What I talk about when I talk about running

ImagesHaruki Murakami is best known as the author of “Norwegian Wood”, and the “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” – and many other books. If you haven’t read his books I highly recommend you check them out. But recently I discovered that he is a long-distance runner as well and has written about his running.

I have just finished “What I talk about when I talk about running”, and It is excellent. As a runner I related completely to his journey, his challenges and successes, his apprehension and self-doubt before races, and the acceptance of the unpredictability of marathon-length races.

The philosophy he bring to running – that you need to be as healthy as possible to be effective at what you do, and how maintaining health (in his case by running and doing triathlons), needs to be balanced with what you do. To be mentally sharp and focused requires a healthy body.

He says:

To deal with something unhealthy, a person needs to be as healthy as possible. That’s my motto. In other words, an unhealthy soul requires a healthy body. This might sound paradoxical, but it’s something I’ve felt very keenly ever since I became a professional writer. The healthy and the unhealthy are not necessarily at opposite ends of the spectrum. They don’t stand in opposition to each other, but rather complement each other, and in some cases even band together. Sure, many people who are on a healthy track in life think only of good health, while those who are getting unhealthy think only of that. But if you follow this sort of one-sided view, your life won’t be fruitful.
Almost everything he had to share could have been written by me, or for me. Although I am convinced that any long-distance runner would feel exactly the same.

It is a short and easy read, but a book to be dipped into, reread and digested over time. To get full enjoyment from the book you probably have to enjoy running, but there is plenty to learn regardless of what get you up in the morning.

Speaking off the cuff – a resource

You often hear me speaking about the value of impromptu speaking, and why learning to speak off the cuff is as important as learning to speak prepared.

Here is a great resource; an entire website dedicated to the art of “table topics”, or speaking impromptu.What I like about the site is  that he gives you a lot of templates, or outlines you can use for practising unprepared topics.

Here is an example:

Split Personality

Number of participants: Two

The majority of the information we convey doesn’t come from what we say, but from how we say it. Bodily gestures are a large part of this. The goal of this template is to separate these different aspects of communication between two people. One participant does the talking, the other does the gesturing.

There are two ways to use this template. Either one participant talks, and the other creates the corresponding gestures, or one uses gestures, and the other talks about what the gestures are indicating.

Doing this effectively requires a reasonable amount of cooperation from the participants. It can weaken the delivery if both participants end up gesturing (once you do it, it can be a difficult thing to put down temporarily!). This should possibly be made clear to the participants.

It’s interesting to see the different ways people can take this, sometimes you may have one participant controlling the flow of the entire topic, while others will work together to figure out how the talk or story will evolve.

The purpose of this template is to give people the chance to carefully consider what their gestures are saying to an audience.

Thanks to Andrew William’s for creating the resource.

A few lessons from Gary Bailey

Gary Bailey

Some tips I picked up from Gary (ex goal keeper for Manchester United) at our Toastmasters conference. Enjoy!

Manchester United:

  • Is a $1 billion business
  • Has 300 million customers
  • Delivers weekly to its customers

The principles of a good soccer team apply to business as well…

  • Be tough- learns to takes knocks
  • Build on gratitude
  • Appreciate staff and all those around you
  • Things go wrong for everybody at some time
  • It’s how you deal with life, not what happens to you that is important
  • Plan for the future
  • Don’t send emotional emails because there is no emotion in email
  • Make time for others
  • Raise your energy
    • Body; food & exercise
    • Spirit; helping others
    • Mind;
    • Emotions;

Are you planning for the unexpected?

In the last month, two people that I know have lost substantial amounts of data that was stored on their laptops. The first was due to a laptop that was stolen at a conference, the second due to a drive failure. Both of them are experienced computer users, and both are educated about the importance of regular data backups.

Neither of them was keeping any backups. Why? Because they didn’t think that it would happen to them. They were taking a risk, and not expecting the unexpected. This doesn’t just happen to computers; it happens everywhere.

  • How long can you survive without a job until your car or house is taken away?
  • Are you keeping yourself competitive and employable?
  • Are you looking after your health?
  • Do you have an emergency fund?
  • Do you backup your computer?

What contingency plans do you have in place?

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

I was listening to an interview with Malcolm Gladwell recently on the Radiolab podcast in which he was speaking about the performance of Jamaican athletes when he was growing up. He made a comment that part of the reason for their performance is that they trained harder than anybody else.

When Darren la Croix won the 2001 World Championship of Public Speaking, he said that he did not want any of the other competitors to be more prepared than him – he wanted to out-prepare all of them, and he won.

When I was in school, I studied music as one of my matric subjects. In my final year, I would probably practice about 2-3 hours a day, and I was a far better pianist then than I am now. It was because I was putting in the time to prepare.

Tiger Woods is such a great golfer partly because he puts in approx 6 ½ hours training every single day, as well as about 2 ½ hours in the gym  . I have no doubt that if I put effort into golf every day for a few years, I would be a mighty fine golfer as well. Maybe not as good as Tiger Woods, but a lot better than I currently am.

According to Fortune Magazine,

“The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the [notion that] excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts…. that nobody is great without work…There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.”

Ok, so the bottom line is that you can be excellent at just about anything that you choose, but you will need to put in the effort to get there.

How much effort are you prepared to put into your passion?

What image are you projecting? 10 tips to selling yourself

  1. Be on time for meetings. If you are late, you show a lack of respect and self-organisation.
  2. Respond to messages. Even if it is just a one line to say that you received the message, let the sender know that you are onto it.
  3. Dress for the occasion. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but dress appropriately for the occasion. Whether you like it or not, first impressions count a lot, so make a good one.
  4. Only make commitments that you can stick to. If you cannot stick to a commitment, don’t make it. Have you ever been promised that a job will be completed by a particular date, and being annoyed that it is a week late? Have you ever overpromised. Rather under-promise and over-deliver.
  5. Smile
  6. Greet people by name. It shows an interest in others.
  7. Always have business cards with you. They should neat and presentable. Simple cards are not expensive to print, and home-made cards can look tacky. Get them professionally printed.
  8. Be positive.
  9. Listen. People like to listen to themselves. Let them, and they will think how great you are at conversation. Understand your customers’ needs before responding with a solution.
  10. Remember rule #6 – don’t take yourself so seriously (there are no other rules).

Are you an expert communicator?

Expert_2I have always believed that to get ahead in life, you need to be an effective communicator, regardless of what your field of work is. You need to be able to communicate to:

  • your peers
  • your boss
  • your clients
  • your prospective clients
  • your service-providers
  • your subordinates
  • your partner
  • your children
  • your parents
  • your …

There is an interesting article by Dustin Wax on Lifehack, "How to be an expert", in which he speaks to this.

Dustin says that

"expertise without the ability to communicate is practically pointless",

and you need to 

"learn to use whatever technologies you need to present your expertise in the best possible way",

and

"an expert should be able to explain to you exactly what they?re doing and why".

It all boils down to the ability to communicate. No matter how knowledgeable you are, your knowledge is worthless if you cannot communicate. Here are a few ways to improve your communication:

  • Practise
  • Get coaching
  • Watch and listen to great communicators
  • Join Toastmasters
  • Get to the point
  • Listen to others

Good luck

(image source)

Self-improvement on your iPod

I have just found a great list of 100 websites that contain educational MP3’s and podcasts that you can download to you iPod. Some of it is commercial, but most of it is available for free.

Some of the material includes:

  • News
  • Vocab builders
  • Languages
  • City Guides
  • Educational games
  • Science
  • Philosophy
  • Audiobooks
  • Success
  • University classes (eg Stanford, MIT, Yale)

So now you have no excuse for not learning on the go.

Enjoy!

(There is also a section on creating your own podcasts, podcasting software etc.)

Forward, backwards, left, right, up down – where are you going?

CompassThe other day at a Toastmasters meeting, a speaker mentioned seven directions where we can look.

  • Look behind you to know where you have come from
  • Look forward to know where you are going
  • Look up to see the endless possibility (how fascinating)
  • Look down to keep yourself firmly on the ground
  • Look left and right, to see what is around you
  • And finally, look inside you to know what it all means.

I quite like that – what do you think?

(the speaker Andrew actually used right and wrong instead of left and right, that also puts an interesting slant on it. Look around to know what is right, and what is wrong)

Image from http://www.stanleylondon.com/compsurv.htm.

16 Free self-development newsletters

Newsletter_2One of the characteristics of great leaders, is that they are always learning, and always improving themselves. Well, here is an opportunity for self-improvement from some world leaders.

It it a list of 16 free great self-development email newsletters that I found. It includes the likes of Brian Tracey, Dr Judith Orloff, Guy Finley, Dale Carnegie, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey and Tom Hopkins.

Some of the newsletters are:

Self Help Books Weekly Newsletter
If you read Self Improvement Books, this free newsletter is for you. Information on new book releases, best sellers, book reviews, excerpts, special promotions, interviews with the authors & more.   
 
 
Personal Success Secrets from Brian Tracy
Personal Success Secrets and special recommendations from Brian Tracy Learn how to set and achieve your goals faster than ever before. Subscribe to receive your FREE weekly newsletters from Brian Tracy.
 
Dr. Judith Orloff’s Positive Energy and Intuition Newsletter
Psychiatrist and best-selling author Judith Orloff MD offers this free e-newsletter which focuses on empowering your intuition, energy, freeing yourself from negative emotions, and conquering stress and fatigue. You’ll receive FREE mini video classes and state of the art information on blending body, mind and spirit.
 
Today Is Your Day To Win" E-course
A real life rags to riches story, Mike Brescia delivers 99 laser-focused, no holds barred coaching sessions to help you make today and the rest of your life a stunning success. This one of a kind mental conditioning course is a powerhouse. 
 
 
Home Business Newsletter
Receive Free Articles and updates on Starting and Growing a Home Business. Includes information on Sales, Marketing, using the Internet, Network Marketing Opportunities, Franchises, Business Plans and much more. Includes reviews and motivation to help you with your home business. 
 
Fulfill the True Purpose of Your Life
Best-selling "Letting Go" author, Guy Finley, reveals amazing secrets for stress-free, fearless living. Receive inspirational weekly messages, plus deep discounts on today’s most powerful self-improvement materials in Guy Finley’s FREE "Key Lesson" e-mails. Exclusively from non-profit Life of Learning Foundation.   
 
Selling and Sales Skills Newsletter
Contains articles, and information on sales skills and improving your sales productivity. Expert tips, tools and information to assist you with you sales career.   
   
Brain Improvement and IQ Test Newsletter
Newsletter on a variety of topics including IQ Tests, Brain Enhancement, Speed Reading, Memory Improvement, and Creativity. Contains up to date information on IQ Tests and EQ Tests on the web.
   
You can view the complete list and subscribe to any of the newsletters here from a single webpage.

I have subscribed to a few of them and I will let you know how there are.  Please tell me what you think!

Enjoy!

Craig