8 Easy Ways to Become Incredibly Self-Motivated

How to be your own best cheerleader

By: Elle Kaplan

Of the many hats you wear as an entrepreneur, motivator-in-chief may be the one you don the most.

Whether you’re in the trenches with your team as they prepare for a product rollout, or you’re dealing with a potential office disaster, you’re doling out major doses of motivation and inspiration constantly.

But what happens when your own motivation gauge is running near empty? With no one above you to motivate you when your spirits flag, it’s important to have a reserve of inspiration you can call on when you need it most. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to keep your self-motivation running on all cylinders.

Practice Humility

Surprisingly, humility can go a long way towards keeping you motivated. Oprah Winfrey may be one of the world’s most powerful and accomplished women, but she takes the hype surrounding her with a grain of salt. “There’s this part of me that’s afraid of what will happen if I believe it all,” she has said.

Even Oprah has bad press days – so she’s learned that by staying humble she can keep her internal motivation going, no matter what happens.

You too can follow in Winfrey’s footsteps and keep that entrepreneurial flame flickering by keeping your head low and not relying on the validation of others.

Remember Your Strengths

The inimitable Mary Kay Ash once said, “Within yourself lies everything you ever dreamed of being.”

Being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s likely that you jumped in because you had the talent, drive and enthusiasm to make things happen.

If you’re feeling down on yourself, take some time to examine those fantastic traits that got you where you are. Sometimes, I’ll even write mine down when I feel my motivation falter–and you should consider something similar to highlight those awesome talents you possess.

Know What You Stand For

Why did you become an entrepreneur? If you started your business hoping to make a difference in the world, give yourself a high five, and then reflect on that vision to keep your inner-motivation going.

Eileen Fisher found insane success through her line of eco-friendly, organic women’s lounge wear. She said, “When you feel true passion for something, you instinctively find ways to nurture it.” That commitment to staying green is a motivating factor that’s kept her in business for over three decades.

If your business isn’t making a difference in the world (yet), there’s no need to fret. You can start with tiny steps, like trying to go green, and let it snowball from there, while also watching your motivation skyrocket.

Celebrate the Little Wins

Like most entrepreneurs, you probably have major – even audacious – long-term goals that you’re tackling. But as you probably know, these huge aspirations won’t get accomplished overnight.

That’s why you should find the time to make a symbolic fist pump every day. As Tech.Co co-founder Frank Gruber put it, “this is a journey – a hard one – and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you actually acknowledge your small successes along the way.”

By celebrating those tiny wins, you’ll find a much-needed daily dose of motivation.

Get Healthy

A 2015 survey by Virgin Pulse found that the number one factor effecting employee’s motivation was their health. Those results aren’t surprising: it’s hard – actually downright impossible – to expect employees to be motivated if they’re in poor physical or emotional shape.

The same goes for you. As an entrepreneur, it’s too easy to let your wellbeing get swept under the rug when there are a million and a half other things to do every day.

That’s why you need to take those daily steps to stay healthy and sane very seriously – or all that effort will be for nothing. You can start small–such as walking to work like I do — and work your way up. The motivation you’ll get from being in tip-top shape, not to mention the physical benefits, are well worth it.

Consider How Far You’ve Come

When Swiggies water bottles creator Julie Austin started out, she was flat broke and didn’t have a clue how to get a product to market. Success, she has said, “took years of working two jobs to save the money and a very big learning curve of constantly making mistakes.” Nowadays, she’s light years away from where she started, but she still reflects on her humble beginning as a source of self-motivation.

Entrepreneurs who are self-motivated use these initial struggles as a fuel for their motivation. Personally, the fact that I started with $200 in NYC serves as a motivator to get me through even the toughest of days.

If you’re near the beginning of your journey, or decades into entrepreneurship, thinking about where you are today versus where you were when you started is an excellent way to unleash your inner cheerleader.

Think You’re Unstoppable

In the early 20th century, the typical American woman didn’t wear makeup, but that didn’t stop Elizabeth Arden. By sticking with her dream of bringing makeup from the stage into daily life, she built a worldwide empire. While others thought she was crazy, she relied on this unstoppable mentality to rake in the dollars.

When you view yourself as unstoppable and everything as possible, you can stay motivated through both the ups and downs as an entrepreneur.

You’ll be amazed at the doors that open up when you start believing that you can accomplish anything.

Reward Yourself

Yes–I’ll admit it’s a no-brainer that rewards will keep you motivated. In fact, studies show that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of the reasons we do things.

But let me ask you this: when’s the last time you rewarded yourself for a job well done? Too often, entrepreneurs will hand out rewards to others – whether they’re in the form of raises, company trips, etc … but forget to give themselves a pat on the back.

While your company will ultimately see those efforts pay off in the long-run, it’s important to give yourself some short-term treats to provide your day-to-day motivation. So don’t forget to buy that fine watch or a nice dinner out.

 

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6 Toxic Marriage Habits Most People Think Are Normal

By: Mark Manson – modified by Amr Badran

There’s no class in high school on how to not be a bad husband or wife. Sure, they teach us the biology of sex, the legality of marriage, and maybe we read a few obscure love stories from the 19th century on how not to be.

But when it comes down to actually handling the nitty-gritty of marriages, we’re given no pointers… or worse, we’re given advice columns in women’s magazines.

Yes, it’s trial-and-error from the get-go. And if you’re like most people, it’s been mostly error.

But part of the problem is that many unhealthy marriage habits are baked into our culture. We worship romantic love — you know, that dizzying and irrational romantic love that somehow finds breaking china plates on the wall in a fit of tears somewhat endearing — and scoff at practicality or unconventional sexualities.

Men and women are raised to objectify each other and to objectify their marriages. Thus, our spouses are often seen as assets rather than someone to share mutual emotional support.

A lot of the self-help literature out there isn’t helpful either (no, men and women are not from different planets, you over-generalizing shallow). And for most of us, mom and dad surely weren’t the best examples either.

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of psychological research into healthy and happy marriages the past few decades and there are some general principles that keep popping up consistently that most people are unaware of or don’t follow. In fact, some of these principles actually go against what is traditionally considered “romantic” or normal in a marriage.

Below are six of the most common tendencies in marriages that many couples think are healthy and normal, but are actually toxic and destroying everything you hold dear. Get the tissues ready.

  1. MARRIAGE SCORECARD

What It Is: The “keeping score” phenomenon is when your spouse continues to blame you for past mistakes you made in marriage. If both people in marriage do this it devolves into what I call “marriage scorecard,” where it becomes a battle to see who has screwed up the most over the months or years, and therefore who owes the other one more.

You were an idiot at his cousin’s 28th wedding party back in 2010 and it has proceeded to ruin your life ever since. Why? Because there’s not a week that goes by that you’re not reminded of it. But that’s OK, because that time you caught her sending flirtatious text messages to her co-worker immediately removes her right to get jealous, so it’s kind of even, right?

Wrong.

Why It’s Toxic: Marriage scorecard develops over time because one or both people in a marriage use past wrongdoings in order to try and justify current righteousness. This is a double-whammy of suckage. Not only are you deflecting the current issue itself, but you’re ginning up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate your spouse into feeling wrong in the present.

If this goes on long enough, both spouses eventually spend most of their energy trying to prove that they’re less culpable than the other, rather than solving the current problem. People spend all of their time trying to be less wrong for each other instead of being more right for each other.

What You Should Do Instead: Deal with issues individually unless they are legitimately connected. If someone habitually cheats, then that’s obviously a recurring problem. But the fact that she embarrassed you in 2010 and now she got sad and ignored you today in 2013 have nothing to do with each other, so don’t bring it up.

You must recognize that by choosing to be with your spouse, you are choosing to be with all of their prior actions and behaviors. If you don’t accept those, then ultimately, you are not accepting them. If something bothered you that much a year ago, you should have dealt with it a year ago.

  1. DROPPING “HINTS” AND OTHER PASSIVE-AGGRESSION

What It Is: Instead of stating a desire or thought overtly, your spouse tries to nudge you in the right direction of figuring it out yourself. Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to piss your spouse off so you’ll then feel justified in complaining to them.

Why It’s Toxic: Because it shows that you two are not comfortable communicating openly and clearly with one another. A person has no reason to be passive-aggressive if they feel safe expressing any anger or insecurity within marriage. A person will never feel a need to drop “hints” if they feel like they won’t be judged or criticized for it.

What You Should Do Instead: State your feelings and desires openly. And make it clear that the other person is not necessarily responsible or obligated to them but that you’d love to have their support. If they love you, they’ll almost always be able to give it.

  1. HOLDING MARRIAGE HOSTAGE

What It Is: When one person has a simple criticism or complaint and blackmails the other person by threatening the commitment of marriage as a whole. For instance, if someone feels like you’ve been cold to them, instead of saying, “I feel like you’re being cold sometimes,” they will say, “I can’t continue with someone who is cold to me all of the time.”

Why It’s Toxic: It’s emotional blackmail and it creates tons of unnecessary drama. Every minor hiccup in the flow of marriage results in a perceived commitment crisis. It’s crucial for both people in a marriage to know that negative thoughts and feelings can be communicated safely to one another without it threatening marriage itself. Otherwise people will suppress their true thoughts and feelings which leads to an environment of distrust and manipulation.

What You Should Do Instead: It’s fine to get upset at your spouse or to not like something about them. That’s called being a normal human being. But understand that committing to a person and always liking a person are not the same thing. One can be committed to someone and not like everything about them. One can be eternally devoted to someone yet actually be annoyed or angered by their spouse at times. On the contrary, two spouses who are capable of communicating feedback and criticism towards one another, only without judgment or blackmail, will strengthen their commitment to one another in the long-run.

  1. BLAMING YOUR SPOUSE FOR YOUR OWN EMOTIONS

What It Is: Let’s say you’re having a crappy day and your spouse isn’t exactly being super sympathetic or supportive at the moment. They’ve been on the phone all day with some people from work. They got distracted when you hugged them. You want to lay around at home together and just watch a movie tonight, but they have plans to go out and see their friends.

So you lash out at them for being so insensitive and callous toward you. You’ve been having a bad day and they have done nothing about it. Sure, you never asked, but they should just know to make you feel better. They should have gotten off the phone and ditched their plans based on your lousy emotional state.

Why It’s Toxic: Blaming our spouses for our emotions is a subtle form of selfishness, and a classic example of the poor maintenance of personal boundaries. When you set a precedent that your spouse is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice-versa), you will develop codependent tendencies. Suddenly, they’re not allowed to plan activities without checking with you first. All activities at home — even the mundane ones like reading books or watching TV — must be negotiated and compromised. When someone begins to get upset, all personal desires go out the window because it is now your responsibility to make one another feel better.

The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment. Sure, if my wife gets mad at me once because she’s had a bad day and is frustrated and needs attention, that’s understandable. But if it becomes an expectation that my life revolves around her emotional well-being at all times, then I’m soon going to become very bitter and even manipulative towards her feelings and desires.

What You Should Do Instead: Take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your spouse to be responsible for theirs. There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive of your spouse and being obligated to your spouse. Any sacrifices should be made as an autonomous choice and not seen as an expectation. As soon as both people in a marriage become culpable for each other’s moods and downswings, it gives them both incentives to hide their true feelings and manipulate one another.

  1. DISPLAYS OF “LOVING” JEALOUSY

What It Is: Getting pissed off when your husband talks, calls, or sneezes in the general vicinity of another person and then you proceed to take that anger out on your husband and attempt to control their behavior. This often leads to insane behaviors such as hacking into your spouse’s email account, looking through their text messages while they’re in the shower or even following them around town and showing up unannounced when they’re not expecting you.

Why It’s Toxic: It surprises me that some people describe this as some sort of display of affection. They figure that if their spouse wasn’t jealous, then that would somehow mean that they weren’t loved by them.

This is absolutely crazy to me. It’s controlling and manipulative. It creates unnecessary drama and fighting. It transmits a message of a lack of trust in the other person. And to be honest, it’s demeaning. If my wife cannot trust me to be around other women for legitimate reasons, then it implies that she believes that I’m either a) a liar, or b) incapable of controlling my impulses. In either case, that’s a wife I may not wish to continue with.

What You Should Do Instead: Trust your spouse. It’s a radical idea, I know. Some jealousy is natural. But excessive jealousy and controlling behaviors towards your spouse are signs of your own feelings of unworthiness and you should learn to deal with them and not force them onto those close to you. Because otherwise you are only going to eventually push that person away.

  1. BUYING THE SOLUTIONS TO MARRIAGE PROBLEMS

What It Is: Any time a major conflict or issue comes up in marriage, instead of solving it, one covers it up with the excitement and good feelings that come with buying something nice or going on a trip somewhere.

My parents were experts at this one. And it got them real far: a big fat divorce and 15 years of hardly speaking to each other since. They have both since independently told me that this was the primary problem in their marriage: continuously covering up their real issues with superficial pleasures.

Why It’s Toxic: Not only does it brush the real problem under the rug (where it will always re-emerge and even worse the next time), but it sets an unhealthy precedent within marriage. This is not a gender-specific problem, but I will use the traditional gendered situation as an example. Let’s imagine that whenever a wife gets angry at her husband, the man “solves” the issue by buying the wife something nice, or taking her to a nice restaurant or something. Not only does this give the woman unconscious incentive to find more reasons to be upset with the man, but it also gives the man absolutely no incentive to actually be accountable for the problems in marriage.

So what do you end up with? A checked-out husband who feels like an ATM, and an incessantly bitter woman who feels unheard.

What You Should Do Instead: Actually, you know, deal with the problem. Trust was broken? Talk about what it will take to rebuild it. Someone feels ignored or unappreciated? Talk about ways to restore those feelings of appreciation. Communicate!

There’s nothing wrong with doing nice things for a spouse after a fight to show solidarity and to reaffirm commitment. But one should never use gifts or fancy things to replace dealing with the underlying emotional issues. Gifts and trips are called luxuries for a reason, you only get to appreciate them when everything else is already good. If you use them to cover up your problems, then you will find yourself with a much bigger problem down the line.

 

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8 Daily Habits to Build Resiliency

Resilience, like a muscle, can be trained. Start today.

By: Young Entrepreneurs Council

Resilient people seem to thrive in all areas of their life: They roll with the punches. They’re fairly agreeable. They pivot after failures. Really, they are just generally cool people.

It’s easy to think they were cut from a different cloth. We look at them and wonder, were they born with something that allows them to stay cool under pressure, when dealing with that guy or when they’re just having a bad day?

But resiliency, like many attributes of people with high levels of emotional intelligence, can be strengthened over time through practice.

Do you always fly off the handle when traffic is especially congested? Does that one co-worker get on your nerves so much that it interrupts your day? Then take notes about the daily habits of especially resilient people and see how you can make changes in your own life.

  1. Take the Time to Learn More

Resiliency comes from expanding knowledge and skills, so it’s important to make a habit of continually learning. For me, I like to watch YouTube videos and TED Talks as well as read business books and articles on my tablet.

—Angela Ruth, eCash

  1. Work from a To-Do List, Not Your Email

Resiliency comes from seeing positive outcomes from your work. At an early stage, what’s critical to driving the success is doing the right work. By creating a priority list and ruthlessly working from there, you’ll be able to gain momentum—and build trust in yourself and your process—to overcome obstacles.

—Aaron Schwartz, ModifyWatches.com

  1. Check in with Mentors

Track your weaknesses, failures and what makes you not love what you’re doing. Talk to your mentors. Once you find your flow of how to manage failure and the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, you’ll be golden. Trusted mentors and advisors are key.

—Alexis Levine, Savvy Media

  1. Make Entrepreneur Friends

It’s important to be able to talk with people who understand what you’re going through, so make as many friends as you can with the people who work around you. Having a social net of people who understand you will make you more resistant to burnout, and they’ll be able to give you much more relevant advice when you have trouble.

—Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

  1. “Bio-hack”

I improved my resilience by adopting a “bio-hacking” practice, explained by Dave Asprey, which optimized my diet, exercise and sleep so I could reach a new level of performance. We waste so much energy on the wrong workouts, eating foods that slow us down and sleeping inefficiently. Test what changes work best for you.

—Andrew Thomas, SkyBell Video Doorbell

  1. Practice Meditation

In my early years of entrepreneurship, I had no off switch. I took everything personally; I felt guilty when I wasn’t working, and I had a short fuse because of it. I picked up a meditation practice more than a year ago and found that taking time out to be still has allowed me to able to face challenges and not sweat the small stuff.

—Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

  1. Become Immune to Rejection

Before you hear one yes, you’re going to hear a lot of no’s. Letting all that rejection slide off your back will help you keep moving forward when times get tough. The best way to practice becoming immune to the no’s? Try cold-calling or door-to-door sales.

—Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

  1. Try Cognitive Restructuring

Practice cognitive restructuring. It can change the way you think about potentially negative situations by helping you better understand your feelings of fear or discomfort. The ability to reframe your failures as important lessons is what makes a truly resilient leader.

—Stephen Gill, Tiller

 

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8 Communication Habits That Only Exceptional Bosses Use Daily

You can’t be an exceptional leader without using these powerful communication habits.

By: Elle Kaplan

When it comes to any type of business, effective communication is absolutely vital for success. Why? Communication creates clarity, productivity, fosters teamwork and inspires. Bad communication, on the other hand, results in the exact opposite.

It is the number one quality that sets exceptional leaders apart from mediocre ones.

Here’s a look at 8 ways in which exceptional leaders communicate. Start using these habits (or find a boss who has these traits), and you’ll see your success soar:

1) They listen more than they speak

Great bosses learn early on that there is a very good reason why humans were given two ears and only one mouth. Not only do people want to know that you are listening, they are craving to actually be heard. In fact, being a good listener is proven to be one of the most important traits of successful leaders.

That’s why exceptional bosses constantly practice active listening – they make a sincere effort to understand what their employees are saying, and they actively show they’re paying attention.

2) They’re transparent

Exceptional and memorable bosses are who they are all of the time–not just during meetings or formal reviews.

Just look at the vetted job environment at Google, where leaders automatically “default to open,” and their employees are some of the happiest in the world as a result.

They don’t cover up their mistakes, they don’t make false promises and they aren’t secretive. Instead, they share information and knowledge generously. Being open with your employees will ensure they feel valued, which can go a long way towards building an amazing team environment.

3) They single you out (in a good way)

“Great leaders know how to work the room and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly” – Travis Bradberry

Have you ever left a presentation or a speech and felt like the speaker was speaking to you directly? This is a great skill that the best bosses out there have mastered. It is obvious that you won’t have time to schedule a one-on-one with the whole company, but having touch points (even if they are casual) along the way can make all of the difference.

4) They make time for praise

Harvard research has found that the amount of praise given to a team is directly proportional to their amount of success. Even low-performing teams saw radical improvement through nuggets of encouragement.

Even when you’re pressed for time, know that a little bit of praise goes a long, long way. It not only makes hard-working employees feel appreciated, but it gives them direction for continuing on the path to greatness.

5) They’re constructive

“Great leaders don’t blame the tools they are given. They work to sharpen them.” – Simon Sinek

That’s not to say that exceptional leaders are giving out praise 100 percent of the time. When push comes to shove, they do give negative feedback, but in a way that’s more effective than most.

Instead of immediately lashing out with anger, they give feedback in a calm manner, and only if it’s something actionable. The next time you give feedback as a leader, pause and reflect if there’s actually a way to improve – otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air.

6) They welcome (and encourage) feedback

Great leaders aren’t afraid to admit they’re wrong, especially when they’re at the top of the totem pole. They don’t only effectively communicate feedback, they effectively take it too.

I’ve found that the best ideas often come from the greenest employees, because they’re fresh and provide new insights that veteran eyes wouldn’t notice. You’ll find this innovation too if you’re open to ideas (even negative ones) from everyone.

7) They leave their door open, wide open

If you want to lead a team effectively it starts with an open door policy. You need to create an environment that allows everyone on the team to feel comfortable to discuss issues in the workplace. Whether it be a mistake, an innovative idea or a career decision, the trust and the sentiment that they are not interrupting needs to exist throughout the organization.

If it doesn’t exist organization wide, start with your team – you never know the power of people and you may be surprised how quickly this culture can spread.

8) They explain why

“Passion is energy,” says Oprah Winfrey. “Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Great leaders know that great employees are driven by more than a paycheck, and are able to connect the day-to-day drudgery of work to people’s burning passions.

When they’re asking their team to do something, or trying to boost the mood of a co-worker during a tough task, they rely on the “why,” and you should too.

 

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7 Ways to Go From a Boss to a Leader

By: Gina Folk

Many people view the terms “boss” and “leader” as interchangeable — but they are vastly different. To determine which one you are, I encourage you to honestly answer this question: Do you: a) see your team members as an aggravating necessity that you have to put up with in order to accomplish day-to-day activities and achieve goals?

Or, do you: b) truly enjoy working with people on your team to meet your goals and deliverables?

If you chose a), you’re probably more of a boss; if you chose b), you’re probably more of a leader.

Based on my work with teams over the past 25 years — and, of course, common sense — I can confidently say that the teams which produce the most effective and long-lasting results are the ones directed by leaders, not bosses. So, how do you move from “boss” to “leader”? Here are seven key ways:

  1. Love People

No one can lead a team well unless he or she truly enjoys working with people. People are not minions; they are individuals with unique personalities, traits and talents. As a leader, you must enjoy helping people and watching them succeed.

  1. Guide, Don’t Control, Your Team

Bosses feel the need to control every action; they’re micromanagers. Leaders know that their team will accomplish great things if they receive direction and support rather than control, so they establish frameworks and structure, then empower their teams to get the work done, providing support along the way.

  1. Be Adaptable

Bosses tend to be very rigid in the way they want things done, but leaders understand that they must adapt their personal style to their team members’ needs. They understand and value each team member’s individuality, establish expectations clearly and adapt their leadership approach as necessary.

  1. Delegate

Bosses may feel they are delegators, but because they don’t trust anyone else to do the job as well as they can, they never fully delegate anything. Leaders truly delegate. They assign tasks, and then let go (though they still follow up periodically to ensure their team members are on track to achieve the desired results).

  1. Give Credit, Accept Blame

Bosses love to take credit for their teams’ successful results — and they’re the first to throw them under the bus when those goals are not achieved as desired. Leaders, in contrast, know their success comes from their teams’ efforts, so they keep their egos in check: They showcase their teams’ efforts when they succeed, and they accept personal responsibility when they fail.

  1. Practice Risk Acceptance

Bosses avoid risks at all costs because they are fearful that going out on a limb might produce a perceived failure — they like to play it safe. But leaders know that the greatest successes come from taking risks. Leaders enable and encourage their teams to try new things, and they see every so-called mistake or failure as an opportunity to make improvements.

  1. Motivate

Bosses motivate through fear. Leaders, in contrast, motivate by figuring out what sparks their individual team members to perform at their highest potential, and by expecting greatness from their teams even when those individuals don’t see greatness in themselves. Leaders also cheer and celebrate successes, small and large, because they know they are their teams’ biggest fans.  

Going from “boss” to “leader” is a challenging personal development experience — but it’s extremely rewarding, too! If you act like a leader, your team members will produce long-lasting effective results, and their performance will be consistently outstanding.

They will be more engaged at work, and more fulfilled in their personal lives, too. In that way, developing from boss to leader is an act of kindness and service to your fellow human beings — and to yourself, as well. Become a leader, and you’ll find that your life will be less stressful, and exponentially more fulfilling.

 

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10 Things You May Offer To Your Employees That Are Better Than A Raise

  1. Exciting, Challenging, or Meaningful Work

  2. Supportive Management and a Good Boss

  3. Recognition for Work Well Done

  4. Career Growth, Learning, and Development

  5. Flexible Work Environment

  6. Job Security and Stability

  7. Drawing Purpose from the Organization’s Mission or Product

  8. Fun Work Environment and Great People

  9. Good Benefits

  10. Respect

Based on the bestselling book “Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay” by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans.

 

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7 Unforgettable Leadership Lessons from The Ancient Roman Conqueror Julius Caesar

By: Áine Cain

What would Julius Caesar do?

After eliminating his rivals in a civil war, general and politician Gaius Julius Caesar began serving as dictator of Rome in 49 BCE.

He established a number of political reforms before getting stabbed to death on the Ides of March in 44 BCE.

This sparked yet another civil war that doomed the Roman Republic to mutate into an empire with Caesar’s adopted heir Octavian at the helm.

Today, Caesar is still considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His name is also synonymous with cults of personality and political strongmen.

So how exactly did the one-time high priest of Jupiter accrue so much power during his lifetime?

Here are the top seven lessons we can learn:

  1. Presentation Matters

The best leaders don’t just do amazing things — they know how to present a compelling story.

After a relatively brief war with a certain Pharnacles II of Pontus, Caesar had to sit down and write out a report to Rome detailing his conquest. According to both Greek biographer Plutarch and Roman historian Suetonius, the commander didn’t go into too much detail, writing simply: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

The phrase proved so catchy that we still remember it, centuries later.

Caesar could have gone on and on about his military prowess (in fact, he was the author of several long military accounts). Instead, he realized that the simple note would convey the most powerful message.

  1. Take Risks

In ancient Rome, crossing the Rubicon River with an army was kind of a big deal. It was tantamount to a declaration of war and could be punishable by death.

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legion, he put everything on the line. In “The Life of the Deified Julius,” Suetonius writes that Caesar quoted an Athenian playwright as he crossed the river, declaring “the die is cast.”

He risked it all and it paid off (in the short-term, at least).

  1. There’s Nothing Wrong With Starting Small

Oftentimes, you’ve got to start out as a large fish in a small pond in order to succeed as a leader.

Caesar understood this. He managed to climb back into a position of power, even after losing his inheritance in a coup as a young man.

According to the ancient Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives,” the general also made a rather curious remark while passing through a small village in the Alps: “I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome.”

  1. Nothing Is Set In Stone

As a general, Caesar new that circumstances could change in an instant. According to Bill Yonne’s “Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror,” Caesar once wrote that “in war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”

Resting on your laurels is never a good idea — because things can always take a turn for the worst.

  1. Never Kid Yourself

Even if you’re a successful leader, you never want to get to the point where you start to buy your own nonsense.

In his chronicle of the Gallic Wars, Caesar concludes that: “in most cases men willingly believe what they wish” when describing a tactical mistake on the part of his Gallic enemies.

The best leaders behave rationally and don’t allow their feelings or preconceived notions to dominate their decision-making. Gut calls and instincts are important too, but the best leaders utilize both — not one or the other.

  1. Don’t Get Comfortable

No matter how good things look, the best leaders never fail to anticipate the worst outcomes.

In his “Commentaries on the Gallic Wars,” Caesar writes: “The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances.”

Basically, if you’re on a winning streak, watch out. Caesar would have done well to actually follow this advice himself. Instead, he allowed a conspiracy to boil under him once he became dictator, resulting in his famous assassination.

  1. Never Sell Yourself Short

In order to lead, you need confidence in your own abilities. This is something that Caesar never seemed to lack.

This is illustrated by one notable incident in the ancient Roman’s life (involving pirates, of all things). In his account of Caesar’s life, Plutarch writes that, as a young man, Julius Caesar was abducted by the pirates that swarmed the Mediterranean Sea.

Livius.org provides a translation of what happened next: “First, when the pirates demanded a ransom of twenty talents, Caesar burst out laughing. They did not know, he said, who it was that they had captured, and he volunteered to pay fifty.”

Caesar went on to promise the pirates that he’d personally kill them once he was free. After he was ransomed, he raised a fleet, hunted them down, and did just that.

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