Self Improvement Resources
Tips, Advice and Ideas to Get Ahead

I don't need to tell you that there are a wide variety of self improvement resources available to anyone who wants to get ahead. All you have to do is visit the bookstore or the library to be completely overwhelmed with the options available so I am going to use this page to share a few of the most powerful tips available anywhere.

Play To Your Strengths

This is one of the most important self improvement resources available and key approach to remember because it is quite often at odds with corporate performance management systems (at least those I have come across).

Most performance management systems ask you to define what competency "gaps" or skill "gaps" you need to or want to address, often relative to some laundry list of requirements defined for the position you hold.

Unfortunately, even if you are successful in closing these gaps (which itself is highly unlikely) you will then only be at an "acceptable level". Who wants to be known as an "average" employee with no discernible faults? Wow, what a great place to be!

What you really want to do is excel and be noticed and how do you do that? Easily - you focus on those things you do well and then do them even better!

Of course this works in the sporting world all the time. Rarely, does any professional sports team take a player and expect him to play all positions equally well. That would be ridiculous right? Even within the positions themselves, some players will be known as home run kings, or play makers or great passers but rarely will they be known as "exceptional at everything".

Yet in businesses and organizations, quite often someone in human resources will sit down with a team leader and create this huge list of what a perfect employee would be like in the role. This comes out as desired skills sets, competencies, experience levels, even values and belief systems! Once perfection has been defined, the rest of the employee's career will be spent trying to achieve this artificial standard! What a terrible waste of innate talent and ability.

Author Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup organization have published numerous "leadership books" encouraging leaders to help their employees identify and then leverage their unique talents and strengths. The initial book was called: "First, Break All The Rules" which was then followed by "Now, Discover Your Strengths". The latest edition "Strengths Finder 2.0" has an updated "strengths finder quiz" that will provide you with your top ten strengths after taking an on line test.

This is a great approach you can take to help you to get ahead in your life and your career and it aligns very well with my overall philosophy of knowing who you are, loving who you are and being who you are as way of living a successful and fulfilling life.

Set Positive or Affirmative Goals

Now this may seem obvious but how you structure your intentions will have a huge impact on whether you achieve them or not. This again is very simple, but most people don't do it. The idea here is to define the change you want as a "reward" goal rather than as a "threat" or "negative consequence" goal. This idea has its roots in positive psychology and it has been proven over the course of a number of studies.

So let's look at a few examples to get an understanding of what I am talking about here.

"I need to lose 10 pounds" versus "I want to have a healthy body."

"I hope I don't fail the exam" versus "I hope I get a passing grade".

"My business won't fail this year" versus "My business will thrive this year."

It is quite easy to see how the same "desired" outcome can be phrased in almost opposite ways but research has shown that setting reward or positive goals almost always results in a higher probability of achieving the desired outcome, so...why not do it this way?

Use the Pareto Principle

Quite often we can be overwhelmed with all of the things that we want to do, wish to change or have resolved and as a result we end up being very busy but not productive.

In Timothy Ferriss' book, "The 4-Hour Workweek" he talks about using the Pareto Principle to improve his performance, productivity, effectiveness and happiness not by focusing on all of the things he needed or wanted to do or change but by focusing in on the 20% of those things that oddly enough yielded 80% of what he was looking for. This is the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule.

Consider the ramifications of this from a self improvement perspective. What if you could be 80% more productive by eliminating the top 20% of your time wasting activity? What if you could be 80% more sociable by focusing on the 20% of your friends that you really enjoyed being with? What if you could improve your sales income by focusing on the top 20% of the customers you currently have and let the others languish?

The Pareto Principle can be applied in a number of ways. All that needs to happen is for you to ask yourself on a regular basis, "Is this part of the 20% I need to be focusing on or part of the 80% I should be ignoring?"

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