Open your ears and mind to input

Your business is the result of your vision. However, no vision can be realized in a vacuum. The minute you bring your business to the real world, you need to open your ears and your mind to input. This input will come from all quarters: board members, customers, employees and partners. All of them have a stake in your business and all of them bring a unique perspective to its operation. This input is essential, and your success depends on you weighing every opinion. When you disagree with that input, listen even harder. Chances are you’ll be able to glean value from even the most strident criticism.

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3 tips to get more productive at work

Are you a productive professional? Here are three tips that might help you become one.

1. Make to-do lists – but not insanely long ones. To-do lists are great for organizing your day and for keeping yourself organized mentally, but if you put every little email and chore on your to-do list, it can be far too easy to find yourself spending all day taking care of the little things instead of taking on the hard work.

2. Just do it! It’s so easy to get sucked into doing things that seem productive, but that you know deep down are not. Email, for instance, can be a big time drain – and many emails are unnecessary. Don’t spend time making “necessary” phone calls and writing “necessary” emails if you sort of feel like you’re letting yourself off the hook by doing them – usually that’s a sign that you’re just procrastinating and avoiding doing real work.

3. Get the hard tasks out of the way. Doing the hard tasks in the morning is a great way to get yourself in a productive mind-set for the entire day. Plus, your brain is fresh in the morning and you aren’t just watching the clock and waiting to go home, so it can actually be easier to knock out tricky tasks at the start of the work day.

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How to achieve and maintain continuous improvement

Every business professional faces the following dilemma at some point in their development: Once I’ve achieved the goals I’ve set for myself, how do I continue to move forward? Some people respond to this question by resting on their laurels, letting their skills degrade and the glory of their past accomplishments fade. Others refuse to let themselves feel the sense of accomplishment that is their due, forcing themselves to eternally move the goalposts. Both of these approaches are essentially unsatisfying in the long run. In the former case, the professional will lose the sense of purpose that once drove him to succeed, likely falling into the slough of despond and low-grade depression. In the latter case, early burn-out is likely, as the constant resetting of goals causes the person to forget why he got into his line of work in the first place.

The answer to this dilemma lies in adopting not just a strategy, but a philosophy of constant self-improvement. In this philosophy, to quote a Chinese proverb, “the journey is the reward.” The goals one sets should be thought of more as markers along a path than the ultimate objective. As author Alex Noble puts it, “success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”

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