Change Your Life By Changing Your Narrative With These Steps

Do you want to change your life? The key is to rewrite the story you tell yourself.

Often, we tell ourselves we’re good at some things and not others. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You say, “I’m not good with money,” and sure enough, financial freedom eludes you.

Much of our confidence comes in the way we speak to ourselves. Conversely, a lack of confidence comes from our internal self-talk.

Here are a few steps to changing your narrative, many of which may surprise you.

1. Change Your Narrative With a Growth Mindset

Carol Dweck, the foremost researcher on the subject, compares growth and fixed mindsets. She says that a growth mindset is one in which we see failures as opportunities to grow and learn.

A fixed mindset, on the other hand, believes that there is nothing you can do to improve. It says people can’t change, you’re stuck with your flaws, and failure is a sign of weakness.[1]

Fixed mindset people will say, “that’s just the way I am,” instead of stretching outside their comfort zones to learn and grow.

Changing your narrative means embracing the possibility that you can learn new things. You are not limited by what you’ve already done, and you can withstand the discomfort it takes to discover something new.

2. Understand the Origin of Your Internal Narrative

Sometimes, a limiting personal narrative stems from a difficult childhood. If you felt your parents weren’t there for you, you went into survival mode.

Instead of exploring your environment with curiosity and playfulness, you became hypervigilant.

You craved certainty and clear answers to keep yourself safe. You feared failure as a sign of unworthiness. You told yourself making mistakes meant you were stupid, so you avoided taking risks.

That created a limiting internal narrative that kept you small and prevented you from reaching for more.

Often, the critical voice inside your head is an extension of authority figures from your past. If you were told you couldn’t do certain things or witnessed your parents being overly fearful, you might take on an anxious internal narrative.

Changing your narrative means challenging that voice and creating a new one of your own. You do this by unveiling evidence to support your new story.

Make a list of accomplishments to prove you are capable of doing hard things. Make another list of risks you took that paid off. You can even remember failures that moved you forward and what you learned from them.

3. Create a Cohesive Story of Your Past

Changing your narrative requires making sense of your past. It means telling the truth about what happened and refusing to make excuses for parents or caregivers who fell short of meeting your needs.

It’s not about blaming your parents. You may have heard that you have to understand or forgive them because they did the best they could. But that’s beside the point.

When you tell yourself a story about your childhood that is untrue, you prevent healing and make changing your narrative more difficult.

You can even create disease in your body when you refuse to acknowledge your authentic emotions. [2] That means it’s imperative that you stop sugarcoating your past.

It’s common for adult children with traumatic childhoods to paint an inaccurate picture of a happy family to protect themselves from the painful truth. You hold onto a view of your parents as loving and protective even when they rarely demonstrated love or protection.

Perhaps, they have shown quite the opposite with rejection, abandonment, and putting you in frightening situations. You must be willing to speak the truth about your past to create a brighter future.

4. Change Your Expectations

In research studies, expectations impact how we react to a treatment. This is called the placebo effect and proves the power of our minds to control our outcomes.[3]

If you expect to feel better after taking a certain medication, chances are you will. If you expect not to feel better, chances are you won’t.

The same principle applies to your internal narrative’s influence on your outcomes. You get what you expect rather than what you deserve. If you begin to expand your possibilities and expect more out of life, you will get it.

This is not the same as positive self-talk. In fact, research shows that positive self-talk can have negative effects if you don’t truly believe what you’re saying.[4]

Changing your narrative does not mean lying to yourself. It means questioning whether what you’re telling yourself is true.

Just because something happened in the past, for example, does not mean it will happen the same way in the future.

5. Simon Says Add the Word “Yet”

In this video clip, marketing expert Simon Sinek explains how changing your narrative has the power to change your life. On the flip side, sticking with the familiar story you tell yourself will limit the scope of what’s possible for you.

Sinek tells about an interaction with a homeless woman in which he helped increase her daily income by changing the wording on her sign. As a result, his subject earned in only two hours what she normally made in a whole day.

Rather than working the rest of the day at her new higher wage, she packed up her belongings after two hours because she believed she had met her daily quota.

For a more relevant example, your narrative may insist you can’t make more than $75K per year. This is known as a limiting belief that makes it difficult to envision a future different from your past. You will put unconscious barriers in your way to prevent you from rising higher than your expected salary.

Simon Sinek suggests adding “yet” to the end of any such limiting beliefs. In his video he uses the example, “I’m not famous – yet.” All of a sudden, the possibilities for your life become endless.

6. Avoid Missing Tile Syndrome

If your floor or ceiling is missing a tile, you will tend to focus on the gap rather than the surrounding tiles firmly in place. As a healthy human being, your brain is wired toward this negative bias (which is useful as a survival skill).[5]

However, you can train your brain to focus on abundance rather than lack. This is called gratitude, and it’s a huge predictor of success.

Gratitude is not the same as pretending things are different from what they are. You simply choose to focus more on what you have than what you’re missing.

Changing your narrative to one of abundance will bring in more of what you want. In the same way, increasing your expectations will attract better outcomes, and gratitude for your current circumstances will have a similar effect.

7. Changing Your Narrative With Self-Compassion

You may have noticed you’re hardest on yourself. You’d never berate someone else for making a mistake the way you do yourself, or call them a failure for falling short of a goal.

Self-compassion means offering yourself the same level of support and understanding as a friend or family member. Be kind to yourself when things don’t turn out the way you planned.

Treating yourself with kindness will create an authentic change in your internal voice, rather than trying to fool yourself with positive mantras.

It’s common to fall back on your old story that things will never change when you feel you’re falling short.

When you fail at something that was important to you, remember the importance of a growth mindset. Failure provides evidence of your effort and courage to stretch outside your comfort zone.

8. Feel a Range of Emotions

We tend to identify certain emotions as positive and others as negative. But all our emotions have something to tell us. It’s necessary to engage with them in their entirety for a healthy, balanced life.

Approach your feelings with a spirit of curiosity and non-judgment, and remember that they are all valid. Rather than running away from your emotions, feel them.

When we feel “bad,” we tend to rationalize our feelings or shame ourselves for feeling them.

Rationalizing looks like: “It’s not so bad,” “Other people have it worse,” or “I’ll get past this soon.” All are true in the long run but not authentic to how you feel in the moment.

Practicing mindfulness meditation will help you stay present with your feelings without judging them. Rather than fighting with your thoughts, you simply observe and accept them.

Research shows that meditation helps reduce anxiety, which, in turn, creates more clarity and confidence.[6]

Final Thoughts

Changing your narrative is more than Pollyanna’s thinking and positive self-talk. It requires taking an honest look at your past and creating a cohesive and reliable story about your life.

With the tools you’ve learned in this article, you can quickly and easily rewrite your narrative in an authentic way.

Rather than overriding your emotions, you will get in touch with them. At the same time, you’ll supercharge your potential for success and connection, both with yourself and others.

Featured photo credit: Peter Conlan via


[1] Mindset Works: Dr. Dweck’s research into growth mindset changed education forever
[2] Journal of Psychosomatic Research: Emotion suppression and mortality risk over a 12-year follow-up
[3] WebMD: What Is the Placebo Effect?
[4] Psychological Science: Positive Self-Statements
[5] Verywellmind: What Is the Negativity Bias?
[6] Clinical Psychology Review: Meditation and Anxiety Reduction

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Think Like Elon Musk With First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking or reasoning from first principles is one of the best strategies to use for breaking down complex problems and coming up with original solutions. It’s also one of the best ways to learn the art of thinking clearly.

Reasoning from first thinking has been used for years by many successful people such as John Boyd (military strategist), Johannes Gutenberg (inventor), and Aristotle (ancient philosopher). However, no one has demonstrated the benefits of First Principles Thinking in our modern world better than Elon Musk.

At 46, Elon Musk has built three multibillion-dollar organizations that have revolutionized our world – Tesla Motors (Automotive), PayPal (Financial Services), and SpaceX (Aerospace). His success is linked to his ability to solve complex problems and his incredible work ethic.

While work ethic plays a key role in mastering what you do and succeeding, there’s more. When it comes to success, it has little to do with how much time you put in something but more to do with the way you think.

Read on and learn how First Principles Thinking helps you to solve complex problems, increase productivity, and achieve your biggest goals.

What Is First Principles Thinking?

A first principle is a logical conclusion of an assumption. In short, it cannot be deduced further. Nearly two thousand years ago, the ancient philosopher Aristotle defined the Frst Principle as the basis from which an individual knows a thing. This is a way of thinking that scientists have embraced for years. Research studies show that scientists do their best to eliminate all forms of bias from their research.[1]

Some of the questions which they ask themselves include:

  • What has been proven?
  • What are we sure about?

First Principles Thinking forces you to dig deep to find the real truths of something. The French philosopher Rene Descartes used this thinking method with the Cartesian Doubt which forced him to doubt everything that he could systematically till what he had was pure undebatable truths.

In our modern world, you don’t have to dig deep to the atomic level to understand every problem you are facing. All you have to do is go down one or two levels deeper than the ordinary person. At every level, you’ll get different solutions.

John Boyd, a famous military strategist created an experiment that will help you learn how to use first principles thinking in your daily life:

Imagine you have these things:

  • A military tank
  • A bicycle

You can break these items down to their constituent parts:

  • Military tank – Steel armor plates, metal treads, and a gun
  • Bicycle – Wheels, seat, gears, and handlebars

You can use these individual parts to create something different yet remarkable. This is how you use the principle of first thinking. You break down a situation to its core and then put them back together in a better way. In short, it’s deconstructing to reconstruct better.

Example of First Principles Thinking: Elon Musk and SpaceX

The most fascinating thing about Elon Musk is not what he thinks about but how he thinks. Here’s what he once said:

‘I think people’s thinking process is too bound by convention or analogy to prior experiences… You have to build up the reasoning from the ground up—“from the First Principles” is the phrase that’s used in physics. You look at the fundamentals and construct your reasoning from that, and then you see if you have a conclusion that works or doesn’t work, and it may or may not be different from what people have done in the past.’

To understand reality, he starts with bare facts – not intuition. While we think we know a lot of things, the truth is we don’t know as much as we think. Studies have shown that decision-making works best when we use strategies. Therefore, relying on our intuition isn’t a good idea when solving complex problems.[2]

Musk’s way of thinking is completely different from the average person’s thought process. He starts by focusing on what he wants to achieve – say building a rocket. Then he dives into the first principles of the problem.

Rockets are expensive. And this is one of the problems that he faced when he wanted to send people to Mars. Since he didn’t have the resources to buy a rocket, he asked himself, “What are rockets made of?” He found his answer – carbon fiber, copper, aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, and titanium.

He then asked himself, “What are the values of these materials on the market?” He found that these materials were two percent the cost of a rocket.

So, why is it expensive to get a rocket to Mars? Since Musk spends most of his time learning, he started learning rocket science. He found that getting a rocket is expensive because people don’t use first principles thinking. He then went on to create SpaceX to discover whether he can build rockets from scratch.

During an interview with Kevin Rose, he summarized his approach by saying:

‘I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy… First principle is kind of a physics way of looking at the world, you boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, “okay, what are we sure is true?” … and then reason up from there.’

The Power of First Principles Thinking

Most people use traditional thinking to understand different situations and solve complex problems. Traditional thinking involves using intuition and analogies. While we’d like to know everything to solve problems quickly and efficiently, the truth is we don’t know lots of things. Therefore, relying on our intuition can make it harder for us to understand and solve problems.

Another aspect that you should keep in mind is analogies can never replace understanding. While it’s easy for you to reason by analogy, you’ll have an easy time coming up with better answers when you embrace First Principles Thinking.

Thinking Out of the Box When Solving Problems

Reasoning from First Principles will enable you to step out of conventional and historical wisdom and discover new possibilities. When you understand the underlying principles, everything will start making sense.

First Principles Thinking is useful when you are:

  • Trying to solve a complex problem
  • Doing something for the first time
  • Doing your best to understand a complex issue

In these three areas, your thinking will get better when you avoid making assumptions or allowing others to frame and solve problems for you.

Most people believe that creativity is a trait that only a handful of people are born with – that it’s either you have it or not. Research studies have shown that this isn’t true.[3]

Every human being is creative. However, during the early stages, busy parents and teachers can beat out of us. When we become adults, we start thinking conventionally because it’s easier than using first principles thinking. When you start using First Principles Thinking, everything becomes possible.

Applicable to Everyday Problems

First Principle Thinking is not just applicable when solving rocket science problems or complex scientific equations. You can use it to solve problems in your day-to-day life.

Here are two examples:

Assumption: I’ll need a lot of money to grow my business

First Principle Thinking:

  • What do you require to grow your business? You’ll need to sell products or services to more clients.
  • Do you have to invest a lot of money to sell products or services to new clients? Not really. However, you’ll need access to these clients using inexpensive methods.
  • Who can help you access these clients? And how can you come up with a win-win deal for both parties? You can consider partnering with businesses that serve these clients and splitting the profits.

Assumption: I have to put in a lot of time and energy to become a successful writer

First Principle Thinking:

  • What do you need to create good content and make a living as a writer? You would need a good number of well-paying clients and audiences who appreciate your work and are willing to buy your articles.
  • What do you need to have a larger audience? You need to learn about the most effective marketing methods. Focusing on selling your pieces to improve the lives of your audience will help you achieve your goal.

How to Master First Principles Thinking

First Principle Thinking will help you develop a different view of the world and solve complex problems in ways no other can fathom. Here are 3 simple steps that Elon Musk recommends you to use:

1. Identify Assumptions

We all make assumptions in different areas of our lives. Some of the common assumptions include:

I’ll need to invest in expensive equipment to boost my productivity level. I don’t have time to work on complex projects…

The next time you are faced with a complex problem, write down every assumption that comes to mind. You’ll be fascinated by this exercise.

2. Break Down the Problem

As we said earlier, fundamental principles are the basic elements of the truths of something. To discover these truths, you need to ask yourself powerful questions.

Here is a great example that Elon Musk used during an interview with Kevin Rose:

Somebody could say, “Battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be. Historically, it has cost $600 per kilowatt-hour. It’s not going to be much better than that in the future.”

With First Principles, I say, “What are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the stock market value of the material constituents?” It’s got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation and a seal can.

Break that down on a material basis and say, “If we bought that on the London Metal Exchange, what would each of those things cost?” It’s like $80 per kilowatt hour.

Conclusion? You just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.

You don’t have to follow conventional ways of thinking to achieve your goals. Thinking differently is the way to go.

3. Create New Solutions

After identifying and breaking down your assumptions into basic truths, you need to create insightful solutions. Here’s an example that will guide you:

Assumption: I don’t have time to exercise and achieve my health goals.

First Principles Thinking:

  • What do you need to achieve your health goals? You need to exercise for five hours a week (an hour every day).
  • Can I achieve my goals by exercising less frequently? Yes! You can exercise for fifteen minutes three days a week. Doing high-intensity body workouts (HIIT) will help you achieve your health goals easily and quickly.

What You Can Do Now

  • Identify an assumption you have on something you have always wanted to do but hesitate to do so.
  • Ask yourself “what do you really need to do that?” You may need to do a bit of research to find out if you’re not sure about it.

first principles thinking steps


As you strive to achieve your goals, you’ll be faced with a lot of problems. Your mind will always come up with assumptions when you are trying to solve a complex problem.

Breaking these assumptions down to discover the underlying truths will help you come up with solutions to problems that seem impossible. Learning how to develop First Principles Thinking will pay off in spades in the long run. You can apply First Principles Thinking in your daily life easily.

Featured photo credit: Per Lööv via


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What Is Opportunity Cost And How to Calculate It?

In our modern world, there are endless alternatives. Therefore, it’s difficult to choose an opportunity that is right for you. Have you ever found yourself wondering whether you should quit or stay in your job, accept an offer or give it up for another, or purchase or survive without? Do you know the cost or opportunity you can gain when you choose one from another other?

There is a simple and practical method that solves this problem. It’s about finding out the opportunity cost. When you understand opportunity cost, you have the power to measure every alternative with precision and make the right decisions.

What is Opportunity Cost?

In the field of economics, opportunity cost is the value that you have to forgo when you choose an option over another good option. It is a concept you can apply in many situations, from deciding which projects you should pursue to spending time with loved ones instead of working overtime. Most people overlook opportunity costs because the benefits are usually hidden from view.

One of the key principles of economics is there is no such thing as free lunch or something for nothing. The resources that you have – time, autonomy, and money are scarce.[1] Choosing one will require you to forego lots of amazing opportunities.

Every alternative has a unique set of pros and cons. The simplest examples involve your daily purchases. Since you cannot buy everything you need, you tend to compare products, the amount of money you’ll pay, and the number of goods that you’ll get.

To boost your productivity and efficiency in decision making, you have to have priorities. Every time you choose something, you forgo other alternatives together with their benefits. The true cost of something is what you’ll have to give up to get.

Why You Should Care About Opportunity Cost

When economists look at opportunity cost, they consider two types:

  • Explicit – These are costs that are incurred when you take a specific course of action. These costs are usually associated with a decision. And they include wages, stock purchases, utilities, and rent to name a few. Any amount that is required to move due to a decision falls under this category.
  • Implicit – These are costs that you may or may not incur by forgoing a course of action. They are difficult to identify because they are indirect. They represent benefits or income that you could have generated had you gone for the alternative choice.

Opportunity cost matters not only in economics but also in real life. It is what you are giving up to get something. For instance, by choosing to buy a particular brand, you lose the opportunity to buy and try all other substitutes.

Another huge dilemma that affects a lot of people is choosing to start a business or advance their careers. At first, the cost of starting a new business can make you think twice about following this path. Yet, starting a business comes with lots of opportunities. On the other hand, advancing your career can enable you to develop new skills and get ahead in life. However, you’ll easily notice that entrepreneurs tend to achieve more of what they want than those who are employed.

If you choose to start a business, you’ll have a harder time compared to those who choose to advance their careers. However, in the long term, you’ll achieve your goals. Analyzing such situations will help you understand the concept of opportunity cost and make the best decision without much effort.

How Opportunity Cost Relates to the Production Possibilities Curve

The Production Possibilities Curve is a model that demonstrates the tradeoffs linked to allocating resources between the production of two commodities.[2] The Production Possibilities Curve clearly illustrates the concepts of scarcity, opportunity cost, efficiency, and contractions.

For instance, say a manager splits her work hours between meetings and completing her tasks. This Production Possibilities Curve would show her productivity rate using the available resources:

Production Possibilities Curve

If she uses 3 hours for meetings, she can only do 4 tasks. However, if she gives up 2 hours of meeting time, she can complete 10 tasks. The 2 hours she gives up for meeting make room for completing more tasks – that is the opportunity cost.

You should keep in mind that not every cost is monetary. Opportunity cost is usually expressed in terms of how much a product, service, or activity must be forgone to produce a good or pursue an activity. For instance, if you decide to buy a new phone, the cost of this activity isn’t just what you’ll pay for but the value of the forgone alternative, such as signing up for a self-improvement course.

Examples of Opportunity Cost

You cannot have everything you want in life. Your unlimited wants will always be confronted by a limited supply of time, services, money, goods, and opportunities. Scarcity forces us to make choices, and by extension incur costs and forgo alternatives. Here are five simple opportunity cost examples:

  • Your boss gives you $600 as a thank you gift. You can either go for a vacation or attend a seminar to develop new skills. You choose to attend the seminar. In this situation, the opportunity cost is the vacation.
  • You have been saving money for ten years now. When you check your account, you realize that you have $10,000. You want to invest the money to get better returns. You have to choose between depositing it in a bank to earn interest or investing in yourself to increase your productivity at work. Choosing the stock market will allow you to multiply your money faster. However, your opportunity cost is the development of important skills that would help you move forward in different aspects of your life.

How to Calculate Opportunity Cost (Step-by-Step)

To solve math problems, you need to use formulas. While calculating opportunity cost might seem like a math problem, there is no defined math formula. As we said earlier, opportunity cost is the value of the forgone alternative. The value can be measured in time, money, and satisfaction. Therefore, there is a mathematical way to think of opportunity costs.

A simple way to calculate opportunity cost is to find the ratio of what you are giving up to what you are gaining. When you think of opportunity cost in this manner, everything becomes easy.

Opportunity Cost = What You Give Up / What You Gain

In the world of business, the concept of opportunity cost applies in various processes. Entrepreneurs can think of opportunity cost in this manner:

Opportunity Cost = Revenue – Economic Profit

To understand opportunity cost in the business world, you need to know what economic profit is. Economic profit is the money that a business makes after deducting both implicit and explicit costs. The idea is that business needs to generate revenue over opportunity costs to grow and thrive.

If an organization cannot earn an economic profit, it will eventually fail. The business owner will have to leave the business and the available resources will be put to other uses.

For the majority of people, it makes sense to think of opportunity cost from the aspect of sacrificing and gaining. You should use opportunity cost when making decisions, especially the important ones.

Using opportunity cost calculations will allow you to determine what is valuable and identify the returns of the forgone alternative. As an entrepreneur, you should use opportunity costs to make decisions that will positively impact your business and increase returns.

How to Implement the Concept of Opportunity Cost?

As you have seen, most situations in life revolve around opportunity cost. Every time you make a choice, you automatically lose other alternatives that you could have chosen. This is how you create priorities that influence your decision-making process.

Opportunity cost does not always revolve around money. We make sacrifices for things that have no physical price. Research studies have shown that people make decisions based on their emotions.[3]

There are lots of hidden costs that opportunities can have, and every decision has a cost. The cost could either be direct or indirect. For instance, you can choose working more over spending time with your family. You may make more money, but that will probably cost a fulfilling family relationship.

What You Can Do Now

Think about one thing that you bought recently. How would you spend the same amount of money if you didn’t buy that? That’s the opportunity cost.


As you have seen, every action you’ll take has an opportunity cost. You should always compare every economic opportunity and choose the option with minimal costs. However, when making personal decisions, things might not be straightforward.

Opportunities can have similar costs due to emotional or personal reasons. In such instances, having a clear attitude and using the tips that we’ve covered here will help you make the right decisions and boost your productivity.

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via


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What Is the Circle of Control (And How to Use It to Stop Feeling Powerless)

I am a staunch believer in the saying, “Strike a balance.” However, I try not to dwell too much on events beyond my control. My gardener taught me that!

When I asked him how he knew that the plants would grow well, he replied, “I am good at what I do, but I am never sure if the plants would grow well. I can only control how I take care of them, not the outcome. I do my job well and then leave the rest to nature.”

In a way, he focuses on the Circle of Control.

Can you recall how many hours, days, or years we spend simply focusing on and worrying about things we can’t control? Just imagine how thinking like a gardener could bring tremendous positive change in our life?

If you want to stop feeling powerless and regain control in your life, then peruse this article with erudite information on how to use the circle of control to your advantage.

“Do Your Best And Leave The Rest” – Bible in a Year: Psalms 148-150: 1 Corinthians 15:29-58

What Is the Circle of Control?

Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People inspired this way of thinking where the focus must be on the circle of control. All issues, according to Covey, fall into one of two rings:

  • The Circle of Concern represents everything that troubles or concerns us. We don’t have much influence over these issues.
  • The Circle of Influence represents everything we can control or affect somehow. Your Circle of Influence is usually contained inside your Circle of Concern, leaving you with an area you are concerned about yet unable to alter.

circles of influence

The only thing you could control is the effort you put into it – just like my Gardner!

Where Should You Focus Your Energy on?

The model helps us identify where we should focus our time and energy. The inner circle is the Circle of Influence, and The outer circle is the Circle of Concern. When your Circle of Influence expands, the Circle of Concern shrinks, and conversely, when the Circle of Influence shrinks, the Circle of Concern expands.

Focusing your energy on things you can alter can help you make more effective adjustments. It increases your Circle of Influence. But when you focus your energy on things beyond your control, the Circle of Influence shrinks.


It is a waste of time thinking about all the things that you do not have any control over. You focus your time, energy, and mental peace over such things, and you never have enough of these to focus on the positive aspects such as growth, hope and confidence, etc.

You will find that people start avoiding company with people who constantly talk about what’s wrong in life.

So what should be done?

You need to focus your energy on things in your control. Things that you can influence and create an impact. These things demand your attention if you want to live a fulfilling life. Work on what you can and stop worrying about things that are not in your control.

People with a high Circle of Influence are regarded as positive influences. Conversely, people would avoid you when you have a low Circle of Influence since you will be considered a negative influence.

The Circle of Concern, Influence, and Control

Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding by studying the three circles:

  • Circle of Concern
  • Circle of Influence
  • Circle of Control

Let’s begin with what is important to a single person. This is known as the ‘Circle of Concern,’ It encompasses all of the ‘Big Three’ areas.

Circle of Concern

The simple graphical representation explains that your Circle of Concern includes everything external such as war, politics, pandemics, weather, etc. It depicts everything important to a certain person. This comprises factors that a person may affect and control.

The Circle of Concern will always contain numerous things outside of a person’s influence or control by its very nature. [1] For example, most people are concerned about the weather and how it affects their everyday lives, yet they have little control over it.

Circle of Influence

Since humans are social creatures, an individual’s Circle of Concern may be influenced by others. This is their Circle of Influence, and it has to do with the quality of their connections and their dialogues with others.

The behavior of your team, your company’s work culture, your promotion prospects, etc. are all examples of the Circle of Influence. You may be concerned about the long working hours (Circle of Worry), how can you reduce the workload falls into the Circle of Influence.

The Circle of Influence is an excellent tool for effectively directing your time and energy. It has the potential to improve your performance, personal growth, and overall enjoyment in life.

Circle of Control

A circle of control entails how you respond to these external situations. Your thoughts, your attitude, and your enthusiasm are what form the circle of control. These are the things that you have the power to control.

‘Control,’ refers to what we can directly cause to happen due to our decisions, regardless of whether or not others agree. Our Circle of Control can only relate to ourselves in this way, and even then, only to our conscious self. What is the reason behind this?

‘Control,’ as per ontological perspective,[2] is inextricably tied to conscious decision. ‘Control = Awareness + Choice,’ as the adage goes. As a result, a person can only exercise control over parts of their own way of being that they are aware of.

We typically behave without conscious deliberation about how we will act and play out well-worn behavior patterns since much of what we do is habitual, or what we call “transparent” in the ontological perspective.

Acting in this manner implies that we are acting outside of our immediate control. It’s important to remember that habits are more than simply physical behaviors; they also encompass how we view and interpret our surroundings.

As a result, the more our capacity for self-awareness, the greater our ability to command our state of being.

Why Is the Circle of Control Important?

Focusing on the Circle of Control allows you to keep your psyche healthy. In other words, you can expect better mental wellness when your life is only focused on things that are within your control.

It becomes evident today that most of our time and energy should be focused on activities inside our sphere of influence.

We should be aware of our Circle of Influence and spend a reasonable amount of time there. Daily, we must engage with other individuals and communities; we must pay close attention.

The Circle of Worry, on the other hand, should be ignored. We should strive to have no control over it. Of course, it’s easier said than done.

This mindset isn’t simply useful for dealing with anxiety. It’s also a good rule to follow in many aspects of your life. What better approach to being more productive than spending less time doing things you don’t have control over?

Here are three reasons that elucidate why the circle of control is important:

Proactive Mindset vs Reactive Mindset

Proactive people (whom you would want to associate with) always scout for people with a higher Circle of Influence. Whereas reactive people succumb to their thoughts of negativity in response to external events.

Developing a proactive mindset is very important to improve your focus and productivity and develop greater connections.

You might have heard the saying, “Like attracts like.”

Proactive people (whom you would want to associate with) always scout for people with a higher Circle of Influence. They stay away from people who bring negativity. It is important to understand what type of Circle of Influence you have and bring the necessary changes in outlook towards life if you want to attract all the good in life.

Proactive people stay away from people who bring negativity. It is important to understand what type of Circle of Influence you have and bring the necessary changes in outlook towards life if you want to attract all the good in life.

Boosting Focus and Productivity

When you know where to look and where to concentrate, you automatically reduce your worries. In the process, you also become more productive since you stop worrying about things that are not within your control.

Increased focus is another advantage of using the circle of control. Your undivided attention remains on things that matter – things that you can control! As a result, you become more productive and effective in all aspects of life.

Improving Mental Wellness

The time you begin to spiral is the most difficult element of thinking about unclear situations. Your mind keeps replaying the worst-case scenario, making you feel even worse.

This is where deciding on a plan of action that you can control may be beneficial. Doing something constructive, in my experience, requires you to focus on that task and breaks the cycle. It also helps you release some tension by engaging in physical activities.

The most significant advantage of worrying less is happiness. That is, at the very least, something worth pursuing. So, pause for a while and consider your options. How much time do you devote to your Circle of Influence?

How to Apply the Circle of Control in Life

After learning all about the Crcle of Control, Concern, and Influence, you would wonder how to start implementing it in life.

Being educated about various aspects of life comes in handy since you have prior knowledge of how to deal when the situation presents itself.

  1. When you feel anxious or start getting worried over external events, you can simply change your mindset to focus on things within your control. You have already learned that things beyond your control are not worth brooding or worrying over.
  2. When you feel overwhelmed is you can start identifying your focus and priorities in life. It will allow you to stay focused on what’s important to you and remind you why you should maintain a mental balance.
  3. When anything unplanned or uncontrollable happens such as the pandemic, simply focus on what you can influence and control.

Try and relate to the past three years of your life or to the point when the pandemic shook the world. Was it within our control? It wasn’t!

But many people allowed their minds to be gripped into negativity. They started concerning themselves with thoughts of worst scenarios rather than focusing on what they could control.

In such times, the only thing one could do was be more careful and remain safe with social distancing. That was the only one that had the power to control. Anything beyond that was the circle of concern.

People who focus more on the Circle of Control are more confident and have a positive outlook on life. They reflect hope and growth.

But if we focus on the circle of concern, our fears and “what if” thoughts might overwhelm us. People are terrified of the pandemic, war rumors, the economy, the weather, death, etc. All of these things are taken into account in our Circle of Concern.

When we focus on issues beyond our control, we become more stressed and prone to accusations, anxiety, wrath, and victimization.

If you want to apply the Circle of Control in life, learn to focus on things you can control.

What You Can Do Now:

Download this template and start to brain dump based on your current struggles/challenges.

How to Expand Your Circles of Control

The first thing you need to understand is why you need to expand the circle of control. You have learned that applying the Circle of Control in life is important. But that is only the first step.

If you want to live a life full of positivity, you need to expand your Circle of Control. This won’t be easy since you need to change your belief systems and way of life.

However, you can follow these steps to make things easier for you.

1. Find Your Purpose

When trying to expand your Circle of Control, you need to focus on finding your purpose. Whatever you believe in is your sense of purpose. Your driving force, motivation, and guiding light as you strive for a life that you believe would fulfill you.

Your feeling of meaning is inextricably related to your life’s purpose. The only difference is that you have a single goal in life. However, a sense of purpose is not the same in every part of life. They are, however, all aligned.

At first, you should start with a broad goal. This is a more general sense of direction for your life. The first thing you should do is determine your life mission. This will help you maintain everything else in your life in line with this broad goal for coherence.

For example, if your overall life goal is to be more peaceful, you’ll endeavor to achieve that goal in all facets of your life. You’ll want to maintain positive relationships with your family.

You’ll want to do something that improves rather than degrades your mental health in terms of work. A consistent source of wealth will be an important aspect of your ambitions and will translate to your purpose.

What You Can Do Now:

Read more about the sense of purpose in this insightful article: How to Find a Sense of Purpose to Live a Full Life

2. Break Your Own Limiting Beliefs

Your belief system can be your greatest asset (or your greatest hindrance). If your belief system is limiting or biased, your growth will be limited.

If you want to enhance your circle of control, you need to expand your perspectives. You need to constantly challenge your thinking to check if there is any room to expand the sphere of influence.

There are times when our belief systems limit us from growing. Such limiting beliefs are enemies to the expansion of the circle of control. If it requires you to break your limiting beliefs, then be courageous enough to take action, as this is the next step to a greater life.

What You Can Do Now:

Let’s refer to the Circle of Control template you downloaded. Look at what you’ve written in the sphere of Control and Influence: What is one small thing that I could help here?

3. Develop a Growth Mindset

There are numerous perks to developing a growth mindset. It encourages you to stay curious, keep learning, and turn obstacles into opportunities. Eventually, it would help you progressively expand the circles of influence and control.

People with a growth mindset feel that they can improve their skills and intellect. They think that while people have innate talents and attributes, personal growth is essential for success.

On the other hand, those with fixed mindsets feel that skill and intellect are things you either have or don’t.

If you want to develop a growth mindset, start by understanding your current situation. If you don’t know where you are, you won’t know where to go. Investigate why you want to have a growth mindset and look for instances of people who have adopted a development mentality.

What You Can Do Now?

Here is how you can develop a growth mindset: 17 Ways To Develop a Growth Mindset

Final Thoughts

Good happens when you focus all your energies on the positive facets of life. As a gist of the entire write-up, one needs to remember that when you learn to focus on the circle of control, you train your mind to develop a positive attitude towards life.

A life that reflects hope and confidence and shines nothing else but optimism. You can use the above action tips to help adapt the circle of control.

Featured photo credit: Sasha Freemind via


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How Being Too Nice Ruins Your Success And Happiness

Watch any feel-good movie, and that nice main character is going to get dumped on at some stage in the movie. Their boss might be straight out of The Devil wears Prada, or their brother is the equivalent of Scar trying to take down the king of the jungle, but the point is that being nice gets you in trouble.

Being nice is something we’re taught from birth. When you’re three, you’ve not grasped that barging someone out of the way for the red trike is considered impolite so an adult says “play nice,” and we learn that it’s a good thing.

But fast forward 20 years and suddenly, being too nice can get you in trouble. It can even stop you from earning a good salary, finding true love, or inventing something you believe in.

Ever ended up doing something you didn’t want to?

Chances are you did it because you didn’t want to let someone down, were worried about what people would think, or because it seemed easier.

Maybe you wanted to look like a team player, didn’t have the confidence to say “that looks dangerous, stupid, or way out of my comfort zone,” or were desperately in love with them but hadn’t plucked up the courage to say what you felt. Or maybe you wanted to be liked/loved/appreciated or were Marty McFly and hadn’t learned that just because someone calls you a chicken, it doesn’t make you one.

What’s Wrong With Being Too Nice?

What’s wrong with being nice? There are many reasons why we’re nice and most of the time, it’s a great thing to be. But did you know that nice people are more likely to earn less money?

Did you know that being nice can make you more stressed, less likely to get promoted, more likely to suffer burnout, mentally and physically ill, and even impact your ability to get your to-do list done?[1]

I’m sharing three examples that you may recognize. For each, I’ll help you spot the signs that being too nice is a problem, what to do, and examples of what being less nice could do for your health, happiness, success, and salary.

A study by Charlice Hurst, Beth Livingston, and Timothy Judge took 9,000 people who entered the labor force in the past decade and interviewed them about their careers, giving personality tests that were then measured against income data.

The news isn’t great and even worse for women. Regardless of their levels of agreeableness, women earned nearly 14% less than men. Agreeable men earned an average of $7,000 (£4,490) less than their disagreeable peers.[2]

So, do you need to be a scumbag to do well at work?

The good news is that you don’t need to ditch the niceness. You just need to control it and understand how it impacts your performance and the way people perceive you.

1. No Promotion Here

For instance, a client who had worked hard in their career never got considered for a promotion. New roles would come up, and their name was never in the mix. They said that despite managing a team of 15, they still weren’t considered board room material or able to advance their career.

One task I set them to do was to ask their team what they thought of them. (It’s not easy for any of us, and it’s even harder when you’re worried about what people will say or think about you.)

They discovered they were lovely, really lovely. Nothing was too much trouble. Their door was always open, they always made time for others, and they could whip up a cake for any occasion and be a shoulder to cry on no matter how busy they were.

So, what was wrong with that?

The downside of this was that they weren’t seen as aggressive enough. They weren’t hungry enough to forward their career as they seemed happy and content, and this made them seem like the wrong person for the job.

Being confronted with so much niceness didn’t make my client feel so good. When I pushed them on how they felt, it was hard for them to get angry but that was how they were feeling.

So, we set the goal to be seen as leadership material.

First, we explored who they thought was “badass” (their words not mine!) and what made them badass. They said these people were dynamic, didn’t take “no” for an answer, could overcome anything, and people liked them even when they were handing out unwelcome news or jobs.

They looked at their mannerisms, communication style, management style, etc., and worked on adding these to their style.

You might say, “copycat!” But it’s important to remember that you don’t walk into the office and shout, “Today, I’m going to act like my boss because I want their job!” This is an internal plan. No one needs to know.

Second, they looked at people they admired who had what they wanted in life. They loved sports and could name sports stars who were uber-fit, highly disciplined, and never quit.

Within weeks, that client had added goals and actions to their life that meant they were naturally choosing to exercise three times a week (often more) because of the way it made them feel. It made them feel invincible and like they could do anything. Good actions and results in one area of your life can lead to impressive results in other areas, too.

This person is now responsible for three more teams, introducing a new initiative for the company (something the business had never considered before my client mentioned their ideas), and is on the way to the board.

2. Collaborator Does Not Mean Yes-Man (or -Woman)

Sometimes, getting what you want in life feels impossible. When I hear sayings like “it is what it is” and “I can’t do anything about it,” then I know we’ve found things that are obstacles for that person.

Coaching is a way of getting the chance to say things that are in your head but you’ve never felt you could. We, humans, want to be liked. We don’t naturally choose a life of isolation⁠—you only need to look to the pandemic to see that.

So, we often keep quiet on something to “keep the peace.” If you worry that you are being too nice and not getting what you want, remember that you don’t need to start kicking puppies or shouting abuse in the street.

But you do need to remember to do the following:

  • Put yourself on the importance list.
  • Communicate what you want.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Learn that the word “No” is your friend.
  • Plan what you want and go for it.

If you find that you can’t easily speak up, reframe the way you see the world. Ask yourself, “If I don’t speak up, what am I agreeing to? What does this mean for other people I work/live with who struggle with this, too?”

Feeling a high level of pain around leaving things as they are will often lead to changing them.

For this team, the first thing we did was try to feel the pain of what being too nice all the time was doing for everyone. One person admitted that they did the same at home and felt like the family’s servant.

This team agreed that Monday meetings were pointless. We introduced an anonymous suggestion box, banning emails on a Friday (It’s amazing how few emails get sent if you know you can’t dump a job on someone else’s for the weekend!), and changed the host of each meeting so that everyone got to chair a meeting. This led to many innovative ideas, and the family servant felt the pain and communicated differently, too.

If you want to drop the yes-man or -woman act, learn how you like to communicate. You don’t need to be evil to be the right level of nice. Learn how you like to communicate and honor that, ensuring that you don’t let your concerns about being liked overrule your actions.

As a parent, pet owner, or boss, you have to make decisions that aren’t popular but keep people safe. It’s not something you enjoy, but you do that because you love and care. Remember that when you are people-pleasing.

3. Everything Is Perfect

It can be hard to spot truth from fiction. In this world of perfectionism, be on the side of being real and honest.

Do you know someone who has the perfect life? Perfect hair, perfect home, perfect job, perfect relationships, etc.?

Here’s the truth: no one’s life is perfect.

It’s important to remember that everyone needs to use a bathroom, everyone needs food and water, and everyone has a heart and a brain. Remembering our sameness rather than our differences can be a natural leveler before our mind starts racing with “My life isn’t like theirs!”

Those acting perfect are often struggling, saying things like, “I can’t let people see this mess.”, “I’d never go out like that!”, “Oh, it’s alright. I don’t need a lot of sleep.”

These are often the hardest to help because they don’t want to accept the situation. Having exceedingly high standards and meeting everyone’s expectations leaves the individual exhausted, unwell (physically and or mentally), overwhelmed, and often feeling unloved. Worse if you know someone like this, they’re likely to dismiss you and tell you that it’s you who’s got the issue!

If this is you, learn that setting very high standards can hurt your loved ones and colleagues.

I worked with a young parent who was trying to do everything for everyone, making them suffer. They didn’t have time for their own pursuits in life, and to say they felt drained was an understatement.

“If you won’t do it for yourself,” I said, “Will you do this for your children?” They looked at me puzzled so I added, “Do you expect them to be perfect? To get to adulthood and quit everything they enjoy in the pursuit of perfection for everyone else?”

It’s not always easy to change, so don’t dismiss the value of the chemicals your brain creates through simple actions. Happy chemicals can be tapped into when you need to override negative thoughts and take new action.

Below are some examples:

  • Dopamine– rewarding yourself for a job well done, ticking things off the to-do list, achieving something, helping others, food
  • Serotonin – exercise, good sleep, sun, massage, build your self-confidence
  • Endorphins – laughter, essential oils, dark chocolate, sex
  • Oxytocin – self-love, love for others, and dog hugs

This parent became clear on what they wanted. If you do not communicate your needs, how will people know you have them?

They then ringfenced their time—they didn’t just communicate what they wanted, but they also put the right boundaries in to ensure they got it. And lastly, they altered their attitude to the word bossy:

  • “Is it bossy I asked? Or is it assertive?”
  • “Is it selfishness? Or is it self-preservation?”

Learning how to express themselves with confidence and not expecting to be ignored or overridden meant they stuck to their goals and achieved them.

What connection do you put on words? Does it empower you or hold you back?

Final Thoughts

Put yourself on the importance list. Communicate what you want. Set boundaries, and learn that the word “No” is your friend. Plan what you want, and go for it.

Being a bit less nice doesn’t mean you are turning evil. It’s just a way of honoring yourself, too.

Featured photo credit: Lagos Techie via


[1] University of Notre Dame: Do Nice Guys And Gals Finish Last in Business?
[2] University of Notre Dame: Do Nice Guys And Gals Finish Last in Business?

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9 Ways to Overcome Fear of Uncertainty Effectively

The pandemic hit, the Great Resignation is happening, nobody knows if the current market hiccups are just that or an early sign of the bear market. There’s a lot going on that would make anyone nervous and uncertain about the future that’s to come.

But there have been problems, struggles, and challenges in the past as well and people dealt with them. So, in this article, we will learn the ins and outs, tips and tricks, advice, and wisdom from the past that can teach us how to overcome the fear of uncertainty.

So, here are the nine ways to overcome the fear of uncertainty effectively.

1. Find the Inner Locus of Control

There are two perspectives that you can have on life: the inner or the outer locus of control.

With the outer locus of control, you give up control over the events of your life to externalities, such as the government, other people, the economy, or the politicians.

But with the inner locus of control, you’re the person who is in control of the things that happen in your life. You take responsibility for your actions, and you start to take control over your life.

The people who look at life through the lens of the inner locus of control suppress fear far more easily than those who don’t.

2. Learn How to Let Go of Things You Can’t Control

There’s an adage from the AA that goes, “God, give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

If you want to deal with the fear of uncertainty, you will need to distinguish between the things that you can and can’t control, and let go of the things you can’t control.

The things you’re not responsible for and should let go of are:

  • Other people’s opinions about yourself
  • Other people’s actions and responsibilities
  • The economy
  • The weather
  • Traffic
  • The future

3. Learn How to Let Go of Things You Can Control

Just because you can control something, doesn’t mean you should control something.

With the four levels of consciousness, you start from the person who doesn’t have any control of your life’s environment. Then, you slowly start taking over control and you realize that you have agency—that you can change things if you just apply yourself. Then it starts to take over you.

You start taking control of more and more things in your life (and in others) because you start believing that nothing will be done if you don’t have your finger in it. You felt the impact of taking control, and now it feels ridiculous to give someone else a part of that control.

But that’s exactly what you need to do. Just because you can change something doesn’t mean you should.

This is where you have to learn how to let go of the things where you could make an impact and focus on a single issue. Because a person who chases multiple hares doesn’t catch a single one.

4. Use the Stockdale Paradox

Stockdale paradox is named after Jim Stockdale, a U.S. vice admiral who got locked up in Vietnam during the war. There, he witnessed how his fellow P.O.W lost all motivation to be saved during their imprisonment.

He saw two kinds of people:

  • Those who believed they would be saved by a certain date and were oblivious to the current state of those camps
  • Those who believed that they will never be saved and who looked at the horrible daily things in the camp as their future

The former lost faith when the date came and they weren’t saved. So, Stockdale coined the paradox that helped him survive for years in the camp until he got rescued:

“You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

5. Realize That Plans Are Worthless, But Planning Is Everything

When you hear the sentence “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything” from one of the most decorated U.S. army officers, the leader of the D-Day invasion, and a former president Dwight D. Eisenhower, you know it has merit.

What this means is that you need to start preparing for the future, but that when that future comes, all those plans will be changed. You won’t be able to predict the future, but the preparation that you will make for that future will make all the difference.

It’s like you starting a business and planning how it will become profitable. The plan will give you a direction, but you will pivot your strategy and your products depending on the circumstances that will occur within the years.

But the merit is in the planning part where you will maybe learn new skills that will be useful in the future, no matter what it is. When you learn how to think critically or how to adhere to data-driven decision-making, you will be able to use to skills no matter what the future holds.

If you want to overcome the fear of uncertainty, you should plan for the future. But make sure that when the future happens, you adapt to it.

6. Use the Worm’s and the Eagle’s Perspectives

The worm can only see a few inches in front of himself while the eagle can see miles ahead. The worm can see all the little details like the leaves, puddles, and trees, while the eagle can see the mountains, forests, and seas.

In life, you need to learn to see the world from both perspectives.

With the eagle perspective, you look at the bigger picture—where the path is going to take you in life, what you’ll do in ten years, will you still have a career, and will the current relationship still be good in years to come.

With the worm perspective, you focus on the first steps ahead of you. You plan out your daily routines and habits.

As Will Smith would say in Will, you aren’t making a wall, you’re just laying the best possible bricks day by day.[1]

Fear of uncertainty can happen because you lost sense of one or the other perspective. If you’re fearful for overall trends that are happening around you, that means that you need to get back to your eagle perspective and see the big picture. What changed and how will you adapt to it?

If you’re fearful that you’re not reaching your goals effectively, that means that you need to get back to the worm perspective and change your daily habits and routines. The habits will need to lead you to achieve your goals and dreams, not the other way around.

7. Go Across the Threshold to Prevent “What Ifs”

One more way to overcome the fear of uncertainty is to go all-in on something. Did you think that Frodo went halfway to Mordor to drop the ring and suddenly had a “what if I go back?” No, because he crossed the threshold.

That’s a term coined by Joseph Campbell, described in his book,  A Hero With A Thousand Faces, where he mentions the hero’s journey. The hero, early on his journey, crosses a threshold from which he can’t come back and he has to keep moving forward.

So, when you’re uncertain about things in the future, it can mean that you’re still leaving yourself time to back down. If you want to run a half-marathon, book the time, date, and place, and pay the fee. That will be the threshold that will make you start preparing for it because you went all in.

To prevent thinking in “what if” terms, go all-in on a single thing, and your mind will stop asking “what if?”.

If you limit your options, your mind will convince you that you made the right decision. And don’t think that it means to have less freedom—less variety doesn’t mean less freedom.

8. Understand That the Media Isn’t Your Friend

A hundred years ago, a village only 40 miles away from you could have burned down completely and you wouldn’t know about it. Today, you know about every single flooding, fire, earthquake that’s happening in the entire world, where most of that information doesn’t have any impact on your day-to-day interactions.

Hans Rosling said, “If you want to understand the world, don’t use media.” We think that the world is worse than it is because all we see in the media are images of catastrophes instead of good things.

One example is suicide. There was so much news about the growing rate of suicides all over the world, but the truth is that suicide rates have dropped by 25% in the last twenty years. Also, according to Gapminder, less than 6% of plastic waste ends up in the ocean.[2]

Media can greatly influence your fear for the future and make you uncertain about a lot of things, but you need to realize that most of them are simply noise.

9. Be Kind to Yourself Because You Will Fail

All of the ways to overcome the fear of uncertainty work, but that doesn’t mean that all of them will work for you 100% of the time. Sometimes, there will be times when you will fail and still worry about it.

The important thing is to remember to be kind to yourself because there will be times when you will stumble, but that only means that you need to keep pushing forward.

It’s like starting to go to the gym. There will be a time when you’ll miss out on going to the gym, but that doesn’t mean that you will stop going altogether. No, a single miss is a single miss, and you will be better the next day.

So, remember to be kind to yourself because you will stumble, but that only means that you will rise stronger.

Key Takeaways

We covered the nine ways to get over the fear of uncertainty:

  1. Find the inner locus of control.
  2. Learn how to let go of things you can’t control.
  3. Learn how to let go of things you can control.
  4. Use the Stockdale paradox.
  5. Realize that planning is essential, but plans are worthless.
  6. Use the worm’s and the eagle’s perspectives.
  7. Go all-in on something by “crossing the threshold.”
  8. Understand that the media is painting a faulty picture.
  9. Remember to be kind to yourself when you stumble.

If you follow these ways, you will surely overcome the fear of uncertainty.

Featured photo credit: Einar Storsul via


[1] Growthabit: Will Book Summary, Review, Notes
[2] Gapminder: Q14 – Plastic in oceans

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How to Be More Courageous in Life

Do you have a lot of fears in life? Are you struggling with the fear of failure, the fear of uncertainty and the fear of success?

You don’t have to be in fear all the time! Learn how to deal with uncertainties and take control of your mind to become courageous in life in this episode of the Lifehack Show.

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Startling Life Success Tips That Help to Live the Life of Dreams

Success in life is different for everyone. Success might mean achieving their dream career. It can also mean owning a luxurious home, traveling to all the places we’ve ever wanted to go. It can also mean simply living happily ever after- just content and grateful every day that you wake up healthy and alive with nothing to worry about. Though success means something different for everyone, there are certain success principles we all can improve on if we choose to do so.

Find out the important success tips in this episode of The Lifehack Show.

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Why the 10-80-10 Rule Is Key To Achieving Success

The 10-80-10 rule is an extension of the Pareto principle that says 80% of productivity/wealth is generated/owned by 20% of the population.[1] This ratio is often observable in various statistics and studies.

The 10-80-10 rule takes this principle and applies it more specifically to human behavior. It is also malleable, enabling people to move between categories. If we apply it to a company (just as an example), in essence, the 10-80-10 rule looks like this:

  • 10% Highly Productive Elite – This is the core of your business. These people will work all the hours that God sends for your company, leaving no stone unturned and generating the maximum possible productivity/revenue for you that they can.
  • 80% Productive – These lovely folks make up the majority of your business and will work 9-5, getting their tasks done and not making much of a fuss about it. They are less likely to offer innovation, but they are reliable, trustworthy, and dutiful.
  • 10% Unproductive and Defiant – These people are outliers and mercifully low in number, but they create work. They are difficult, unwilling to work hard, and generally take more from your company than they give.

This can also be applied in other areas of life. Morality is another example, with the vast majority (80%) of us being law-abiding citizens who may bend the rules occasionally, 10% being unscrupulously good, and 10% being out-and-out criminals.

Who Came Up With the 10-80-10 Rule?

As touched on earlier, the 10-80-10 rule is an off-shoot of the Pareto Principle, first conceived of in the early twentieth century by Italian civil engineer turned economist Wilfredo Pareto. He simply observed that 80% of the property in Italy, at that time, was owned by 20% of the population. Wealth distribution, according to Pareto, was divided 20/80 across all sections of society. The country, age, gender, or industry didn’t matter. This principle still applied.

Later on in the 1940s, Joseph M. Juran (himself an engineer and management consultant) applied the Pareto Principle to human behavior with the aim of improving quality control, positing that 80% of the success on any one project would be due to the efforts of 20% of the team working on it.

Since then, various researchers and theorists have expanded the Pareto principle into the 10-80-10 rule—observing that 10% are true leaders, 80% seek guidance from others, and 10% wilfully act in a counter-productive manner.[2]

How to Apply the 10-80-10 Rule to Management to Be More Successful

Well, let’s stay with the team/workforce model for now: if you want to improve productivity in your company, where should your focus be? All too often, “the squeaky wheels get the grease.” That is to say, we tend to try and fix what’s most broken in our organization (namely the bottom 10%) before we move on to the less broken.

When you realize, though, that you’re pouring resources into just 10% of your labor force, it starts to look very inefficient. Moreover, that 10% is comprised of folks who are highly unlikely to change their tune (statistically anyway). You need to focus on the 80%. That’s where you’ll have the most impact and where you’ll create the biggest uplift in productivity. The 80% aren’t (of course) completely equal. Some will sit closer to either of the 10% range, but this means that you should be able to increase the size of your top 10% to be more like 20 or 30%.

How Much of a Difference Would That Make?

Now, before you slam your laptop shut, haul off, and start brainstorming ideas about team-building exercises and corporate days out, it is first very important to understand the metric by which you measure productivity. Numbers on a spreadsheet or letters next to a person’s name only paint part of the picture.

What you value in your company is unique to you. As I’m constantly saying to entrepreneurs and business owners that I coach, you have to be specific with what you are asking of your team, your customers, and the universe at large. Ask a vague question and you’ll get a vague answer.

So, do the work of understanding exactly what is working for you and what isn’t. Simply saying that you want revenue to increase is not enough. By how much? In what areas? Who will we add value to increase their spending with us? Where and whom should we target for new growth?

Who Does This Desired Increase in Productivity Help You Become and Who Does It Serve?

Armed with this, you will have much more clarity to take to your team and with which to start formulating a plan of action. You can look at what would incentivize those in the 80% who just need a slight nudge. That’s where minimum effort will yield maximum results! So, start there.

A 2014 Gallup poll found that a third of the US workforce felt unmotivated in their jobs, with the highest levels of motivation found among managers.[3] This tells us two things:

  • Firstly, the unmotivated third is comprised partly of those in the 80% camp, but the entirety of the unmotivated 10% is in there, too. If you take them out (because they are those people), the remainder isn’t as many people and they are in a group that still wants to work and get on.
  • Secondly, those in a position of management (i.e. those who feel as though they can effect change in the company) tend to be the most motivated.

Now, let’s not confuse motivation with productivity. You can be as motivated as you like, but without proper strategy or direction, you’ll just be a hammer in search of a nail. Nevertheless, those in management who felt the most motivated to be productive are worth interrogating.

Why Did They Feel More Motivated?

I would posit that the answer is very simple: they felt heard and that they could affect change. It’s a hugely important part of human psychology that we feel as though our ideas, thoughts, and feelings are heard by others. When we feel ignored, we feel unvalued. When we feel unvalued, we are (naturally) unmotivated.

This is not to say that you should make everyone a manager within your company. Your business might be a start-up or just a few people working out of your converted garage. The point is, make sure that they all feel heard. I guarantee you that—especially among the upper end of the 80%—you will see the greatest uptick in productivity if you simply listen to them. Make them feel as though they have a vested interest in growing your business, too.

If they can see the role that they play is important and understood by you, they will push themselves to go further, work harder, and achieve more. You have to put yourself in their shoes, which brings us on to the next point. . .

How to Use the 10-80-10 Rule to Improve Success

Okay, so far we’ve just looked at the 10-80-10 rule as it pertains to the success of groups. But how does it apply to us as individuals? What can we learn from it and use in our day-to-day lives?

You might be a sole trader or maybe a consultant—someone who does not have a team to rally and simply sells your services to others. In that instance, how does this work for you? Divide yourself up into the 10-80-10. Do it by tasks: what are you most efficient/gifted at, what are you good at, and what do you constantly put off doing?

Here’s an example. Say you’re a writer (where did I get this one from?), and you’re very successful. You are asked to write articles for lots of great, top publications like LifeHack, or maybe you’re writing a book and your screenplay just got picked up by Warner Brothers. Writing is your 10% elite. It’s where you offer the greatest value.

It’s probably not the actual writing so much as it’s the creativity, ideas, and talent that you can bring to bear in your writing. The actual writing—sitting down at your computer, tapping it out, proofreading, and catching spelling/grammar mistakes—that’s your 80%. Sure, you’re good at it. You are competent and get it done. But it’s not where you are at your most powerful, and you usually run out of steam at some point during the day.

Then, there’s your bottom 10%. That’s probably your operational tasks, such as your timekeeping, bookkeeping, invoicing, correspondence, tax return, etc.

Where Do I Get These Examples From?

So, where can you be most effective in taking action that will support you in accelerating your growth? Again, start with the 80%. Try finding ways to improve the writing experience for you. Maybe observe yourself on a typical day, and note when you do your best work. It might be right after your second coffee that you stay at your desk for longer and write with the greatest clarity. So, start structuring your day around that.

What has that cost you? Nothing! It was simply a case of reorganizing your day and bingo, you are doing more of your best work in less time than it took you before. Pretty soon, after you’ve tightened up your day so that you are of maximum productivity, you’ll find that you have more time and resources.

Once you are better resourced, having landed bigger and bigger jobs, you’ll be able to take care of that pesky bottom 10%. It could be that you eliminate it by outsourcing the work to someone else. Now that you earn more for less of your time, why not? Just take it out of the equation altogether.

Final Thoughts

The 10-80-10 rule is not about adding ridged structures or following strict rules per se. It’s simply a lens through which to view human behavior, including your own. The reason why it is (or could be) the key to your success is that it enables you to identify those small changes that you can make that will have the greatest impact and accelerate your growth the fastest.

If you categorize your labor and the labor of your employees in this way, you’ll be able to more easily identify where you can have maximum impact with minimum input. If you continue to work out from there, your success will snowball, and you’ll have the support in place to maintain it.

More Tips on How to Improve Your Success

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How to Improve Your Confidence And Give a Boost to Your Self-Esteem

Are you struggling with low self-esteem and find yourself feeling down? The problem with low confidence is that it might hold you back from getting things done in life, making everything harder to achieve.

Watch this espisode of The Lifehack Show and learn what you can do to improve your confidence and give a boost to your self-esteem.

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How to Get Over the Fear Of Responsibility And Achieve More in Life

At a certain point we all stop, we quit making the moves that got us ahead, we find comfort and seek not to challenge the status quo.

This is all very well and good until something strange happens, your inner drive kicks in, you recognise that you’ve stopped growing and the fear of responsibility has taken over.

It can be an unnerving experience to realize you’ve mentally given in to fear, doubt and worry that keeps you from pursuing your greatest capacity and expression of self.

In this article I’ll outline some of the most powerful action steps you can take immediately to give your life a giant boost in the right direction to choosing the hard road, overcoming challenges and expanding your capabilities; so you can start to accept responsibility.

Implementing any of these heavy duty strategies will help you get over the fear of responsibility and achieve more in life.

Make It Your Motto

When I was talking to legendary YouTuber, Evan Carmichael (3.2m subscribers and counting), he shared with me something that stayed with me indefinitely, his motto.

Evan grew up a shy, innovative kid from Toronto, Canada, in his mid-twenties he faced a huge life choice, either go down the normal path, take a 6 figure job and play it safe or branch out and become an entrepreneur.

Evan chose the latter and you will see from his speeches and Instagram posts that he is famous for saying

“F.E.A.R has two meanings, Face Everything And Rise or Forget Everything And Run”.

He is now recognised by Forbes as one of the top 40 social marketers. Evan’s motto that he shared is “I do difficult things”.

By deciding to implement this creed as his mantra for life, it helps Evan take action and step out into the unknown despite the fear. He is able to overcome the fear behind responsibility due to his perception of himself.

Doing difficult things is quite literally who he is, it’s part of his identity and by cleverly setting this as his blueprint he courageously takes on things that scare him and as a result he achieves more.

The big question is:

What motto or mantra could you set for yourself so that you go out there and grab life by the horns every single day?

The incredible thing is by repeatedly doing the thing that scares you the most, it stimulates a rush of endorphins that set you up for success for the next challenge.

As it is part of your identity to do difficult things, it becomes a habit, and because you celebrate the small wins each day, you reinforce the behaviour and which causes your brain to systematically seek out more opportunities to push the boat out.

As a result you’ll move away from your fear of responsibility and towards feeling more capable to take on responsibilities you previously would have shied away from, in fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re putting your hand up for extra commitments all over the place.

Remember this, the biggest reward is usually behind the door we fear most, this can be the gift of winning new clients, new relationships or simply discovering new talents we never knew we had.

Take Personal Responsibility

Speaking of responsibility, it all starts with you!

No one can make you feel anything, even though it feels real, it is your choice to accept these emotions as your truth.

The way to move through this is to take personal responsibility for everything that happens in your life.

This means that the level of preparation you do for the interview, the traffic jam that causes you to be late and the unexpected low laptop battery are all your responsibility.

This is an attitude change to complete ownership, when you approach the situation with this mindset, it transforms the energy within, and the flames of passion, purpose and direction begin to fan again.

For example, if you blame your boss for making your life miserable, working overtime, and you harbour feelings of resentment and anger, you totally miss out the opportunity to develop a rock solid confidence that comes from an inner knowing that it’s all you.

Experiences like this become empowering not debilitating.

By choosing instead to focus on what you can control, your attitude and how you show up despite the problems you put the wheels of success in motion.

When you take this path, and you show up early for work instead of resenting the fact that you have to work, you switch your energy to the opportunity ahead of you, it is a game changer.

Instead of ‘having to work’ you now see it as a privilege to work, you get to do your best every day and as a result you end up over-delivering, the outcome being your boss eases up and you give you the autonomy you crave.

Speaking of focus, the next point is really worth noting down.

Change the Perspective

When your mission is to give, you wake up your senses to live life large!

It doesn’t matter how small, it’s the perspective of looking to do more for others, to serve, that is the change agent.

For example, you get offered the opportunity to give a big speech but you’re afraid you’ll mess it up and therefore you decline. When you have it as your mission to give, you operate from this principle and say to yourself, “I will give this speech because I am helping those in need, if I change one life it is worth it”.

When you set this as your barometer for success, the fear drops away and the mission reappears. It is no longer about you and your doubts, it is bigger than that, it’s about the cause, giving and serving on a deeper level.

When giving is at the center of what you do it creates meaning and purpose to the struggle, it doesn’t eradicate the fear but it gives you the strength to continue on.

It gets you out of your head, it stops the analysing and the worrying and enables you to live a life of heartfelt purpose.

This is where you truly feel alive again.

What can you give today? How can you serve others by doing something you’re afraid to do? What responsibility are you avoiding that, if you really think about it, is an opportunity to give in disguise?

Eat the Frog

When you feel stuck and you’re brooding over what has yet to come, you are not in the present moment, in fact you are stealing joy by worrying about what is yet to come.

When you commit to eating the frog, it means you tackle the hard things first, you get them out of the way early.

You wake up and hit the gym, you get that start building that presentation right away, you send that difficult email, you have that awkward conversation – bottom line, you get into motion and you start doing.

When you witness yourself taking action on things that scare you, putting your hand up for duties and roles that are outside of your comfort zone, you show yourself that you respect and value everything about you.

The next piece is magic, this is what translates all that effort into accelerated progress and deep self confidence, that is self trust.

Self trust is a huge deal, it is vitally important to keep the commitments you make to yourself at all costs – entrepreneur and motivational speaker Ed Mylett covers this in detail in his podcast on this exact topic.

By doing what you say you will do and keeping the promises you make to yourself, for example, “today I will make contact with 20 new clients for my business” it builds self trust and as a result your faith in yourself to deliver multiples.

By eating the frog you get to practice this daily, and you get the hard stuff out of the way first each day, it’s a win for yourself and you will achieve remarkably more.

Choose To Run With Lions

You might be thinking, that’s a bit odd, why would I opt to instigate a race with the king of the jungle but what I am getting at is, surround yourself with those that empower you, build you up and see your potential.

If you constantly feel pulled down, restricted by others and absorb the negative energy of people who themselves are hampered by a mindset of limitation, lack and problems it is absolutely draining.

Be mindful who you spend time with especially if you are recognising that you’re starting to fear responsibility. This is a big sign that you need to guard your inner circle closely because they might be doing more harm than good.

In fact, this might be your issue in a nutshell, be careful to classify your fear of responsibility as a problem created only by you, it could simply be the case that it is time to find a different crew to run with.

Life is messy, we all get busy, previous ideas or goals can lead us to create habits that are unhealthy, such as not changing direction when needed.

You’ll find that when you upgrade your environment, primarily those you let influence you everyday, you will feel a flood of new energy rush in. When this happens, capitalise on it, and get stuck in.

Similarly, if you find yourself energised, more confident and in peace when you are around certain people, this is telling you something – be not afraid to follow your intuition and make some changes.

All said and done, feeling a fear of responsibility and getting over it so you can achieve more in life has to do with making a conscious effort to be aware of it when it happens and taking action swiftly to address it.

More Tips on Achieving More in Life

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