiting will only make it harder.

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How to declutter your home and clear your mind

How to declutter your home and clear your mind

One of my favorite habits that I have created since I changed my life is having a decluttered home.

I now realize that I always disliked the clutter, but I put off thinking about it because it was unpleasant.

The thought of having to deal with all that clutter was overwhelming, and I had too much to do, or I was too tired, so I procrastinated.

Clutter, it turns out, is procrastination.

But I learned to deal with that procrastination one small chunk at a time, and I cleared it out. That was truly amazing.

Amazing because I did not really believe I could do it until I did it. I did not believe in myself. And amazing because when it was done, there was a background noise that was removed from my life, a distraction, an irritation.

Decluttering my home has meant a more peaceful, minimal life. It is meant I spend less time cleaning, maintaining my stuff, looking for things. Less money buying things, storing things. Less emotional attachment to things.

For anyone looking to begin decluttering, I would like to offer a short guide on getting started. Know that this guide is not comprehensive, and it can take months to really get down to a decluttered home, but if you do it right, the process is fun and liberating and empowering, each step of the way.

Start easy
Clutter can be overwhelming, and so we put it off. The best thing I did was to just focus one one small space to start with. A kitchen counter (just part of it) is a good example. Or a dining table, or a shelf.

Clear everything off that space, and only put back what you really need. Put it back neatly. Get rid of the rest — give it away, sell it on Craigslist, donate it, recycle it. The clearing and sorting will take 10 minutes, while you can give stuff away later when you have the time.

Work in chunks
If you start small, you will feel good about it, but there is still a whole home full of stuff to deal with. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So just like you did one small area to start with, keep doing that, just 10 minutes a day, maybe more if you feel really enthusiastic.

If you have a free day on the weekend, spend an afternoon doing a huge chunk. Spend the whole weekend if you feel like it. Or just do one small piece at a time — there is no need to rush, but keep the progress going.

Follow a simple plan
For each small chunk you do, clear out the area in question and put everything in one pile. Pick up the first thing off the pile (no putting it aside to decide later) and force yourself to make a decision.

Ask yourself: do I love and use this? If not, get rid of it. If the answer is yes, find a place for it — I call it a “home”. If you really love and use something, it deserves a home that you designate and where you put it back each time you are done with it.

Then go to the next thing and make the same decision. Working quickly and making quick decisions, you can sort through a pile in about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the pile).

In the trunk trunk
 Once you have collected stuff to donate or give away, put them in boxes or grocery bags and put them in the trunk of your car (if you do not have a car, somewhere near the door). Choose a time to deliver them.

Enjoy getting them out of your life.

Talk to anyone
If you have a significant other, kids, or other people living with you, they will be affected if you start decluttering the home. You should talk to them now, before you get started, so they will understand why you want to do this, and get them involved in the decision-making process.

Ask them what they think of this. Send them this article to consider. Ask if they can support you wanting to declutter, at least your own stuff or some of the kitchen or living room, to see what it is like.

Do not be pushy, do not try to force, but have the conversation. Be OK if they resist. Try to change the things that you can control (your personal possessions, for example) and see if that example does not inspire them to consider further change.

Resistance
There will be a lot of items that you either do not want to get rid of (even if you do not really use them), or you do not feel like tackling. This resistance is important to watch — it is your mind wanting to run from discomfort or rationalize things.

You can give in to the resistance, but at least pay attention to it. See it happening. The truth is, we put a lot of emotional attachment into objects. A photo of a loved one, a gift from a family member, a memento from a wedding or travel, a treasured item from a dead grandfather.

These items do not actually contain the memories or love that we think are in them, and practicing letting go of the items while holding onto the love is a good practice. And practicing tackling clutter that you dread tackling is also an amazing practice.

Enjoy
The danger is to start seeing decluttering as yet another chore on your to-do list. Once you start doing that, it becomes something you will put off. Instead, reframe it to a liberating practice of mindfulness.

Smile as you do it. Focus on your breathe, on your body, on the motions of moving items around, on your feelings about the objects. This is a beautiful practice, and I recommend it.
These steps will not get your home decluttered in a weekend.

But you can enjoy the first step, and then the second, and before you know it you have taken 30 steps and your home is transformed. You will love this change as much as I have.

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How to have honor

How to have honor

Honor is the defining quality of a warrior. It is also the defining quality of a real man, for a human male who does not live with honor is more a child than a man, a coward than a warrior. Honor is what holds a man steady in times of tribulation, as well as in times of plenty.

It is what gives him the respect of both his enemies, and his allies. It is what makes him a good father, husband, and friend, always. As honor becomes less apparent and a less valued characteristic in our modern man we suffer, our society decays.

Honor is a characteristic that is being ripped from our society. As humanity is being replaced by the machine, honor leaves the battlefield. A war needs a just cause, without it, war is senseless. It also needs honor.

The coward who straps a bomb to the back of a youth, and sends him to a crowded market, feels as though he has a just cause he is fighting for; however delusional and disgusting it may be, he feels justified.

What he does not act with, however, is honor. He is faceless. Spineless. He does not have the heart, nor the spine, to fight another armed man – the actual object of his hate – so he kills the unarmed, the innocent, through a human vessel he is coerced.

King Agis was shown a new catapult, which could shoot a killing dart 200 yards.
When he saw this, he wept. “Alas,” he said. “Valor is no more”. ~ From The Warrior Ethos

Honor is not merely being taken from battle, but from every facet of our lives. Sport is one of the few honorable institutions left in the world. It is a training and proving ground for our young men, where they are taught to value hard work, discipline, and respect.

It is where men meet in competition, the man whose preparation was the greatest usually wins; or does he?

Last night I watched the best basketball player in the world, Lebron James, flop and embellished every bump and collision he was involved in. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird would never act like such a child; like such a fool.

They may have trash talked, pushed, and punched, but they did so with honor. They did it face-to-face, without cheating. They let their 10,000 + hours of hard work lead them to victory, or an honorable defeat.

When I was a kid, my old man always made me own up to my mistakes, and there were many an opportunity to do so. It was not the mistake that angered him, it is how I responded to it that could.

Would I man up and accept responsibility, or would I blame the other guy, look for an easy way out, or even lie?

Today, the truth is rarely spoken, few stand up and take responsibility for anything, and men of honor are a relic, just like the sword, and the pen.

A man has honor
I have written multiple articles on the topic of being a real man, a warrior, or an alpha male. I have listed characteristics, defining inner qualities, and attributes that a guy must possess if he is to be called any of the three.

Of all the characteristics mentioned, there is none as important, nor as scarce, as honor.

Honor is the defining quality that distinguishes weak men and cowards, from great men, and Legendary warriors. It is with honor that a man stands firm when all else around him crumbles, when all those around him lie, cheat, and move drastically away from the people they are within their souls.

Honor is what keeps a man firm and true. Today’s enemy is rarely seen, you know where a man of honor stands without him having to say a word.

It is honor that makes a man’s spirit pure, his actions just. Honor is what makes a man a good friend. It is what makes him trustworthy and loyal. It is he whom we call when we are down on our luck, our backs against the wall, and we need someone to have our back and no one else will.

The man with honor is honorable and just to both his friends and enemies, because honor does not waver.

A man with honor holds the same values and virtues close in times of plenty, and times of tribulation.

Anyone can be a warrior for a day, a real man for a month, or an alpha male for a year, but to be those things always, requires honor. Yet so few have it in today’s society, it is no wonder that there is such a loud cry for real men.

We need them. We want them. We can not find them anywhere. As honor leaves us, real men follow suit.

Honor killed by weakness
The insecurity of the modern man has led to his weakness, spinelessness, and utter lack of honor. This insecurity is something we have created. It is a learned trait, not an innate one. It has been bread into our sons, beaten into our men.

Men of today try to fill the void left by insecurity with displays of excess and overt power, yet are too afraid to be in the arena themselves. They want to show they have more money than everyone else, the truth is usually somewhere in between.

They want to show they are strong men, but true strength is internal. Insecurity is what leads men to beat women and abuse children. It is weakness. Strength leads men to protect them.

There was a time when a man was responsible for not only himself, but his family. There still are men that take this responsibility with pride, but they are fewer in number than ever before.

There was a time when a boy was responsible for his own financial health at a young age, but that too has changed. We give to our children before they have learned what it means to earn. As they grow up, they want, but they do not want to do the work needed to earn what they want.

Then the government gives, without people earning what they are receiving.

There was a time when a boy stood up to a bully with his fists. He may earn a bloody nose, even a broken bone in doing so, but those scars were earned and worn with pride. Today our society rewards weakness more than it does strength.

The bullies of today cut others down with words, and the boy who stands and fights is scolded more than the bully who attacks the psyche, the emotions of his peers.

There was a time when a bully would give you a wedgie or stuff you in a locker – I call those the good old days. Today, a bully makes you feel worthless, shuns you from your peers, singles you out, makes fun of how you dress, talk, or look.

A victim of bullying can not defend against that hate with mere words, he needs physical justice. But we have taken the physical justice out of our schools, the honor out of our kids. With the change of the nature of bullying has come a change in the nature of the retaliation to it.

We have not taught our sons strength, be it the bully or the victim, both act with weakness, and we all suffer as a result.

Today physical violence does not involve a fist, but a knife or a gun wielded by a coward too weak to stand and fight on his own. He did not have a father to teach him how to do so, or to scold him for acting with weakness.

Or, he had a father, but that father is a coward as well, and is too absent in his sons life to realize the coward he is raising.

My dad was not so disappointed by my mistakes as by was how I reacted to them if that reaction was not honorable. He understood that mistakes are what a boy will make, and how he will learn. But if I made a mistake, I had to own up to it, confess it, be a man about it.

If I lied, passed the blame to another, or looked for the easy way out, that would bring about his greatest disappointment, and there’s nothing a son would not want to do more than disappoint his old man.

As a result, I made plenty of mistakes, but I always owned up to them.

Cowards are normal
There have always been cowards, men of honor have always been the minority, but in years past we were given more opportunity to develop honor because of the harshness of the times they developed in.

Today we breed cowards because we encourage weakness. The life expectancy has never been greater, the ease at which we can live has never been more accessible, conflict has never been so hidden and cunning and devious.

We tear one another down with gossip, we fight back in the same manner.

The world sits idly by as the innocent are being slaughtered. As innocence is being taken from our youth far too early, far too often. We do not defend the weak, because most men are weak.

Our society helps develop weakness through bail-outs where we fail, but we are not allowed to feel the sting of that failure. We are not allowed to develop the internal calluses and toughness that come only from learning how not to do things.

Our society develops weakness by removing the physicality from our childhood’s, from our sports, and from our wars.

There is a reason why sports like boxing are used to teach kids discipline, to get them off the streets, to teach them honor and hard work and sacrifice, but also to let them experience pain, defeat, and a physical consequence for their mistakes.

As a kid, Mike Tyson used to rob old women in daylight. He had faced gunfire, knife attacks, you name it. But the scariest thing he had ever faced was another trained fighter standing across from him in the ring.

There were no weapons, there was no escape. He had to man up and fight, and risk getting beaten up, for the first time in his life.

Young men need competition to develop honor. Knowing what is right and what is wrong is not enough, it has to be tested in situations where cheating, lying, and steeling may even be rewarded with victory.

In the end, those who live with honor leave a legacy, those who lie, cheat, and flop to get ahead, do not.

The excuse, well his heart is good, or, you know he is a good person deep down, is used far too often. Good intensions are nothing, they are useless. Good actions are all that matters. There is no such thing as a ‘good person’ who does not act as such, even if his heart is in the right place.

Actions matter. Intentions do not.

Honor through pain
Values like honor, courage, and valor can not be developed by someone who lives an easy life. They are only forged in pain and struggle and failure. There are two groups that can never be true warriors, nor real men:

Those that never extend themselves beyond their comfort zones, or move towards their greatest fears.

Those that never accept responsibility for their own actions, their own success in life, and their own happiness.

Honor is something that has to be branded on our souls if we are truly going to live by it at all times. It can not be a temporary tattoo, it has to be a permanent one. The only way we can be men of honor is to extend ourselves beyond what we can currently accomplish.

We have to put ourselves through a great degree of discomfort as we face our fears in life, in business, even socially and physically. We have to be put in to – or place ourselves in – situations where there is an easy way out, one that most take, but to be a man of true honor, we have to take the hard road, the honorable road.

We can not be “the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better.” We must be “the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errors and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Defeat is not the enemy. Cowardly defeat is, just like a cowardly win is. Defeat can be a great teacher. Losing honorably builds character, much like winning honorably does the same. But we have to be in the arena to develop honor and courage and character.

No man can be a warrior giving orders from the sideline, if the giving of those orders were not first earned in the battlefield. No man can be a leader, if his leadership was not first earned in the face of tribulation, in the conquering of his fears.

It is in facing our fears, stepping out from our comfort zone, and taking responsibility for our actions – good or bad – and for our lives that we develop and live with honor. Almost any bad deed is forgivable if we make an effort to change, and own up to the mistake we made.

Be a man of honor, we need you to be. Teach your sons to be the same. The world is a hard place, somehow it is being run and populated by more and more weak men, let us change that. Let us make success something that must be attained with honor, by not applauding those who do so otherwise.

Let us hold ourselves accountable, first, but others as well. The world needs more men with grit, more hard, honorable men. Stand up. Rise up. Be one of the few. Be Legendary.

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How working out will make you stronger mentally

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How is exercise good for your mind?

You know that feeling you get when you sip on a good cup of coffee, the friendly yet firm kick it gives you, arousing you mentally and giving you that extra edge? It is great!

Unfortunately, as we all know, too much of the black stuff is not great for us. It can cause a lot of stress in the body.

What if there was something else that could give you this same kick as coffee, without the negative side effects?

The good news is: there is!

The not so good news is: you have to actually move – it is exercise!

Fitness and productivity just go together. No denying it.

There is no need to break into a cold sweat though. This doesnot mean you need to drop and give me 60 or sign your free time away to train for a triathlon. What it does mean is that exercising regularly is a sure way to relieve stress, enhance mental clarity, empower your mind, energise your body, help you sleep, make you feel calmer and ultimately make you more productive.

Exercise relieves stress and enhances mental clarity.

When you exercise, especially cardio – running, cycling, and swimming – feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins are released in your brain making you feel better and more relaxed.

This super happy hormone also fights against the stress hormone cortisol thus reducing stress is the body.

It is a no brainer really, exercise makes us feel better.

What usually happens when you are stressed? Do you have a cigarette? Some chocolate maybe? Does it take a glass of wine for you to decompress in the evenings? Would it not make more sense if you could relieve this stress in a healthy more constructive way? Exercise can do this. It helps to clear your mind and gives you time to process.

It empowers your mind and energises your body.

When your brain is a mush of ideas, obstacles, problems and questions, there id just no clarity. You will not be surprised to hear me say that exercise can help here too. I actually think this is one of the most significant benefits of exercise.

When I run, sometimes I think, sometimes I do not. The silence and solitude enables me to gain more perspective. It allows me to go within and look for answers or find peace. It is quite often a meditative activity.

It is also a space to think things through, outside the box, with a calmer perspective. Think about it. Concentrating on just what you are doing – running – removes the focus from the stressor.

Concentrating on the movement of your body, your feet on the pavement or the sounds of your breath helps you to remove yourself from your mind and allows you to let go of whatever it is that is causing you stress or pain giving you a fresh viewpoint on things.

We live a lot in the mind; we become our thoughts and the constant traffic of tasks. Imagine getting away from that regularly? How much more focused and in control would you feel?

I had no outlet to manage the stress that I was bringing home after a day/weeks work. My mind was often a wash with a multitude of thoughts and problems with no more ‘head space’ to think things through –  so I took up running and lifting.

While getting fitter was one of my reasons for taking up running and lifting the primary driver was stress management. Running and lifting provided me with that ‘thinking time’. Time without the ‘pollution’ of daily work/life demands.

I am the only person in my head when I am running/exercising, there are no external distractions.

I have lost count of the number of work problems I have solved when out running.

Exercise gives you the mental edge.

We all know that sluggish feeling in the morning. Your body is moving but your mind has not switched on yet. Imagine the impact on your day if you had a dose of endorphins before your morning meetings?

Exercising first thing is daunting, it is tough, but it truly sets you up for a wonderfully effective day. It gives you a positive, fresh outlook and a real head start. Adding exercise to your day means your productivity will increase because you arrive to work energised, focused and more organised than before.

You will be able to think more clearly, your energy levels will be higher throughout the day, you will be less stressed, more creative and better prepared.

Just think about it – you have done a workout, had breakfast and are up and at them, feeling amazing – and all before 9am!

Working out helps improve sleep.

Sleeping better allows you to be more productive, energised and empowers your mind. If you’re the type of person whose sleep is interrupted when stressed or busy, you have probably lay awake on numerous occasions figuring things out in your mind, going over the day, planning for the next.

Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your mood and your productivity, we all know that feeling. Would it not make more sense to process all of this mind matter during a workout, at a time when you can actually make something of those thoughts?

Regular exercise boosts your self-image.

As you become fitter you feel more confident and enjoy your body more. Your body changes, your muscles firm up; your abs might even make an appearance. You begin to look at yourself differently, you feel good and have more confidence, all of this being great news for your personal life and your libido.

Yep, exercise is proven to boost sex drive, now if that is not a reason to dust off those trainers I do not know what is!

“But I just do not have the time to work out” you say…

I have heard this too many times. My response to this is – If Barack Obama can do it, you can too! His logic is that if he has his daily work out time, the rest of his time will be more productive. Try it.

Do not get me wrong, I know it takes time and planning. But if you have a job you schedule meetings and tasks, why can not exercise be one of these tasks? If you want to live a balanced, healthy life exercise needs to be a major player in it.

It does not have to be a long distance run or anything too strenuous. Start slow and build up, do what is right for you, 20 minutes of exercise can have incredible benefits on your body and mind.

Practical ways to fit exercise into your life:

  • Get up earlier and fit your workout in before work. You have done it for an important meeting so you can absolutely do it for yourself. Getting up earlier is incredibly uplifting; you feel so connected and it gives you an extra edge to seize new opportunities with lots of energy and inspiration. Get into a routine and it will get easier.
  • Schedule a weekly meet with friends or a personl trainer. This becomes routine, something you do weekly like taking out the bins. When you organise to meet someone you are less likely to cancel. You are accountable to someone else which is hugely important when achieving goals.
  • Walk and talk. Are there meetings during your day that you can take outside instead of sitting in a stuffy room? Make your meetings walking meetings. When people are taken out of the usual office environment it gives space for a more relaxed and creative conversation. This is a great way to get not only the blood flowing, but the creative juices too.
  • Exercise at lunch is a fantastic way to get your workout down and energise your afternoon. Rather than feeling lethargic and sluggish after lunch you will feel rejuvenated and recharged. Get your workout in at lunch and free up your evening for personal time to have fun and rest.
  • Work out in work. Lots of companies organise corporate training which really helps to boost morale and productivity. We all know a healthy workforce is a happy one and happy people are more productive.

There’s nothing better than setting yourself a goal of working out and achieving it.

You feel like you can take on the world.

You feel so powerful and invincible afterwards.

This feeling of empowerment and strength that exercise gives transfers into other areas of life without you even realising it, giving you a more productive, positive, healthy life.

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How to be a leader

How to be a leader

Many leaders and entrepreneurs are sold on the idea that hard work and paying your dues will guarantee future success. Indeed, the idea of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is something we aspire to do.

On the subjects of leadership and success, nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Sure, perseverance and having grit have a great deal to do with being a successful leader. But that is not all there is to it. Here are lessons other lessons that true leaders always keep in mind.

1. Identify your purpose 
Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Indeed, successful leaders identify their passions and life goals and leverage them to create businesses, help people and make positive impacts on the world. By making their unique dreams and aspirations the framework around which their companies operate, leaders fulfill their missions in life without ever feeling like they are really working.

Though this seems like common sense, it may be difficult to discern what fields or interests you should pursue long-term. I suggests starting the process by asking these three questions:

1. What do you love to do, that you would do even if you do not get paid for it?

2. What do other people say you are really good at?

3. What is the one thing you want to experience, or do, or accomplish, before you die, so that on your last day on earth you feel satisfied and have no regrets in that area?

2. Use the word: No
Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” Cutting the fat from both your individual actions during the work day and long-term ventures will lead to more successful outcomes.

Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying.

Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones.

After taking stock of what is absolutely essential, prioritize and focus on tasks that only you can or should do. Delegate those that are urgent but do not need your full time and attention. And do not forget to take time off.

3. Listen
The benefits to active listening are two-fold. First, it will help you get a better idea of what is really going on before making informed decisions. Former chairman of IBM Lou Gerstner partially attributed the success of the company at the turn of the century to listening.

In his book Who Said Elephants Can’t Dance? Inside IBM’s Historic Turnaround, he wrote, “For the first month, I listened, and I tried very hard not to draw conclusions.” This strategy led to IBM’s success, as he was responsible for increasing the company’s stock market value by 800%.

Second, simply listening instead of reacting will allow you to build effective working relationships that help your organization reach the next level. To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It is a sign of respect.

Listening is one of the easiest ways to get good karma and establish positive relationships with everyone around you.

4. Inspire 
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader. Indeed, one of the defining features of being a leader is the ability to excite and motivate other people.

Being inspirational does not mean giving out awards and bonuses every year and calling it a day. It is more about instilling continuous, long-term motivation and trust in your supporters, giving them a reason to get out of bed every morning.

It is about firing up people and sparking their innate creativity and desire to innovate, even when they did not think they had the capacity. Making sure someone feels like their work is vital to achieving the company’s goals is one of the easiest ways to encourage your colleagues to be the best they can be.

5. Focus on emotional intelligence
Before you can even think about inspiring your followers, you also need to be well-versed in emotional intelligence, a mix of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill.

Having a high level of emotional intelligence is imperative to knowing how to empathize with, encourage and challenge your team members to reach their highest potential.

Daniel Coleman, a psychologist and journalist who was the first to associate emotional intelligence with leadership, found, “When I compared star performers with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90 percent of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities.”

Travis Bradberry, another emotional intelligence researcher, identified a few easy ways to build up your emotional intelligence including being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses, practicing self-confidence, letting go of mistakes, neutralizing toxic people and being compassionate.

6. Learn and learn
Even if you are one of the top experts in your field, staying up-to-date about new developments by reading articles, magazines and reports will keep you at the top of your game. Also, joining professional associations and local clubs and going to their events could allow you to network with other ground-shakers, get caught up with the newest technology, and learn more about issues relevant to your field.

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How to learn a new language: leverage your listening habits

How to learn a language

Languages has a lot of slang, colloquialisms and idioms. The only way to
master these is by listening. Listening will improve your speaking capabilities hugely.
You will learn the correct pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, accent, and intonation.

One can apply what you hear in your daily life.

● Make it a point to listen to the radio, or T.V. while doing random chores.
All human beings learn a language by listening. Make sure you watch a movie
without subtitles.

● Singing is a great fun way to improve your pronunciation. It can also
develop fluency.

Remember, developing your English, Spanish or French listening skill is not only important to learn a language. It is also important because a person is not going to repeat himself over and
over waiting for you to understand.

Watching a movie without subtitles will teach you
how to keep up with what a person is saying.

● Role-playing also helps in improving speech. Watch an movie in the language that
you are fond of over and over again till you understand it complete, and then
enact the movie yourself.

Repeat this exercise with another movie. This will
not only improve your speech, it will also improve your ability to listen.
Listening and repeating is the best way to learn a language.

I know people who have learned a complete language perfectly just by watching the movies and listening to the songs. Of course, this works better if the language you are trying to learn is closer to your own native language.

However, remember that English for example is a mix of a number of different languages.

How to Strengthen Listening Habits?
Now, in order to strengthen your language listening habits for an extra leverage, let us
take a look at the three types of listening one must indulge into and further ways to
improving your skills in each.

Type 1: Passive or Inactive Listening
Passive listening plays a dormant role in the communication process. The listener
simply listens and absorbs the meaning of the language and is not expected to react or
put his views across.

As a foreign learner, passive listening allows you to acquaint the
verbal form of speech and take time to assimilate what you listen. It is the most
comfortable way of taking massive input.

Here are some important aspects you can instill to maximise learning from passive listening:
Focus on understanding each word in individual sense and in correlation with the
constructed sentences.

Do not deviate your concentration in putting emphasis on
preconception of the context while listening.

● Rehearse and summarise in your mind what you comprehended from the
speech as an aftermath.

● Take note on how vocabulary is used interchangeably to get a hand on
varied ways of expressive ability.

● If possible, pen down the main frame of sentences in short hand for further
reference.

● Keep observation on the pauses used while conveying the emotion of the
context. There are clause, sentence and paragraph pauses in conversationalspeech in a rhythmic pattern which you must focus on while listening to the language you want to learn.

● As a foreign listener, at times the speech might sound out of your pace to
absorb the meaning of it. Do not get intimidated with the volume of words and
sentences while listening as it might keep you from taking whatever input you
can anyway.

● In case of listening live to a speaker, note the lip movement made while
pronouncing the syllables, vowels and consonants differently.

Type 2: Extensive Listening
Furthermore and beyond specific information, Extensive listening includes listening to
long textual narratives which in return builds the listener’s stamina to take in more and
more bulk of conversational language and understand the contextual reference in larger
lengths.

After listening to a particular audio book on repetitive mode, you will observe
that you are consciously picking up the pronunciation and can fairly summarise the
meaning in portions.

Extensive listening is a great self tutoring method for learning
second languages. While making extensive listening a habit, keep the following points in
mind for exceptional learning.

● Use different mediums like audio books, recordings, videos,
entertainment pieces, musicals, debates and dialogues for extracting a variety
of accents, speech alterations and genres of the vocal in the language.

● To avoid hurtling up while listening extensively, pick a topic of interest and
listen through till the end.

● Since mostly you can repeat and take a pause while listening to prerecorded
mediums, list down new words and phrases you come across and
look up for the meaning of complex vocabulary to keep up with the flow of
speech.

● One of the best way to keep a log of different pronunciations while listening
to voluminous text is to pen down the words as they sound. This will give you
an edge on the phonic tone to understand what you listen better.

Type 3: Responsive Listening
In interpersonal communication, responsive listening is the half kernel of the two way
process. Now as a non native learner, getting into habit of responsive listening is a
place where you are active as a listener as well as a speaker.

Engaging yourself with this type of listening will build your grasping speed and make you spontaneous with the language. Once you start practising it as a habit, you can further optimise listening through these elements:
Responsive listening is a behavioural act. Keep the focal point on listening calmly
rather than getting anxious about how you would frame your response.
Ask the speaker to reiterate if you do not get the context clearly.

It is always betterto seek clarification rather than responding in irrelevance. Take time to apprehend what you listen before jumping to a response It is observed that very often people practice prejudiced listening and neglect the minutes.

As a settler to the foreign language you must keep a flexible and open mind while listening so as to ingest the actual meaning of what is being spoken.

“Do It Right Now”: Steps to Start Improving instantly
Step 1: Watch an movie int the language you are learning

Step 2: Make an honest list of all the words that you thought were pronounced in a
different way.

Step 3: By the end of the movie, if your list is small, your pronunciation is not so bad.
However, if your list is long, you need to work on pronouncing those words.

Step 4: If you are not sure about the pronunciation, use the help of Internet tools or
download a dictionary app on your phone to help with correct yourself.

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Bruised and battered: How to get back on the horse

How to get back on the horse
How to get back on the horse

One of my best friends is currently in a slump. He is an entrepreneur, a dad, and a great guy. And he feels like a complete failure.

I had coffee with him last week and listened to the despair in his voice and the hopelessness. I could relate to everything he was saying.

You see, I have been through many slumps in my life. Slumps that felt like they were going to last forever. Slumps that I thought I was never going to be able to get out of.

But I always did.

These 13 simple techniques can help you become more positive and motivated, and break you out of any slump.

1. Acknowledge
A slump is no different than any other problem or obstacle in life, you can not simply stick your head in the sand and deny that it exists.

Admit that you feel really low right now. Acknowledge that there is a problem. Start here.

2. Acceptance
This is how you feel right now. There is no getting around it. Accept it. Say a couple of things like this to yourself:

“This won’t last forever.”
“I feel like a failure but I know I will get better.”
“This too shall pass.”

And it will…

3. Letting go
Do you know someone who always has some kind of drama in their life? And they always seem to love to tell you about it?

They are stuck in perpetual victim mode, and it is an easy (but painful) place to live.

If you want to get out of your slump, you have to be willing to let it go. Do not look for sympathy, look for solutions.

4. Be open about it
When we get stuck in a dark place, we start thinking that we are the only ones who have ever felt this bad. But once you start to talk to people and really open up, you begin to realize that everyone has been there at different points in their lives.

5. Do not pity yourself
You feel down, you feel like a failure, you feel like things are never going to get better. So what do you do? You throw a pity party.

You tell more and more people about how unfair things are. You want their pity. You want them to tell you that you are justified and that you should feel bad.

But this only has the effect of prolonging it. When you are in this mode, you are not looking for any solutions, you are just looking for people to feel sorry for you.

Cancel your pity party. Focus on getting out of it instead.

6. Positive mentality.
While I was talking to my friend and trying to help him get out of his slump, he started to tell me about all of the terrible things that were currently going on in the world.

It turns out that he has been watching the news. A lot. His mind is getting filled up with negativity and it is making things worse.

We have to be very careful about what we allow into our minds on a consistent basis. The news, sad music, negative people, darkness – it can all make us feel worse.

It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply.

Read, watch, and listen to things that are going to uplift you, not depress you.

7. More energy
When you are feeling down, you need to do things that are going to raise your energy level. The old adage “Move a muscle, change a thought” is certainly true.

Go for a walk. Do a quick workout. Do a few pushups. Do anything that is going to get you out of yourself for a few minutes and get your blood flowing.

8. Embrace it
Everything in life is a lesson; it is just up to you to see it that way.

What can be learned from this slump? What is it telling you? How is it helping you to change?

As hard as it might be, be thankful for this experience. Be thankful for the lessons it is teaching you.

And once the storm is over, you will not remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You will not even be sure, whether the storm is really over.

But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you will not be the same person who walked in. That is what this storm’s all about.

9. Stay with positive people
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Are you spending most of your time with negative people? Take a close look at whom you are with the most and what their attitudes are like. If they are disproportionately negative, make some changes.

Start seeking out people who are positive and are going to lift you up.

This one might be hard at first (who wants to be around a really happy person when you feel like dirt?) but it is crucial.

10. Shock yourself
Sometimes it is a matter of changing everything up. Or just changing one big thing to shock your system.

Many time slumps come from getting in a rut and then they slowly get worse as you get more and more comfortable in that rut (even though you gradually feel worse and worse). So you need to do something to shock your system into action.

Are you a night-owl? Try waking up early for a week.
Are you super serious? Make laughter a priority for a few days.
Always online and on your phone? Try a digital detox.

11. Help others

One of the best ways to change your entire mood is to help someone else. It is quite possibly the most effective (and gratitfying) way to truly get out of yourself and give back.

Often, when I am not sure where to start, or have a mountain of daunting tasks piling up, I begin by asking someone else if they need help with anything.

To me it is probably the single best motivational/productivity tip I can think of. Sure, it is slightly counterintuitive, as you are potentially taking on work, but the rewards are mighty.

I find that after I spend some time helping someone else get started (or finished), I am refreshed and ready to get going on my own stuff.

Try it. It works every time.

Feeling overwhelmed and down? Simply help someone else.

12. Gratitude
When you are stuck in a slump, it is easy to feel like there is nothing good in your life, but I have found that this could not be further from the truth.

No matter what was going on in my life (business problems, I was sick, someone cut me off in traffic, whatever) there was always something that I could find to be grateful for.

All you have to do is think about one thing that is good in your life. And now add another one to the list. And another. Soon you will see how blessed you really are.

13. Action
It is now time to take action. Decide on one step that you can take to pull yourself out of this slump.

What are you going to do right now? Start really small. The whole point is to just do something. Something that will make you feel better.

Start right now.