#12 Paint your own picture

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Are you painting the picture of your perfect life?

In order to be in charge of how your life turns out you need to take up the brush and start creating your canvas. Leaving things to chance or being a victim of circumstances will certainly not get you where you want. Staring at a blank canvas also never got an artist anywhere!

Today we’ll focus on what it takes to create a life that is a masterpiece. Don’t worry there won’t be any actual painting involved for those who claim to be unable to draw even a stick figure.

Create a master plan

Before you start renovating your life create a plan.  Most artists have sketchbooks and do small studies before working on their large canvas. The Post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat for example did as many as 30 small sketches and small oil studies before commencing his large canvas Sunday Afternoon on Island of the Grande Jatte. Michelangelo did many drawings for the Sistine Chapel – one was recently found on the back of which was a grocery list of the great master! So create storyboards for your life – they can be pictures clipped out and placed on a storyboard or virtual ones created on sites like Pinterest showing where you want to be heading, or even a file with the areas of your life showing images and goals.

Give equal importance to all aspects of your life

Just as an artist has to consider many aspects of a masterpiece so you will need to give importance to various categories.  Leave out some categories and you will be just like the millions of people who chose financial security over health or property over family. You need to pull all the elements together.

12 common aspects of life to consider when planning your life masterpiece

Health and fitness – without these your ability to enjoy the other aspects is severely diminished so it should be high on your list.

Love relationships – no one likes to be completely alone so work on creating a healthy happy and loving relationship with your partner and you family based on trust. Consider your parents – one day you will be older – so take the time to engage with them.

Parenting – while not everyone may become a parent the majority of us want to raise healthy happy well-adjusted kids. Spend time with them doing fun things and teaching them in a loving way. These are the times they will remember not how much you paid for their private school fees.

Finances – how we handle our finances and what we do with our money can determine our future happiness. Some people chose to live in an ordinary home and spurge on holidays; some people are obsessed with building up multiple businesses and amassing a fortune. Whatever you do is fine as long as you don’t become obsessive about finance to the detriment of the other aspects of your life.

Career – this is just one of the 12 categories. A career provides satisfaction for a job well done and gives you the means to advance many of the other categories of your life. Don’t sacrifice your values, your health or your love relationships for a career.

Learning  - we should be learning one new thing each day – no matter how small. Neglecting an on-going education will leave us unable to hold meaningful conversations with younger people, mean pass-ups on promotions and a sense of boredom. Keep studying various courses and keep your curiosity levels high in order to stimulate your intellect.

Emotions – we’ve all come across those people whose bubbly personalities make them attractive to others who may not react so positively to situations. Our emotions can help determine our energy levels and how others read us. Sometimes faking an emotion can make it become real – we can choose to be upset by a situation or put on a brave face – and once we have put on the game face we become more positive.

Character – determine what is important to you in life – your values and attitudes are important as these create a framework for our activities. Are your values responsible and sustainable?

Spiritual Life – if you have a formal religion it will include how often you pray, go to church or temple, beliefs and worldview.  Some people are not overtly religious but they need time to meditate to get in touch with their souls – especially when stressed. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting cross-legged on the floor – you can do walking mediation where you concentrate on getting in touch with your spirit and practice living in the moment.

Social Life – there’s a saying that you are the reflection of the three people closest to you – choose friends who can uplift and inspire you, and whom you in turn can help. Friends are important to guide and support us and to share the ups and downs of life.

Lifestyle – where you chose to live and how you chose to live says a lot about you. It doesn’t really matter how expensive you home is or your cars but whatever you have should be tasteful, cared for and create a pleasant environment for your family and friends. Whether you choose travel over a fancy house or are working towards having both is up to you.

Life Vision – what you chose to give back to others rounds you out as a person. Plan the areas are of interest to you – it could be saving the oceans, providing education to needy children or sharing a talent with others. Whatever you do make sure you give of your time and not just money. It will be fulfilling when you make contact with those you are assisting. After all the purpose of our lives is to help make the world a better place.

Creating layers

So there you have it – on your blank canvas you build up the layers of your life to create a masterpiece. But just as a painting has a composition leading to a focal point you need to decide on the focal point of your life. For me it has been in building up companies – showing other entrepreneurs how to take their companies from good to great. But every other element in the painting leads the eye to the focal point. Without these elements the painting would not have depth and so a life without a focus lacks direction.

 All great masters have worked in layering their paint to attain colours that pulse with energy.  Make sure your life is a colourful masterpiece radiating light and love.

If you want to learn more about PAINTING YOUR OWN PICTURE then check out www.thevisionlabs.com workshops and events.

#11 Courageous Curiosity

From an early age Is was curious. I wanted to create great businesses and was ready to face the risks and challenges of an entrepreneur.  Twenty two years of experience has taught me a lot but it hasn’t dented my curiosity – every day I want to learn more, experience more and be able to give back more to the world through creating great companies and franchises and sharing my advice and experience with others.

If you aren’t courageous or curious you are going nowhere! It is interesting that our brains undergo great changes from the onset of puberty, which are only complete in the mid- twenties. Neuroscientists have discovered that these changes in the brain encourage teens to take risks. This risky behaviour, which may give parents sleepless nights, also contributes to inventions and new ways of doing things – a way of keeping humankind progressing.

Let’s look at 5 young people who have had the courageous curiosity to innovate.

1 Pete Cashmore who was born in 1985 founded Mashable in 2005 the multi-platform media and entertainment company. It’s now the go-to source for digital culture, tech, and entertainment content. Pete started off writing his own content- working 16 hours days and now has a net worth of $95 million.

2 Mike Karp, founder of Tumblr, was born in 1986 and now has a net worth exceeding $200 million.

3 Evan Speigel born in 1990 is the co-founder of Snapchat; his estimated net worth is  $1.5 billion.

4 Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal founder and owner was born in 1984. She bought up pieces of second hand clothing and with a good eye for vintage fashion started selling her pieces online via eBay. Initially she was handling everything from buying to photographing and writing the product descriptions. Her hard work has paid off – now she sells new clothes online from her own website and is worth $250 million.

5 Mark Shuttleworth’s dad said in a TV interview that he was a little worried about their teenage son spending so much time on the computer. Mark, born in 1973 in South Africa sold his Internet security company for R3,5 billion (around US$575 million) in 1999. Guess they aren’t worried now.

Many entrepreneurs start off in their teens – coming up with ideas, pulling things apart and rebuilding them, assimilating knowledge in their field of interest and progressing from there.

Often the ideas that people reject, thinking they are too simple or fearing that others may have thought of them first, are the ones that take off because no one has actually followed through on the idea!

Challenge convention

In business we need to challenge conventional ways of doing things. There are far too many procedures in work places. People don’t challenge them – afraid they may get a slap down. But little kids ask a million questions a day it seems – they want to know how things work and the favourite is “Why?” They are making sense of their world and if we as adults don’t get into the habit of asking questions we are going to be losing out on innovation.

In meetings encourage creative questions that could lead to better solutions!

Start small

To succeed you have to fail first. How many times don’t babies fall before they learn to walk? When something fails don’t punish the person. An innovative idea needs to be tested on a small scale first so if it doesn’t work you haven’t lost a large amount. You may be lucky enough to iron out all the glitches before rolling out the new project/system/product. But if you get knocked down dust yourself off and start again.

Step back and encourage criticism

New projects may need questions from others - the ‘what ifs’ and suggestions on improvements. Often we become so wrapped up in a new project we fail to step back and view it impartially – allow others who are not on the team to ask questions! Encourage criticism.

Trust those you hire

Most new start-ups have worked from an innovative space where one person can run with an idea rather than having to follow the type of processes that large companies feel the need to impose.

Far too many companies don’t allow for innovation in the way work gets done.  Keep an eye on employees but let them work out the best strategies – there will be some constraints but their eye should be kept on the prize not the process.

Trust the people you hired and keep companies small is the advice from Warren Buffet who wrote in 2006 (http://berkshirehathaway.com/letters/2006ltr.pdf), “So I’ve taken the easy route, just sitting back and working through great managers who run their own shows. My only tasks are to cheer them on, sculpt and harden our corporate culture, and make major capital-allocation decisions. Our managers have returned this trust by working hard and effectively.”

Set the example

If you as the leader don’t show curiosity and don’t accept challenges then your team is going to follow your lead. If you are in a meeting and are not following the line of thinking on a process being presented then ask questions – it will help the presenter and team clarify their ideas and present them with flaws they weren’t aware of that need solving.

Don't go it alone

We gave examples of people who started off working long hours doing everything themselves but in order to grow you need to delegate – so yes put in the hours to get going but then companies should be run by capable people so you don’t need to be there all the time. Delegating to responsible people who are just as curious as you and who can rise to challenges leaves you free to start the next company or refine the services of the current company rather than being bogged down with details.

Actively work on building a culture of curiosity. When people realize your leadership style is one of openness to innovation and tolerance they will flourish. Captain Cook, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie… and the list goes on, were all people whose courageous curiosity got them places!

If you want to learn more about COURAGEOUS CURIOSITY then check out www.thevisionlabs.com workshops and events.