Do you have a life purpose ?

My last post was about: “Do you have a life strategy ?” Following up on this , I’d like to tell you more about the notion of purpose. Life purpose ! I happen to read today a blog post of my respected Harvard colleague Clayton M. Christensen published in Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life?) where he’s developing some of the same ideas I wrote about last week.

We both agree on the importance of starting a life strategy by a statement of purpose. I like to link  the purpose to a vision. In my eyes the vision can be more concrete than the purpose. Or, more exactly, the purpose is the way to transform your vision into  meaningful objectives. Whatever, I recommend to write a vision and a purpose statement.

Although I love his sentence “Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people” , I differ on Christensen’s thinking on the fact that he seems to recommend some kind of purpose that would lead us for life. He regrets that most Harvard MBA students “…have given little thought to the purpose of their lives. And he mentions: ” I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that question. If they think that they’ll have more time and energy to reflect later, they’re nuts, because life only gets more demanding…” . I must say I don’t agree with that.

First of all, we have plenty of time to reflect on the purpose of life at various times in life. It can be when we go through very important stages of life: marrying, having a kid, divorcing, burying a parent, etc. Actually, my experience is that it’s rarely related to job and career. These key moments make you understand that career is worthless compared to private life. And it’s good to realize that.  After all, career, power and money beyond necessity are just lures !

Moreover, your life purpose is evolving. You cannot expect a 25 year old chap to see life as a 60 year baby boomer ! In fact, to tell the truth, my life purpose was never formalized. When i got out of Harvard, at 27 year old, I had a very conservative life purpose. I just wanted to have a nice life, 3 kids and a dog, a beautiful home and a challenging job. Nothing great in fact. But it reflected my values. Later, approaching 40, I started to understand that I was more happy teaching that being a businessman. I was not a killer. I liked to inspire. I also had my mid-life crisis ending with a divorce. Then I found true love and for some years, I lived on a day to day basis. Now that I reached 60, I’m more concerned about my life purpose. Time left is scarce. I don’t want to loose any moment with stupid people or working on stupid projects ! My life purpose is clearer: to keep my freedom, to enjoy every moment in life, to pass on my knowledge and experience and to leverage young people. 

My vision is to be a man who is admired for his energy, emotional intelligence and caring. And to keep intellectually agile and always up to date. I have the vision of the father of one of my friends who stayed intellectually strong until an advanced age, being respected by all  to the end of his life.

My young friends, try to have a life purpose ! Try to make it more specific than just “being happy” or “being successful”. But if you can’t, i will surely understand it !

Be inspired !  54bd2593-2630-44ab-9f30-ba0e25f8a859_560_420.jpg

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Do you have a life strategy ?

Did you ever set up a life strategy ? Well you should !

Deciding about our life is the single most important decision that we will ever have to make ! And generally we don’t treat it seriously. I mean we think about it, we have hopes, sometimes dreams, we have regrets or whatever but… we do not consider it as we do for a business decision. So, be professional about yourself ! It’s time to draw your strategic plan !

A strategic process is quite simple as a theory. The most difficult is analyzing and deciding. So, this is how to do:

  1. Have a vision ! Every good strategy starts with a vision i.e. a picture of how you imagine yourself in the long term (5-10 years). It will give you a purpose. Write it as a movie scenario: “In 2025, I will wake up in Paris. I will have enough money to own a small pied-à-terre on the left bank. I will be a renowned speaker and respected blogger in the field of strategy. My family is important but as i’m very independent, I will have control about my time in family. ,…. bla bla bla” Take some time to imagine scenarios, dream, don’t think too much about reality. Reality will come back to you later…
  2. Do your self analysis.images-1.jpegList your life values in order of importance, starting by the most important to you : are they money, intellectual accomplishment, family, couple, your home ? Or free time for yourself, a moving life, power, other ? Then, list your strengths and your short comes as a person and as a professional. Ask for help from friends (real friends) coz it’s difficult to evaluate yourself objectively. Then think of your resources: personal finances, life and professional experience, intellectual ability, emotional intelligence, personal network, mentors, languages, education, … it maybe that, if you’re still young, your main resources will be your degree, your courage and your personality. My experience is that most people are underestimating their strengths. And remember that, in strategy, the purpose of partnerships may be to acquire the resources you don’t have. 
  3. Have a critical view on your environment. In strategy, opportunities come out of changes in the environment but barriers are part of the environment too . So, look at your close environment first. Friends and family, your close network of trustful people, your colleagues. Do they leverage your ambitions or do they limit your dreams ? What kind of culture are you born from ? Protective and conservative ? Or adventurous and progressive ? Never take anything for granted. Note the barriers and the opportunities offered by your environment.
  4. Write strategic scenarios. Use the “what if ? ” method. What if I would have no money limitation ? What would I do ? What if I could fly away to America today ? Would I  do it ? Why yes ? Why no ? Explore various paths. always keep your vision in mind. Strategic scenarios are ways to make your dreams come true. Never downgrade a dream coz the road seems bumpy ! Again, do it with other people who appreciate  you and are frank with you.
  5. Make a decision. Probably the most difficult ! Especially if it changes some important paradigms in your life balance or your lifestyle or your family equilibrium. It may be that you will need to convince or negotiate. It may be that you will face resistance. it’s the same as in business. That’s why you need to prepare an implementation plan and a contingency plan. it may also be that it will not change much on the short term but will reassure you on your current direction. In that case, you will feel a sense of completion that will make you happy !

Some of you may tell me that they prefer to let life guide them instead of them choosing their life. Everyone is free to choose. But remember that YOUR LIFE is your most important holding. You only have one ! It’s running fast ! Don’t miss it ! And don’t let anyone choose it for you !

Be inspired !

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7 steps to lift up your personal image

May is back and with it a need to change some things in your life ! Well, maybe it’s time to lift up your personal image !

“Esse est percipi” — “to be is to be perceived” said Irish philosopher George Berkeley 200 years ago already (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/berkeley/). This is more than ever true today. In our society perception is more important than reality, each of us is getting about 5,000 info per day and our average span of attention 8-10 seconds (Hugues Rey, HAVAS group). So, how about you ? How do people perceive you ? What is your personal image ? As seen by others and…as seen by yourself !

The issue is not limited to business situations. It’s also related to your personal life. A number of studies have been done on the way how we think about ourselves affects our performance, in work and life. See for example American psychologist Barbara Fredrickson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Fredrickson). there is a strong connection between how people perceive us and how we perceive ourself (self-image).

Anyway, it’s all about perceptions !

But let’s be practical: how should you go about working on your personal image. Actually, it’s about marketing yourself. YOU are the product. Now YOU need a brand ! So here are 7 phases you should go through.

  1. Start by  a vision.  A vision is how you project yourself in the future. Write a scenario.Imagine you’re in a movie. The title is: “Me in 10 years”. Close your eyes and dream. Forget about constraints of day to day life like money, family, your boss or else. Imagine, then write ! You can imagine various scenarios. In strategy, we call that “scenario planning”. It’s important to write it down. Let it sleep for a few days, then come back to it and choose one. You can keep is secret. It’s between you and you. Or You’d like to share it. Whatever, it will be your driving force, it will give you a sense of direction and scope your ambition.
  2. Know who you are.What are your points of excellence ? Don’t spend time on your shortcomings, you’re never selling a defective product ! If you’re not sure, survey the market 🙂 Ask some friends or colleagues to mention 3 of your skills, or 3 words that come to your mind when they think of you. It’s full of interest. it will give you some insights on how you’re actually perceived now.
  3. Define your targets. If you’re in a business setting, it can be your management, peers or the team you’re managing. It can be your customers. It can be your funds providers. In life, it can be a social group you’re part of. People you want to seduce. Avoid it with real close friends: they like the real you ! Define your target(s) based on your long term vision. Set priorities: it’s never effective to communicate to several targets at the same time. So, go step by step.
  4. Have a brand. This is a tricky choice and most of you could be shy about it but it’s actually a great advantage for getting recognized. I have a Vietnamese friend called Huong. There are many people called Huong in Vietnam. But she’s different: she calls herself Bailey. Everyone knows her under that name, actually a brand name of a coffee liquor. It fits her personality. People remember ! So, think about a special name. Or stick an adjective to your name (Smart John, for example) but HAVE A BRAND. And why not a logo ?
  5. Choose your brand positioning. A brand is to be remembered but you will be more remembered if it means something valuable for others. Brand positioning is a classical strategic marketing tool. You can use the Unilever brand key model if you’re a sophisticated marketeer 🙂 Or just think about what you want people to think about you and write YOUR positioning statement. (http://cvg220.wix.com/marketing-basics-jpb#!positexemple/c7uy on how to do that)
  6. Be different. A the end, the most important is to know how different you are and how to promote your difference. It may be a unique competency (I’m the most creative accountant in my city) or a specialty (I’m the most specialized accountant for sports clubs) or something about yourself (I’m the most funny accountant to work with) but something should be unique about you and consistent overtime.
  7. Dress as how you want to be looked at. Dress for success is not a new statement but it’s consistently overlooked. Big companies seem to like employees who all look the same. Like kind of robots ! But we are humans ! Our way to dress, to speak, to appear sends signals ! It can be little things. I have been teaching a lot and for years I didn’t know what to wear so that I could feel relaxed and appear serious at the same time. Then I decided to signal my identity of “marketing prof” by wearing colored watches. Strangely enough, years after my classes, people don’t remember my teaching content but they remember the watches. Recently, I discovered an American couturier living in Saigon. He taught me how to think about my style after he asked me questions about my personal objectives. I became his client. He’s a master in business attire strategy (https://www.facebook.com/paths.to.success/)

Don’t forget this, as written in a Forbes article, developing your personal brand is essential for the advancement of your career and development as a leader (http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/08/personal-branding-is-a-leadership-requirement-not-a-self-promotion-campaign).

After all, you’re the most important person on earth, aren’t you ?images-1.jpeg

 

 

 

Why you should fail from time to time

I met a friend of mine yesterday. Salma is a story teller and a content strategist. She told me: “Perfection creates no emotion !” I like that sentence. In my post: 5 reasons why you should stop trying to be perfect, I already evoked the fact that trying to reach perfection should not become a stress or an obsession. I’m more radical today. I advise you to fail !

There is no learning without failure. Scientists know that progress comes from analysis of failure. Look at a little kid trying to walk for the first time. Is (s)he running right from the beginning ? No. S(he) will fall a number of time before adapting the technique to reach an acceptable performance. Same when you learn a language or struggle with accounting for the first time.

It’s the same in business. Did you hear about the concept of “learning organization” ? Trial and error ? Lean marketing ? See http://theleanmarketer.com/about-the-lean-marketer/what-is-lean-marketing/ . All is about testing, checking, understanding, relaunching and so one.

I know a US company giving bonuses to their employees who fail ! Better reward those who dare and fail than those who do not dare!  Encourage your team to fail. Encourage your kids to fail. Encourage yourself to fail ! Do something, stop hesitating, move forward ! The train of life is not waiting for you. It’s already gone. Jump on it !5.jpg

 

7 tips to manage your sleep

A number of years ago I read a book called “Managing your sleep”. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the author and the editor but this book changed my life, well…my night life 🙂

At that time, insomnia was my habit. No two nights with a full sleep. It made me nervous and stress would come out the day after. Then I read that book and I got and kept a number of tips that I can now recommend to you:

  • Read a book before sleep…in silence

Or meditate ! Whatever time it is, close your screens ! Forget about TV, phone, tablet or computer. Screen must go to sleep too, but not in bed with you ! Music is great but at some point you should be in silence. Silence will appease your senses. Reading will make you dream even before sleep is there. By the way: don’t read anything like business publication or some job report ! Read a novel, something light !

  • Detox from phone !

Talking about screens, it’s time for you to “digital detox” ! A number of recent researches showed that addiction to screens excite the brain and lead to bad sleep. If you leave your smart phone open during night, you will unconsciously want to look at notifications. Same for telephone. My recommendation is clear: don’t answer calls, especially professional calls after 10 pm. If someone calls you with problems, you will absorb her (his) problems. If someone is excited about something, you will absorb the excitation. It may be nice but it will damage your sleep. The hour before sleep is for you to be alone with yourself !

  • When you wake up in night, don’t try to recover the sleep

So now comes the time when you wake up, generally between 2 and 4 am. You say: “oh ! no ! again ! ” and you start to be desperate. You WANT to sleep, you try to calm down but you can’t. You turn things in your head. Good or bad. No way ! Sleep will not come back easily, whatever you do. So, stand up and do something. Go drink or eat something you like. Enjoy the night instead of fearing it. Night is full of good things. Some fresh air maybe. Or some quietness. Learn to love your insomnia. Don’t think that you’re loosing sleep, think that you’re gaining time of life !

  • Don’t open your screens. Read or do something manual

If you reopen your phone or tablet or if you start playing games on your computer, time will spend easily but you will not rest your brain. Remember, the night should be relaxed time. Do things that you don’t have time to do during the day. Maybe listening to easy going music, meditating, exercising some yoga, baking cakes…Anything but soft ! After about 90 min (more or less), you will start to yawn. Sleep works in cycles of 90-100 min. Yawning means that a new cycle will come. Wait 5 or 10 min and let you fall into the arms of Morpheus… Morpheus was the god of dreams in ancient Greece.

  • Make your insomnia a creative experience

Insomnia always sounds negative. We say that we “suffer from insomnia”. Actually, it’s been proven that it’s one of the most creative period of time. A number of artists create during night. You’re waking up because your brain is active. Interrupted sleep is a source for the imaginary. You’re in another world, far away from day life constraints. A good way to do is to write down, before sleep, a number of issues you’d like to be creative about. If you wake up, take one and think. Imagine weird solutions. Like in a dream. Anything can be crazy during night. Daylight will bring you to reality !

  • Have a little notebook with a pencil to record your ideas

This is one of the most easy and practical tips I used. Most of the time when you wake up at night it’s because you think of tomorrow workload. “I should not forget to do this. I forgot to call Bob. I should think of it tomorrow…bla bla bla”. So, you try to keep it in mind  and it adds to your worries. So, do something simple: have a little notebook and a pencil on your night table. When you think of something, write it down. So, your mind is free to forget it. Remember: no screen, no smart phone reminder ! Just paper and pen. After a few days or weeks, the simple fact to have your notebook near you will appease you and you will probably never wake up anymore for “things to do tomorrow”.

  • Forget about sleeping at night only

One of the reasons we fear insomnia is that we fear to loose sleep hours and be tired on the following day. To avoid that feeling, learn to make several mini sleep breaks during day. You can do for 20 min (after lunch for example), 5 min or even 1 min (have a spoon in your hand and let you fall into sleep, when you really sleep the spoon will fall on the ground and wake you up 🙂 ). These sleep breaks will have a out of benefits and make you more productive. It will compensate for the time you were awake during the night. Sleep as animals do, little piece by little piece…

Hope this will help you feel better in life !

Be inspired !n-SLEEP-AT-WORK-large570.jpg

 

Believe in the value of “moments” !

Life is demanding, business is tough, time is scarce. But in this busy stuff, we need “moments” !

I believe in the value of “moments” ! We need good moments, exciting moments, lazy moments and self care moments. We can go for meditation, expect peace at a yoga course or listen to our favorite music. But we need for sure to escape. Not only to relax, but also to think. just think. I heard an interview of a great scientist today. He said he walks everyday, alone, in order to structure his thinking. His “moments” are fostering his intelligence.

So, this week, look at your timetable and save moments for you !

And if you can’t do it on a regular basis, book a meeting with a mentor.  If you don’t have one, ask me ! You should definitely try one of my inspiring moment 🙂Unknown.jpeg

5 reasons why you should stop trying to be perfect

Perfection is what we all thrive for. We’ve been educated with perfection in mind. At school, at home, everywhere, always we were told to be perfect. Perfect child, perfect scholar, perfect girl, perfect boy. We’re also asked to be perfect daughter & son, then perfect mom & dad, perfect sister, brother, friend and life partner. At work it’s the same. Be a perfect employee, perfect colleague, perfect boss ! We all know it’s impossible but we’re running after perfection all our life.

Well ! It’s not impossible, it’s counter productive. Today, being perfect is a handicap !

Trying to be perfect in all is dysfunctional. We focus our limited resources on behaviors that we will never be good at instead of focusing on our strengths. So we become average in all.

Trying to be perfect brings a continuous stress. We’re always struggling to reach a goal with no hope of being successful at it. We run to catch an ever flying bird ! But we go on and on…

Trying to be perfect gets us to care about non important things. We plunge into details to reassure us that we’re good. It makes us loose “the big picture”. In business, it’s a real pity. Thousands of people forget about the important to focus on some stupid details.

Trying to be perfect kills our creativity. Today, creativity is vital. No company or organization will survive without a good deal of idea generation. But more than generate ideas, we need to implement them. Imagine, implement, fail, understand and try again. That’s how we should learn today. By the way, this is how little kids learn to walk !

Finally,  trying to be perfect is boring ! How many days of our life have we spent at school with boring teachers trying to make us good in everything. The more bored we are, the less we learn and the worst we are.

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Forget about your shortcomings and focus on what you’re good at. This is true for people but it’s also true for businesses and any organization.

Be inspired !