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The 3 things your brand needs now

The 3 things your brand needs now

There is an infinity of guides and blogs on the internet for you to learn about Branding. They will ALL talk about the same things. However, there are aspects that have been overlooked which could really help some to define their brand.

It all starts with an idea and seeking the ideal consumer. But when it comes to communicating with the consumer, some businesses fail. There are many reasons to that, but mostly is about not really defining the business well in first place.

There are actionable steps to help to start defining your brand.

What word do you want your brand to own in the consumer's mind?

Is that word and the proposal unique?

Are you prepared to be consistent throughout your business' lifespan, allowing the vision, mission, values, personality, and the word to be breathed within and without your company?


The word

Pick one main word that you will be focusing on with the marketing efforts. What is the main characteristic of your business that you want to be known for? How are you providing that characteristic through your products or services?

Be aware of your competitors, because you are aiming to be the best, and not second best. You want to stand alone when it comes to your consumer's minds.

On the other hand... Some businesses own the whole category. Is your brand so you unique it can be used as a synonym? Achieving that might be slightly harder, it cabe scary to niche down, or not always you haven't been as unique as you thought you'd be as a business. Have you ever taken a Xerox? Or used a Scotch tape? Usually, synonyms come with an invention that disrupts habits and how things are done. This might not be your case if you are planning to launch a brand to take wedding photography of animals (random, right?).

Your brand can only become the one in it's category by being the first one. That's the idea of niching down.

Narrow your focus

If you can't be first, you can be focused. By niching down, you create a sub category that you alone can lead. Becoming the synonym in a category requires your brand to be the one and only. Uniqueness.


The consistency

Being consistent requires discipline. In a business it's no different. Being consistent with quality, service to others, support, and so on is vital to a good reputation.

Provide value consistently. People notice consistency, and high value without consistency is a waste.

As Sean McCabe always says, people notice consistency and not announcements. Announcements during your favorite TV show is not fun. Ads on your timeline are probably not fun either, it's disruptive. People don't want to pay attention to it.

But what about marketing? How can you be consistent? Whatever form of content you put out, be consistent and always tie the marketing efforts to your one word. That generates the associations between the given context and your brand.


Providing Context

A brand is highly visual, but nothing happens without context. Associations must be made, and therefore, it's up to you to provide that context that people will need to understand where you come from, who you are and what you are on about.

By choosing the right words, brand name and associations with those is what will give meaning and a place in the consumer's mind.

Do it right, then you don't need to do it again. You just build upon it.


 

how to master inspiration

How to master inspiration

500 tabs opened in the browser. That's how browsing the internet looks like for some while in search for inspiration. The problem is, inspiration is a state of mind and a practice.

"I just put the music on and start drawing!"

Never mind that.

Inspiration comes from having ambitions. Which is contrary to what most people think of. According to the Harvard Business Website, inspired people share certain characteristics, such as being more open minded to new experiences and having conscious goals. Having a positive mindset does not equal being more inspired, however inspired individuals do have lower negativity. That's because inspiration involves having involvement with the task at hand with high levels of positivity. When one has goals, he or she is more likely to act and procure ways to make it happen, often resorting to creativity to find new ways and unexpected solutions–hence the open-mindedness. According to studies, the relationship between goal setting and inspiration was reciprocal: goal progress also anticipated inspiration for future goal setting.

People who are in an inspired mindset have a more positive look towards life, and are more grateful.

First of all, inspiration cannot be evoked. That's why the recurring habit of putting music on and collecting artwork doesn't work as inspiration–it's just a ritual to start working and referencing as to bias the brain to reach a certain conclusion, respectively.

Inspiration assists creativity. People that are constantly inspired view themselves as being more creative. Creativity requires no constraints, whilst inspiration is a set up of circumstances that assist in achieving a state of mind that allows it to be affected positively, with clarity and awareness of new possibilities. Moreover, both inspiration and creativity must be acted upon.

Preparation, and not inspiration, requires effort. Preparation might come in various forms. Reading, exercising, meditating, and a personal one to me, writing. All of these practices literally reform your brain and help you be more inspired, and are considered preparation. We, artists and designers, think a simple moodboard will suffice. Nah-nah. That's just referencing. The brain is way more complex and needs to connect information together so it can be used anew later on.


An overlooked trigger

There is just so much a piece of work can teach you, because it shows only the final result and not the process, but it can also inspire you. As we've seen, the major triggers for inspiration are preparation and work mastery, therefore, for creatives, it means reps, reps and reps, until a skill is mastered. That's why we collect objects –and online artworks. That's the common path everybody takes when learning something new.

However, because inspiration is a mindset and not an evoked feeling, it's worth surrounding oneself with inspiring speakers, industry leaders, and other role models. Personally, diving into people I admire who are successful allow me to learn a behavior and a mindset that I want to attain for myself, as well as giving the courage to do new things. Remember that thing about open-mindedness?


Inspiration x reference

Inspiration is a state of mind. I particularly read, write, exercise, and meditate to find my prime self. That requires a lot of discipline and it might take a while to delve into the habits, luckily those are practices that might already be incorporated into your life.

Reading about your own line of work is not sufficient: you won't be attaining different sets of information. It's more fruitful to connect different subjects in order to come with something anew up, rather than reiterations of the same subject, over and over.


Collecting and organizing references

Gathering references with intention, because it will affect how your brain functions in regard of what you've just experienced. What you consume prior to a creative work will work as data input. Everything we do, we do because we have been exposed to it, one way or another. Controlling how (and from whom) you consume work will affect how your brain mixes and remixes what you've seen, which when done right will result in better solutions.

By focusing on the problem, you are able to expand. Here comes the dichotomy: focus on the issue, but let your imagination run free. Making free associations will help come up with better and more creative results, rather than just an obvious one.

Where you collect references is not truly important. What matters most here is the preparation and how organized you are, so you can access those files when you need them for references. When you consume something intentionally, you will remember what it is. Therefore keeping a photo, a book or an article that has proved to be inspiring in an organized way will help you trace down what it is and in which specific source it was from. That is why being inspirational takes effort–not inspiration itself.

One of the mentors I have in life, Tai Lopez, has taught me to keep my books in e-formats so that I can easily search through my library after a specific word or phrase–facilitating referencing.

When it comes to images and articles, collecting them in your operational system might be facilitated by some apps or websites, which I will list bellow.


Use referencing to learn your craft and expand your skills

I usually do this by writing aspects, doodling forms and shapes down, in order to increase awareness of a particular aspect I like–which also increases my mastery in that specific craft. In this sense, the pre-inspiration stage requires the effort of spending time and energy to understanding how something is done.

With a basic knowledge, you can apply what you've learned and create it anew with your own touch.


Tools and final words

Inspiration can be achieved with a set of habits and with great filtering, such as reading, writing, exercising, and consuming work from different industry leaders. Inspiration is a fruit that is collected from a garden that is well watered and kept.

My favorite tools to organize knowledge and references are not different than you'd expect for a designer, they are also simple to use.

Evernote

Pinterest

Pocket

Scribd

iBooks


Sources:

Harvard - Why Inspiration matters

The Science of Inspiration [I agree only halfway with this one]

4 Practical Ways to Prepare Your Mind For Inspired Ideas


 

logo design with design thinking

Designing a logo with Design Thinking

A notable part of a brand is their logo. The symbol that represents the brand will be printed and displayed digitally diverse sizes, and alongside colors, shapes, images and typography, will help customers identify that particular business.

The logo is part of a system called visual identity, which is part of a larger system, the business' branding system.

The logo design process is different for each designer. I, for one, do the typography displayed alongside the symbol by hand, and that is called handlettering.

For the whole process, both handlettering and the creation of the symbol, I use a process called Design Thinking.

Design thinking was invented at Stanford University, and it's a problem solving process. It consists of seven stages: defining, researching, ideating, prototyping, selecting, implementing and learning.

The best thing about the Design thinking process is that it's not a rule, but a reiterative


Defining the project with a brief

When it comes to a Design project, Designers need to start off from somewhere. Usually, we get a mail, a call or a meeting, but that's not quite enough. It's important to acquire thoroughly information about the project, the company. That way, the design problem can be best defined and a better solution created.

I also will want to make sure that the person I am talking to is a decision maker in the company. It's easy to not get the full picture when dealing with a representative or a speaker of the decision making force of the company.

Some of the topics I will try to find out are:

  • who works in the company;
  • what are the company's branding specifics (mission, vision, values, personality);
  • finding out about the service, product, how they function, how they are sold;
  • finding out about the audience and the target market;
  • finding out about the mediums used within and without the company, how people interact with each other within the company is as important as how the company interacts with people without;
  • pricing of the product or service: this information reveals a lot of how the product is perceived in the market;

It's important to communicate to the client that all information is important. Nothing should be left outside of the conversation. There is always that project that ends with the client casually saying something at the delivery that could have been used to do a better job.

A brief should contain all details of a project. That way, the project will stay on its track. Defining the deliverables should be easy with the information you acquire.

It's important to remember that, with the Design thinking process, you are free to go back and forth on the stages outlined in this article at any given moment of the project or when the need surges.


Inspiration

Researching the brand, the audience, and the competitors will give an idea of the scope of the brand and the impact of the service and product on the market.

When it comes to designing a logo, it's important to take into consideration what the client has provided but not forget to expand the creative mindset by looking further than what's obvious.

There are different ways to collect information for inspiration. I personally like to start off by writing down words that cross my mind related to the project, either on a mindmap or on just plain list style.

I find useful to browse the web whilst throwing random words on Google to see how a certain word connects with its meaning both visually and perceptually. This exercise helps me to get out of the conventions I have of my own experience and my own perceptions of a subject.

Visually speaking, I create a Pinterest board per project to have an idea how the final brand should look like. Consuming other people's work extensively helps to bias my mind to the style that best fits the project, and also helps me to be attentive t details that I know I want to try out.


Ideation

The ideation process is that stage where you brain dump ideas. Some people like to be restrained to 10, but I personally prefer to restrain to time per sketch in the beginning, and then pick ten.

The point of quick sketching is to allow a variety of ideas to surge. That way, you don't need to worry about finding the perfect shape just yet. Seeking quantity over quality will allow a variety of styles, forms, and shapes that you wouldn't have if you were stuck with one grid or look. I like to do this without the use of an eraser and preferably with a pen.

The best sketches can be selected and developed further, with a little bit more detail and time allowed to work on each.

The tools and the methods are not really important for idea generation. It depends on what works best for you, I am simply outlining what works for me, my process and way of looking for a solution.


Refinement

Refining a bunch of logos, or prototyping them, will provide a better insight and allow a comparison basis to what could work best and what would not, as well as what can be done better.

Prototyping and refining the logos will allow the designer and the client to best visually a potential outcome to the project, and thus choose a direct in which to continue working on.

A prototype is a working model, which when it comes to logos makes less sense to define as if it was a product prototype. However, some particular aspects may be found in the presentation of these prototypes, such as dummy colors and applications (for example, on mockups).


Finalization

Typically, at this stage, I will have 2-3 picks that will be selected and developed to the final stage. It's not always so black and white, but I will always present the logo I think should be presented in the middle, after a "but" sentence. I know that the client will always have a personal favorite, but the logo that should be picked should always be the one that best represents a solution for the design problem.

Never present a logo to the client you don't want to be picked. If you don't want a particular sketch to be picked, don't show it. It's never the client's fault to pick a bad idea, but the designer's for showing it.

Finalizing a logo consists of making sure all the elements are outlined in a vector format, the color palette is defined, the typography is chosen and all the sub-imagery, such as icons and patterns, are ready to be applied and tested.

The finalization process is the one that will bounce you back and forth the most. Because we designers have this... Perfectionism thing.


Visibility

Make sure the logo you design is recognizable in small and big sizes, to ensure adaptability across platforms, such as on a website or app icon and posters.


Colors

It's important to remember the usage of colors when it comes to the industry and how colors affect our brain. You can read more about that here.

Also notable, colors appear differently in different medias. Print colors are even harder to be consistent with, since it differs from printer to printer, and even in between printing rolls. The material that it gets printed on might also alter tones.

The easiest way to ensure that the brand and the logo colors will be consistent across media is to define all the color codes.

Usually, I will include:

  • HEX
  • RGB
  • CMYK
  • LAB
  • PANTONE Uncoated, Coated and sometimes metallic

Designing on sRGB will to ensure a wider color space and better compatibility between different devices. However, each display will have a certain way to read colors, called color calibration, and it's nearly impossible to certify that the color will show exactly the same for everyone.


Spacing

One of the aspects that I am obsessed with when it comes to logo designing is spacing.

It's important to understand that spacing is an optical illusion. Round objects, like a circle and an "O" will appear smaller to the eyes when set aside a square and an "H" respectively. So, just because the spacing between an "O" and a "H" and a "I" is the same, doesn't mean that they are optically spaced and sized the same.

In the pictures bellow, the optical spacing and the metric kerning (space between characters) are shown to exemplify how your eye will perceive each.

Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing

The optical spacing fits better to the eye, and show better a balance between the characters. Notice how the "O" is slightly overriding the baseline when compared to the other letters so that it looks right when it comes to the size. The "I" looks smaller than most letters, therefore it gets pushed a bit further away to the right so that it looks its size.

When it comes to the spacing between the logo and the type, I like to pick an element in the logotype to create balance in the piece, like it's shown bellow.

Logo spacing

This practice creates usage boundaries to ensures consistency and right placement of the logo across medias.


Useful tools

Pinterest

Pinterest is my favorite moodboard website. Word.

Visit website –>


Google Docs

I use Google Docs in an interesting way. In the start of a project, I use it to uncover information from the client. I add him/her to the document, which allows us to edit it at the same time and have a conversation. That way, I make sure we are both on the same page (literally) and helps me build the brief and the brand book at the end of the project.

Visit website –>


Docracy

Docracy is a great website to get a template for a contract.

Visit website –>


Affinity Designer

I love Affinity Designer, but I use it mostly for Illustration. It is a great alternative to Illustrator.

Visit website –>


rgb.to

My to go tool to convert my colors between RGB, CMYK and PANTONE. I like to add LAB colors as well, so I use Illustrator to get the LAB colors and to compare the CMYK from RBG.to.

Visit website –>


Coolors

Personally, choosing colors can be really painful depending on the project. Coolors has a cool "random" button that will do the start for me. I always have a mood in mind, and as soon as I find a good color, I might adjust it, then I lock it and find other 2 colors.

Visit website –>


Logobook

Logobook is a collection of the old logos of the world, and it can really break our conventional approach to logo design because it doesn't follow trends.

Visit website –>


Logo Design Love

Another great Logo inspiration website.

Visit website –>


Trademark Vision

Trademark Vision searches for visually similar trademarks.

Visit website –>


Google Image - search by Image

A great alternative to trademark vision is to Google Image search by Image, which will come up with visually similar results.

Visit website –>

 


 

The rich mindset propels you forward

The rich mindset propels you forward

Being human is a funny thing and a confusing experience. How can I exist in this world, and what makes me meaningful? Deep questions I cannot really answer for anyone else. We all face such questioning at one point or another, I am sure, and the agony of not knowing the answer makes my head explode. I cannot control what happens externally. I got only the power to control what’s inside my head. Everyone’s mind has a pattern, many of us pay attention to how our own head speaks to us, some of us don’t and are consumed by it. Being able to determine the pattern of our mind, and help it solve its own problems is an iteration process. It requires a ton of will power and discipline. When it comes to health, happiness, relationships, and wealth, how is your approach of each individually and in conjunction?

Thoughts steer the course of our lives. The power of thinking is immense. However, it doesn’t work by itself alone. Thinking and speaking positive words are not enough to make a change in someone’s life, that measure is just a patch to cure some major agony. The real power is recognizing that positive thinking is part of a major system, called the rich mindset.

Back in 2011 I had dropped out of University to work on my move to Finland. Dropping out of college (and twice in life, actually) in my family is a drastic move and taken as an insult. Not constantly communicating my intentions was a big mistake. I didn’t particularly have a great mindset then, I just had the purpose to move to where I felt I was at home.

Until my mom found out she had breast cancer. The blow affected my mind, and my purpose changed so drastically it was scary and painful to face what was coming ahead. The fear of losing my mom adding up with the anxiety of not feeling like I belonged anywhere, plus a dozen of other smaller pains that make sure to pop up in one’s head when things are not going well. Worth mentioning, our house was renovating, and we were renting. I didn’t have a room. A corner of the living room of the apartment held my wardrobe, my desk with my computer and a bed, that also made the role of a chair for the desk.

The responsibility of taking care of my family and running the businesses so that we could pay for the rent, renovations, and making sure my mom was healthy at all times must have flipped something in my brain. I was on the edge, whenever someone spoke to me, it was either burst of anger or tears. I didn’t know how to handle all of that at the age of 19. When you don’t feel like you are home, you don’t get that relaxing feeling when you open your home’s door. Your heart is in constant pain, sleep only comes when you are exhausted, if then. Working to get money to move away had made me motivated. Not only I didn’t have that motivation anymore, my mom was now sick. I found myself in a mental and physical prison I had no clue how to break out from.

Even as I went to Finland to do my entrance exam, amidst the typhoon. I wasn’t quite sure of anything, you can never really be, but that allowed me to relax a bit, as well as knowing that mom was out of risk. When the worst comes through and passes, you are able to think.


Taking thinking to the next level

Most likely you don’t have that much drama around you, but the state of mind is the same: a prision. Maybe you are questioning your life’s purpose, where you want to be in 10 years, the perfect profession, and so on.

The truth is, in most cases, we are trapped internally, by our minds. There is really no one stopping you to make a change but yourself. Even when there isn’t that much anxiety in our lives, we can still be defensive about the things we believe in and are challenged. Beliefs that have made true by convention and what people around us hold true. There are less external circumstances holding you back than there are internal. Even when the people you hold dear think differently, the final call is still yours. However, it’s easier to account and assess external obstacles than the internal loop and questioning in your head.


Health and the molecule of will power

Are you able to eat, drink and exercise? Do you forget to eat? How serious do you take your alimentation? Your brain works 24/7. How mindful are you of the things you eat, and drink, and the amount of exercise you do? What you eat directly affects your brain. And, well, if you want a rich mindset, you better take care of your food habits. Exercise also helps rewiring your brain for a richer life.

You want to consume vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to allow your brain to perform well. If your diet is high on sugar, your body’s regulation of insulin will impair the function of your brain, thus leading to mood swings and even depression. Eating well requires discipline, and whilst sugar and fat taste good, and you are bombard by it, they are short term pleasures.

The brain and the stomach are connected by serotonin, the molecule of will power. The neurotransmitter is produced in the brain and in the intestines, and it helps to regulate sleep, and appetite. 80–90% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the intestines. It regulates the bowel, mood, bone density and sexual function. Serotonin is also known to be directly related to depression, and, ironically, one of the ways to boost serotonin is to change your thought patterns.

Other methods are to eat food that is clean. Foods such as brown rice, wholegrain cereals, legumes, meat, fish, nuts and seeds are rich in serotonin and as well as all the other nutrients, minerals required to help boost your brain functions and mood.

Exercise has an antidepressant effect, and research has shown that it boosts serotonin levels. Aerobic exercise, such as running and biking (yoga apparently works as well) will both produce and release serotonin in your blood stream. Choosing to exercise, taking the commitment and not being forced by it is an enabler of serotonin production. On the other hand, being forced to exercise will not work.

Being able to recognize within your means, pace, and needs that eating clean and exercising will help you, immediately helps your mood and will.

The sun, or light, also affects your mood and serotonin levels (plus other vitamins and minerals). Having a sleep pattern that allows you to see and enjoy the sun will improve your mental and physical health. Committing to maybe walk, run, or bike in the light of the day. Just the act of not sitting in the dark can make a change in one’s mood, or opening the curtains in the morning.

Changing the way you think might be a matter of changing how you eat and how much you move. It might be a matter of eating less bottled and processed food (you want to keep your sodium in check), buying your veggies raw instead of precooked and frozen, and then going for that 30 to 60 minutes walk or run in the morning. If at the market you look at the potato chips, remember how bad it will make you feel and how bad it is for your body and mind. Remember that you have better options on the shelves for snacks, like fruits. Make a smoothie!

To me, health has been always the pillar of well being. Taking my training at the gym and my diet seriously have done a massive change in the way I progress in life. Not only have I mentally prepared myself better for the challenges in life, it has also taken me to the path of consuming content created by more intelligent, capable people, as well as meeting them. It has directly affected my power of achieving goals and creating opportunities. Being brave enough to break conventions imprinted in our heads created by society when it comes to food, happiness and dealing with problems is not an easy task.


Happiness

The majority of people go have a drink on the weekend to shake of the stress of the week past them. Not only alcohol will break the rule above if consumed regularly, it will not deal with reality, it’s only a distraction. Alcohol inhibits brain function and absorption of water, minerals, and other nutrients, such as protein.

In order to change, we must understand our behavior. It requires deep down honesty. Most of our actions are a result of habit and not of reasoning, which causes us to fall back from promises and goals. Have you tried to diet by changing your habits drastically, instead of slowly adapting to a new lifestyle? It doesn’t work, right? Have you taken pleasure in cooking healthy food and exercising? Probably not, if it didn’t become a habit. Anything that comes from an introductory excitement will not last. Every change is a process, not a door slam shut.

Nothing has real meaning, only the meaning you give them. What a breakout it is to realize that whatever is around you, can have a total different meaning to you just by mere observing your thoughts and reactions towards that particular thing. The importance and meaning you place on something can be changed, you’ve only gotta realize you can do it. One way is to stop labeling things the way they are labeled by other people.

A rich mindset doesn’t have space for excuses nor give reasons. It’s so easy to cancel that dinner instead of showing up anyway. It’s so easy to pat our backs and buy the beer just because we closed a deal.

Happiness is relative. And happiness is not meaningful without the lows. Much of what builds or destroys our happy mindset comes from conventional truths set by the society that surrounds us, family and loved ones. We are made to believe that one size fits all, which is not true. It’s amazing to notice how much of our behavior and thinking come from our parents, and not always that way of thinking follows up with who we want to be. The key is to always surround yourself with likeminded, driven people, and be in touch with people who you look up to.


The lottery approach

The lottery approach is a term I first listened from Tai Lopez. It refers to hoping a big problem will solve by spur of luck or of the destiny, instead of taking ownership of the issue and finding long term solutions. Winning the lottery sounds easier than investing and funding, and less scary, and admittedly less work as well. Complacency and counting on luck while waiting for something to happen does not diminish one anxiousness nor helps accomplishing anything.

The grind cannot be taken off the account when building happiness in life. Expectations, shortcuts, magical solutions… They will not end up with a happy ending. Allowing yourself to read your thoughts, surrounding yourself with the right people, working on your health,  and working on rewiring your brain to seeing things in a different way will allow new doors to open, create happiness and help you figure out who you want to be. This process is scary for most and it also requires deep down honesty and humbleness.

What are the real, actionable shortcuts for success?

What are the real, actionable shortcuts for success?

If you were born in the 90s, there is a high chance you've played Mario Kart. Oh, I loved that game as a kid. The excitement of going through the little boxes to see what the next power up would be, and then finding shortcuts to jump in front of my opponents. Shortcuts and power ups feel good, right?

Nobody really taught me how to take a camera and take a great shot. It has always been self initiated little personal projects sparked by curiosity, repetitions and persistence. There is no real shortcut to perfecting a skill, only reps. Success, therefore, is part of the journey.

However, one can find assistance on the learning process of a skill or area. The tangible aspects of learning are not on the end result, but in where and how a certain knowledge is acquired. Let's say you want to drive the Kart with Bowser, the heavy turtle guy. Your friend who invited you to play with him will not tell you when to press the buttons, instead he will tell you the mechanics of the game. The rest is on you. To win the race, you will have to learn how to run with Bowser first. Dominate the basics first.

Similarly to the mechanics of the game and your friend, who played the role of a mentor, is to learn the mechanics of your skill and the business of your industry. That might mean watching others do the thing. Or even drop shadow some of the people you admire. As a result, you won't be required to figure it all out yourself, learn faster and end up making quality questions.


The quality of your questions matter

If you are going on a rollercoaster expecting to stop on top, you better tighten your belt... There isn't really an effective way to "win". The questions you ask people you are trying to learn from matters the most. If you are asking the step-by-step guide to go from A to B, instead of trying to understand a technique or a system, or what you need to know about a subject to get started, you are making the wrong kinds of questions. You should be focusing on the entry level, instead of trying to play with the end result.

Let's take as an example someone who is learning how to draw. Where would you start from with learning? By asking how to draw a complex 3 point perspective urban scene? C'mon. Do you know how to draw a line at all? Most people will ask me what pencil I use. Answer: it doesn't matter right in the beginning, work with what you have. In this scenario, a better question would be: How do you apply strokes? How do you "see" your subject? How do you draw basic shapes? How to shade? How do you check your proportion? All experts in their fields dominate the basics, well before exploring more complex grounds. People who are starting out tend to want skip the basics and call themselves masters of a craft.

Avoid asking questions that lead to a simple yes or no answer. Most likely the answer you get will be just that one word, and you won't get much out of the learning process, which is at least frustrating. Successful people ask clear, specific questions to trying to reverse engineer an issue or something they want to know in depth. For example, questions that start with "What" and "How" will provide great answers, as long as you stick to the above mindset, you will be headed to the right direction. When I was younger, I'd get to ride horses I wasn't acquainted with. I would ask their owners: "What do I need to know of its habits? Does it get distracted? Does it look too much? Does it like kicking when other horses are nearby or when it's too excited? What spooks it?" We unconsciously forget (if that makes sense) basic things that come up only when prompted externally by a person or by a not foreseen event. Even though those seem like general questions, it provided me an opening to figuring out what to ask next and what I was working with. Open-ended questions tend to generate the best answers, meaning that neither I sought for options nor a variation of an answer, much less a simple yes or no answer.

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” ― Leo Babauta


Observing and learning from other successful people

If you really want to cut corners, your best bet would be by learning how your role models did it, their habits and their failures.

And if you really put a thought into it, there are centuries of knowledge out there. Even for free (GUTENBERG PROJECT). You just gotta turn the TV off and read less of the wrong kinds of books.

I have placed myself in a position in which I can closely observe people that I have admired since I was a kid. True, some of the glamour faded away. However, I have learned a great deal out of it. It paid off in personal growth and business leverage.

There are great people in this world that write. The reason I advocate writing: there is always someone wanting to learn from you. That includes yourself. There are thousands, millions of people you can help out but writing down, as well as there is a lot you can find out from blogs, podcasts, and books alone, without ever getting in direct touch with a specific person, even though I would advise you to.

Also...

Who have they learned from? Gold nuggets are always hidden in unusual places, otherwise they wouldn't be so valuable. And learning where and whom the people you admire have gotten their knowledge from can help you reverse engineer your own path. There are conditions you cannot mimic, personality traits that do not match yours, but still, a lesson can be taken and eventually you find your own formula.

Habits

Good habits are hard to form, bad habits are hard to break.

We've heard it once or twice.

What will work for you? I don't know. The key is to explore all kinds of possibilities when it comes to your happiness, wealth, health and relationships. Luckily, people like Tim Ferriss have collected some really interesting data on the behavior of people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, James Altucher and other great names, which you can have access on the book called "Tools of Titans" and in his podcast. Other than that specific book, biographies are a great way to learn how amazing people that have walked on this planet think and what their habits were.

I'd advise you to try one good habit at a time, or breaking a bad one, and moving on to the next when the previous has become unconscious to you.

The key is to explore. Use the lives of the people that have done great things in this world and act accordingly to your own mindset, dreams and goals.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Once you find one great person, you will end up with a branch of other great people to study and learn from.

And who do they hang out with

Who do you hang out with? We are the average of the 5 people around us. So if you hang out with 5 average people, you will be an average person. BAM. I might have just called you average, I am so sorry.

Successful people hang out with successful people. How did they get to hang out with successful people? They either went where the successful people they wanted to mimic went or were already at. Then most likely they asked to be mentored by them. Like, literally, go to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a neighborhood. Start taking yourself physically to the place you want to be. Eventually, your reality will align with your mindset.

For instance, connecting, gaining trust and learning from someone who is ahead of you will allow you to shift the rule of the average 5, as long as you aren't a leech and you are genuine about it. Finding one mentor opens a door to other mentors or people, that is leverage.

Seek people out. Sometimes who we admire are busy, so I wouldn't advise approaching them directly. Not everyone is Gary Vaynerchuk. The best option you'd have would be to contact the person directly underneath them, like a secretary. That way you gain the entrance respect, and who knows, you might be shadowing someone you admire just because you had the guts and humbleness to politely ask for it.

“What a wise person teaches is the smallest part of what they give. The totality of their life, of the way they go about it in the smallest details, is what gets transmitted.” ― David Brooks, The Road to Character

Uncovering the unknown unknowns

One of my financial mentors is called Tony Robbins. If you haven't learned from him, you are living under a rock. He has mentored Hugh Jackman, Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana... Oprah Winfrey calls him superhuman.

One of my most loved nuggets from him is:

"We live in an uncertain world and face not only the risks of the known unknowns but also the unknown unknowns—the ones that we don't know we don't know. Despite these risks, if we are to have any chance for meeting our long-term financial goals, invest we must." - Tony Robbins for Time Magazine

Investing your time, money, attention with intention is the best way to uncover the aspects of life, business or skill mastering we don't know we don't know. We mostly don't know anything.


Another way to grow and learn...

...Is to teach.

Learning can take so many forms. I have learned a great deal of English with video games and music, simply because of the interest on the stories and the urge to understand what was being said and sung.

Since I've known how to hold a pencil between my fingers, writing has been a major breakthrough to understanding myself, my craft, the world around me, where I want to be in 5, 10, 40 years. Writing allows a level of detachment in a situation and an unemotional approach to problem solving, goal setting and learning. The first step to making something is to writing it down, the very first spur of growing an idea.

“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

There is value in writing any form of text. Whether you are just spurting out messy thoughts or you are writing a valuable article to teaching someone everything you know, or a text message, or trying to figure something out in your life.

You will surprise yourself on the level of knowledge you have in your head, once you commit to writing what you know about your craft. The return you will obtain for people trying to obtain that very information is at least rewarding.

All of these aspects of acting and learning must be done consciously and simultaneously.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Patience and work

I have this urge of learning 666 things at once. It's really not about how much you learn but how well you execute what you've learned. Being curious is a good thing, but it can lead to learning without never acting on the knowledge, which is the exact opposite you want to be doing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrVvFUYtYwI

It does not suffice to just learn, or to just act without ever reinventing or looking with another perspective; one of the hidden benefits of learning is to be able to acquire some knowledge without necessarily agreeing with it, so that your view of the world, and thus, possibilities, expands.

There is, in fact, no shortcut that leads to success. There are practices, habits, and people that we can lead and be led by. Therefore, expecting the easy solution or the lottery win will not bring you a great, lasting return.

It's not about success, it's about the journey

It’s not about success, it’s about the journey

We all try to seek our life's purpose, but most likely end up frustrated and thus, giving up on our dreams. Seeking passion is not necessarily a way out either. Not everyone will be able to seek their best version of themselves, simply because they are scared of the journey. Success, and fulfillment are just products along the way, the tips of the iceberg of life. The bottom of the iceberg is the journey, what supports the success.

Most people don't seek out to walk their paths for being scared of the world. They die in regret. It's cliché, but go spend two weeks at a retirement home talking to old people. Their hearts are filled with regrets.

All of us have passions and skills. The key is to find one that serves both, and walk down the discovery road, and building upon it. Combining a skill you know with a passion is your ultimate chance to start walking on a path. The next step unveils itself.

Personally, I blame the system. You are taught biology, chemistry, geography... But you aren't taught finances, extensive philosophy, communication, and other soft and hard skills to empower you to take hold of your life's direction. They give you a set of directions to follow, and if you get a bad grade, oh boy! I remember the drama in high school. The class arranging system, where whoever was better at the quarter went to a certain classroom. Instead they grade you if can or cannot do the pythagorean theorem.

Then you go to University, to become someone you don't want to be. You get a job and live 9-5 waiting for the weekends to come, only to despise Monday.

Wouldn't it be better if the day of the week didn't matter? Wouldn't it be better if instead of despising the next work day, you'd be able to feel like you are going somewhere in life and enjoy the journey?

If your job doesn't align with your values, why partake with it? If the people around you don't align with your values, why keep them in?

You cannot steer a parked car. To evolve as a human being, you gotta find value in your actions. How can you help other people? If you don't like something, you change it. Try different things. Break the pattern.

Go down the discovery road. Don't be afraid to try new things just because the system tells you've gotta have a degree and have a 9-5 job (unless that's what you want), instead of doing what you feel pulled towards to.

What are the things in your life you cannot live without? Now, how can you weave that with a way to bring value to people? There's no worst life failure than regret on the deathbed.

What's the next fear you are going to face? Learning finances? Learning how to speak in public? Sky diving? What is it? Go do.

How to master a skill in 4 steps - The Four Stages of Learning

How to master a skill in 4 steps – The Four Stages of Learning

When we work in creative industries, we often find ourselves trying to learn a bunch of new techniques and even new programs, sometimes all at once. More often than not the learning process gets messy. It does get frustrating when we eventually hit a wall. That wall tells us we know we know, but somehow we cannot achieve the results we desire. Our capabilities feel limited. That happens to everyone, and it's normal. Once we understand the four stages, it makes challenging skills to learn enjoyable since we know what to expect of the process.

However judgmental we might be of our own capabilities, the reality is that we cannot expect professional looking results if we are just starting out on something new. When producing something new, instead of focusing on the bad feelings we get, we should focus on repetition.

That's right, doing it over and over again.

You must break through the third stage to the fourth stage. Don't quit where most people do.

I have recently talked to a few creatives over at Will Paterson's Discord group, and over and over again I talked about the 4 stages of learning and mastering a skill. Understanding them helps deal with the "creative block" that comes when we hit the all. This concept has been widely discussed among top designers and business people, but it seems that very few actually know it exists at all.


This how it looks like in a nutshell:

1º stage: Unconscious incompetence, I call it discovery

The first contact, discovery and excitement. We are ignorant fools trying to learn something new and amazing. We often don't know we don't know how to do that particular task.

2º stage: Conscious incompetence, I call it learning

This is when we find out we have no idea to execute that particular task, but we are committed to figuring it out. This is when we ultimately go through a bunch of tutorials in a blissful and fulfilling randomness that entices us to learn everything at once. This is the stage your browser has 50 tabs open on the same subject.

3º stage: Conscious Competence, I call it the mighty wall

When we know the technical stuff necessary, but we don't feel we are good enough yet. If previous step was uncomfortable, this one will be even more. That's why I call the mighty wall. The key is to keep repeating and getting comfortable and messing around with the skill.

4º stage: Unconscious Competence, I call it mastery

We finally dominate the skill. This is when you don't have to think too hard when executing simple tasks. Then it's just practice, practice, practice.

The key to break the mighty wall is to achieve 50%, not 100%.** You get better as you practice, but if you quit, well, guess what, you learn nothing.

Some of my mentors, like Sean and Gary Vee, talk about this in their own ways. Sean and Gary talk about doing a massive load of work. Quality over quantity, while documenting your process. No matter what, you've gotta show up and do the work.

You will never master a skill if you don't do the loads of work required to master that skill. There is no shortcut, just work, work, work. Tutorials are actually one way to cut corners, in a sense. Instead of spending hours and hours trying to figure something out, it's smarter to find someone who already figured it out and learn it from them.

why you should take a risk when there is a crisis

Why you should take a risk when there is a crisis

Brazil, where I come from, is going through some serious troubles. Macro and microeconomics are crashing. There has always been the social issue. The media is bombarding everyone with chaos. Dadadadadada. Some old, same old.

But how is it that so many people are actually thriving? The media won't show it of course, chaos writes more news headings than prosperity. But I know some of them of these people personally.

A crisis is a great way to find your way out through innovation. The people the tune off and seek out innovation are the ones who will thrive. There is no other way.

A crisis is a moment to start a company because the market will need innovation, it's very likely that lots of people will be closing down and there will be a demand. You just have to open your eyes. Don't use "crisis" or any other external reason to not thrive. That's bs.

However, there is also the internal crisis. Maybe your old way of doing things is not working anymore, or that business partner or a sales person is not pushing the company forward. You've got the same opportunity here. Maybe you can seek out someone better to run the business with you or find better sales force.


Tune off

Going through crisis is part of life. Whether in business or in personal life, there are always ups and downs. What does your instinct tell you to do when there is a crisis? Run in the smallest sign of discomfort? We see this so clearly with social media: everybody needs to say that they are "sad" or "going through hard times". Denial. And then they consume exactly what aggravates that paralysis: media.

Guess what, your Facebook feed is media as well. So are your friends. Tune off.

Stop.

Don't write anything that might undermine your success. Don't read any comforting thoughts from other people. Don't think any less of yourself. Your focus should be elsewhere.

What you should do is talk to someone close to you, a mentor, so the issue becomes detached, in your brain, from emotions. And then you sit your bum down and plan. And then you press play and execute.


Plan your escape

There are thousands of great books that can lead you out of whatever misery you are going through now. Identify your problem and make it an opportunity. Is it lack of money? Read books on how to make money. Is it lack of clients? Read books on how to attract people and persuade them from buying. Is it about innovation? Read books on how to innovate. Seek out specialists in the area you are struggling. Hear their opinion. Work with them.

Pain and competition is good. It makes the willing thrive. If there is competition in your field, you have a high chance to stand out if you stop doing the same things (that led you to a crisis, remember?) and actually find a new system, a new process, a new feeling to what you do and even who you are. Things will never change if you don't make a change. It sounds really cheesy but it's simply true. Most people only talk about change... They rarely act on it.

Once you identify your problem and figure out where do you want to be, it's easy to plan an escape.


The big bold reason

If you are in a crisis, chances are you have everything at stake. And if you have everything at stake, doing something different will not undermine the state of affairs. It's counter intuitive and scary.

Most people don't realize that keeping things the same is actually a bigger risk than trying something new and unusual. And that's why they lose and become media news.


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The new marketing and business strategy rule for soloneurs

Document your process.

That's it.

It's funny, if you have been in a Design school, you probably have heard from some professors that you should document your process. "No sketches, no max grade". Even though I've always questioned school (or basically everything), here's a valuable idea that I only got to apply 5 years out of Uni, thanks to a trigger by Gary Vee.

Documenting my process has made me believe more in my service, strategize and understand myself and my business better. It has also uncovered a lot of holes that I wouldn't otherwise have seen.

The benefits are endless and in truth, it's not that hard to go by. It's always harder to start doing something than to actually do the thing. You can go really superficial with your process documentation, and of course that has less benefits, or you can go truly in depth and cover all aspects. (Spoiler: do both).

 


The superficial

"Keep all your sketches, I wanna see them all!" and "Write notes, thoughts of the moment and keep a diary!" said my wood work teacher.

Everybody in the classroom rolled their eyes. "But that's boring and time consuming!"

I had a vague idea that it was "smart" and some sort of "standard" procedure to save my sketches, but no one had really told us why.

The what-it-seems-to-be superficial documentation, let's say, all the sketches, a timelapse or some sort of video, photos that you can put together later on form a visual path from the start to the finish line can all have iterative learning value for you later on. No only that, but you can save it for others that want to learn afterwards.

You can go back and "check it out", how did you do that thing, again? Most people think they've gotten it in their heads. Until they forget or aren't confident enough talking about it to someone else.

Capturing the essence of your solutions, why you went X instead of Y, or that small detail in the form of writing, videos or pictures can trigger your brain later on. Specially on the moments you are stuck, when your brain seem to have filed all the goodies in the unconsciousness realm. Plus, it builds brand equity.

Here is the kind of files I have at the end of branding project:

 

Process videos and photos

Once the Design is ready to fire, it all begins. Sketching on the iPad has made documentation ridiculously easy to be done. However, I have yet to create the habit of documenting on the desktop. Yes... You caught me on that one. (Screen shots count too!)

Pro tip: For Mac users, you can easily record your screen and audio with the built-in Quicktime app.

Typically, I will have:

  • sketches;
  • timelapse videos from Procreate and the iPhone;
  • mockups;

Specially at the beginning, the amount of sketches is ridiculous. I limit the note taking on the sketch "paper itself" (I work digital most of the time). That means I will make little notes to myself why that sketch is good/bad, what needs to be changed, what motivated me to pick a certain style of type, etc. This helps with the little bit of story telling that is necessary to include on the brand book as well as organize my thoughts.

If you are an illustrator, this might mean just recording while you draw. I have seen a few illustrators who like doing voice-over during their timelapses as well, explaining what's going on the screen. It's all valid.

 

Brand guidelines

I always get to know my clients, their brand and their audience before talking about any Design aspect. The conversation has more than just documentation value — I will use the information captured to craft a brand book later on — it also serves as a pre-pricing strategy.

I typically dig my way through my client's personal history, so I can better understand their lifestyle, thus how they make their decisions. Then their brand's history, values, mission and vision. Most of them don't understand the concept of unique selling point, for example, and to me that's when it becomes relevant that these "documentation" conversations I have with allow me to uncover gaps. They also realize there's much to learn about their own selves and brands.

The funny thing is, I wouldn't have that figured it out if it wasn't for the in-depth documentation.


The in-depth

Thought pouring, chaos in the writing app. Nothing made sense. Until it did. My process didn't exist until I finally wrote it down.

I've created the habit to write. Yet, not everything I write is supposed be good. And I expect it will be chaotic every time the intent is "trying to figure something out". The key is to embrace the chaos in the beginning and find the order later on.

The in-depth process documentation process has a twist: it's has nothing to do with capturing and captioning your sketches and elaborating on that. It has to do with the strategy behind your actions.

In a 12k words document I wrote about how my consultations would go, I outlined topics that I could foresee coming and how I could solve them. I had to write for each possibility a detailed walkthrough.

The in-depth documentation has made my work more valuable and understandable to myself. It not only made things clear as I kept writing, but it showed me that I had gaps in my process that needed to be fixed. I keep going back to that document and extending it, correcting it and well, using it to my favor. I sometimes read it for fun (I'm weird).


Do both

The truth is, you've gotta do both. I tell my clients that there are two levels of a business: the corporate and the perceptive. The corporate compromises the boring office life stuff your audience doesn't need or care to hear about. Management is only fun for managers. However, if these are outlined carefully, it can boost your productivity in a gazillion percents. That's also true if you work alone, like I do most of the time, and you don't have to share a "way of doing things" with anyone else. This discipline helps you build freedom within your own means, because you become more aware of your actions and decisions.

The perceptive level of a brand is where the sprinkles are at. All the timelapses, background activities that involve creativity are actually interesting for the audience. Telling an audience how the illustration was done or how the photo is taken give a sense of awe: showing how something is done is amazing and oddly satisfying. And here is the best part: it builds trust. You need an individual in your audience to trust you so they can buy from you. Bridge that gap. Always ask yourself: what can they get from this?


What I use for documenting

The initial document setting is done on Google Docs. That's right. No fanciness required. I share it with my client and we can both edit the document, even at the same time. This was personally a breakthroug when building a brand, when there is a lot to uncover. A lot that I don't know (but should), come out of that document. I pour what I've learned from them in text format, make headlines and little assignments, they complete them and add up to them. It has saved hours of mailing back and forth, plus it engages us both in the same mission (the psychological value here is immense).

For documenting my creative process, I use my phone on a clasp tripod attached to my desk and the built-in timelapse feature from its camera (you can also post-edit the video and speed it up in case you can't do that natively). I also use Procreate's auto generated timelapse videos on the ipad and Quicktime for the desktop.

I also like to visualize the Designs on Mockups — it is received better by most non-design or non-creative minds who can't "see" the final piece. These mockups, videos and process photos can be used later on a case study and the stills on the brand guidelines.

All in all, the documenting process has one purpose: clarity, both for yourself and your client. It's not exactly business planning, but maybe a foundation for it as long as you go in depth. Once you manage to uncover the gaps in your process or knowledge, you are able to bridge them and expand.


Holding your process back is not going to make you lose your skills, nor have it stolen from you. The amount of people who would in fact execute it is so slim, that it's better to deliver the value, gain trust, than hold it back and not benefit from the advantages.

Building self discipline to be successful in everything you do

How to build self discipline to be successful in everything you do

The best way to achieve big things in life, whether they are in the realms of health, wealth, relationships and happiness (the famous 4 pillars of life introduced to me by Tai Lopez) you need discipline. As US Navy Seal Jocko Willink says, discipline equals freedom.

We have been hardwired by the ages and the modern life. Most part of what we know to be a normal behavior, is not necessarily the best path to success or for true freedom. When it comes to what the media sells, there is no denying that we don’t salivate when we see a juicy looking hamburger ad or a bar of chocolate. Those are easy ways of consuming sugar and fat — they hit our ancestral instincts for survival, but it doesn’t mean they are healthy habits. The level of awareness and attention you give those impulses determine your success.

When I talk about success, it’s not only at work or business. Your health, your relationships and your overall well being is at stake. Sure, failure is equally important, you cannot have the first without the later.

It’s your self awareness and discipline that will determine whether you will succumb to your consumer instincts and to your modern life temptations. The world is now programmed to have you buy and do what they want you to do. That is what capitalism and branding wants you to do: consume what makes you feel fulfilled, even if it’s something that depreciates quickly. Whether it’s good for you and help you reach your goals, it’s up to you to determine.


Stop reasoning things out

“The problems with reasons is that they’re just excuses prettied up.” - The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth

Be dead honest with yourself at all times. Most of our actions are results of habits. However, we still are capable of “convincing” ourselves to take certain actions and give an excuse that will deviate us from our end goal. How much bullshit are we telling ourselves? Look forward to rewiring your brain to good habits instead of “excusing” yourself of thought things.

In order to make the switch we need first to understand the source of our behaviors. When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do? Why do you grab your phone instead of readily jumping out of bed? You need to ask yourself difficult questions.

Reasons and excuses are as bad as complaining. That’s because they are all inhibiting your power of action or putting your mind in a place it doesn’t need to be. Reasons give you space to behave dysfunctionally.

The reason you are tired? Lack of discipline with sleep, or too much stress. Thus, meditate. Use less electronic devices. Sleep more. Sleep better. Eat less sugar. Have discipline, and you will increase the quality of your life and actions without giving yourself and people around you putty reasons for not doing something, or even for complaining about something. That way you have more time and energy to focus on what matters and thus, thrive at a higher rate by cutting the bs and, to surprise of many, stress. “Discipline equals freedom”.


What’s the bigger picture?

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to become better at a skill? Do you want to establish yourself as a professional in your field? What’s your goal?

Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote his goals everyday. Grant Cardone writes his goals everyday. He had a vision, a big vision, and then he reverse engineered it. Set big goals for yourself — whatever “big” means to you. As Sean McCabe says, “a million dollars is not a lot of money”. The point is, once you get the big picture, you can define it with clear steps (or short-term goals) and you begin to work on it. The purpose of setting goals is not to wish for and dream about them, but to calibrate your actions towards these goals. It’s not motivation, it’s discipline that will help you get out bed when you are supposed to.


Discipline builds habits

I am a big weightlifting fan. I spend only one hour at the gym, but if I could, I’d do Arnie’s 6 hours everyday. One of the pillars of “the good life” is health. I may have been influenced by my mom, who has always loved working out herself, and the fact that I was brought up doing a lot of sports.

Discipline came easily to me then, but only in the areas that mattered. I hated school, so I wasn’t disciplined enough with that. But still, I felt the need to be on time and to do what I got to do, even if I sucked at it. Discipline.

I was committed to at least go to school — I still found much of it interesting, really. Physics and biology always fascinated me even tho when it came to hitting the mark, I sucked. Because of my commitment to school and thinking it was somewhat fun to learn (who cares about grades) I jumped out of bed 1,5h before the class started, at 5:30am. It wired me to like waking up early. It made it a habit.

Nowadays I have pushed it to 4:30, but if not, I wake up at the same old 5:30 automatically. I get so much done by 12:00 it’s unbelievable. Some people don’t even feel awake by that time.

Good habits are hard to build. Bad habits are hard to break. For both you need discipline and an end goal.


Attention with intention

Paraphrasing the stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, “a man’s life should be valued according to the value of the things to which he gave his attention.”

Attention with intention is something I have adhered in my life as part of the rewiring of my brain. Be intentional about what you think and do, pay attention at your own words, thoughts and actions and you will find yourself learning and realizing things in an honest, self critical way.

Let’s say that, you want to change your job, but you come home and turn the television on instead. Are you spending your time with attention and the intention towards your goal set?

Or, you want to loose weight or eat less sugar, but at the market aisles you only look for the sweets and the baking goods. And you buy them.

How you spend your “aware thinking” time should be intentional. That means, when your mind isn’t focused on a task, you are intentionally directing it to the good habits you want to build, the bad habits you want to break and making sure you aren’t giving yourself reasons (read excuses) to do the stuff you know aren’t taking you forward.

You can choose intentionally what you pay attention to. This might mean turning the TV off or focusing at one task at a time for an optimal workflow. A 2 minute meditation a day should help your attention span and you can practice intentionality with your thoughts. You choose to think certain things and you give them no more than the attention they deserve. Discipline in your head.


Keeping it simple to achieve more

Keeping it simple is hard, because we tend to look out for perfection, which doesn’t exist. Perfection is in our minds.

Keeping things simple is an act of discipline. Sometimes, you have laid out a job pretty well but you keep working on it, when you don’t need to. You are looking for reasons to not give the paper away, to not give the work to the client or to not submit that blog post.

That’s making you lose time. It will frustrate you and burn you out.

You are looping around a problem that’s probably already solved or that can be less complicated than what you are making it. It’s typically a result of rushing or lack of attention. A rushed task or a task that is done with lack of attention, or both, is a waste of time. Isn’t it easier to just asses things first and look for the simpler way of solving an issue?

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have a great chapter about this in their book “Extreme Ownership”. Paraphrasing, when solving a problem, it’s better to keep it simple so everybody involved in it can commit equally, because they understand it and assimilate it better. Productivity enhanced.


Discipline builds confidence

When you work on goals with discipline, you eventually achieve things. Even if it means that by the end of a tougher day, the only task you’ve accomplished successfully was. making your bed (thanks, Tim Ferriss for that one). You can intentionally pay attention to that and tell yourself proudly that “you survived another day, and you’ve made your bed successfully.” A small achievement. Not only you notice something you are grateful for, but you’ve also payed to an achieved, even though small, task. This discipline of achieving small tasks helps you to ground yourself.

The way that achieving goals builds discipline is that you prove yourself that you are capable of doing things, big and small. That is something that must be nourished and fed constantly. When you set out to read a book, not only you are smarter, but you’ve also achieved a small goal. This builds your confidence and also makes you feel more empowered.

There are three stages of discipline and habit creation that will lead to confidence. The first stage is the easiest, because it usually involves excitement. The second is the deal breaker: most people give up because results will show more slowly. This is when discipline, attention with intention and all of that kicks in. The third is when you break the wall of the hardship and it becomes a habit. You stop thinking of it as a task and it becomes second nature.

Measurable results help build confidence. Discipline towards tasks and goals, attention with intention will help you build confidence. You set milestones, you achieve them and you feel great afterwards. You begin to understand your weaknesses, to work around them and you learn to leverage your strengths instead. You achieve a greater level of self criticism, awareness and confidence.

“Discipline equals freedom.” - Jocko Willink


Lists of books that inspired this article:

Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss

The 10x Rules - Grant Cardone

Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius - Marcus Aurelius

The Achievement Habit - Bernard Roth

A Harvard paper on Stress and Mental Control

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