The Overlooked Power of Praise

The present generations have grown up in the world, where we are told what we shouldn’t do, how we shouldn’t behave or how negative our lives are. Hearing all these negative phrases and criticisms inevitably leads to something we call negative conditioning of our mind. We are lead to negativity by default. This is one of the reasons we tend to overlook something all of us can do, we tend to overlook the good stuff in others. We look for the negatives in people, we criticise. What we do very rarely is praise.  In this article, I want to focus on the power of praise, its effect on our relationships and more importantly on our own mind.

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The Negative Conditioning

As I mentioned in the introduction, most of us have been brought up in a negative environment. We go through our youth learning what is not meant to be done, what can never be achieved and what we need to focus on, although it might be something we really do not enjoy. The way modern society is set up is very alarming. In school, in the workplace, you are criticised whenever you do something that is outside of the norm (in a bad way). You are led to think inside the box, to follow the tradition and to keep your head down. Try to look back, how often have you been criticised for making a mistake? How often have you been praised for performing well? Most of us tend to focus on the negatives to “improve” our behaviour, but we fail to praise the positive, which is actually the factor that influences us the most.

The Power of Praise

So what should we change? According to the books Whale Done and How to Win Friends and Influence People, we need to start looking for the good people around us do and we should start bringing it up more often. Look for the good instead of the bad. Look for the small accomplishments you can praise people for and praise them! It is very unnatural for us since that is not how we have been taught to behave, but it brings miracles. How do you feel when someone tells you how amazingly you’ve completed your task? It feels great. And even more, it makes you want to improve and grow! Praise supports growth and improvement, thus it is a very good idea to praise even slight improvement because it will multiply the original result in the future. Additionally, the more positive you look for, the more positive you will see. The more positive you will see, the more positive you will accept into your life. The more positive you will accept into your life, the more positive you will attract. It is simple, the more you praise, the more will people want to be around you and the more you will want to be around yourself.

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Regarding the practical side of this concept, I have discussed different kinds of responses in this article. In short, there are different kinds of responses. You either ignore, you criticise, you praise or you redirect. The most common response is ignorance. The most useful responses are positive and redirection. Why redirection? Because it allows you to take the negative and turn it into praise.

Look for the good in people and in their actions. The greatest challenge for most of us will not be reducing criticism but strengthening praise. We love to ignore the positive, now we have to take a step forward and start praising it.

3 Kinds Of Education You Should Know About

We have all gone through some sort of process of education in our lives. Most of us went through elementary schools, many of us through middle and high schools and some of us through university systems. A group of us could actually say that they have been through some steps of this process multiple times. When we finish this massive 20+ year process, we are supposed to be “educated” and we are supposed to start “living the life.” What does that actually mean? How would you define “educated?” In this article, I will focus on the 3 major kinds of education we should all be aware of and I’ll make an argument around which kind we should focus on and why.

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3 Faces Of Education

Throughout our lives, most of us get to experience 3 major educational streams. The first one being the academic education that is meant to “prepare” us for life. The second stream follows after academic education. This stream focuses on framing us into the employee our bosses would prefer. In short, this education is meant to make you “successful” in the workplace. The 3rd stream, which we are advocates of in The Real Life Education, is the real-life education itself. This stream focuses on growing you as a person. You are the centre of this stream and you will benefit from utilising it.

Academic Education

Academic education is considered as the “traditional” stream of education. You go through your elementary school, middle school, high school, university and finally you get a job. This stream is sold to us as the education that “prepares us for life.” The only issue is that the level of standardisation has reached unbelievably stupid levels and “the life” stands for “the average life of an employee.” Millions of kids go through this stream every decade. They are all taught in a very similar way, they are taught very similar stuff and they are assessed on the same scale as well. How can this be effective? Furthermore, academic education that is supposedly there to “prepare you for life” actually does very poorly in that. Academic education teaches you to do what you’re told. It teaches you to be a generalist and to follow the crowd. When you enter real life, you will learn how useless this is in terms of any greater success. Just to give you a perspective, according to Shana Lebowitz from Entrepreneur.com, the average GPA of 700 studied US billionaires was only 2.9 (out of 4). Which is considered a very low standard – people usually get around 3-3.5. The academically smarter kids go over that limit all the way to 4. I personally was a valedictorian in my high school back in Beijing with a GPA of 4. What use is that going to be in the future? Not much.

Professional Education

Professional education is directly connected to the academic stream. When you go to uni, you are meant to look for internships and work experiences because that is the starting point. When you graduate and (hopefully) find a job, you will be constantly told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, etc… You will see yourself following orders from 9 to 5. You will be framed into an obedient employee. Most people live this life and some enjoy it. Would you? I wouldn’t.

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Life Education

Life education is something that has changed my life. When I got in touch with my current mentors, I have started discovering a brand new world of knowledge. I started learning about myself. I started understanding how my mind works, how my body works and more importantly, how other people work. As my mentor once said, technical skills will take you only so far, but people skills will make the world your playground. This is also the mission of The Real Life Education. We are here to spread the word of life education, we are here to ensure that you have an efficient source of this stream and that you can benefit to the maximum extent and maybe one day become one of those millionaires I’ve mentioned above. (Hint: You will not make it with only the first two streams. How many employee millionaires who have the time to live how they want do you know?). Focus on this stream and you will see a huge change in your life. You will find yourself becoming happier and happier and you will find yourslef gradually outperforming everyone around you.

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Be An Ambassador For Positivity

In our daily lives, we encounter situations where we have a choice to make. It’s a choice of response. In your workplace, what do you do when your team screws up? In your household, what do you do when your kids don’t do their homework? What do you do if they finish it well? All these situations might seem boringly common, but the reality is that the majority of people makes the less correct choices in such situations. How many times have you been yelled at in work? How many times have you been yelled at when you were a young rebellious kid? All of these experiences have framed your way of thinking. The truth is, most people have got a very bad understanding of how they should behave in such situations exactly because of the way they have been brought up. In this article, I want to utilise one of the concepts that is developed in a book called Whale Done, where the author tells a story of a manager who learns about how he should “motivate and treat” the people around him (including his team and his family) and how he should build healthier and more positive relationships.

 

Your Response

According to Ken Blanchard, there are 4 ways we can respond to any situation. No response, negative response, redirection and positive response. The two very well known responses would be the positive and the negative one. However, Blanchard argues that these are too simplistic and that there are 2 more responses that are less easily observable.

The first one is no response. The reason behind the complexity of this response is that it is the most frequent one we use without realising that we do. In most cases, when people do something well, they tend to be ignored, but they should be praised. This is a very common issue because the only way you can motivate someone to grow and perform better and better is through a very careful choice of your responses. We need to understand that no response is also a response. It creates a very passive behaviour of the subject because he or she did something well but is not seeing any appreciation – the subject does not treat the consequence of his/her behaviour with any special care and thus might not utilise it for the future. This is not how we should treat people when they behave well. They need to be praised and rewarded – they need to see our positive response.

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The second less understood response is the redirection. Redirection is a method of handling a negative situation by redirecting the energy or the attention of a person or an animal in a positive direction. What you can imagine behind that is trying to teach a og how to stay by your side. He sees another dog and there he goes. He has not stayed by your side. What you should not do is you should not scold him, you need to redirect his attention to something positive. You utilise other things you have practised before, you get to him and you show him a treat. You make him stick to you and you make him come a few steps with you. Then you give him a treat or you praise him. You have ignored his bad behaviour and you’ve turned the situation around. This is a very simple example. In the human case, you might have someone messing up in your work. What you should not do is you should not scold the person. You speak to him, you calmly explain that there has been a mistake and you take responsibility. After that, he will feel more comfortable and you can start focusing on how he can improve his performance. Scolding people does not work most of the times. Redirecting their attention is a different kind of story.

For a more detailed explanation, I highly recommend that you take a further look into the book Whale Good. In a very short summary, make sure that you understand that any reaction that you have will affect the person’s state of mind and your relationship. Focus on building a good relationship through positive responses and redirections and watch your relationships improve.

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Shifting Your Orientation

Most of us grow up in an environment where we are taught to focus on the process. What do you want to do when you grow up? What do you want to study at uni? What internship are you planning to look into? This kind of questions inevitably places our mindsets at one side of the scale I will be talking about today. It makes us process-oriented. If you look around yourself, most people are focused on the process, they care about the “what” rather than the “why.” In this article, I want to touch upon the reason why you might be caught up in the confusion of the process with no significant outcomes.

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Process Orientation Vs Outcome Orientation

You might have heard the saying that you should focus on the process and the outcome will come naturally. But will it? If you have no idea what the outcome you’re looking to reach is, can you really reach it? Does that even make sense? The truth is, you should enjoy the process, you should be grateful for the lessons, the mistakes and the little successes, but you should always know the reason why you are doing something. In other words, you should always bear the outcome in the back of your mind and you should be looking into ways that can get you there. However, the looking part comes after understanding where you want to end up. You can’t arrive at a destination if you don’t know what the destination is. Simply put and as I always say, find your strong why and you’ll figure out the rest.

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A Little Story To Make It Clear

Once upon a time, Jack had to make a 5mm hole into a wall so he could hang up his favourite picture. However, he found out that he needed to buy a new drill. So he packed up, changed and went out to get one. When he arrived, he walked past the cashier and headed straight to the section with drills. But when he got there, he froze. There were so many of them, different brands for different prices. He looked at them and he decided to go to another shop because he thought that the brands weren’t really good as he saw some bad news about the companies in terms of financial crises and their weaker position in the market. So he got in the car and drove to another shop. When he got to the section with the drills, he froze again. He found out that good brands with a better image were too expensive. So he got to his car and drove back to the first shop to buy one of the cheaper ones. When he got back home, he unpacked the drill, plugged it in and made a 5mm hole. Then he packed the drill and hid it in the garage. The outcome of making the hole took him about 3 seconds. However, the process of buying the drill took about 3 hours.

Can you see my point? Jack got hung up on the process not realising that all he needed was to make a 5mm hole in the wall. All he needed was the first drill he got his hands on that would be able to make the 5mm hole. If he focused on the outcome, he would’ve gone to the shop, got the first drill, went back home and made a hole. That’s everything he had to do. Why would he complicate things so much for 5mms?

 

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Learning Point

What should you take from the story? People do this in their daily lives! Apply this analogy to your work life. Why do you work where you work? What do you do what you do? What is going to happen if you do what you do for the next 10 years? Are you going to achieve something you wanted to achieve or are you going to “survive” on the monthly income with no specific outcome in your mind? We often fail to realise how much time we waste being all hung up on the process not realising that there is no ending point in what we’re doing. Focus on the outcome, find your why and make it happen. As Friedrich Nietzsche said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

The Decision Filter

On average, we make about 40 000 decisions every day. These decisions include both conscious and subconscious decisions, most of them being subconscious. What makes things much more complicated for us is the incredible amount of influences that affect us throughout this decision-making process. For instance, deciding whether to buy a coffee from Starbucks or to save money on that one purchase could be quite troublesome. How come? Because we are quite easily influenced by factors like social media, visual adds on the streets or simply our friends who buy their coffee on daily bases, thus presenting it to us as a common action to take. Without realising that buying a coffee for 5$ on a daily bases leads to an expense a little over 1,800$ in a year, we follow the “standard” and suffer the consequences with everyone else. What I want to talk about today is a very simple decision filter you can use pretty much every time you’re making a decision. This will help you evaluate your decisions based on your own values and principles.

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Step #1 Define Your Values & Priorities

To structure your filter effectively, you first need to define its functions. You need to define the variables that will affect whether our decision passes through the filter or whether it gets stuck inside it. The two core variables that we’ll focus on are your values/principles and your priorities.

Values/principles

To define your values, take a piece of paper, sit down in a quiet place and think about what kind of person you would like to be. I’d suggest focusing on 10-20 core values that can range from honesty, respect to others all the way to being responsible and professional. All these values and hundreds of others will help you define one of the layers of your filter.

Priorities

As Warren Buffet said, the best way to define your priorities is to think of 20 goals or achievements you’d like to reach within your lifetime. List them down, rank them from the most important one as number 1 to the least important one as number 20. Once you’ve ranked them, take the 3 from the top and disregard the rest.

Step #2 Three Core Questions

Now that you have defined your variables in your filter, you can structure the filter itself. The filter is constructed from 3-5 check-in questions that allow you to make it clear to your mind whether the decision should pass through into the action taking stage or whether it should be stopped.

Question #1

This question should involve your priorities. The question should look somewhat like this – Does this decision bring me closer to becoming…./reaching….. or does it keep me where I am or take me further away from it? For instance, if your #1 priority was to become financially free, you could ask yourself – Does buying a coffee every day in Starbucks get me closer to my financial freedom or does it keep me at the same spot, or even worse, away from it?

Question #2

Question #2 should focus on your principles and values. You should ask yourself something like – Does this action violate my values and principles? For instance, if you wanted to be very honest and you were facing a decision whether you want to tell your partner that you’ve cracked her favourite vase, what do you think you should do? Ask – Does not telling my partner about cracking her vase make me a dishonest person? The answer to that would be – yes, so it follows that the action you should take is telling her about it.

Question #3

Question number 3 is a little reassurance after the first 2 questions. If you buying a coffee in Starbucks doesn’t pass one of the first 2 questions, question 3 could help you find a “middle way.” The question should look somehow like this – Since this action violates my values/priorities, how can I do it so that it wouldn’t? For instance, If you really want to buy coffee, maybe you should buy a cheaper one, or maybe you should brew your own. If there is an appointment that hasn’t passed your filter due to the prioritisation of different tasks, can you reschedule it? Can you leave earlier? Can you make it shorter?

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Overall, this filter serves as a tool to make your life simpler. Using this will allow you to make decisions based on your own view, based on your own values, principles and priorities. It is also very customisable, so take it, play with it and exploit it as much as you can! Much love!

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