Why ‘Never Give Up’ Is Not Good Advice

If you read self-help or motivational literature even occasionally, you’re likely to have come across the advice to “never give up”. It’s a very popular piece of encouragement. Unfortunately, like much mainstream self-improvement advice, it’s also not very good.

The usual idea behind the encouragement to never give up is indeed noble. It’s the idea that your dreams are important, and if you persist in trying to make them come true, you eventually will, and that is all that matters.

But noble doesn’t mean accurate. This idea disregards some crucial aspects of reality, human life and human psychology, which makes the resulting advice really impractical and even hurtful.

3 Problems with Never Giving Up

I believe there are 3 main issues with never giving up.

1) It ignores the harsh but undeniable reality that you may simply be unable to achieve certain goals, no matter how much you try. Some things truly are outside your reach. The fact a few people have done them doesn’t necessarily mean you can do them as well.

Take the example of fame. According to a major survey done in the US in 2005, 31% of American teenagers believe they are going to be famous someday. But by its very nature, fame is something extremely few people can achieve: one in thousands or less. So clearly a lot of these teenagers will never become famous. This goal is unreachable for most of them.

2) It disregards that fact that the resources invested in reaching some lofty goal may be better used some other way. Even if a goal can be achieved eventually if you never give up, the amount of time, energy, money and other resources you pour in it might be huge.

And since these resources are limited, it’s prudent after some trial and error to sensibly consider if it’s worth further investing your resources in trying to reach that goal, especially if reaching it will not make you that much happier, or you might better invest them in pursuing some other goal. These kinds of practical computations are very important.

3) Your motivation system if setup to prevent you from pursuing unattainable goals, and that should tell you something. Have you noticed how when you fail at something big time, you feel down and lack motivation to try again? Contrary to conventional wisdom, that is actually not a bad thing.

You see, feeling down is, among other things, a way for your mind to try to make you disengage, reassess the situation, and possibly let go of an unrealistic goal. The problem is that we often ignore our feelings, and we keep striving for something we can’t get or we can only get with too much sacrifice. Then when we fail again we feel even worse, and worse, until it develops into a full blown depression.

It is true that we often become disheartened and give up too fast, and that’s when we wanna fight against the discouragement, but many other times it’s trying to tell us something true and crucial, and we should really listen.

When To and When Not To Give Up

So it is wise sometimes to give up. I don’t wanna create the impression though that every time you fail at something, it means you can’t do it and you should just quit. Certainly there is the common problem at the other extreme, which is that of the many people giving up too fast, because they make too big of a deal of any failure.

The message here is that you wanna have a sensible, pragmatic relation to your goals. Set big goals, seek to achieve them, and assess any failure rationally. Sometimes failure in reaching a goal is a sign you need to keep trying, and maybe adjust your strategy a little. Thus, it’s not wise to give up on a goal if:

  • You have only made a couple of tries to achieve that said goal;
  • There are lots of feasible routes you can still try to reach it;
  • Each new attempt doesn’t cost you much compared to the potential payoff, or
  • You’ve made visible progress towards your goal and you’re still moving forward.

Other times though, failure is a clear sign that your objective is farfetched or not worth it, so you might as well drop it. In the face of repeated, costly failure, when you’ve exhausted nearly every route and made almost no headway, it’s time to cut your losses and give up.

And giving up on a goal doesn’t mean giving up on life. Even if you fail at something, you are still a person filled with potential, and there are many other things you can achieve in life.

Even your initial goal, if you rework it a bit, you can usually turn it into one that’s more suitable for you, and you’ll achieve that one. You may not achieve the objective of becoming a millionaire, but you can still make a good income, doing something you enjoy.

On the social side, you may not end up with hundreds of friends who adore you, but you can still have a solid group of cool friends. You may not get some former-supermodel-movie-star to be your partner, but you can still have a meaningful relationship with a great person.

As a social confidence coach, I assure you these are realistic social goals, even if you’re very shy or socially awkward right now. You just have to find the right approach to improve your social confidence, social skills and social life, and use it some time with some consistency.

Speaking of which, check out this free social confidence presentation, and join my free social skills newsletter as well. I share lots of proven social advice in them to help you improve in these areas.

As you let go of unrealistic goals and you focus your ambition on bold but realistic ones, as you learn to recognize when to give up and when to keep going, you put your life on a path that’s certain to produce a lot of joy and fulfillment.

You hold the reigns of your life. Just bear in mind that not all roads are equally accessible to everybody.

What Makes a Good Leader?

As my coaching experience grows and my communication coaching skills improve, I find myself increasingly more working with people in high management positions. The business world is an interesting kind of jungle and the activity of a top manager is quite fascinating to me.

But a person in a top management position is more than a manager. He or she is also a leader. So in my work, the question of what makes a good leader often comes up. I believe there are many traits that make a good leader, but 5 of them are particularly important. Here they are and here’s why they matter so much:

1. Vision

One of the most important roles of a leader is to inspire people. But in order to do this, they need to have a clear vision of what the organization they lead is about, of what exactly and how it seeks to achieve. And this vision must have the power to inspire others.

If you look throughout history at great political, social, religious and business leaders, you’ll frequently discover the presence of such a clear vision in them. Think of the “I have a dream” speech made by Martin Luther King. The ideas conveyed in that speech express the kind of compelling and relevant vision I’m talking about. Whatever field a leader is in, they can have such a vision.

2. Public Speaking Skills

The work of a leader involves a lot of communication, and much of which occurs not one-on-one, but with groups of people. Whether delivering a presentation to a dozen people in an office meeting or speaking to hundreds of people at a conference, a good leader must have good communication skills in general, and great public speaking skills in particular.

Business Talks

Sharp public speaking skills make a brilliant combination with a clear vision, because these skills allow the leader to articulate that vision in a persuasive way.

In their absence, the vision will likely remain just a good idea that few people actually understand or buy into. How it is communicated indeed makes all the difference in the world.

3. Self-Confidence 

As any true leader can attest, being in a leadership position involves a lot of responsibility and pressure. Good leaders work hard, take risks, deal with uncertainty constantly and face unthinkable challenges. Dealing with such situations without losing your sanity takes a lot of emotional strength, and this strength comes from a serious dose of self-confidence.

Good leaders have this solid self-confidence. They trust themselves to make good decisions. At the same time, they can accept that they will make mistakes, because they trust themselves to learn from them and quickly get on the right track. They strongly believe that, one way or another, they will get the job done.

If you wanna learn more about where this kind of powerful self-confidence comes from and how you can develop it, I suggest you check out this special video, in which I’ll show you just that.

4. Empathy 

In big organizations with hundreds or thousands of people, it’s common for a leader at the top of the management structure to lose touch with what’s going on at the bottom of the organization, at the level of the ordinary member or employee, and thus make many faulty decisions, which in time erode the organization.

This is why it’s crucial for a leader to have empathy. Empathy manifests itself in the desire of the leader to stay connected to people at all levels of the organization, and in the ability to understand what these people do and experience. Good leaders know when their people are satisfied or dissatisfied, and they know why. They never lose touch with others and they realize when a change is needed.

5. Integrity 

I define integrity as the alignment between what one thinks, says and does; the alignment between thoughts, words and actions. I believe Integrity is an integral part of what makes a good leader. Good leaders say what they truly think, and they do what they promise.

Because they are honest and they keep their promises, good leaders are trusted and respected by those they lead. People genuinely want to follow them. This makes it much easier for them to have good communication with people, to engage them, and to make things happen. It’s no surprise that integrity is often quoted in the business literature as a key trait of good leaders.

These 5 traits largely represent what I believe makes a good leader. In my experience, few people on the path towards leadership positions have all 5 of them. Fortunately these traits can be developed. They are mostly thinking, emotional and behavioral patterns, which, with practice and the right guidance, can be learned.

So if you wanna be a good leader and you are serious about it, there is nothing to stop you from becoming one. For more help from me in developing the traits of a good leader, I suggest you check out my coaching services and get onboard my free social advice newsletter.

Good Comebacks When Someone Makes Fun of You

I write a social confidence newsletter which currently has over 10.000 subscribers. One frequent question I get from subscribers is: “What are some good comebacks to use when someone makes fun of you?”

This question reminds me of my days in middle school and part of high school when me and my peers used to constantly tease each other and we would always try to have really good comebacks to what the other person said. It was a permanent battle of comments and I was pretty lousy at it.

So when I receive this question about good comebacks, I assume it’s from some 13-year old who’s in an environment with a bit too much testosterone, where putting other people down is a way to feel powerful or achieve some form of status.

Many times, this is the case. But equally often, the question comes from a full-grown adult who is dealing with teasing or denigration from others and still doesn’t know how to handle it. I guess some things never change.

So, whether you’re a teen or an adult, I want to address this issue and give you the tools to handle such situations.

Good Comebacks for What? 

I know you think that what you need is some clever comebacks. If someone could give you some very witty lines that you can use in every situation, you’d always come out on top and you’d show those people who make fun of you.

But that’s not what I’m gonna do.


Because, no matter your age, this game of who-has-the-cleverest-comebacks is silly. It’s a strenuous clash that goes on relentlessly and nobody truly wins. Sure, it can be fun sometimes, but it’s not regularly.

This is why the best advice I can give you is to not engage in these battles of comments. If you engage, you just add fuel to the fire. As a rule, when a person makes fun of you, focus on disarming the situation rather than making fun of them back. It’s much simpler and it yields much better results.

Coming from this perspective, good comebacks are not aggressive or derogatory. Rather, they reflect a disinterest in playing this game, and not because of fear or shyness, but because you don’t find it worth your time.

Today, my most common reaction when someone makes a joke about me is to make some lazy statement in response like: “Yeah man, whatever” or “You don’t say?”

And if they ask me a sarcastic question, I just give a ridiculous answer that shows I’m not taking it seriously. Like, if they ask me: “Why are you so thin?” I might answer something like “I’m going for the world record for slenderness.”

Interestingly enough, if a person makes fun of me once, they usually never do it again. Or they then do it rarely, and in a gracious manner.

One thing I’ve learned quickly is that trying to find slick comeback lines and using them robotically is the wrong approach. What is the right approach?

The right approach is to gauge your social confidence level in situations where others make fun of you. Because if you have confidence and a good self-image, I promise you that you will create just the right effect.

You’ll naturally come up with good comebacks, you’ll always have something effective to say and you’ll deliver your lines with such poise that others will not want to mess with you.

The fact of the matter is that most people who wonder about good comebacks they can use are pretty insecure and they approach social situations in a weak, defensive way. And this is the real problem.

If this is you, the best thing you can do is work on building your social confidence. The rest will take care of itself.

Now, since this is a different topic altogether, I address is separately in this special presentation. Make sure to watch it, and you’ll learn not only what makes you lack social confidence, but also how to develop it.

I’ve gone from being very insecure to feeling at ease in social situations myself. And now, the very idea of trying to find good comebacks and memorize them for future use makes me laugh.

But I understand where you’re coming from. It’s just that a couple of clever lines will only give you a temporary fix, and even that one will only work occasionally. The real solution lies in building real social confidence. Make this your priority.

Image courtesy of World Series Boxing

Jobs for Shy People: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If you’re shy and interested in finding a job, you may be wondering: What are some good jobs for shy people?

The traditional advice concerning jobs for shy people goes something like this: since you are shy, you will feel uncomfortable dealing with people. Therefore, you should pick work where you don’t interact a lot with others.

Based on this line of thinking, several career fields and jobs with minimal human interaction are recommended for shy people, such as:

  • IT. Good jobs include: computer programmer, software developer, computer systems analyst and web designer.
  • Finance. Possible jobs are: accountant, financial analyst, credit analyst and actuary.
  • Writing. Good jobs include: author, photographer, article writer and content translator.
  • Health Care. Some nice jobs are: lab technician, researcher, equipment preparer and medical transcriptionist.
  • Blue Collar. Possible jobs are: janitor, maid, gardener, repairman, factory worker or truck driver.

While it is true that the jobs above won’t involve too much social contact so you won’t find them stressful from this perspective, there is a potentially huge problem with pursuing such a job.

In order to comprehend this, consider a few important ideas which, as a social confidence coach, I’ve discovered to be very accurate.

1. Deep down, you may actually love jobs that involve social interaction.

Many shy people I’ve coached were deep down very sociable and they loved interaction with people. But on top of that was a layer of insecurities that made them feel nervous in social situations.

However, once they managed to remove that layer, the love for social interaction became obvious. Many of them work in fields where they regularly deal with people, such as sales, recruitment, training or management, and it’s deeply fulfilling for them.

If they would have just avoided jobs that entailed social contact, they never would have ended up doing what they truly love.

2. Shy people don’t necessarily have bad social skills and good technical skills.

Many of the shy people I know are in fact very intelligent socially. They have an intuitive understanding of people and intrinsically, they have sharp social skills. It’s just that the nervousness they feel when dealing with others can inhibit these skills from manifesting.

I also know shy people who work in jobs like computer programmer or accountant and they suck at them. Because that’s not where their natural skills are; it’s just where they don’t have to face the discomfort of dealing with others.

So, it’s a big mistake to assume that if you’re shy, you automatically have an inclination towards technical jobs and lack an inclination towards working with people. You never know what’s beyond the shyness.

3. A big part of overcoming shyness is exposure to social situations.

Yes, shyness can be defeated. And right now there is an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence confirming this.

However, a very important step in defeating shyness is engaging in social interactions reputedly instead of avoiding them.

This exposure to social situations will help your brain get accustomed to them, and change your beliefs about yourself and others, thus making you more confident socially. This leads me to my next point…

4. Avoiding jobs that entail social contact just perpetuates the problem.

Shy people avoid social contact. And it’s perfectly understandable, because it’s scary. Nevertheless, considering the role of exposure to social situations in overcoming shyness, this only keeps their problem alive.

With respect to their career, shy people avoid social contact by looking for jobs that imply very little of it, it any. And they are quick to believe these are the best jobs for shy people.

I often hear shy individuals saying: “I don’t want to have to deal with others in my job. It’s demanding!”

Well, the fact dealing with others is demanding is the very reason why you should consider a job that entails dealing with others.

You can’t stay away from what scares you forever.

At one point or another, if you want to truly live your life, you need to face your fears. And a major way to do this is avoiding the “traditional” jobs for shy people and instead choosing a job that gets you interacting with people.

I’ve had coaching clients who worked, at least for a while, in jobs like door-to-door sales person or customer service representative, precisely because they were intimidating for them.

And these jobs provided a good amount of social exposure, which helped them build their social confidence.

By the way: if you want to learn how you can gain social exposure as effectively as possible and build rock-solid social confidence in literally just a few weeks, check out this presentation right now.

So: What are the best jobs for shy people?

They’re the same jobs that are best for anyone else: the jobs they have a natural inclination and passion for.

Look deep into your heart and ask yourself: “What would I really like to do if I wouldn’t be shy?”

It could be a technical job; it could be an extremely social job. Either way, that’s the path to pursue in your career.

And even if deep down, you truly want to work in a job that requires little social contact and you do have natural skills for it, you may still want for a few months to give a try to a job that requires lots of social contact. Simply because the experience in itself will be extremely useful in developing your social confidence.

Remember: the most valuable experiences in life are often the ones that you’re afraid of.

Inage courtesy of Ed Yourdon

How to Be a Good Friend

They say friendship is a lost art. I don’t know if that’s an overstatement, but as a social confidence coach, I do know that many people don’t truly grasp how to be a good friend.

Their friendships are frail and superficial. They don’t last and they don’t provide the positive experiences they could. I think it’s important for most of us to learn on our own how to be a good friend.

It’s not something we learn in school, it’s not something our parents teach us past a certain short point. Considering this, I want to share with you 7 key principles I believe it’s crucial to follow in order to be a good friend.

1. Make an Effort to Meet

Many of us are so busy and far from each other today that it’s hard to keep in touch. Nevertheless, a good friend will always make an effort to meet with their friends; simply because they are important enough.

Don’t just wait for your friends to give you a call and invite you to hang out. Take the initiative yourself.

Don’t look at the fact you don’t have a lot of time or they live 500 miles away as an insurmountable obstacle. Look at it as a mere logistical setback that you’ll have to work around. And try to find ways to overcome them.

2. Be Honest

From my perspective, honesty is one of the central pillars of friendship. The fact you’re honest with a person is what makes them trust you.

They know they can rely on you to give them an honest opinion and to be genuine with them. This kind of reliance is what makes people bond and develop strong friendships.

I know sometimes it can be hard to be honest, because you may hurt a person’s feelings or make them feel bad. Nevertheless, even in these situations, honesty is the way to go if you want to be a good friend.  Don’t make compromises in this area.

If you lack the confidence to be open and honest with others, check out this presentation I created. It will show you exactly how to deal with this problem.

3. Be Constructive

There’s almost nothing worse than chatting with a friend and listening to them complaining non-stop, or putting down any positive idea you have. This kind of an attitude can completely take the fun out of an interaction.

A big part of learning how to be a good friend is developing a constructive conversation style.

It doesn’t mean that you never say anything negative. It means that overall, you focus on the positive rather than the negative during a conversation, and you keep it fun and upbeat. When this is your default attitude, you’re the kind of person others always look forward to meeting again.

4. Treat Your Friends as Your Equals

Nobody likes people with a condescending attitude, who constantly tell you you’re wrong and “this is the right way to do it”.

Treat your friends as your equals. Keep in mind that you have your flaws and your strengths, just as they have theirs. You are not superior to them, and they are not superior to you either. Come from this place when interacting with them, and they’ll adore your demeanor.

And if sometimes you absolutely believe that you are superior to somebody, then perhaps they’re not the kind of person you want to build a solid friendship with in the first place.

5. Keep Your Promises

Keeping your promises is the other essential component for building trust besides honesty.

The trick is whenever you have the impulse to make a promise, to first ask yourself: “How hard will it realistically be for me to keep this promise?” so you become fully aware of the realism of the promise.

If it’s very hard or unlikely that you’ll keep your promise, then don’t make that promise to begin with. And if you do make it, then do everything in your power to keep it. Once you go on the path of breaking promises, it’s hard to regain that trust you will have lost.

6. Remember and Take Into Account Your Friends’ Preferences

It’s always nice when a friend invites me to a party with a lot of Latin music, since I like that kind of music, and not to one with a lot of rock music, since I don’t like it.

Besides the fact it creates a better experience for me, it shows that my friend knows my preferences and takes them into consideration. I know my needs and wants matter for them, and this makes them a good friend.

You shouldn’t constantly sacrifice your needs for those of your friends, but you should seek to make an experience positive for them as well as you.

7. Help Them

Last but not least, discovering how to be a good friend means willing to provide help for your friends when they need it.

This help can range from something small but meaningful such as a few words of encouragement, to something that requires more of an investment, such as lending them your car for a day.

These kinds of gestures ultimately prove how strong a friendship is. If two people frequently help each other and they are willing to go to some length to do so, they are not just friends, they are good friends.

Now that you know how to be a good friend, I invite you to take one step further and put this know-how into practice. Actually be a good friend to the persons you want to be to.  It will be worth it.

As a final thought, bear in mind that a friendships goes both ways. So, everything you do for a person to be a good friend to them, it’s only natural to expect in return. If they do not reciprocate, you may want to reevaluate your relationship.

In my experience, it’s those win-win friendships where both parties show a lot of respect, positivity and appreciation for each other that are the most fulfilling. These are the friendships that you’ll always think of fondly and you’ll treasure forever.

Image courtesy of jonandesign

What Makes a Good Manager?

Make no mistake about it: effective management is a challenge. There are many managers, but there are few good managers. I believe the foundation of becoming a good manager is, first of all, understanding what makes a good manager.

In my communication coaching work, I often help managers identify and develop key management skills. In my experience, most managers only have a vague and inaccurate idea of what makes a good manager and in what direction to take their growth.

I’ll often hear statements from managers such as: “I need to improve my communication skills”. Well, there are a lot of communication skills. Which ones specifically? This is the kind of question you can answer much better by knowing yourself and comprehending what makes a good manager.

The 6 Qualities of a Good Manager

I have pinpointed six skills that I consider essential for any person who manages people and projects. Interestingly enough, five of them are people skills. Here are the six essential skills, listed and explained:

1.  Clear Communication

As a manager, it’s crucial to aid make the flow of information clear and effective. This can be done by having a clear-cut style of communication, by using accurate words to express facts and ideas, and also assisting the people you work with to do the same.

If as a manager, you say to a member of your team “I want that sales report soon” when what you want to say is “I want that sales report tomorrow by 12PM”, you’re in trouble. A clear communication style defines good management at its roots.

2. Assertive Communication

This is one of my favorite communication skills, and for good reason: I see it as the fundamental communication skill for both managers and employees.

Assertive communication is the ability to express your thoughts, ideas, wants and emotions in a straightforward, non-hesitant way, while also being tactful and respectful of the other person.

Communicating assertively often starts with mastering the previous skill, but it goes way beyond this. It means creating a win-win blend in the communication with a wide range of individuals, which is very powerful and, unfortunately, very rare.

3. Creating a Connection

Business may ultimately be about results, but it is still an exchange between individuals and it has a very human component. Thus, an important part of what makes a good manager is their ability to connect with others, to build rapport and trust.

Good managers know how to be authentic, open and friendly with other people, especially their subordinates. They demonstrate interest in others and they can make interpersonal interactions informal and relaxed. Thus, others find it highly enjoyable to work with them or for them.

4. Integrity

This is a part of building a connection and trust that’s so important I felt the need to describe it separately. Integrity is the alignment between thoughts, words and actions. A manager with a lot of integrity is the one who says what they think and does what they say they’ll do.

As a result, the subordinated employees know they can count on their manager and it’s easy for them to trust their manager. Team transparency, constructive attitudes and performance naturally arise from there. And if you’re wondering why such conditions are so rare in many organizations, it is because high integrity is also rare.

5. Motivational Skills

No, I’m not talking about doing Tony Robbins style speeches in front of the team, although they may have their place and their worth. I’m talking about the more subtle managerial ability to understand people’s motivations and properly respond to them.

A manager with this quality is able to match the motivations and strengths with the tasks and compensations for each one of their employees. Considering the uniqueness of each employee and the structural complexity an organization can have, this is quite the skill to master.

6. Decision Making Skills

I see a big part of the manager’s role as putting together a puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are people, tasks, goals and data. Assembling them means creating strategies, distributing tasks, supervising their execution and providing feedback.

All of these managerial activities involve a lot of decision making, and it is first-rate decision making skills that lead to the best decisions. A good manager needs to think rationally, analyze variables effectively and strategize with skill. Otherwise, when the puzzle is finished, there will still be unused pieces.

Taking into account all the qualities described above, I’m sure you realize that what makes a good manager is serious stuff. Good management is no child’s play. For this reason more than anything else, I think it’s best for managers to never get too cocky about their skills and to continually invest in their self-growth.

PS: I now blog and share advice over here. Connect with me.

Image courtesy of MyTudut

Good People Skills = Building Trust

This is a guest post by my friend Maria Dinu (Galca), who is an Effectiveness Coach. She works full time in HR for a Fortune 100 Company, and coaches in her free time. She blogs about how to better manage your life on LifeToolkit.net.

I pride myself with having worked with various types of people in my 10 year career in the NGO and corporate field of HR. I’ve seen young people who were very close-minded, 16 year olds who were wiser than 50 year olds, company leaders who mocked their people, or Finance leaders who could explain the business in 5 minutes to their kid. I’ve had bosses I loved, although they knew little business, and bosses I … well, didn’t like so much, although they were experts.

And there’s one thing I noticed, in all these cases.

In business, and life in general, you’re nothing if you can’t build trust.
Trust = Credibility.
Trust = Leadership.

If people trust you, they will ultimately follow you. As Stephen R. Covey puts it, in his very good book “The Speed of Trust”, trust can get people to accomplish things in a company much, much faster.

Relationships based on trust work faster, because there are no insecurities. There are no check-ups. There are very few fights. And, what’s a company, if not an intricate set of relationships?

How do you build trust?
The saying “It takes 10 years to build trust, and one second to destroy it” is very true. Trust is built through time. But I’ve seen results in months, if not days. Let me tell you a story.

Some years ago, I worked with a person for whom I made every day difficult, on purpose. I’m not proud to say that, and I did not enjoy that time. The reason I did it was that somewhere, in my mind, I had the feeling that new manager would spoil my career. She was new, and she had not established herself correctly in front of our team. So, I said, why not show her that this is not the way things work?
(Of course, things did not work. They only got worse)
What changed dramatically was that I found out she supported me. She talked to me openly about the situation, and showed me she cared. And things did happen. Turns out, I was wrong. And feeling ashamed.
Afterwards, she became, if not a good friend, an esteemed manager from whom I learned a lot, despite differences.

1. The number one way to build trust in your relationships, is show people you care. If your team feels you care, they will be there for you. Go out for coffee with them. One of the very good team leaders I know established excellent relationships with her people from Day 1, taking them out to beer, and saying openly “I’m here for you. I’m human, just as you.” A great HR Manager I worked with gained the trust of her 100+ people saying in an open meeting “I’m here to help.”

2. You don’t need to be a best friend. Only respect your word. OK, going out to beer with the team is a good way to build relationships. But I never went to beer with my previous boss – all the trust established was gained from respecting one’s word.

3. Transparency, even in the worst situations, can gain you more trust and support, than keeping “the bad news” a secret. In the time of crisis, many companies had to let people go. Imagine the number of business managers who had to go in front of their people and say “We’re not doing well.” Who would have the guts to do that?

Well, it turns out from various studies (including the reputed Mc Kinsey) that transparency gains you more trust than if you shove the dirt under the carpet. Going in front of the team and saying “We’re not doing well, and here’s why, and here’s what I’m doing about it” will get your people supporting you than ever. And, you know, it just might be THE thing to get the company out of difficult times.

Building a circle of people who trust you may be the best thing you do in your career. Not only will they recommend you, support you and encourage you, but they will help you reach your goals faster, and in a more productive way than ever before.

Taking Success Advice from Successful People Is Not a Good Idea

I was recently watching the last The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, in which he said goodbye to NBC and his fans. His memorable last words were: “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you: amazing things will happen”.

I’m sure Conan O’Brien is a cool guy and I think he has some great achievements, but if working hard and being kind were the only two ingredients for amazing things to happen in one’s life (aka being successful), we would have a lot more successful people, living amazing lives.

I believe that sometimes, successful people can give powerful success advice. I personally know some who do. However, I believe this is rather the exception than the rule, and in most cases, taking success advice from successful people is not such a good idea.

The main reason is the fact there is a huge difference between being successful and being able to understand success and teach it to others. Here are some phenomena which often happen with successful people:

  • They’re naturals. They do things in a certain way out of instinct, and this gives them results. But they don’t really know what exactly they’re doing which gets them success, even if they think they do. So they will often give advice like: “Just be yourself. Act naturally.” Ha?
  • They may consciously try certain things which give them the results they want, but they try multiple things at once and they’re not able understand which one of them exactly works and is the true source of their success.
  • They discover things which help them get results, in their context, and they wrongly believe these things apply to everyone, in every context. They generalize quickly, ignoring the specifics of each human being and each situation.
  • They lack the skills to present and explain their ideas for success in a very clear and meaningful way, which would make the advice truly useful.

I know that successful people are given a lot of credibility in offering advice for success, and sometimes for personal development. People think that someone who has success is the best to teach it. Considering the points above, you can see why this is faulty logic.

Successful people need a lot more than success to also provide solid success advice. They need a high degree of awareness, analytical skills, scientific, critical thinking, communication and people skills. Only then, you can rely on them to give powerful success advice.

Beyond successful people, I believe there is one other category of people which is usually much better at giving success advice. I call them modelers. They’re the people who observe, study and model successful people, extracting the patterns of success.

Why are they better at giving success advice? For one, because they generally have a lot more of the skills presented above, which are required to understand and teach success. And also, because they don’t stop at modeling just one successful person.

It’s great that you’re looking to understand success and use this understanding in your personal development. In this journey, remember that choosing the proper sources for success advice can be just as important.