HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE INTO UNSURPASSED SUCCESS

How do you feel about gaining new information? Is it an exciting prospect? Or a daunting one, as the ability to extend your knowledge of a subject or a skill can be just that. However, if you approach the exercise with the right mindset you can walk away feeling very satisfied. 

Personally, the words of Vincent van Gogh sums it up beautifully:

Learning, or educating myself, has always given me a great sense of achievement, satisfaction and ultimately, confidence.  

THE URGE TO KNOW

When the decision was taken to startup on my own, there were quite a few elements within business that I knew, as far as I was concerned, too little about. Using this information gap as an example, there were mainly two ways to go about obtaining the info that was missing. 

One way was to sign up to a course or three and let others be my instructors. There is nothing wrong with obtaining knowledge down this avenue. To be honest, there are certain aspects of business solutions that can only be accomplished this way. 

On the other hand, to seek the information on one’s own accord somehow sounded so much more fulfilling, in my humble opinion. Therefore, yours truly, tackled the proverbial bull by the horns and upscaled the current understanding of certain areas I lacked knowledge in, by myself. 

THE LEARNING CURVE

With the worldwide web at our finger tips nowadays it is much easier than years ago to get hold of answers to all our questions. There are huge amounts of DIY Learning Videos for instance on platforms like YouTube. Not to mention special websites like SkillShare to train yourself how it should be done. It takes some research, but persevere and I can promise you will find what you are looking for

What could, or most likely will happen, is that you will find parts here, there and everywhere. The fun part (to put it mildly) is to then put it together like a puzzle. First, one finds the pieces with a straight edge and/or the corner pieces and before you know it the border (or outline, so to speak) is all in place. To follow is to fill in the middle section and voila!, your picture is complete. All pieces slotted in and you’re sitting back looking at a complete visual. This process translates to you having conquered the assignment of learning how to perform a certain task within your business and/or life. It’s moments like these that a firm pat on the back is in order (even if it’s done, sort of, by yourself)! 

THE IMPLEMENTATION

Now comes the tricky part. This is honestly the section that is as important if not even more so than the educating process itself. 

Once the know-how is firmly in your head, it is time to put your new found extended knowledge into action. Best bit of advice I can give you at this stage is to get going immediately since the information is still very fresh. So:

  • Practice

  • Practice it again

  • Practice it some more

  • Practice until it becomes second nature

Repetition is known to cement actions within us. After all, the exact meaning of repetition is ‘the action of repeating something that has already been said or written’. Once you leave the new found facts and skills at the door, the inevitable is sure to happen - when you return to put it all to work, most will be a haze and you will need to start again to remember and refresh your mind. This can, obviously, end up as wasting some valuable time.

THE CONCLUSION

Please understand that as I mentioned earlier, certain expert knowledge can only be accomplished via the help of specialised individuals that spend many years of their lives learning so they are able to teach others the required information and processes. What I am trying to say is that one shouldn’t always assume that gathering all knowledge is only available if someone/persons directly teach you.

To study or learn on your own takes a lot of effort and determination, not to mention focus. You need to be proactive and resilient at all times. As tough as this may sound, the outcome will easily overshadow the angst of doing it yourself.

For me self-education works and it works well. Currently there a few new ventures on the cards and instead of signing up to expensive courses on how to achieve this, I am (enjoying!) taking matters in my own hands. Yes, I do attend webinars, seminars and join many discussions to get some guidance, but at the end of the day it’s up to me.

Some will call it the hard way and won’t understand why the narrow, steep road is more attractive. Each to their own I say. It is not a matter of making it unnecessarily difficult for oneself, it is much more about achieving something where there was originally very little knowledge of in one’s head. 

As a strong believer in one can do whatever you put your mind to, it’s obvious this is the preferred route for me. That moment you reach the end of the rainbow (as in the final section of a project) and find your pot of gold, is really priceless. To sit back and look at the finished assignment you did with a complete new set of tools you taught yourself is beyond satisfying. Once you experienced that feeling, I bet you will want it again and again. Believe me the feeling is truly that wonderful. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or if you felt some affinity towards this topic.

You can reach me here, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY vs YOUR HEALTH

There is that sound again… the indication of another notification from one of your Social Media platforms. Question is: what do you do?

Are you one of the 60+% of people in the world who immediately and impulsively grab your mobile and check that notification? If so, your dependency on automatically looking what the notification is about, may be an indication that you are suffering from what is called Social Media Addiction.

It is always easy to slap a label onto something, so even though it may seems straight forward, let’s dive deep into the what and why of this human matter.

WHAT IS ADDICTION

To kick start this article, let’s see how dictionary.com explains the word, or symptom (as it is often called): “Addiction is the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity”. 

Take note, that the word activity is included in the explanation. After all, attending to your social feeds is an activity - something that are done fairly regular. 

WHAT ARE THE INDICATIONS 

Being spurred on by a post I read on It’s Time To Log Off it is clear that an overwhelming amount of people in the world are suffering from SMA (social media addiction). You may read this and think “oh well, this is not me”, but please take note: if you find it (rather) difficult not to respond to notifications by checking your feeds immediately or constantly recording/typing content for your sites, then it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. It is very possible that you are one of the 60+% in the world.

Let’s look at such a scenario from a different angle: how do you feel when you discover you have no signal to receive incoming alerts on your mobile device? That anxious feeling, together with not being able to post any content, can have a negative effect on your wellbeing. For instance, you may end up feeling down in the dumps, frustrated (to say the least) and/or even get really angry. These emotions, due to the lack of not being able to connect as such, spells danger. 

HOW TO COMBAT YOUR HABIT

There is a possibility one can argue that the existence of social sites are created to get you hooked. Albeit this being a very strong suggestion, take a minute and think clearly about it. One could easily find some truth in that statement. Going back to the explanation of addiction, hooked is exactly how people end up if they can’t leave their devices alone.  

Time, within the technology world, luckily moves at a speed almost as fast as light. Nowadays applications (Apps) are created to help people curb the time they spend on electronic devices. Assisted by those within the medical environments, these helpers are there to do exactly that. The crux lies within ones own decision to turn them on

The mere fact that institutions are making decisions to create electronic help, can be a clear indication that the statement about sites vs deliberate, obsessive behaviour may not be as far fetched as we want to believe. 

Changing the screen time  applications’ settings to on is one way to minimise your activities online. Another very simple, and effective, solution is to take a firm stand and cancel all notification alerts. Of course this can be seen by many as a drastic measure, but let’s keep our eyes on the longterm effects. There are clear indications that your health will improve when one exercise less negative emotions in life. Specially when it comes to the dependency on feedback such as likes from followers. 

Obviously, when one cancels a certain daily ritual, a gap is created and therefore the need to fill it is inevitable. Why not get back to good, ol’ natural remedies such as go outside and breathe in fresh air? Pick up a book, read and turn pages with your fingers (instead of swiping) and better still… talk to someone face to face. Let’s be honest, the possibilities are endless. It is only a matter of looking around and not focussing on a small screen in front of you. 

CONCLUSION

“I am going to take a hiatus from social media” is a line very often used in social media posts. However, are many of those really sticking to their words?

But that is exactly what you want them to do, you may say pointing your finger at me. Yes, that is what I’m on about - however, my questions still remains: Do They Really Do That?

My believe is that many online influencers/activists, etc. are confused by the words taking a break. Time and time again I witness regulars on social sites claiming the proverbial gone fishing scenario only to discover a few minutes/hours later they are in full glory, camera front facing and happily chatting away live to the world. And where do I see this happening? On various social media platforms that offers a stories or live function, where else! 

That  hiatus didn’t last long, right? “No, no, no, Evan, I am taking a break from publishing any work related content. I am away with my family at a beach resort. I am teasing your taste buds with the delicious food we’re eating?” Or the other classic: “I am building my personal brand on social platforms! Presence is what it is all about”.

I am afraid such individuals need to stop kidding themselves. That kind of behaviour is not leaving social media alone for a period of time. Purely because you change your content does not make it less of a habit.  Publishing your absence loud and clear is exactly what it should be. Stick to your guns - most importantly, show your audience you’re a sincere human focussed on many other opportunities than the matter in your hand

Content on platforms are important, don’t get me wrong. However, the content  is not what causes the addiction. The inability to see the wrong doing, is the underlining cause for concern, in my opinion. The bottom line is to first realise the habit and how damaging it is - and only then serious change can take place. 

I will leave you with some honest advice: Take A Well Deserved Break from Social Media and do Your Future Self a favour. Ultimately, enjoy the sunset views… taste the delicious food… have a great, fun time away from normality. It will do you the world of good. 

And finally a cheeky suggestion: share those taking-a-break-memories with us all by creating and publishing a digital album on your return. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading.

FRIEND OR FOE TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Does our obsession with Social Media messaging mean the end of good writing? Such a great question from Emphasis that I used it to kick start this article. 

Communication is key in life. Not only within our personal relationships, but definitely within a business environment. It is safe to say that the way we communicate with each other has changed drastically over the years. Long, very long gone are the sending a pigeon and following short on its footsteps we can even count writing a letter as something that is beginning to disappear. 

Nowadays, we live in an (mostly) electronic world. Apart from our personal lives being organised via an electronic device, a very big part of our work are conducted electronically via a keyboard. It is this last mentioned task that, in my opinion, is becoming a talking point to take notice of.

TALK THE TALK

So many of people around the world go about their every day duties with an electronic device in their hands - or pockets/bags at least. It is therefore much easier to get or keep in touch with others than ages ago. More so, it can be done almost instantly, as you all know by now.  “What is the issue?” you may ask. Well, it is not that we can respond easily, it is how we respond that is my focus point.

Being regularly on social media platforms it has become obvious to me that many individuals tap or type away without taking much care of how they write. What matters to them is the fact that they do communicate and not how they do it. Time and time again one will stumble across social media posts that harbours incorrect spelling or incorrect grammatical usage. 

SPEAK THE LANGUAGE

Digging deep into some research, it has become clear that there are many educating institutions that have already talked of late about the writing element while we are speaking to each other. Teachers and Educators seem to address this issue which means they are questioning the way we are moving forward on an educational level. Amen to that!

At this point, let’s look at some of the outcomes from a study of 800+ teachers released by Dictionary.com:

  • 32% notices students struggle with grammar

  • 64% focusses more on skills like meaning and comprehension 

  • 73% find that social media and texting negatively affects students' grammar and spelling skills

  • 75% are troubled by students using popular slang or text speak in their schoolwork

  • 88% are concerned of students’ improper use of basic words and phrases 

As a strong believer in dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s, it has been more than frustrating on many occasions to see online posts not adhering to the correct usage of words - whether that is in sentences or on-word responses. Along with this kind of behaviour, one also has to put up with grammatical errors. There is an age-old saying: read between the lines, however, struggling to figure out what someone is telling you via the lines is (personally) a waste of time - in particular within the world of social media. After all, social media communication is suppose to be in the KISS form (Keep It Short & Simple), right? 

TOO MUCH TO ASK

Not only is it easy to draw a different conclusion to what the writer intended, it also can easily give the reader the wrong impression of the personality on the other end of the phone. This observation can quickly be pushed aside by saying that we are friends so he/she knows what I mean. Rightly so, but what about those who do read your work and is not at all a friend in real life? 

Furthermore, when it comes to those who are shouting from the rooftops about their milestones, their achievements and mostly (even if it’s indirectly) about what great influencers they are, is it really such an enormous task to make sure your content is grammatically correct when published?

Take for instance an Educator (i.e. a person who provides instruction or education; a teacher - via dictionary.com)... surely this person has a responsibility (at least) towards his/her students. Around 50% of teachers admit they reach out to social media to have a better understanding of their students’ culture.  Has it ever occurred to you as a tutor, that the reverse can happen? If your students take on board your irked grammar behaviour, are you really succeeding as an upstanding pilar of society?

At the end of the day, my question is: as a Leader, how much do you respect the language you are using to communicate with others?

THE FUTURE IS OUT THERE

We all know that once it is published, it’s basically out there forever. We can delete here, there and anywhere we can find, but somehow somewhere someone will find our original post. 

We all have a native tongue. Personally, this language I communicate in 100% of my everyday is not the one I was born with. And there are millions of us around the world in a similar situation. However, living in a society that is becoming more and more global it has become the norm to talk to each other in a universal language. Nothing wrong with that at all, but do we honestly have to walk around showing little respect for the language that is bringing us all together? 

What if the English language is the glue that keeps the world go round? The manner in which the English language is being used over the last few decades, is a true indication of how long it is been here and most probably how long it is going to be around for. 

Far is it for me to be such a stern critic, but if us humans, and in particular those who count themselves as upstanding citizens, cannot adhere to a simple task of delivering their words in mint condition, then where is this all going to end.

CONCLUSION

None of us are perfect. That is a common fact. We are all human and we make mistakes. That said, I personally don’t believe we can use that as an excuse to set a bad example. My point is that it is so easy nowadays to distribute content electronically. All we need to do is take good care of how we put it out there for all to see and read.

The main issue with not taking care of how we communicate with words is about to whom we aim our knowledge / points of view / insights etc. towards. It is quite possible for a big majority of your readers to be of a younger age than yourself. This is great, because we would like to advise and help others by sharing our wisdom with them - especially if one is in an environment of mentoring or coaching and teaching. Not much give more satisfaction than assisting others with reaching their potential

If we feel so strongly about how much value we want to bring to others’ lives, then why not feel strongly about the manner in which way we will give value to them. For those who will end up in a professional working environment one day, it is definitely a sure thing that they will not get away with using inappropriate language when engaging with fellow colleagues and/or clients. No company will put up with the use of slang or abbreviations in emails, incorrect usage of grammar in presentations and definitely not if you have a bad telephone manner. 

Those of us out here that wants to share with the world what we’ve learned so far in life, has a responsibility to do it correctly. After all, a Leader should be someone who Knows the Way, Goes the Way and Shows the Way. 

As always, please feel free to share, comment or send me a message if you have any questions and/or can relate to this post. 

You can reach me here, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

And most of all… Thank You for reading. 

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Have you got the thirst for learning? Is gaining information something that inspires you? If like me, you most certainly would answer yes and agree with the subject line (a quote from Francis Bacon). Those 3 wise words speak volumes.

WHY LEARN MORE

When the decision was taken to give Entrepreneurship a go the first thing that came to mind was to educate myself more about my choice of ventures. The need was there for tools to take on this mission of being my own boss. The only way forward seemed to seek knowledge which in return should (hopefully!) pay off.

WHERE TO LEARN

To further your schooling career and life as a university or college student the next platform is not far away at all. With the brilliance of the Internet at our fingertips nowadays it actually isn’t that difficult - or expensive - to gain guidance. No need to sign your life away committing to a bundle of years at institutions. As someone who did the whole further education bit years ago, this discovery was more than an eye opener. It is obvious that the world wide web has incredible information to offer and just how much can be gained for free was astonishing.

WHAT LEARNING IS AVAILABLE

The variety of teaching on the web is quite overwhelming - understandably so. Millions out there offer to share their knowledge with those of us who seek it. And why not? At the end of the day for some it is a very lucrative business. On the other hand many gain satisfaction purely by sharing what they’ve learned. One platform that can offer such learning is that of Webinars. The fascinating world of webinars is exactly that - fascinating. Topics on offer spread oceans wide. You can literally sign up to learn about almost anything in the world. What remains for you to do is to be… selective.

WHICH LEARNING SOLUTION

As a person with the tendency for a short attention span the need to gain information quickly is order of the day, The discovery of webinars was great. This platform offers most of the time a 60 minute window of opportunity to learn. 

There are mainly 2 different webinars. Those who aim to tease you with a few facts only to offer you their solution to the topic at a price towards the end of the session. The other, a far more impressive and satisfying route, is where successful individuals are happy to share at no cost what they have learned. They are delighted to show you how to avoid potholes and overcome hurdles during your new journey. Also what they did to penetrate obstacles - like the proverbial brick wall.

Such webinars, as far as one has learned, are far and few in-between. One institution that so far stands out is Entrepreneur. Combining visuals/slides with a live webcam (most of the time) showing the presenter of the session make a great platform to learn from. It is also known for keeping it short and sweet which means come 60 minutes it’s over and done with. Jill Schiefelbein and Ryan Bilello  are another two favourites. They share their knowledge and expertise casually not pushing the sales pitch as such. Plain honesty and to the point. Exactly what ticks the box for me.

FINALLY 

There is nothing wrong with offering a paid programme/course to those whom are logging in online - it is after all your business, your rules, your time. We all need to make money to survive. Personally, the point is that as a startup funds are limited - very limited to be honest. Therefore it is great to get the opportunity to learn and be educated how to progress without having to fork out handfuls of money to move forward. 

As an ardent webinar attendee the most satisfaction is gained by being selective to whom you tune into. The more webinars you attend the easier it is to realise within the first few minutes if this presenter is going to spend as much if not more time on selling his/her product rather than focus on educating you. 

There are obvious many platforms out there that provide learning with no price tag at all. If anyone is happy to share their knowledge of institutions/individuals that go along this route of sharing info, please get in touch. It will be great to discover and connect with more such like-minded people. 

After all, one cannot learn enough. Expertise is a combination of learning and doing. And of course included are a substantial amount of failing… don’t let it scare you - the best part about failing is to learn from your mistakes.