In recent years the topics of the power of our thoughts and human potential have been studied more and more, both in the lab and real world. These studies have shown undeniable proof of what thought leaders like Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay have always known – our thoughts are incredibly powerful and create the reality through which we experience our lives.

And while changing one’s thoughts to embrace more empowering thought patterns and beliefs can change one’s life in ways they never thought possible, we also know that entertaining the wrong thoughts can lead to self-sabotage, imposter syndrome and missed potential.

There are 3 common phrases that seem harmless on the surface, and yet their acceptance and belief only serve to keep people playing small. 

1. It’s lonely at the top

It’s no secret that human beings are tribal creatures. We were made to live within communities and support each other. In the mind, a community or a tribe means safety. And ultimately survival.

When we buy into the notion that it’s lonely at the top, we activate one of our most primal fears to work against us. This fear of being alone, of having to possibly be rejected and having to reject or let go of those that we love, leads to a fear that we won’t survive on our own. This sets the fear center of the mind (the amygdala) into a proverbial lockdown, where we sabotage our success to maintain the relationships and connections we rely on and need.

Instead: recognize that success is defined on our own terms. And while the journey to success will push us to grow and improve many aspects of ourselves, we can also choose to maintain the relationships that are most important to us in life. Afterall, how we spend every moment is a choice – just as making money and growing a business requires effort, so do the relationships that we care the most about bringing with us on the journey.

“Every thought we think is creating our future.” – Louise Hay

2. Be realistic

Being realistic is the enemy to entrepreneurship and innovation. To be realistic means to put a limitation or ceiling on what you are capable of achieving. And what is realistic depends completely on one’s belief systems about themselves and the world around them.

Society has never in history been moved forward towards the innovation and technological advances that are a standard in our world today by people being realistic. It was once scientifically believed that humans could not run a 4-minute mile. Roger Bannister, however, refused to believe this notion and since he broke the 4-minute mile barrier in 1954, thousands of others around the world have done it since.

It was unrealistic to think that humans could fly across oceans in a metal tube, until the Wright brothers invented the airplanes. Early computer sales people were told that computers were a phase, today you can find one in most every home and business.

When entrepreneurs buy into the notion of being “realistic” they let their fears and limiting beliefs tell them what’s possible. Instead: believe in the extraordinary and your potential to create it!

3. If I am grateful for what I have, I’ll lose motivation to achieve more

Experiencing gratitude for what you have and what you have achieved will not leads to complacency or a lack of motivation to continue to grow. In fact, gratitude does quite the opposite!

Our unconscious minds, specifically the Reticular Activating System, is designed to seek more of what we focus on. When we focus on making money, we are continually searching for more ways to make money. When we focus on gratitude, we unconsciously search for more ways to be grateful or more things to be grateful for. Therefore, the more gratitude we experience, the more motivation we’ll have to continue to grow and achieve.

“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.” – Buddha

In fact, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman from Stanford University shares that by celebrating our wins and practicing gratitude leads to having more overall energy. When we are constantly in a hustle mode, always striving to achieve more and more, our bodies continue to produce cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline – a combination of hormones that is known to deplete our mental and physical energy in the body. If you’ve ever experienced a hit of adrenaline (whether jumping out of a plane or dealing with an emergency) you know this to be true – while you may experience an initial hit of clarity, focus, energy and strength, as soon as the adrenaline inducing event is over you find yourself exhausted.

Dopamine and serotonin on the other hand buffer the effects of these stress hormones so we can experience true limitlessness. Dopamine is released in the body when we celebrate our wins, both big and small. Serotonin is released when we experience and feel grateful for anything in life.

Moving forward, start celebrating your daily wins and find time to practice gratitude for what you already have so you can ride the wave of energy and motivation to your next win, and the one after that!

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If you’re working from home, are you missing your commute? That kind of sounds like a stupid question. Who misses sitting in traffic looking at taillights? Not many people, I’d guess, but that’s probably not the part of your commute you’re missing. What you’re missing is the best part – the interstitial time between one place and the next or, to put it another way, between one now and the next now.

Microsoft thinks you’re likely missing that interstitial time so, in next year’s update of their Teams collaboration software, they’re going to make it possible for you to schedule a virtual commute. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “The Teams update next year will let users schedule virtual commutes at the beginning and end of each shift. Instead of reliving 8 a.m. or 6 p.m. packed subway rides or highway traffic jams in virtual reality, users will be prompted by the platform to set goals in the morning and reflect on the day in the evening.”

A CEO I was talking with last week recognizes the same thing that Microsoft has – she misses her commute and the chance it gave her to think without an agenda, a to-do list or other people on her screen. Her solution recently has been to ask her assistant to schedule her days with a 5 and 3 mix – no more than 5 hours of scheduled meetings in a day and at least 3 hours a day set aside for personal think time, reading, writing and unscheduled, spontaneous conversations.

From my observation, this CEO definitely has the right idea but her solution might not be within everyone’s grasp. So, for those of us who don’t call as many of our own shots as she does with how she spends her time, here are some quick hit ideas on how you get back the best part of that commute you no longer make – the interstitial time that gives you space to think offline.

Make Your Showers Count – As I’ve written here before, I like to ask groups of leaders where or when they get their best ideas. The number one answer is “in the shower.” Chances are you’re going to take a shower most days. In addition to getting clean, use that time for a little bit of “let your mind wander” time. It’s pretty much guaranteed that no one’s going to interrupt you in the shower and the warmth of the water coming down is a surefire relaxer. As I wrote a few years ago, a client of mine adopted the habit of intentionally taking time for three deep breaths every time he showered. He reported that it gave him space to think and, more often than not, teed him up for a really productive day.

Try Some Radically Different Immersion Techniques – My hope is that when we look back on the pandemic period, we’ll all have one or two projects that we took on that we feel really good about. One of mine is finally learning how to play guitar. Three or four nights a week I plug my black Stratocaster into my little Fender amp, put my Mac on top of the amp and then tune into the site where Justin Sandercoe has expertly organized over a thousand guitar lessons in a beginner to advanced sequence. After four months or so of practice, I’m about to finish the beginner classes and am moving on to intermediate. One of the things I love about the practice is that it’s completely immersive. It engages my senses in a whole different way from what I do in my work all day. In addition to learning chords and riffs, I find I’m usually more productive and creative when I get back to work the next morning. It all flows from giving my brain a chance to think about something else.

Meditate – More and more people are using apps like Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer to learn how to meditate and incorporate that habit into their lives. If you haven’t tried meditation yet, the pandemic is an excellent time to start. In addition to giving your fight or flight response a rest, it’s a great way to observe your thinking patterns and random thoughts. You might think the goal of meditation is to not think, but most of the experts I’ve read and talked to say the goal is really to notice when you’re thinking. What I notice when I stop and meditate for 12 minutes or so is that thoughts that actually have a fair amount of value come up seemingly out of nowhere. When that happens, I write them down as soon the closing chime rings on my app. That’s actually better interstitial time than commuting in the car because writing down the ideas after meditating is a heck of a lot safer!

If you’re still working from home, what’s been working for you on reclaiming some of the thinking time you used to have on your commute? What else would you add to my list? Let me know in the comments on LinkedIn or, if you’re reading this on my blog, send me a quick note at

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Famously said by Marilyn Monroe, “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” If you are aiming high and planning to materialize your dream by defying all barriers and killing the stereotype, then the quote mentioned above is something that will get you going. Talking of small businesses, if we look back at the history of SMEs-turned-world-changing-MNCs, some remarkable brands like Apple, HP, Google, Walt Disney, Mattel and Amazon certainly get a special mention.

Now you must be thinking what rule did Steve Jobs break or what exactly were Larry Page and Sergey Brin up to? Well, breaking the rules doesn’t necessarily mean to try out random illegal stuff that may put you behind bars. Breaking rules indicates ignoring certain stereotypes to rise above what is regular and conventional in order to turn your small business into a successful and universally recognized company someday.  

Published on Forbes, the list of small companies in America that are making it big in the industry has a count of 25 firms with revenues ranging from $3 Million to a huge $532 Million. Astonished much? Nothing really is impossible you see!

Here are the 7 conventional small business rules which are better to be broken than to follow blindly:
1. Do not rope your family and friends in the business

This perhaps is the most common and an unspoken law followed by many people in the domain of start-up businesses. It’s a misconception among us that involvement of family and friends ruins the business prosperity. Do you know your favorite café Starbucks was founded back in the year 1971 by three San Francisco University students, and the original McDonald’s restaurant in California was founded by the McDonald brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald? So it is a myth after all!

2. If you are good at something, never do it for free

You may oppose this notion of working for free but have you ever thought of it the other way around? Suppose you have a start-up business that offers online academic writing service. Declare free essay help for all as a part of your promotional campaign. Provide all interested students with free services once and pitch the premium ones eventually. At least you can have people notice your business. That’s something which is crucial to every small trade.

3. No graduation means no business prosperity

Michael Dell (Dell), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jan Koum (WhatsApp CEO), and Evan Williams (co-founder of Twitter), are examples of successful college dropouts turned billionaire business tycoons, apart from the iconic Steve Jobs and Zuckerberg.

Nonetheless, this is no way an indication to drop your graduation plan and start a trade right away. But in case you cannot continue with the graduation program or have to leave midway, then it won’t bring any harm to your business, as long as you have the zeal to innovate and stand out. Your motivation for the day – If they can do it, so can you!

“If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

4. You are too young to start a business or get an internship

Sound familiar? Well, this is yet another man-made small business rule that keeps coming in between one’s aspirations and dreams. Being young has nothing to do with businesses if you have the motivation to start something on your own with a focused mindset.

Rather, a young entrepreneur has greater advantages as compared to that of the mid-aged one. As you get older, taking risks and being flexible and dynamic might be a problem, but such is not the case with the youngsters. They are agile, more liberal, open to changes and risk takers. As you know, taking risks in business is the first step towards attaining success.

5. Not all social media campaigns work well for the business

Social media is a terrific platform for all small business owners aiming to invest less and generate more revenue. On the contrary, you can’t actually be too confident about it. You never know who’s available on which platform. The internet is a big thing, and you can’t get enough of it.

Because of this, choose to make a difference, sell your ideas, promote your products in as many social media sites possible, and leave no possibilities unexplored. Remember, digital marketing costs less than the traditional methodologies.

6. You have to have a plan drafted for seamless operations

Planning is always crucial to every business, but bringing compulsion to it and not being flexible enough to think anything beyond a drafted plan can at times bring limitations. There are moments when you need to plan things up quickly and make smart decisions early in the process.

Every time you would call your team for a meeting or sit with pen and paper and spend hours brainstorming, you might lose out on opportunities that your competitors might already have grabbed with agility, confidence and smartness. At times, you need to think beyond drafted agendas. That’s all you need for a quick transmutation!

“Management is all about managing in the short term, while developing the plans for the long term.” – Jack Welch

7. Follow what your successful competitors are doing

To draw inspiration and ideas is one thing, but following them blindly is another. If you want your business products and services to be remembered with great brand recall values, then it’s time to make a move, and think beyond tried and tested strategies. Trying out the good old approaches and sticking to the conventional ideas of marketing is good, but that won’t help your target audience experience or explore something new and catchy, will it?

So, here’s your chance to try out the untried, break the unbreakable, jump beyond your boundaries, think beyond all limitations and achieve what you wish for. Your business is in your hands, make it a big one.

Do you want to start a business? If so, what would you like it to be? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success comes in all shapes and sizes. So, when I read about a 13 year old that was solving a major problem in the dog adoption industry, I was intrigued. It turns out that many families often choose the wrong dog for their family and end up giving them up to a shelter.

When a school project came up, this young girl decided she would try to tackle the problem. First, she created a survey that would help potential dog foster parents determine which dog would be a good fit for them. Then, she teamed up with a local shelter who gave her information on the dogs. Finally, she added the survey to a website she built called Dog Do or Dog Don’t. So far, it’s seen success in just a few months by pairing 5 dogs with the perfect home.

Here are 3 important points we can learn about success from this little girl’s innovation:
1. Focus on your why

No matter what we do in life, we need to know why we are doing it. This girl didn’t care about the end result of making money or getting attention from local news channels. She wanted to solve a problem and her why was clearly defined. “I wanted to come up with a way to help get dogs adopted or help people get the right dog for them and their family,” she says on her website. That was her why and it drove her to the success of what she eventually created.

When we have a goal in life, we need to focus on why we want to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being successful in business, raising our family or traveling the world, we need to clarify why. Without passion behind what we are doing, the dedication required to achieve success is hard to come by. Only when we focus on our why will we really be on the path to success.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

2. Define what success looks like

It sounds simple when I say to define success, but oftentimes we don’t. We set goals of working out more or making more money or even adopting more dogs. However, if we don’t define what that actually means, it’s really hard to know when we have hit the success we are working toward.

Success can quickly become like a bully on the playground that draws a line and when you cross it, he draws another line. When that happens, it’s hard to understand what we have achieved and keep moving onto the next goal.

When this survey for the dog adoption was built out, the goal was to adopt a dog to the perfect home. Now that the goal has been achieved, it’s time to set another goal and keep moving forward. By defining success clearly, we can make sure that when we work our plan and hit our goal, we will know it. Then, we can define another goal and work toward that.

3. Do the important work

What I didn’t mention earlier was that this was actually called the “Passion Project” and they were given an hour and a half each week to work on something they were passionate about. She found her topic through research and discovered that about half the dogs at shelters were there because they were the wrong type for the family.

This girl didn’t do this for accolades or attention as she was focused on doing the important work on something she was passionate about. It was only then that she found the problem she could solve and decided it was important to do so.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Real world problems are all around us from financial issues to poverty to famine and much more. Often, we look at a problem and think to ourselves that it’s too big for us to solve or there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway.

This young girl has a lot to teach us about looking at a problem and finding a solution for it. We need to pay attention to the things she has taught us about achieving success by doing the important work which is close to our heart.

What do you think is the most important aspect to success? Let us know in the comments below!

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Breakthroughs are rare when you avoid where they happen. #1. Breakthroughs happen when you accept ignorance. You wouldn’t need a breakthrough if you already knew what to do. Ignorance is the hinge where breakthrough swings. The perception of knowledge prevents breakthroughs. I don’t know. What do you think? I’m not sure. What could we try? … … Continue reading →

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