Quotes from Maximize Your Potential

“People who love what they do are much better at it. They’re more successful, are constantly adding new skills and continue to drive themselves forward.”

“We expect to do more of what we love, automating the more laborious and monotonous parts of our work.”

“We are all works in progress. Each day presents an opportunity to learn more, do more, be more and grow more.”

“The most important skill in the age of flux is the ability to get new skills. To constantly be open to new areas of learning.”

“By changing your habits, you reprogram the behaviors that control most of your life and ultimately determine your success.”

“Focus means changing only one habit at a time…spend at least one month exclusively on one habit.”

“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves.”

“Start any new project or endeavor by saying to yourself, ‘I may not get the hang of this right away. I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay’.”

Maximize Your Potential (A book review)

A book review on awesome book by Jocelyn K. Glei and Scott Belsky of the same title, Maximize Your Potential, Grow Your Expertise,Take Bold Risks and Build an Incredible Career.

“Follow your passion” may be the most common advice job seekers received, but many would have heed it to their own detriment. Unfortunately, chasing our passion might turns out not to be relevant to most jobs,though other strong motivations may prevail.

Take myself for example, I love reading, but reading won’t put food on the table, and my blog (the website your currently reading) is not earning enough money to event buy me a pack of instant noodles. Other than that, I really enjoy writing, and I still enjoy reading & sharing my notes with all of you, but as I mentioned before, it doesn’t earn enough (yet) for me to quit my day job.

On top of that, another common delusion is that we can achieve anything including career success with willpower. It takes a lot more of willpower to succeed in this world. Regrettably, that’s not how things usually work. Willpower is a circumscribed resource that can fade quickly. So what does work? Lets find out.

“Motivation is not a matter of will-power, it is a matter of want-power”

Here’s what we should do

  • Most people want jobs that let them to do what they love . However, trying to “follow your passion” is poor career-planning advice.
  • Regard your career as a start-up; position yourself as the entrepreneur who plans and manages it.
  • Manage your income like you would a company,makes sure you always maintain a healthy cash-reserves, and a positive net-worth. This will save a lot of headaches and heartaches later on.
  • Always view yourself as a work-in-progress. You can be much more in the future than you are today.   
  • The capability to acquire new skills is today’s most valuable asset. Therefore, make continuous improvement daily on your skill sets and knowledge. Kaizen is the keyword here.
  • The status quo is your enemy.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare your work today to your own previous best efforts.
  • With practice, most people can become expert at just about anything.
  • The job you do matters less than attaining the lifestyle attributes that make you happy. 
  • Lucky people make their own luck in their careers and their lives.
  • Employers want to hire adaptive, inventive people.

Further readings

  1. I am Ambitious,and if you are too, you should read this
  2. Should we follow our Passion?
  3. Skill over passion?
  4. What Does Luck Have to Do with Career Success?
  5. Be Bold and Ready to Take Risks
  6. I’m trying to turn you into you

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I’m trying to turn you into you

Your ”Better You“
“I’m not trying to turn you into me; I’m trying to turn you into you” – Master Shifu

The above quotes are among the best quotes I’ve love from Kung Fu Panda trilogy.

But, how does it relates to us and our lives.

A Better You waits in the wings.

Your Better You works harder than the standard you.  Your Better You procrastinates less.  Step up and claim this admirable Better You.  Your Better You is your “believable possible.” Each successful person has his or her own believable possible.

Lets look at some role models with this respect

  • For Bruce Lee, becoming the world’s most deadly fighter was his believable possible.
  • For Muhammad Ali, becoming the world’s most successful boxer was his believable possible.

Your believable possible live in the Better You at your core. You tap into your Better You with every positive action. It will direct you to the satisfying career you should and could have. This and more will become possible when you put your Better You in charge.

So, lets work toward a better ‘us’.

Be Bold and Ready to Take Risks

ever become too comfortable in your job – If you feel that you’re in an easy rut, strive to find and take on new challenges. Remember this basic truth: “The status quo is your enemy.”

– Take the risk or lose the chance –

In order for us to build a satisfying, successful career and move ahead in life, we must create promising opportunities for ourselves.

This however would requires developing impressive expertise and cultivating meaningful relationships and a huge continuous effort from us. And we must be bold and ready to take risks. 

So, lets set out to accomplish these steps:

  1. Develop a career plan – Adapt it as needed. Have an A plan, a B plan and a Z plan.  I have a plan, do you? And if my plan A doesn’t work, I still have plan B to plan Z.
  2. Never become too comfortable in your job – If you feel that you’re in an easy rut, strive to find and take on new challenges. Remember this basic truth: “The status quo is our enemy and complacency is never bliss.”
  3. When it comes to your work, think big – Don’t see your job as just a job. Elevate your thinking. Make your job your mission.
  4. Work with full intention – Make a conscious degree of focus one of your defining personal characteristics. Operate so that your opportunities bump up against your interests and skills.
  5. You’re not perfect – Don’t try to be flawless. Messing up occasionally is human and acceptable. But learning from your mistakes is one of the most effective paths to growing professionally.
  6. Build new skills in “sprints” – To master new skills, engage in intense, distraction-free work-study sessions or sprints. Schedule regular breaks for temporary decompression.
  7. Seek challenges – It’s the “hard stuff,” not the “easy stuff” that challenges you and enables you to build new capabilities and skills.  
  8. Seek constructive feedback – Honest, perceptive insights fuel our growth.
  9. Build the right habits – You are more likely to excel when you make your positive behaviors automatic or habitual. Solidify one good, new habit every month. Classic conditioning is a great tool for changing your habits. It calls for being consistent in practicing new behaviors. 
  10. Maintain a journal – Maintaining a journal gives you an opportunity to reflect daily on your life and to learn from your actions and behaviors. I used my blog as my journal, easy to update, and easy to access. And I also have a hard cover journal which I loved. Your preference is yours, but the essence is, you need one, you need a journal.
  11. Seek help from people you trust – You don’t have to do everything alone.  There’s a saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”
  12. Promote diversity – Diversity promotes cross-pollination of new ideas. It encourages original thinking and breeds creativity.
  13. Give your team members a chance to shine – As a leader, you don’t always have to shine, but you should make sure that the other members of your team shine. Build on their skills and ideas. Give team members credit for their accomplishments.
  14. Don’t let fear of failure paralyze you –  Always default to action.
  15. Make small bets, but make them – Be cautious when you begin new initiatives. Small bets make more sense than big one. The more bets you make, the better chance you have that one will hit. 
  16. You can’t avoid uncertainty – Uncertainty is a basic condition of life.  Regard uncertainty as a possibility, not a problem.
  17. Persist – To come out on top, persist regardless of obstacles.
  18. Be your own entrepreneur – Think of your career as a start-up and of yourself as the entrepreneur planning and managing this start-up.
  19. Become the “best-connected person” – When it comes to networking, strive to be the best-connected person, not the “most-connected person.” Possessing a fat address book with many names means nothing if the people listed aren’t real allies who will collaborate and help you when necessary.
  20. Learn to build new skills – The best possible skill is the ability to develop new skills.  
  21. Believe that you can  improve – If you don’t believe that you can move beyond your current abilities, you won’t. Avoid self-defeating, self-fulfilling doubts.
  22. Practice – You can’t master any skill without extensive practice. Leverage the “power of ritual” to manage your practice sessions. Practice at the same time each day so practicing becomes habitual.
  23. Rest – You can’t practice, learn or work if you don’t get enough rest. Sleep at least eight hours a night and nap for 20 to 30 minutes during the day.
  24. Do the jobs you delegate – Monsieur Pitard, the top chef of the Hotel Majestic in Paris,  cooked one dish a week himself instead of delegating it his staff. Do some of the work you assign to others to keep your skills fresh. 
  25. Always ask – You can learn a lot from other people and advance your career in the process. Don’t hesitate to ask questions to build your knowledge.   
  26. Build social contracts – Management expert Peter Block developed the concept of social contracting. That’s when you agree up front with your partners or collaborators on how you and they will work together. Get them to answer these questions: “What do you want?” “Where might you need help?” “When you had a really good working relationship in the past, what happened?” “When things go wrong – as they inevitably will – how shall we manage that?”

“Start any new project or endeavor by saying to yourself, ‘I may not get the hang of this right away. I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay’.”

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What Does Luck Have to Do with Career Success?

“Lucky people take advantage of chance occurrences that come their way.”

They don’t go through life “on cruise control,” according to Tina Seelig, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. In her view, lucky people make their own luck unless of course if the ‘luck’ are from lucky draws, lottery, or even good looks. Since that aren’t actually something that we can control. But here are 2 essential ingredients of luck which we can control, (1) our preparation, (2) our focused and concentrated efforts, (3) our willingness to give our all when an opportunity presents itself. 

And so can you if you keep an open mind, recognize the opportunities in new experiences and stay ready to jump at promising openings when they present themselves. No one knows what the future holds, but even amid uncertainty, you can prepare for your future and develop your career. Just as clearly reminded by God Al-Mighty in his holy book,

Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) [2:216]

Heed these tips:  

  • “Look beyond the job title, and focus on your mission” – Job titles can be cages which can be a prison for life, if we let it. Why confine yourself to a job and title that may be obsolete by next year? Instead, direct your attention to what you want to accomplish and put your energies into that. For example, you might tell yourself,  “I want to invent a new business model for online publishing,” and then focus on your ambition.  
  • “Explore new technologies with enthusiasm” – “If you are in school today the technologies you will use as an adult tomorrow have not been invented yet,” says Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly. Technology moves so fast that mastering the latest high-tech gizmo may not turn out to be a smart use of your time. Instead, become knowledgeable about technology on a macro level. Experiment with new technology to learn what works best for you right now. What counts most is remaining aware of all the amazing high-tech developments now underway.
  • “Make a habit of helping people whenever you can” – In a co-dependent world, where relationships count most, always be helpful. This is good for your career, and it’s the moral way to live. If you are generous with others, they will be generous with you.
  • “Be proactive about taking on additional responsibilities and pitching new projects” – According to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, employers want to hire those who can devise, mold and recreate their work every day. Become this type of employee by embracing and expressing your inspiration daily.
  • Always ask, “What’s next?” – Most people move to new jobs every few years. These inescapable changes require preparedness, an alert mind, an adaptive personality and a “what’s next?” attitude. 

“All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves.”

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Skill over passion?

Remember the scene in the movie, Central Intelligence where Kevin Hart admits that, “I’m good at what I do, you love your job”, when his wife quizzed him on his job.

Now, lets consider a real world example . . .

Consider the impressive career of environmental journalist Bill McKibben. While at Harvard as an undergraduate, he began to write for The Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper. By graduation, he was its editor. This brought McKibben to the attention of William Shawn, editor of the New Yorker magazine. Shawn hired him to contribute to the magazine’s up-front Talk of the Town section.

“The most important skill in the age of flux is the ability to get new skills. To constantly be open to new areas of learning.”

After five years, he quit the New Yorker and moved to the Adirondacks to live in a secluded cabin where he wrote The End of Nature, which is now considered as one of the crown jewels of environmental journalism. Since then, McKibben has written numerous books and has become a well-known environmental activist. Now that is an awesome achievements.

His work-life path offers two valuable lessons for plotting a career: 

  1. “What you do for a living matters less than you think” – McKibben enjoys his life as a writer. Nevertheless, as an environmentalist, he could have achieved similar job satisfaction as a professor or as the head of a non-profit educating others about the environment. Besides his calling as a writer, what seems to matter most to McKibben is having autonomy and contributing to improving the world. This aligns with the life experiences of many successful people. What makes them most happy are not the gritty details of their work, but the satisfying high-quality lifestyle they’ve been able to attain.  
  2. Skill precedes passion – McKibben began at Harvard without any experience in journalism. As a young writer, he would overwrite his pieces many times, a common failing among people learning the writer’s craft. While at Harvard, McKibben wrote upward of 400 articles for The Crimson. He used his years at Harvard and at the New Yorker to develop and polish his skills as a writer and journalist. People who fulfill their passion first must put in the time and effort to become experts at what they do. 

“By changing your habits, you reprogram the behaviors that control most of your life and ultimately determine your success.”

A strong passion about how you want to make a living can be a positive force. But making the ability to follow your passion your only job criteria isn’t a smart strategy. Achieving career satisfaction depends on many factors besides passion.  

“Focus means changing only one habit at a time…spend at least one month exclusively on one habit.”

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I am Ambitious,and if you are too, you should read this

I am ambitious, and if you are too, think of yourself as a “free radical,” someone who wants and expects to manage his or her own career. As a free radical, we’re resilient. We have genuine power. We’re flexible and we tend to rely completely on yourself.

On top of that , we tend to dislike old boy networks, bureaucracy and fusty business practices. And we do our best to work around archaic, confining strictures. 

We believe in transparency because privacy makes us suspicious. Meritocracy matters. We expect a lot from ourselves and also from your current employer, just as we did from our past employers and just as you will from our future employers.

And, yes, having multiple employers is likely. In today’s world of work, the average person will have 11 different jobs over the course of a career.  

“People who love what they do are much better at it. They’re more successful, are constantly adding new skills and continue to drive themselves forward.”

As a free radical, we’re in the process of re-defining what work means today. We want to have a positive impact on the world and on those around us. We’re always ready to move on to another firm if we can no longer develop your skills or make significant contributions.

We’re a fan of open-source technology and online resources such as Quora, Wikipedia, APIs and Internet communities. Whenever we can, you contribute to these online resources or by blogging away our thoughts. For us, networking means sharing.  And sharing means caring, not only to those whom we can benefit from, but also be of benefit to those who we don’t even know, and to raise awareness to issues we consider significant.

“We expect to do more of what we love, automating the more laborious and monotonous parts of our work.”

And most importantly, to be ourselves without fear of being judged and ridiculed. Because redefining our work is important since we do spent most of our lifespan working. Therefore, we might as well work on something that we love. Although, at times, it is easier to actually fall in love with our current work.

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