Anyone that has been following my writing, speaking and sometimes ranting for any length of time will already know some of my feelings about the education systems and how they are set up to turn us into imply cogs in the economic wheel of society and don’t go anywhere close to preparing people for the real life challenges which come up for, well almost everyone.
Now don’t get me wrong, formal education has its place and is great to get some specific skills you may or may not need in whatever employment you wind up taking on; but I am talking about life skills, ones which help navigate us through life and actually feel like we are winning in the game of life and living a life of our own choosing and design and not just the default life we have all been taught.
Suffice to say, after working with tens of thousands of people in their personal lives, relationships, careers, finances and businesses and also from my own life experiences, I have experienced over and over again the challenges most people face in everyday living which cause them pain and frustration on an ongoing basis, so I wanted to layout some critical areas of development which, well personally, I think should be in every education system, but seeing as they are not, that you should seek to develop in yourself.
Life Skill 1. Personal Leadership
The first one and by far the most important is personal leadership; this skill and character trait transcends all others. It is the foundation of all success in any area of life.
It is the moment you decide that you are going to ‘Personally Lead’ your own life, instead of just reacting to whatever happens in life.
Maybe it seems common sense, but overwhelmingly, I see people just following a set default life path laid out before them and constantly participate in this blame game coupled with always waiting for the right time or for luck to swing their way or for things to get better. Nothing in life gets better until you do and until we take personal responsibility for who we are, where we are and for what we are committed to creating in our lives. We remain a victim to life, where life is this thing which happens to us. Unfortunately, we are taught to rely on things external to ourselves for winning in the game of life.
With our health, we are taught to rely on the government, food companies and the medical system to tell us how to take care of ourselves and treat symptoms as opposed to how to live a healthy, vibrant and energetic life.
Our financial system is set up so we are dependent on a company to give us an income and where often people only just scrape by after pay packets are ravaged by tax, by debt, by the need to a retirement and pension system to support us in our later years and to just follow a path which leads us to dependency keeping us in a reactive state.
Our societal and cultural system is set up so we behave like everyone else and fit in like everyone else and loses part of our identity too, lose our creativity and ability to dream, and lose our belief that we can create what we want in life.
Our work system is designed to keep us distracted in life and spending the majority of our lives working and exchanging our time for money without understanding that we can design our own life.
Well, I could go on for longer, but you get the idea.
So, let me tell you what I think personal leadership really involves:
Step 1. Take Personal Responsibility
This means to take personal responsibility for everything that has happened in your life to date and for all of the circumstances you find yourself in now, whether it was your fault or not, and then commit that you will take personal responsibility for every part of your life moving forward.
Believe me, I get it that this can be hard to do. Things happen in life which is out of our control and it is easy to feel at the mercy of some circumstances, but personal leadership means that you take responsibility for your part in it. No matter how small, it means you take personal responsibility for how you view it and how you respond to it and you take personal responsibility for what you are going to do next.
Step 2. Decide what you want your life to be about
At our core, human beings are creatures of creation. We are blessed with the gifts of conscious thought, imagination, critical and directive thinking and are not simply driven by instinct like many of the animal species. What a gift and what a responsibility we have to make the most of this gift! Unfortunately, for much of our lives, this creativity is systematically squashed, where we are taught how to behave, how to fit in, how to be like everyone else, what to learn and not how to learn, wear the same uniform, color within the lines, be tested and graded against the same standard as everyone else and we minimize this creative gift within us.
But! It is still there and you can decide to reactivate it in any moment. That inner creative, crazily imaginative child who had no limitations and who was not programmed to be, do and think like everyone else, is still alive. You just have to recapture that essence and bring out your inner child again. When you remember that you truly are a creative, imaginative creation, you will also remember that you can decide what you want your life to be about and how you want to live and then begin moving towards it.
Step 3. Make a commitment, a plan and begin moving towards it
Creation is great; action is even better. Nothing will change in your life unless you make it. Success in anything does not happen by accident, it happens through design. So once you have a direction, start thinking about what you need to do to turn it into a reality. Try answering these questions:
- Who do you have to become as a person?
- What new skills or character traits do you need to develop?
- What assistance or help do you need and where can you get it?
- What are some major milestones you need to reach?
- What are the next 3-5 actions you can take starting now to get you on the road?
- When are you going to do them? And when are you going to stop and review and re-evaluate? Schedule them in.
Personal responsibility means that you can no longer hide behind a mass of excuses and live as a victim where life is something that happens to you. But then again, why would you want to? You respond thoughtfully to the world and everything that happens instead of simply reacting and that puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life.
Life Skill 2. Embrace the salesperson within you
Sales is considered such a dirty word, tarred by the minority of so called used car salesmen and door-to-door sales and those pushy bastards which make us want to run a million miles.
People in a sales profession at times are still considered by a lot of people to be of a lower class or lower education or other seriously stupid labels. The funniest part of all of this is that every person you will ever meet is in some way in sales and it is such a critical skill to have.
All of this negativity towards it comes from a complete lack of understanding of what sales or being a salesperson really is. So, let’s start there and foremost and bust a few myths and old preconceptions.
Sales in its core, is an exchange of value. In the past, it might have been an exchange of a cow for grain, for example, before gold and then money was introduced, then money had a perceived value attached to it and became the medium of exchange for goods and services.
So, if you think about that definition as an exchange of value, think about in your life where you have exchanged value.
How about as an employee? Have you exchanged your time and skills for an income?
How about when you applied for a job, were you selling yourself as something of value?
How about when you were first dating someone? Were you exchanging value, not in a monetary sense; but were you representing your wares to the other person? Your personality, your looks, your conversation?
How about selling ideas or concepts to businesses? Or to your boss? Or to your family? Have you tried negotiating and selling with your kids? They are master negotiators so you have to be in you’re A-game.
In all of these, you are still representing your value.
You are all in sales, every single one of you in some place in your life. So, own it and embrace it and become better at it.
Sales is like one of the oldest professions and it is incredible, anyone can learn it and do it and create an outstanding life for themselves and their families.
Sure, you could choose to be a dodgy sales person, the same way you could choose to be a dodgy cab driver, a dodgy doctor, a dodgy scientist or whatever. It is not the profession or the activity. It is the person behind it.
Sales skills are essential in life.
The next part of this blog will be published soon!”