Category Archives: Success

How Would Your Friends Review You? (via Success)

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Success — It is one of the truths of human nature that we ask for honesty from our friends, family and loved ones, so long as that honesty is unfailingly positive and contains no bad news whatsoever.

We crave attention and revel in approval, seeking it by means both conscious and sneaky. We ask directly (“Is this what you were looking for?”) and solicit passively (“I’m not very good at this, so I hope it’s close to what you’re looking for”). We ask leading questions (“Does this shirt make my stomach look fat?”) and frame our statements to solicit responses (“Ugh, this shirt makes my stomach look fat”). We lightly bait those whose approval we crave (“I’m only buying this shirt if it doesn’t make my stomach look fat”). Be honest, we say, when what we really mean is just tell me I’m OK.

When we’re asked to furnish those honest assessments of a loved one, spouse, colleague, barista, barber or bartender, we make a full stop, our brains flinging themselves through a maze of psychological pulls and snap decisions. Should I be honest with this person? Can I be honest? Will they take my honesty too hard? Will they be hurt?

Feedback, in short, sucks. When it’s bad, we ignore it, push it away or spend hours listing the reasons why it’s illegitimate, biased or unfair. When it’s good, we wrap ourselves tightly in a blanket of it, assured that our self-opinions have been safely validated. It’s a hopelessly tricky thing. So when SUCCESS asked me to submit to a 360-degree feedback review of myself via friends, family and colleagues, I’m pretty sure I said yes without thinking it all the way through.

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I Tried to Go One Month Without Spending Any Money. This Ended Badly (via Success)

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Success — I cut out inessential spending for one month. And by that, I mean: I didn’t come anywhere near cutting out inessential spending for a month.

For the record, I tried. My assignment was simple: Eliminate all spending that wasn’t essential to the health of my family, the payment of recurring bills or the survival of the pets. No fancy coffee. No clothes. No cocktails. No movies. Nothing outside of the pure necessities of life in a hardening America. Then at the close of the experiment, I was to report all of my glittering lessons about the value of self-denial, discipline and minimalism.

Here’s what I learned: Life can get crazy, and sometimes you just want a taco.

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This is Your Brain on One Month of Constant Gratitude (via Success)

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Success — Confession: Before this assignment, I’d never even considered keeping a gratitude journal. I imagined parchment and elf-crystals and perfumed writing chambers where the air is 75 percent mulberry incense, and purple-haired millennials talk an awful lot about chakras.

Gratitude is also an example of what humans call feelings, and I have spent an awful lot of energy trying to avoid those. But as it happens, what makes me a lousy human also leaves me pretty well-qualified to gauge the effects of a gratitude journal—a tally of thanks I kept throughout December to see whether the gurus and positive psychologists are right about its uplifting power.

Science has fallen over itself proving how gratitude makes you not only a warmer person but a healthier one. “Previous research has linked gratitude to improved mental health, lower levels of anxiety and improved sleep,” says Blaire Morgan, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Birmingham in England. “Our own research has demonstrated a strong link between gratitude and three different measures of well-being: satisfaction with life, subjective happiness and positive affect.”

Here’s what happened after a month of relentless gratitude. 

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Silver Linings Playbook: What I Learned from 30 Days of Endless Positive Thinking (via Success)

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Success — My earliest memory is a pretty bad one. I was called out by a substitute teacher in kindergarten for talking during story time.

You could argue that, in the grand scheme of things, getting in trouble at 5 isn’t that big of a deal. But the story, and how it’s burned into my brain forever, speaks to a shared and brutal human reality: We cling to the bad moments—getting busted in kindergarten, botching a speech, getting broken up with the day after the prom, feeling wordlessly judged by someone in richer clothes, whiffing on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth—with more force than we afford the good ones. Negative memories are monstrous beasts, gross and sticky octopuses that attach themselves with ferocious tenacity to the present. Science, Eastern religion, elections and all eight Star Wars movies prove that negative powers aren’t easily fought. Only the strongest and most disciplined minds can train themselves to destroy the darkness with light.

I do not have such a mind.

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I Wore the Same Outfit for Two Weeks to Achieve Zen Calm (via Success)

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Success — To learn about the curious malady known as “decision fatigue,” I was given a very simple assignment: Wear the same outfit and automate as many daily decisions as possible for two weeks and write about whether it gave me more mental clarity. That was it. Easy breezy. I jumped right in.

On Day 1, I picked out a crisp white shirt, got dressed, opened the front door and promptly spilled coffee all over myself. The first lesson of automating your wardrobe: Select dark fabrics.

By “automating your wardrobe,” I mean following the fashion examples of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and others whose jobs demand a daily deluge of global-scale decision-making. The idea is simple: To preserve brain space for the big calls, cut back on the less significant ones, because the collective weight of your choices, layered over and over each other, creates what psychologists call decision fatigue. Officially, that’s the “deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision-making,” says Jonathan Levav, Ph.D., associate professor at Stanford University. Colloquially it means reaching 4 p.m. and no longer giving a damn about the logjam of problems in your inbox.

The full story at Success.

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How I Learned to Talk to Strangers by Driving for Uber (via Success)

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Success — After sliding the on switch in my Uber app, I putter around the Indianapolis outskirts for about 10 minutes before receiving my first bat signal from a guy standing in front of a deeply suburban-looking office complex. He got right into my front seat, which I heard was an Uber party foul, but I didn’t want my first stranger interaction to open with me jerking my thumb and saying, “Backseat, buddy.”

A friendly, chatty Turkish immigrant, he’s headed back downtown after a job interview. He came to America years ago for an internship and simply stuck around. The Midwest, he says, was open and welcoming, but troublingly sedentary. He worried that our reliance on cars and endless fast-food options would make him look like a lot of the people he’s seen here. Random Fact No. 1: In Turkey, McDonald’s is considered something of a semi-expensive luxury meal.

I don’t usually care for small talk with a barista or Uber driver. So naturally I at first resisted the idea when SUCCESS asked me to drive for Uber to study the chance encounters that often come with participating in the YouEconomy—the massive entrepreneurial movement encapsulating the gig, sharing, freelance, on-demand and moonlighting economies that is already changing the life and work of one in three American adults.

The full story at Success.

Success Podcast: The Uber Episode

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How I Destroyed a Bruce Springsteen-Related Guinness World Record in 60 Seconds Flat (via Success Magazine)

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Success — Jumping right into the book of Guinness World Records with the mission of finding one to break is daunting. You’re not simply trying to decide how to order your eggs or which project to launch, you’re trying to be remembered for something incredible—something that will etch your name into a metaphorical mountain that will endure time, memory and erosion. Have you ever sat down and said, “All right, at what thing should I become the best in the world?” It’s scary. Big ambition can be. So I went with the only thing I knew I was really good at.

The full story at Success magazine.

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Michael Strahan’s Guide to Dreaming Big (via Success)

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Success — In his first career, Michael Strahan was a legend.

He became one of football’s most relentless competitors, as good at bringing down quarterbacks as anyone who ever played. Week after week, he’d tear through opposing offenses like a man without fear. When he retired in 2008, after 15 years in one of the most punishing physical environments in sports, he celebrated by picking up three full-time jobs.

“To be honest, I’m looking for a few more,” Strahan says with a big Strahan laugh. “My afternoons are free.” He’s kidding. I think.

It’s 40 minutes after a Tuesday morning taping of Live with Kelly and Michael, and Strahan has chatted with Kelly Ripa about dirty martinis, interviewed actress Rebel Wilson and concocted a small buffet of Super Bowl snacks. Now he’s headed to the offices of his production company, SMAC Entertainment, where he’ll spend the rest of today. Tomorrow, he’ll be up early for a double-shot hosting Live and Good Morning America, which he joined just over a year ago. And during football season, he’ll follow GMA by flying straight to the West Coast to prep for Fox NFL Sunday, which starts before dawn and eats up all of this day of “rest.” Afterward, it’s back to New York to start the cycle again.

See more at Success.

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Nirvana, Indiana: What 30 Days of Meditation Does to Your Brain (via Success)

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Success — My first meditation class was a failure. I tanked it. Bombed it worse than anything since a college essay on The Canterbury Tales.

As is typical when I’m terrible at something, I immediately set about determining how it wasn’t my fault. It had to be because I was new—new to meditation, new to Eastern customs and, honestly, new to sitting still for 20 minutes. The other seven attendees had clearly been there before. They knew when to chant, when to listen, the cadence of each surprisingly involved group reading. My strategy was to be a mere observer, remaining as invisible as possible. I tried to sit near the back, but there were only three rows of chairs so there wasn’t really a “back” so much as a “directly behind Jerry.”

The full story at Success.

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The Glamorous Truth About Working From Home (via Success)

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Pictured: Me. Totally.

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Success — Hello. My name’s Jeff, and I work from home. I could be writing this on my back porch, where I often hang out in my fleece PJs while sipping fresh coffee after rolling out of bed at 8:15 a.m. (or was it 8:45 a.m.?).

Or I could totally still be in bed.

But the truth is I’m writing this at my son’s swim practice, happening some 15 rows of concrete seats below me. A coach blows a whistle every 20 seconds, and if you just started imagining the smell of chlorine and pee, you’ve got the right idea.

I’ve worked on my porch or in bed before a couple of times. But this right here, this is what it’s like working from home. It’s not what you see on millennial job boards or in stock art pictures—images of roguishly unshaven guys in T-shirts or women with tousled hair and bathrobes. (Frankly, those people are ridiculous stereotypes. My slippers look nothing like theirs.)

The full story at Success Magazine.

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