Category Archives: Happiness

Cubs win 1st Series title since 1908, beat Indians in Game 7

The Chicago Cubs celebrate after Game 7 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Cleveland Indians Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cubs won 8-7 in 10 innings to win the series 4-3.

For a legion of fans who waited a lifetime, fly that W: Your Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

Ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration, the Cubs won their first title since 1908, outlasting the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings of a Game 7 thriller early Thursday.

They even had to endure an extra-inning rain delay to end the drought.

Cleveland was trying to win its first crown since 1948, but manager Terry Francona’s club lost the last two games at home.

World Series favorites since spring training, Chicago led the majors with 103 wins this season.

After defeating San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs, Chicago became the first team to earn a title by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here’s what Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said that really made me angry

These recent comments by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer are the epitome of Silicon Valley arrogance, says Basecamp programmer Dan Kim.
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This commentary originally appeared on the Signal v. Noise blog.

Recently, I read this article about Marissa Mayer . This quote infuriated me (emphasis mine):

My husband [the venture capital investor Zachary Bogue] runs a co-working office in San Francisco…And if you go in on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you which start-ups will succeed, without even knowing what they do. Being there on the weekend is a huge indicator of success, mostly because these companies just don’t happen. They happen because of really hard work.

I read my fair share about the tech world. I haven’t encountered statements this utterly arrogant and silly in a while.

Let’s break down that quote. She’s saying…

Weekend work is a leading indicator of being a successful company
She can predict success based on the people who are physically in the office on a weekend
She can predict success without knowing anything about a company’s business

What in the actual f—?

This idea that someone could “tell you which start-ups will succeed, without even knowing what they do” is so comically arrogant, I honestly can’t tell if she was being serious.

I guess this kind of thinking from Mayer shouldn’t be all that surprising.

After all she’s the CEO who banned remote working. To her, working together in person, in the office, is the only way to do great work.

As a refresher, here’s a snippet of the leaked memo Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) sent to its employees:

To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.

Because let’s not forget — being physically present means you are doing your best work! Speed and quality can only happen in person! Never mind that many other companies have been successful with remote teams.

So maybe that helps explain why Mayer believes she can walk into an office on a Saturday, survey who’s there in person, and can declare the winners.

Because to her, if you’re not there physically, you’ve already failed.

In the same article, Mayer talks about her experience at Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL):

The other piece that gets overlooked in the Google story is the value of hard work….The actual experience was more like, “Could you work 130 hours in a week?” The answer is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom…For my first five years, I did at least one all-nighter a week, except when I was on vacation — and the vacations were few and far between.

While that might sound crazy to most of us, I don’t really have a problem with it.

She was making a decision for herself. She decided to work long hours, pull all nighters, and eschew vacations. That’s her call. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But it’s not OK to imply that kind of work/life imbalance is a key to success for others.

Hey, if someone wants to work themselves into the ground, that’s up to them.

But spreading the message that hard work and success can only be achieved through long hours and weekend work — that’s not OK. It’s patently false, and it’s already far too pervasive in our industry.

Look, I get it — by every objective measure of Ha Ha! Business Success™(financial, title, industry stature), Mayer is insanely successful. She has achieved far more in her professional career than I ever will.

But I also don’t work weekends. I don’t work 130 hours a week. I don’t commute to an office.

My measures of success are way different. I goof off with my kids a lot. I read. I watch movies. I eat donuts and pizza. I occasionally travel. I sleep 8 hours a night. I’m rarely stressed. I revel in being boring and old.

And I do that all while genuinely enjoying my job and the people I work with (who I rarely see in person).

In Mayer’s world, I could never be a success.

I’ve never been so f—-g happy to be a failure.

On weekdays, for about 40 hours a week, I help build Basecamp 3 and its companion Android app. And we somehow managed to build it 100% remotely.

Follow Dan Kim on Twitter @dankim.

8 Things Exceptional Employees Hate (and Toxic Employees Love to Do)

The very worst employees don’t actually cause the biggest problems. Whether totally incompetent or unbelievably lazy, they’re easy to spot — so, although it’s never fun to fire anyone, at least you know there’s a problem and you can let that person go.

The biggest problems are caused by employees who appear to be doing a decent job but who in fact are slowly ruining the morale, attitude, and performance of other employees — and in the process, ruining your business as well.

What do they do?

1. They love to have the meeting after the meeting.

You have a meeting. Issues are raised. Concerns are shared. Decisions are made. Everyone in attendance fully support those decisions. Things are going to happen.

Then someone holds the “meeting after the meeting.” Now she talks about issues she didn’t share in the actual meeting. Now he disagrees with the decisions made in the actual meeting.

And sometimes those people even say to their teams, “Look, I think this is a terrible idea, but we’ve been told to do it, so I guess we need to give it a shot.” That means what was going to happen never will.

Waiting until after a meeting to say “I’m not going to support that” is like saying “I’ll agree to anything … but that doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it. I’ll even work against it.”

Those people need to work somewhere else.

2. They love to say, “That’s not my job.”

The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

Even if that means a manager has to help load a truck or a machinist needs to clean up a solvent spill; or the accounting staff needs to hit the shop floor to help complete a rush order; or a CEO needs to man a customer service line during a product crisis. (You get the idea.)

Any task an employee is asked to do — as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal, and it’s “below” his or her current position — is a task an employee should be willing to do. (Great employees notice problems and jump in without being asked.)

Saying “It’s not my job” says “I care only about me.” That attitude quickly destroys overall performance because it quickly turns what might have been a cohesive team into a dysfunctional group of individuals.

3. They love to act like they’ve already paid their dues.

An employee did great things last year, last month, or even yesterday. You’re appreciative. You’re grateful.

Still, today is a new day. Dues are never paid in full. Dues get paid. The only real measure of any employee’s value is the tangible contribution he or she makes on a daily basis.

Saying “I’ve paid my dues” is like saying “I no longer need to work as hard.” And suddenly, before you know it, other employees start to feel they’ve earned the right to coast too.

4. They love to think their experience is all that matters.

Experience is definitely important, but experience that doesn’t translate into better skills, better performance, and greater achievement is worthless. Experience that just “is” is a waste.

Example: A colleague once said to younger supervisors, “My role is to be a resource.” Great, but then he sat in his office all day waiting for us to come by so he could dispense his pearls of wisdom. Of course, none of us did stop by–we were all busy thinking, “I respect your experience, but I wish your role was to do your job.”

How many years you’ve put in pales in comparison with how many things you’ve done.

Saying “I have more experience” is like saying “I don’t need to justify my decisions or actions.” Experience (or position) should never win an argument. Wisdom, logic, and judgment should always win — regardless of in whom those qualities are found.

5. They love to gossip.

Before a meeting, some of us were talking about supervisors in another department when our new boss looked up and said, “Stop. From now on we will never say anything bad about anyone unless they are actually in the room. Period.”

Until then, I never thought of gossip as a part of a company’s culture — gossip just was. We all did it. And it sucked — especially because being the focus of gossip sucked. (And in time, I realized people who gossip suck too.)

If an employee has talked to more than one person about something Mark is doing, wouldn’t everyone be better off if he stepped up and actually talked to Mark about it? And if it’s “not his place” to talk to Mark, it’s definitely not his place to talk about Mark.

Saying “Did you hear what he did?” is like saying “I have nothing better to do than talk about other people.”

Not only do employees who create a culture of gossip waste time better spent on productive conversations, but they cause other people to respect their co-workers a little less–and anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated.

6. They love to use peer pressure to hold other employees back.

A new employee works hard. She works long hours. She’s hitting targets and exceeding expectations. She rocks. And she eventually hears, from a more “experienced” employee, “You’re working too hard and making the rest of us look bad.”

Where comparisons are concerned, a great employee doesn’t compare herself with others — she compares herself with herself. She wants to “win” that comparison by improving and doing better today than she did yesterday.

Poor employees don’t want to do more; they want others to do less. They don’t want to win. They just want others to make sure they don’t lose.

Saying, “You’re working too hard,” is like saying, “No one should work hard because I don’t want to work hard.” And pretty soon very few people do — and the ones who keep trying get shunned for a quality you need every employee to possess.

7. They love to grab the glory.

OK, maybe he did do nearly all the work. Maybe he did overcome almost every obstacle. Maybe, without him, that high-performing team would have been anything but.

Probably not. Nothing important is ever accomplished alone, even if some people love to act like it is.

A good employee and good team player shares the glory. He credits others. He praises. He appreciates. He lets others shine. That’s especially true for an employee in a leadership position–he celebrates the accomplishments of others secure in the knowledge that their success reflects well on him, too.

Saying “I did all the work” or “It was all my idea” is like saying “The world revolves around me, and I need everyone to know it.” And even if other people don’t adopt the same philosophy, they resent having to fight for recognition that is rightfully theirs.

8. And they love to throw others under the bus.

A vendor complains. A customer feels shortchanged. A co-worker gets mad. No matter what has happened, it’s someone else’s fault.

Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They willingly accept the criticism or abuse, because they know they can handle it (and they know that maybe the person actually at fault cannot).

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship. Few acts are more selfish than saying “It wasn’t me,” especially when, at least in part, it was.

Saying “You’ll have to talk to Martha” is like saying “We’re not all in this together.” At the best companies, everyone is in it together.

Anyone who isn’t needs to go.

 Jeff Haden

Contributing editor, Inc.

 

1 Question Is All You Need to Judge Someone’s Personality

If you want to better understand someone’s personality, there’s no shortage of options. Psychologists have developed various checklists and inventories to evaluate everything from whether someone is a card-carrying psychopath to a drama queen.

If you’re looking for a more holistic, research-backed approach, there are various tests of the so-called Big Five personality traits. Or you could always go with Myers Briggs, though be warned that despite its popularity in the business world, there’s no evidence it beats astrology at characterizing people.

All of these choices might be an insightful way to investigate your own character, but if you’re trying to get a handle on another person, they’re probably a little cumbersome. That new job candidate (or date) would probably look at you a little funny if you sent over an online narcissistic personality test. Is there a quick and dirty–but scientifically validated–way to assess if a given individual has a certain personality trait?

Yup, according to a study out of Wake Forest University recently highlighted on PsyBlog. If you want to know if someone displays a certain characteristic, just ask if he or she thinks other people often do.

Can one type of question reveal all?

To reach this conclusion, a team led by psychologist Dustin Wood asked study subjects (in this case that typical psychological guinea pig, the undergrad) to rate the personalities of several acquaintances. Their responses said much more about themselves than they probably intended.

The more frequently people rated others as kindhearted, happy, emotionally stable, or courteous, the more likely they were to rate themselves as having these traits, and the more likely outside evaluators were to agree. And the results remained stable even when the subjects were tested again a year later. “Seeing others positively reveals our own positive traits,” Wood commented.

The same thing worked for darker personality traits, too. Those with a Machiavellian streak, for instance, are more likely to see others as manipulative. “A huge suite of negative personality traits are associated with viewing others negatively,” Woods added. “The simple tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.”

Besides being a fascinating glimpse into the weird and complex human mind, the findings also suggests a powerful hack for evaluating others people’s character–if you want to know if they themselves display a trait, just find a way to ask how common they think it is in others. The more of a quality they see around them, the more they probably possess themselves.

Jessica Stillman

Contributor, Inc.com

10 Daily Habits That Will Radically Improve Your Life

Platitudes won’t help you. I know, I’ve tried to implement them all. They’re frustrating.

Go for it! Live for today! Stay motivated!

No kidding.

I’m more interested in how we can radically improve our lives.  How can we stay truly motivated? How can we maintain hyper-efficiencies?  How can we stay happy at work? How can we find true fulfillment by cultivating the most attractive aspects of your personality?

Here are ten unexpected things you can do daily to radically improve your life:

1. Don’t obsess over “how” you’ll do something.

Four years ago when I launched my agency Silverback Social, I just did it. I knew that I wanted to create a digital agency that led with social media. I had no idea how I was going to do it.

2. Invest in clothes that fit.  Yes, seriously.

My dress shirts, and suits are all custom made. This isn’t as extravagant as it sounds. You can order custom clothing for about the same cost as off the rack clothes from Banana Republic. You just have to be patient for the clothes to get delivered after you’ve been measured.

3. Meditate

Meditation can reduce stress, improve your concentration and increase happiness. But you don’t have to sell all your worldly possessions and live in a cave to meditate. Meditation can be anything.

When you’re washing your hands today. Slow down and really think about how you’re washing your hands. Feel the sensation of the water. Smell the aroma of the soap. Enjoy it. You’re meditating!

Realize that your thoughts and feeling aren’t you. Acknowledging that you’re having a thought is a powerful way to separate yourself from the thought. I recommend HeadSpace APP to help.

4. Buy a stand up desk.

We’ve all read the news and heard the grumbling of how bad sitting down all day can be for us. It’s worse than smoking etc.  I do think that my new stand up desk can be a healthy alternative.

I’m also smart enough to know that you can overdo anything. US News Health says that there are some ways in which stand up desks can do more harm than good.

The gist? Don’t stand still all day long. Alternate positions throughout the day. Also, some tasks are more well suited for sitting.

5. Shut off electronics for short increments.

I worry about the effect of electronic devices on my children. The best way that I’ve been able to remove this concern is to carve out play time without any devices around. This means that I leave my iPhone behind as well.

My girls are eight and five.  My five year old decided to try golfing with me recently. She loved it. Just the two of us, with my undivided and undistracted presence.

I felt my self reflectively reaching for my iPhone to take photos of her golfing.

6. Get up early.

I hate the morning. Really, I do. So much so that on my wedding day, my brother referenced my inability to wake up to an alarm clock in his best man speech. The crowd erupted in laughter.  Super.

7. Read more.

Reading can help improve problem solving, expand your vocabulary, and even cultivate exposure to different ways of thinking. If you really feel that you don’t have time to read, I recommend you try Audible for a free 30 Day Trial and listen to audiobooks.

8. Live in a different city at least once in your life.

When I was twenty years old,  I studied in Leuven, Belgium, and traveled to 14 different countries. That travel allowed me to grow in ways that I can’t quantify. I was able to find my way around an airport, train station, and bus terminal without incident. I ate different foods, and experienced different religions.

9. Write.

Sharing your thoughts is a powerful connector. Start with a blog, or create on LinkedIn or Medium. I wrote my first blog post and earned $260,000. I also used writing to help me get the attention of new clients, new jobs, and my television career.

Write every day and share what you know. Learn how to write better along the way. If you don’t want to share your thoughts with the world, start a journal.

I began a journal when I was nineteen and traveling through Europe. Now I read my entries to my daughters as bedtime stories.

10. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

I’m an over sharer extraordinaire. To some people it’s an turn off. Guess what? I don’t want to associate with those people. It’s the way I’m wired, and I’m not about to change because it makes you uncomfortable.

I blog about everything from my family, to my friend who was murdered. Vulnerability in life and business cultivates trust.

No pretense, just you –  unfiltered.  Try it. I dare you.

 

By Chris Dessi

CEO, Silverback Social

8 Frugal Habits That Will Make You a Millionaire

There are approximately 35 million people who are millionaires in the world. As Robert J. Samuelson states so perfectly in The Washington Post, “That’s about 5 percent of the U.S. adult population (241 million in 2014), or one in 20. Rarefied, yes; exclusive, no.” Though the population numbers have gone up in the last year, they still prove a point. It’s totally possible for you to become a millionaire.

I personally have been a millionaire several times in my life. I’m an entrepreneur and take chances. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they don’t. The following are a few of the tips that have helped me to become and stay a millionaire over the past couple years.

While becoming a millionaire rarely occurs overnight, it’s still an achievable dream if you work hard and follow these eight frugal habits.

1. Live Below Your Means

Do you really need to purchase a McMansion? Do you honestly have to have the latest luxury vehicle in your driveway? While status items like these can be enjoyable, even the extremely wealthy have realized that it’s better to live below your means if you want to extend your wealth.

Take Warren Buffett for example. He still resides in the same Omaha home that he pitched in 1958 for under $32,000. Buffett is also known for purchasing modest vehicles, like his 2006 Cadillac, which was auctioned off for charity. Apart from having been owned, and signed, by Buffett, the car was described as “nothing special.”

Around eight years ago, I started making real money. That doesn’t mean that I changed anything in my lifestyle. Sure, I got a few nice things, but I didn’t change the way I lived. This has saved me countless dollars.

2. Never Pay Full Price

Did you know that households that average an income of $100,000 or more use more coupons than households that earn under $35,000 annually? They also don’t shop at luxury stores like Tiffany & Co. or Brooks Brothers. Instead, they prefer to shop at Walmart, Target, and Home Depot.

The wealthy never pay full price for the items they want or need. (My personal experience is that the ultra rich never pay full price for anything.) I personally like to shop on eBay and Craigslist. This helps me get super nice quality things for a much lower price. Note: I still don’t buy crap, I purchase nice things. I just don’t pay full price for them.

3. Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses

There are a number of small ways that you can cut out those unnecessary expenses that will add up over time. For example, how much money have you spent on ATM withdrawal fees or transaction fees when sending or receiving funds electronically? There are a number of alternatives that don’t include these fees.

On a larger scale, you should also create a monthly budget, so that you can examine where your money is going each month. You may quickly realize that you actually don’t need that cable package that includes every channel. Instead, you can downgrade, or cut the cord entirely and use alternatives such as Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix. If a budget sounds too restrictive to you, try not having the money to budget! However, merely keeping track of all of your expenses will go a long way to helping you see what you are spending your assets on.

4. Rent or Sell Your Current Possessions

Do you have a closet full of unused junk or clothes that you no longer wear? Do you have a spare guestroom or extra office space? You can make money simply by selling your unwanted items online through Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon, or offline by having a yard sale, visiting a consignment shop, or hosting a closet party. You could rent bedrooms on Airbnb. You can even rent out everything from your office, parking space, car, or even tools when you’re not using them.

As opposed to collecting dust or taking up space, you can sell or rent the possessions you already have to make some quick cash.

5. Leave the Cash and Plastic at Home

If you leave the house without your credit card and a large amount of cash, you won’t be tempted to purchase items that you don’t really need. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, it’s been found that “86 percent of people who spend cash on luxuries like expensive cars, jewelry, and electronics are non-millionaires trying to act the part by purchasing luxury brands.”

Instead, follow the example set by T. Boone Pickens. Make a shopping list and only carry the cash you’ll need to make those specific purchases. This way, you aren’t putting yourself into additional debt. Remember, if you don’t have the cash to make a purchase or pay off your credit card, then you probably can’t afford the purchase in the first place.

6. Don’t Waste Money on “Get Rich Quick” Schemes

There is no such thing as getting rich quickly. This is something that the wealthy have realized. According to studies conducted by Thomas C. Corley, “16 percent of the wealthy gamble on sports at least once a week versus 52 percent of the poor.” Additionally, “9 percent of the wealthy play the lottery every week versus 77 percent of the poor.”

Don’t waste your money on trying to accumulate a large amount of wealth in a short amount of time, because the probability of that happening is slim to none. Instead, invest the money you would have spent into new business opportunities.

7. Go Green

Going green is excellent for the environment. But going green can actually save you some green as well. For example, you could reduce your heating and cooling bills by turning your heat down during the winter and the air temperature up during the summer by just 2 degrees. You could also invest in a gadget like the Nest to help monitor and manage your heating and cooling expenses.

You could also recycle cans and cardboard for a couple of extra dollars, replace energy-guzzling gadgets with newer Energy Star models to cut back on your electric bill, and consider carpooling or taking public transport instead of driving yourself to and from work.

8. Get a Side Gig

There are two financial incentives for getting a side gig. The first, and most obvious, reason is that this will bring in additional income that can be used to pay down your debt or placed into savings or investments.

The other reason is, if you’re busy with a side gig, then you’ll have less time to spend the money you’ve earned. For example, if you do web design, tech support, or became a bartender on the weekends, you’re less likely to go out to eat or shop all day. Here are a few tips to earn an extra $500 a month. Every little bit helps.

You can become a millionaire, now it’s time to figure it out and go do it. I have faith and believe in you. If you’re ever lost or need a little advice, I’m here to help!

Mother’s Market & Kitchen Expansion

Editors Note: WholeFoods Magazine recently reported on a new partnership between Mother’s Market & Kitchen and Mill Road Capital investment firm. Our very own merchandising editor Jay Jacobowitz provides some insight on the potential of this new partnership and what it means for the supernatural retail space.

This is a significant event in the natural organic products retail space. Costa Mesa, California-based Mother’s Market & Kitchen, founded in 1978, and now with seven supermarket-size locations in Southern California, possesses some of the most valuable real estate in the nation. By this I mean household quality and demand potential for natural organic products is extremely high; among the best in the country according to our Retail Insights’ Retail Universe for Natural, Organic Food, Supplement and Personal Care Sales database. In addition, the stores are first-rate operations, with excellent food service offerings, dynamic merchandising, beautiful facilities, and the highest ingredient standards in the industry.

Coupling with Greenwich, Connecticut-based Mill Road Capital (MRC) should be a wake-up call for all supernatural competitors. MRC Senior Managing Director, Thomas Lynch, handled the private equity business for Blackstone Group, which manages over $300 billion in investor funds. Lynch has borrowed a page from Blackstone, locking up investor capital for 10 years; a requirement of investing with Blackstone and MRC. By doing so, MRC can take the long view with its investment portfolio, allowing it to mature companies at their own intrinsic growth rates, and inoculating them from transient external factors, such as economic shocks or sector slowdowns.

Certainly, Mother’s Market could have attracted private equity capital long ago, in the 1990s for example, as Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market was executing its “roll-up” strategy of buying the most significant supernatural competitors around the country. But Mother’s Market did not take this route, content instead to focus on its regional trade area and build an unequaled brand identity of superior quality.

I predict the acquisition by MRC signals management intends to continue to pursue the long game, waiting patiently for ideal real estate before signing leases, and being careful to maintain reasonable proximities between stores to maximize distribution efficiencies. The growth plan may resemble the Cheesecake Factory, which chooses its real estate extremely carefully, only opening stores with optimal locations, and never settling for suboptimal real estate. I suspect Mother’s Market & Kitchen will do something similar as it builds out from its Southern California base.

5 Ways Mentally Strong People Conquer Self-Doubt

Insecurity kills more dreams than lack of talent does. Believing things like “I’ll never get promoted” or “I can’t compete with the other businesses” will turn your self-doubt into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

All of us experience self-doubt sometimes, no matter how confident we are. But, mentally strong people don’t let self-doubt prevent them from reaching their goals. Here’s how to keep self-doubt from holding you back.

1. Embrace a little self-doubt.

Don’t worry about a little self-doubt, because slight insecurity could actually bolster your performance. A 2010 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that individuals who experienced a little self-doubt actually performed better compared with people who were completely confident in their skills. Other studies have found similar results.

So rather than waste energy worrying that your self-doubt is really a sign from the universe warning you that you’re about to fail, recognize that self-doubt can be helpful. Perhaps you’ll spend more time rehearsing or maybe you’ll put in more effort when you’re aware that there’s a chance it might not go smoothly.

2. Examine the evidence behind your thoughts.

When you encounter serious self-doubt, examine the truth behind your thoughts. Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that I can’t do this?” Then ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that I can do this?” Write down your answers on a piece of a paper.

Looking at the facts can help you see things in a more realistic manner. Although this exercise may not eliminate all of your self-doubt, examining the facts can help reduce your insecurities to a more helpful level.

3. Consider the worst-case scenario.

Self-doubt is fueled by catastrophic predictions like “I’m going to mess everything up.” When you find yourself guessing things will go poorly, ask, “What’s really the worst thing that could happen?” If you do make a mistake, would it really be that bad?

Remind yourself that even if things go terribly, it’s unlikely to be life altering. Losing a game, stumbling over your lines, or failing to get a promotion probably won’t matter that much in a few years. Keeping things in proper perspective can help calm your nerves.

4. Monitor your emotions.

Your emotions play a major role in how you think and behave. Anxious feelings can fuel doubtful thoughts and impair your performance, unless you take steps to regulate your emotions.

Pay attention to how your emotions influence your choices. If your anxiety skyrockets, calm your body and your mind by taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or distracting yourself with mundane tasks. Don’t allow your short-term discomfort to convince you to bail out, give up, or cave in.

5. Focus on your present performance.

Whether you’re stepping on a stage or running out onto an athletic field, telling yourself “I’m going to embarrass myself” will distract you from your performance. So rather than allow your inner monologue to drag you down, stay focused on the present.

Before you take the giant leap into whatever you’re feeling doubtful about, give yourself a quick pep talk. Saying “All I can do is my best” will remind you that you don’t need to strive for perfection. With that reminder, you’ll be better equipped to put your energy where it needs to be–on your performance.

By Amy Morin

Author, “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”

Prosperity Gospel Is War on the Poor

’ve always been annoyed by Hollywood sports movies that spend nearly two hours earnestly preaching about how it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose the Big Game because what’s really important is the spiritual growth achieved through the challenge of competition. But then the movie predictably ends with the protagonist winning the Big Game anyway and being carried away on the shoulders of admiring teammates. The twisted lesson seems to be: Once you acknowledge that winning isn’t important, you will win. The fiscal corollary is: Once you acknowledge that money isn’t important, you will become fabulously wealthy. And more important than the winning or wealth is that witnesses are there to admire your achievement, to hoist you up on metaphoric shoulders of envy.

It’s crazy logic that stomps spirituality into pulp like a mugger pummeling a victim in a back alley. Like something Cersei Lannister would propose on Game of Thrones. Yet, that is the line—that God wants believers to be wealthy and that giving donations could improve your wealth—that some proponents of the so-called prosperity gospel have been selling. And like the snake-oil salesmen from whom they are descended, their product has a greasy stench to it that cures nothing but the salesman’s own greed.

Which brings us to Pastor Creflo Dollar’s earthly reward last week. In March, his plea to his congregation for them each to donate $300 or more so he could purchase a $65 million Gulfstream G650, the jet of choice for discerning billionaires flying the heavens like self-anointed angels, seemed to have been abandoned after public outcry. But now that the outraged voices have died down, the board of World Changers Church International, which oversees Creflo Dollar Ministries, has said it will buy this “Holy Grail” of aviation. The campaign to purchase the jet, the board said, is “standard operating procedure for people of faith” in “our community.”

And that’s the problem. Who are these “people of faith”? According to a survey for Time magazine, those who embrace the prosperity gospel tend to be African Americans, evangelicals, and those less educated. Though the specific theology from church to church can differ, the general claim is that the more money you give to the church, the more God will financially reward you. But this column isn’t about Creflo Dollar and the other multi-millionaires who have cynically perverted Christ’s teachings to fill their silk-lined pockets. It’s about how the country shifted from the War on Poverty in the 1960s to the War on the Poor today.

The prosperity gospel is just another battle front in that war. We could just shrug at the hundreds of thousands who willfully give up their money so their pastors can live in the kind of opulence that rivals that of the Roman Caesars. We could dismiss these worshipful congregants as victims of their own greed. But that would be misreading the situation. While greed may motivate the mansion-dwelling pastors, the congregants are motivated by hope of a better life. This is the same desperate, though misguided, hope that droves Americans to throw away $70.15 billion on lottery tickets in 2014, more than what was spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and music combined. Who buys those tickets? According to a 2011 study, “Gambling on the Lottery: Sociodemographic Correlates Across the Lifespan,” the highest rate of lottery gambling (61%) came from those in the lowest fifth of socioeconomic status, concluding that “males, blacks, Native Americans, and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods” were more likely to play.

In essence, many of the “people of faith” are the poor who are more willing to place their faith in the lottery and prosperity gospel than in the tarnished legend of the American Dream. The recent economic recession has delivered a gut-punch to that American Dream of working hard and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps until the inevitable riches follow. Sure, it still can happen, just not as often as it used to. Now burdened with enormous college debt, fewer prospects for well-paying jobs, rising housing costs and increased cost-of-living, more of the what used to be middle class are slipping over the edges of the financial cliff and falling on hard times. According to the CBS news article “America’s Incredible Shrinking Middle Class,” the size of the middle class has decreased in all 50 states. Where have they gone? To the poor side of town. More than 45 million (14.5%) Americans lived in poverty in 2013, up from 12.3% in 2006.

Without faith in the government to help lift the poor out of poverty or prevent the middle class from slipping away, desperate and frightened people seek help in the supernatural of religion or in the supernatural odds of the lottery (odds of winning on a single ticket are 1 in 175 million). It’s hard not to be sympathetic.

Americans have always had difficulty reconciling the lofty pursuit of spiritual enlightenment with the worldly hunger for material prosperity, especially if the former rejects the latter. We want to win, even if winning means we lose something even more valuable not tangible because our fame-mongering, social-media driven culture tells us we haven’t won unless everyone else acknowledges it. (If someone does a good deed in the forest and no one’s around, is it still a good deed? Not anymore.) But how does one keep score in the spirituality game? According to the purveyors of prosperity gospel, your friends and neighbors will know how righteous you are by the size of your bank account and the make of your car.

In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also” (Matthew 5:40). The coat was considered to be a shirt while the cloak was a crucial garment to protect against the elements. Combined with Jesus’ admonishment to turn the other cheek when struck, we see a teaching that is establishing the basis for Christianity: Tend to what is permanent (the soul) over what is temporary (material goods). To expect an earthly reward other than purity of mind would go against these teachings. Yet those pimping the prosperity gospel are preaching the opposite.

I’m in awe of most religious leaders because they dedicate their lives to helping others achieve spiritual fulfillment. I’m also in awe of most practitioners of religions because their goal is to do the right thing for their god and their community. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful and wealthy. But there is something wrong when some people exploit the poor, the fearful, and the desperate to enrich themselves through donations and tax-exemptions by pretending to be spiritual leaders. Like the professional pardoners of the Middle Ages who pedaled indulgences to the highest bidders, they pervert teachings for profit. These are the people that the word shame was invented to describe.

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