How to Sleep Better




How to Sleep Better

The Science of Sleep
Sleep is one of the strangest things we do each day. The average adult will spend 36 percent of his or her life asleep. For one-third of our time on earth, we transition from the vibrant, thoughtful, active organisms we are during the day and power down into a quiet state of hibernation.
But what is sleep, exactly? Why is it so important and so restorative for our bodies and minds? How does it impact our lives when we are awake?

The Purpose of Sleep
Sleep serves multiple purposes that are essential to your brain and body. Let's break down some of the most important ones.
The first purpose of sleep is restoration. Every day, your brain accumulates metabolic waste as it goes about its normal neural activities. While this is completely normal, too much accumulation of these waste products has been linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Alright, so how do we get rid of metabolic waste? Recent research has suggested that sleep plays a crucial role in cleaning out the brain each night. While these toxins can be flushed out during waking hours, researchers have found that clearance during sleep is as much as two-fold faster than during waking hours.
The way this process occurs is fairly remarkable:
During sleep, brain cells actually shrink by 60 percent, allowing the brain's waste-removal system—called the glymphatic system—to essentially “take out the trash” more easily. The result? Your brain is restored during sleep, and you wake up refreshed and with a clear mind.
The second purpose of sleep is memory consolidation. Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is the process that maintains and strengthens your long-term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper your ability to form both concrete memories (facts and figures) and emotional memories.
Finally, sleep is paramount for metabolic health. Studies have shown that when you sleep 5.5 hours per night instead of 8.5 hours per night, a lower proportion of the energy you burn comes from fat, while more comes from carbohydrate and protein. This can predispose you to fat gain and muscle loss. Additionally, insufficient sleep or abnormal sleep cycles can lead to insulin insensitivity and metabolic syndrome, increasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
All of this to say, that better sleep is critical for your mental and physical health. Before we get too deep into this sleep guide though, let's pause for just a second. If you're enjoying this article on sleep, then you'll probably find my other writing on performance and human behavior useful. Each week, I share self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research through my free email newsletter.
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How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Alright, so sleep is important, but how much sleep do you really need? To answer that question, let's consider an experiment conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University.
The researchers began the experiment by gathering 48 healthy men and women who had been averaging seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Then, they split these subjects into four groups. The first group had to stay up for 3 days straight without sleeping. The second group slept for 4 hours per night. The third group slept for 6 hours per night. And the fourth group slept for 8 hours per night. In these final three groups—4, 6, and 8 hours of sleep—the subjects were held to these sleep patterns for two weeks straight. Throughout the experiment the subjects were tested on their physical and mental performance. 
Here's what happened…
The subjects who were allowed a full 8 hours of sleep displayed no cognitive decreases, attention lapses, or motor skill declines during the 14-day study. Meanwhile, the groups who received 4 hours and 6 hours of sleep steadily declined with each passing day. The four-hour group performed worst, but the six-hour group didn't fare much better. In particular, there were two notable findings.
First, sleep debt is a cumulative issue. In the words of the researchers, sleep debt “has a neurobiological cost which accumulates over time.” After one week, 25 percent of the six-hour group was falling asleep at random times throughout the day. After two weeks, the six-hour group had performance deficits that were the same as if they had stayed up for two days straight. Let me repeat that: if you get 6 hours of sleep per night for two weeks straight, your mental and physical performance declines to the same level as if you had stayed awake for 48 hours straight. 
Second, participants didn't notice their own performance declines. When participants graded themselves, they believed that their performance declined for a few days and then tapered off. In reality, they were continuing to get worse with each day. In other words, we are poor judges of our own performance decreases even as we are going through them.

The Cost of Sleep Deprivation
The irony of it all is that many of us are suffering from sleep deprivation so that we can work more, but the drop in performance ruins any potential benefits of working additional hours.
In the United States alone, studies have estimated that sleep deprivation is costing businesses over $100 billion each year in lost efficiency and performance. 
As Gregory Belenky, Director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, puts it: “Unless you’re doing work that doesn’t require much thought, you are trading time awake at the expense of performance.”
And this brings us to the important question: At what point does sleep debt start accumulating? When do performance declines start adding up? According to a wide range of studies, the tipping point is usually around the 7 or 7.5 hour mark. Generally speaking, experts agree that 95 percent of adults need to sleep 7 to 9 hours each night to function optimally. Most adults should be aiming for eight hours per night. Children, teenagers, and older adults typically need even more. 
Here's a useful analogy for why sleep is so important.

The Theory of Cumulative Stress
Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water. In your day-to-day life, there are things that fill your bucket up. Sleep is one of the main inputs. These are also things like nutrition, meditation, stretching, laughter, and other forms of recovery.
There are also forces that drain the water from your bucket. These are outputs like lifting weights or running, stress from work or school, relationship problems, or other forms of stress and anxiety. 
The forces that drain your bucket aren't all negative, of course. To live a productive life, it can be important to have some of those things flowing out of your bucket. Working hard in the gym, at school, or at the office allows you to produce something of value. But even positive outputs are still outputs and they drain your energy accordingly.
These outputs are cumulative. Even a little leak can result in significant water loss over time.

How Sleep Works

The Sleep-Wake Cycle
The quality of your sleep is determined by a process called the sleep-wake cycle.
There are two important parts of the sleep-wake cycle:
1.     Slow wave sleep (also known as deep sleep)
2.     REM sleep (REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement)
During slow wave sleep the body relaxes, breathing becomes more regular, blood pressure falls, and the brain becomes less responsive to external stimuli, which makes it more difficult to wake up. This phase is critical for renewal and repair of the body. During slow wave sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair. Researchers also believe that the body's immune system is repaired during this stage. Slow wave sleep is particularly critical if you're an athlete. You'll often hear about professional athletes like Roger Federer or LeBron James sleeping 11 or 12 hours per night. 
As one example of the impact of sleep on physical performance, consider a study researchers conducted on the Stanford basketball players. During this study, the players slept for at least ten hours per night (compared to their typical eight hours). During five weeks of extended sleep, the researchers measured the basketball players accuracy and speed compared to their previous levels. Free throw shooting percentage increased by 9 percent. Three point shooting percentage increased by 9.2 percent. And the players were 0.6 seconds faster when sprinting 80 meters. If you place heavy physical demands on your body, slow wave sleep is what helps you recover. 
REM sleep is to the mind what slow wave sleep is to the body. The brain is relatively quiet during most sleep phases, but during REM your brain comes to life. REM sleep is when your brain dreams and re-organizes information. During this phase your brain clears out irrelevant information, boosts your memory by connecting the experiences of the last 24 hours to your previous experiences, and facilitates learning and neural growth. Your body temperature rises, your blood pressure increases, and your heart rate speeds up. Despite all of this activity, your body hardly moves. Typically, the REM phase occurs in short bursts about 3 to 5 times per night.
Without the slow wave sleep and REM sleep phases, the body literally starts to die. If you starve yourself of sleep, you can't recover physically, your immune system weakens, and your brain becomes foggy. Or, as the researchers put it, sleep deprived individuals experience increased risk of viral infections, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental illness, and mortality.
To summarize: slow wave sleep helps you recover physically while REM sleep helps you recover mentally. The amount of time you spend in these phases tends to decrease with age, which means the quality of your sleep and your body's ability to recover also decrease with age.



When Should I Go to Sleep?
If you're getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep, does it matter when you get it?
“The time of night when you sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep,” said Dr. Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.
The ratio of REM to non-REM sleep changes through the night, with non-REM sleep dominating cycles earlier in the night and REM sleep kicking in closer to sunrise, Walker said. That means a late night could result in insufficient amounts of deep, non-REM sleep. As we discussed earlier, it's crucially important to get healthy amounts of both REM and non-REM sleep.
So how early do you need to be to bed to get enough of each type of sleep? Walker says there's a window of several hours, about 8 p.m. to midnight.
The best time for you, though, will vary.
Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiology at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich who studies the biological roots of sleep, says each person has a unique internal timing profile called a sleep chronotype that determines where on the scale from “early bird” to “night owl” we fall. Your chronotype is largely genetic.
When choosing your bedtime, try not to fight your physiology. The best bedtime will differ a little bit for everyone, but it's crucial that you pay close attention to your internal clock and what your body is telling you. As long as you're getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep, just focus on finding the time that works best for you.

How to Sleep Better

How to Fall Asleep Fast
Develop a “power down” ritual before bed. The light from computer screens, televisions, and phones can hinder the production of melatonin, which means your body isn't preparing the hormones it needs to enter the sleep phase. Specifically, it is the blue wavelength of light that seems to decrease melatonin production. Developing a “power down” routine where you shut off all electronics an hour or two before sleep can be a big help. Additionally, working late at night can keep your mind racing and your stress levels high, which also prevents the body from calming down for sleep. Turn off the screens and read a book instead. It's the perfect way to learn something useful and power down before bed. (Another option is to download an app called f.lux, which reduces the brightness of your screen closer to bedtime.)
Use relaxation techniques. Researchers believe that at least 50 percent of insomnia cases are emotion or stress related. Find outlets to reduce your stress and you'll often find that better sleep comes as a result. Proven methods include daily journaling, deep breathing exercises, meditation, exercise, and keeping a gratitude journal (write down something you are thankful for each day).



Daily Habits for Better Sleep
Next, let's talk about how to sleep better by harnessing the power of a few simple, daily habits.
Get outside. Aim for at least 30 minutes of sun exposure each day.
Turn out the lights. When it gets dark outside, dim the lights in your house and reduce blue or full-spectrum light in your environment. F.lux, a free software app for your computer, makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.
Avoid caffeine. If you're having trouble falling asleep, eliminating caffeine from your diet is a quick win. If you can't go without your morning cup of coffee, then a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is “No coffee after noon.” This gives caffeine enough time to wear off before bed time.
Stop smoking or chewing tobacco. Tobacco use has been linked to a long line of health issues, and poor sleep is another one on the list. I don't have any personal experience with tobacco use, but I have heard from friends who have quit successfully that Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking book is the best resource on the topic.
Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. Is your bedroom designed to promote good sleep? The ideal sleeping environment is dark, cool, and quiet. Don't make your bedroom a multi-purpose room. Eliminate TVs, laptops, electronics, and clutter. These are simple ways to improve the choice architecture of your bedroom, so that sleep is easier and distraction is harder. When you go to the bedroom, go there to sleep.

Natural Sleep Aids
Exercise. There are too many benefits to exercise to list them all here. When it comes to sleep, exercise will make it easier for your brain and body to power down at night. Furthermore, obesity can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns. The role of exercise only becomes more important with age. Fit middle-aged adults sleep significantly better than their overweight peers. One caveat: avoid exercising two to three hours before bedtime as the mental and physical stimulation can leave your nervous system feeling wired and make it difficult to calm down at night.
Temperature. Most people sleep best in a cool room. The ideal range is usually between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 21 degrees Celsius).
Sound. A quiet space is key for good sleep. If peace and quiet is hard to come by, try controlling the bedroom noise by creating “white noise” with a fan. Or, use ear plugs.
Alcohol. This one is a slippery slope. It is true that having a drink before bed — a “night cap” — often does help people fall asleep. However, while it makes it easier to fall asleep, it actually reduces the quality of your sleep and delays the REM cycle. So you fall asleep faster, but it's possible that you'll wake up without feeling rested. It's probably best to improve your sleep through other methods before resorting to alcohol to do the job.
Final Thoughts on How to Sleep Better
Cumulative sleep debt is a barrier between you and optimal performance. If you want to know how to sleep better, the answer is simple but remarkably underrated in our productivity-obsessed culture: get more sleep.

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Credits
 The article was posted by JAMES CLEAR, 
 Original title: The Science of Sleep: A Brief Guide on How to Sleep Better Every Night



Habits that will make you a stronger person



Habits that will make you a stronger person

In 1914, Thomas Edison's lab burned down, and years' worth of his work was destroyed. This could easily be described as the worst thing to happen to Edison, but the inventor instead chose to see it as an energizing opportunity that forced him to rebuild and re-examine much of his work. Edison reportedly said at the time: "Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start again fresh."
"In a world that we don't control, tolerance is obviously an asset," Ryan Holiday, author of the forthcoming The Obstacle Is The Way, told The Huffington Post. "But the ability to find energy and power from what we don't control is an immense competitive advantage."
He's talking about mental strength, a difficult-to-define psychological concept that encompasses emotional intelligence, grit, resilience, self-control, mental toughness and mindfulness. It's something that Edison had in spades, and it's the reason that some people are able to overcome any obstacle, while others crumble at life's daily challenges and frustrations.
The ability to cope with difficult emotions and situations is a significant predictor of our success and happiness. The most capable individuals in this way are able to turn any obstacle into a source of growth and opportunity. And while much has been made of what mentally strong people avoid doing -- things like dwelling on the past, resenting the success of others and feeling sorry for themselves -- what do they actually do? What tactics do they use to overcome adversity time and time again?
"Things that we think are obstacles are actually opportunities to do something," says Holiday. "[To] be rewarded in some way that we never would have expected, provided that we address and don't shirk from that obstacle."

Here are 9 essential habits and practices of mentally strong people that can help you get through any challenge or hardship.

1.They see things objectively.
There's a maxim in the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, "There is no good or bad, there is only perception," which was later echoed in Shakespeare's famous line, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
The way we perceive a situation has a tremendous power to either help or harm us. So often, we react emotionally and project negative judgments onto a situation, when the first key to overcoming a challenge is to see things objectively.
"You can have the greatest plan in the world, but if you don't see the situation clearly, it doesn't matter," says Holiday.
Holiday studied countless examples through history of individuals who overcame obstacles that would seem completely insurmountable to most of us, from being falsely accused of triple murder to intense discrimination based on race or sex. He found that mental toughness came down to three things: Perception, action, and will.
"What's required [for mental strength] is some sort of philosophical framework that allows you to look past your emotions or what your first impressions of a situation might be," Holiday said. "So the elements of that are, 1) Your perception. Can you see things clearly and evenly? 2) Can you think about creative or out of the box kinds of solutions or actions? And finally, what is the kind of determination or will you can apply that action to the situation with?"

2. They let go of entitlement.
We all deserve happiness, but we don't deserve a life free from obstacles or setbacks. An attitude of entitlement -- thinking that we deserve to get what we want most or all of the time -- can make it much more difficult to deal with challenges when they come around and take you by surprise. This is a particularly common roadblock for Generation Y, according to Gen Y expert Paul Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire, who observed that many Millennials have "unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback."
"Generation Y was sold a certain mindset about how the world was going to be at any and all times," agrees Holiday. "In previous times, the framework that people were given was not just a humbler one, but one that understood how unpredictable and inexplicable the world could be."
Mentally strong people recognize that their entire life plans, and life itself, could be derailed at any moment -- and they don't waste their effort feeling wronged by destiny when things don't quite go their way.

3. They keep an even keel.
Mental strength is not so much about always being happy as it is about "keeping an even keel at any and all times," says Holiday.
Emotional stability and the ability to keep a cool head is an enormous asset when it comes to dealing with challenging situations. Fortunately, emotional stability tends to increase with age -- and it should come as no surprise that we become happier as a result.

4. They don't aspire to be happy all the time.
Excessive preoccupation with happiness can actually lead to an unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mentally strong people don't try to avoid negative emotions -- rather, accepting both positive and negative emotions and letting different feelings coexist is a key component of resiliency.
"We so value optimism and happiness and all these positive traits, which are themselves abstractions, that we get caught by surprise and can't deal with their opposite," says Holiday. "If we were more middle of the road, things would be better and we'd be able to take advantage of the things that happen to us because there's more objectivity."
Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay argues that our cultural obsession with happiness can be dangerous, and that instead of worrying about being happy, we should concern ourselves with being whole.
"The idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness," Mackay writes in The Good Life. "Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much."

5. They're realistic optimists.
Mentally tough people make a habit of getting up after they fall. Instead of getting upset, feeling hopeless and giving up in the face of obstacles, they take the opportunity to put on their thinking caps and come up with a creative solution to the problem at hand. Mentally strong people tend to be realistic optimists -- they have the hopefulness of optimists and the clarity of pessimists -- which gives them both the motivation and the critical thinking required to come up with creative solutions.
"Every time [realistic optimists] face an issue or a challenge or a problem, they won't say 'I have no choice and this is the only thing I can do,'" researcher Sophia Chou told LiveScience. "They will be creative, they will have a plan A, plan B and plan C."

6. They live in the present moment.
Being present -- rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future -- allows you to see things as they really are. Whether or not they have a formal meditation or mindfulness practice, mentally strong people tend to have a mindful, attentive way of engaging with the world.
"You could call it being in the zone, you can call it whatever you want, but the idea is that if you're focused exclusively on one thing in front of you, you're not bringing baggage to that situation and you're considering only the variables that matter," says Holiday.
The science has demonstrated that mindfulness really can boost your brain power. Mindfulness practice has been linked with emotional stability, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity.

7. They're persistent in the pursuit of their goals.
We've all heard inspiring stories of amazingly successful people who overcame significant hardships and failures to get there. They're exhibiting one of the most fundamental qualities of resilient people: Perseverance, or as psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth puts it, grit.
In her studies of students in a number of different educational environments, Duckworth found that grit more than any other single quality (IQ, emotional intelligence, good looks, physical health) accounts for students' success. She also studied teachers and workers in various professional environments to determine what accounted for their success.
"In all those different contexts, one factor emerged as a secret to success, and it wasn't social intelligence, good looks, physical health or IQ. It was grit," Duckworth said in a TED talk. "Grit is passion or perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in and day out -- not just for a day, not just for a month, but for years -- to make that future a reality."

8. But they know when it's time to let go.
A mentally strong person can say to themselves, "I tried everything I could in this situation, and now I can let it go," says Holiday. Just as important as perseverance is the ability to recognize that you can control only your own actions -- not the results of those actions. Accepting this fact allows us to resign to the things that are beyond our power.
There's an idea in Stoicism, Holiday explains, called the "art of acquiescence," which is yielding to the things that you can't change and making the best of them, rather than allowing them to upset or frustrate you. We need strength, determination and perseverance, but these aren't the answer in every situation. The mentally strong person lives by the Serenity Prayer -- they change what they can control, accept what they can't control, and know the difference between the two.
"Sometimes, the solution to the problem is to accept the problem and to bend yourself around that problem rather than crashing yourself repeatedly into it until you break," says Holiday.

9. They love their lives.
Amor fati is a Latin term that translates to "love of fate," a concept derived from the ancient Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers that later reemerged in the work of Nietzsche. And it's perhaps the single most important key to mental strength.
"The idea is that you don't just have to tolerate the things you can't control -- they could be the greatest things that ever happen to you," says Holiday. "You can find the joy in not just accepting, but in embracing the things that happen to you."
Mentally strong people are grateful and appreciative of obstacles because of the simple fact that obstacles are life itself. Shortly before her death, Seattle-based author Jane Lotter left that advice with her family in a powerful self-written obituary.
As Lotter put it, "May you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path."
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Credits
 The article was posted by Carolyn Gregoiref,
 On: 
https://www.huffpostbrasil.com
 Original title: The 9 Essential Habits Of Mentally Strong People


How to Achieve Your Dream

7 Steps to Achieve Your Dream

If you have been struggling with achievement, look through the following steps. Begin to apply them and you will be on the road to achieving your dream.
Step 1: Dream it.
Everything begins in the heart and mind. Every great achievement began in the mind of one person. They dared to dream, to believe that it was possible. Take some time to allow yourself to ask “What if?” Think big. Don’t let negative thinking discourage you. You want to be a “dreamer.” Dream of the possibilities for yourself, your family and for others. If you had a dream that you let grow cold, re-ignite the dream! Fan the flames. Life is too short to let it go.
Step 2: Believe it.
Yes, your dream needs to be big. It needs to be something that is seemingly beyond your capabilities. But it also must be believable. You must be able to say that if certain things take place, if others help, if you work hard enough, though it is a big dream, it can still be done. Good example: A person with no college education can dream that he will build a $50 million-a-year company. That is big, but believable. Bad example: That a 90-year-old woman with arthritis will someday run a marathon in under three hours. It is big all right, but also impossible. She should instead focus on building a $50 million-a-year business! And she better get a move on!
Step 3: See it.
The great achievers have a habit. They “see” things. They picture themselves walking around their CEO office in their new $25 million corporate headquarters, even while they are sitting on a folding chair in their garage “headquarters.” Great free-throw shooters in the NBA picture the ball going through the basket. PGA golfers picture the ball going straight down the fairway. World-class speakers picture themselves speaking with energy and emotion. All of this grooms the mind to control the body to carry out the dream.
Step 4: Tell it.
One reason many dreams never go anywhere is because the dreamer keeps it all to himself. It is a quiet dream that only lives inside of his mind. The one who wants to achieve their dream must tell that dream to many people. One reason: As we continually say it, we begin to believe it more and more. If we are talking about it then it must be possible. Another reason: It holds us accountable. When we have told others, it spurs us on to actually doing it so we don’t look foolish.
Step 5: Plan it.
Every dream must take the form of a plan. The old saying that you “get what you plan for” is so true. Your dream won’t just happen. You need to sit down, on a regular basis, and plan out your strategy for achieving the dream. Think through all of the details. Break the whole plan down into small, workable parts. Then set a time frame for accomplishing each task on your “dream plan.”
Step 6: Work it.
Boy, wouldn’t life be grand if we could quit before this one! Unfortunately the successful are usually the hardest workers. While the rest of the world is sitting on their sofas watching reruns of Gilligan's Island, achievers are working on their goal—achieving their dream. I have an equation that I work with: Your short-term tasks, multiplied by time, equal your long-term accomplishments. If you work on it each day, eventually you will achieve your dream. War and Peace was written, in longhand, page by page.
Step 7: Enjoy it.
When you have reached your goal and you are living your dream, be sure to enjoy it. In fact, enjoy the trip, too. Give yourself some rewards along the way. Give yourself a huge reward when you get there. Help others enjoy it. Be gracious and generous. Use your dream to better others. Then go back to No. 1. And dream a little bigger this time!


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Credits
The article was originally posted on: 
https://www.success.com/article/7-steps-to-achieve-your-dream


by
Chris Widener  




    


Choose the better side of life.


Choose the better side of life.
No matter which way you look at it, life is one long series of challenges, and each challenge requires us to make a choice, and it can be difficult to remain positive and upbeat about every one of those choices. How many of us make the right choice every time? But of course, making mistakes is how we learn, so would anyone really want to be perfect and make the right choice every time?
This is all well and good for those who get it right more often than not, but what about those people who seem to get it wrong almost every time? When this happens and you feel you’re almost certain to get it wrong whatever you do it soon becomes hard to make any choice at all.
This can often be the beginning of a downward spiral of negative thinking that can end in severe depression and even worse. However it is possible to find a way out of that downward spiral and become the sort of positive thinking person who regards every challenge as a learning experience to look forward to.
Choose 
the better side of life  will show you how to stop that downward spiral and how to take the first steps toward becoming a real positive thinker whatever the challenges you have to face.


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Credits: 

Posted by Peter Ford


                                                                                                                          Cover art

Hard Work & Leadership

Hard Work & Leadership
I think we undervalue hard work as a leadership quality. Understandable since it's not glamorous like courage and doesn't pull on the heartstrings like kindness. Never the less, the ability to get things done and push harder than anyone else is vital if you're going to succeed at anything. The most important business lesson my father taught me is to never underestimate the power of hard work. I'm actually pretty old school when it comes to leadership, which you can probably tell from reading my articles.
All the technology and clever strategies in the world can't help you if you're lazy and don't show up. ~ Narges Nirumvala
Watching my Father has taught me so much. On a personal note when I first met my husband (many years ago now!) I remember a common value we shared was a strong work ethic. We would share stories of the long hours and sacrifices our immigrant parents made to provide for us. It's something that draws us together even now and a value we live everyday. So I thought we could examine hard work in more detail and give it the focus it so rightly deserves:
1. Show Up.
Showing up is about being visible and taking action. Not just thinking about it and planning it, but actually doing it. It's about execution and about doing what you need to do rather than what you want to do. So even if you're exhausted with a bad cold, you dress up, you show up and you give it your best effort.    
I've found that luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often. ~ Brian Tracy
2. Don't Make Excuses.
We all have people we work with who make excuses rather than taking action. They are infuriating to work with, don't pull their weight and and rarely get anything done. They rely on other people to do the work for them, 'fake' competence and coast through life. Eventually it will catch up to them. People like that drive me crazy. They are toxic to teams and need to be mentored to improve or weeded out.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~ Benjamin Franklin
3. Make Priorities and Stick to Them.
How many times have you said "I'm sorry I can't do that I'm just too busy". I've said it too. The truth is we are rarely too busy, we just don't want to do it. It's not a priority to us. When something is a priority you make the time to do it. Because let's face it, we're all busy. Don't hide behind the 'I'm too busy' mask, if something isn't a priority then delegate it or let it go. 
4. Put In The Hours.
There's something inspiring about people who put in the hours to get work done. All the superstar entrepreneurs and amazing leaders I know share this ability. They are driven by passion, work hard and are proud of it. In an era of balance I know it seems contrary to praise hard work, but I think it's important to know when to plow through your work full steam ahead and when to take a break. Some tasks and projects take more time and effort. 
Leaders aren't born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. ~ Vince Lombardi
5. Honour Your Word and Do Your Best.
I'm a huge fan of the book 'The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom' by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it. Both these points are from his book, which is why I put them together. Of the four principles he shares in his book these are the two that resonate with me the most. Being able to honour your word and always doing your best sound like the kind of advice a Father would give don't they?
My Dad epitomizes these two qualities. I've really taken them to heart and tried to make them part of my everyday life.
Great leaders are committed to everydayexcellence. They put 100% into every task for ultimate success. ~ Narges Nirumvala
One final point, every June I review my 'optional' activities, such as volunteer Boards and Committees  and 'let go' of the ones that just aren't working for me anymore. I have to admit I always feel guilty when I do it. I stepped away from a board position just the other day (which is not on my LinkedIn profile in case you were wondering) and within 24-hours I had a possibility of another board position. Sometimes you have close a door for the Universe to open a window. Do you agree or disagree with me? What's your opinion on the importance of hard work in leadership? Leave your feedback in the comments below!
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Posted by Narges Nirumvala 
 Article was originally posted on: http://executivespeak.com/


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