What Defines Success?

I attended a seminar at UBC’s Robson Square downtown campus on Saturday March 24th.  What seminar, you ask?  A seminar on writing, publishing, and making money from writing a book.  As some of you may know, Sam Thiara and I are co-authoring a book, so we attended this event together.

During the seminar, the presenter led us through a short 5 minute practice writing exercise, where the goal was to keep our pens moving.  No matter what.  Just let the ideas flow.

To provide some direction, he gave us a bit of a framework for our 5 minute writing exercise.

(1) Start by asking a question – in this case, “What defines success?”

(2) Include the words “money” and “opportunities.”

After our 5 minutes were up, a few brave people volunteered to stand and share their writing with the lecture hall full of strangers.  One of those brave people was Paula Galli.  Paula proved to not only be brave, but to also be brilliant.

I approached Paula on a break and asked her if she would be willing to allow me to share, via my blog, what she wrote.  She graciously agreed and we made arrangements.

What follows below, is 5 minutes of unedited free-flowing wisdom of Paula Galli…

What Defines Success?

Defining success varies depending on who you are. Some people link it to how much money they have or what opportunities they have had.  For me, success has occurred and will continue to occur when I am staying true to myself and doing what I love doing.  Through following my passions, listening to my heart, following my gut and ultimately believing that my dreams can be accomplished, this to me is when I am the most successful.

In our society we are not taught to think this way, where which success is often related to money, social status or levels of education.  I believe that as we grow older it is our job to begin to define success for ourselves, rather than simply listening to what society, our family or our friends have told us.

Learning to believe in ourselves comes from knowing our values and our viewpoints.

This awareness can be gained through taking the time to tune within and figure out who we really are.

Thank you, Paula!

Paula is a Certified Life Coach, Nutritional Counsellor & Holistic Nutritionist with an Honours BSc. in Psychology from the University of Toronto.  To connect with Paula, please visit her website at www.depths.ca.

Paula creates and offers services that help individuals live their ideal life through self-realization and personal transformation.  Specifically, she is deeply passionate about helping people transform their relationship with food, through transforming their relationship with themselves.

Making Tomorrow Better than Today

I was watching a Tony Robbins video clip, in which he was sharing a practical approach to make next year better than this year.  Regardless of whether you are thrilled with your life or feel there is lots of room for improvement, Tony reminds us that there is always room for improvement.  In fact, he often speaks about his personal philosophy of Continuous And Never-ending Improvement (“CANI”), as the path to certain growth, achievement, and even happiness.

In this particular video, he shared a 4-part process that any of us can use to make next year better than this year – and even to make tomorrow better than today.  Here is how you do it:

Step #1 – Select an area of your life you would like to improve and describe what that area is like for you currently.  Be specific!  Write it down.

Step #2 – Write down the rituals that have shaped your current conditions in this area.  Be honest!

Step #3 – Write down what you want.  What’s your compelling vision?  Be specific!

Step #4 – Write down the rituals that will get you your compelling vision.  What would you need to do differently each day to get what you want?

Now the obvious next step is to take action, by beginning to do things differently.  The power of the exercise is that you begin to see your habits differently – and start to see how your habits relate to the results you are getting in your life, for better or for worse.

When I teach Organizational Behaviour, I spend a significant amount of time in the first week (and if I’m really honest, throughout the entire semester) discussing with the students the role of choices (decisions) in our lives.  One way I highlight this is with the following adapted quote:


Watch your thoughts, for they become decisions.

Watch your decisions, for they become actions.

Watch your actions, for they become habits.

Watch your habits, for they become character.

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.


If you’re like most people, the little stingy voice in your head may be whispering something similar to, “But, I don’t want to change my habits!  My habits are easy – they’re a part of who I am!”  If that’s the case, so be it – and you can continue to do more of the same and expect more of the same.

Or if you have your stingy voice under control and are ready to do what is required to change your destiny, perhaps the question lurking somewhere in your mind is,  “When and how do I start taking different actions?”  I would suggest that more productive questions to ask yourself are, “Am I ready, this very instant, to decide to take charge of creating the life I want?” and, “What is one thing I can do immediately to demonstrate my commitment and achieve momentum?”

Decide.  Act.  [Rinse.]  Repeat.



Becoming a Better Presenter

Have you ever thought, “Wow, this presenter is good!  And they sure seem confident!”  I’ve found that good presenters possess and constantly focus on increasing both their competence and confidence as a public speaker.

In my experience, every person I have seen become a better presenter has achieved improvement by becoming more competent  and confident.  Allow me to explain what I mean…

Competence – competence is about having the skills to present well.  These are commonly taught as “presentation skills”.

Confidence – confidence is about dealing with the emotional side of presenting.  In particular, the fear related to what people will think about you, how they will feel towards you, and how they will act – including even  what they might say or do during your presentation.

Not surprisingly, these two concepts are mutually reinforcing.  The more skills you have, the less fear you have.  The more confident you are, the more you can demonstrate your skills.

“So, how do I use this to actually become a better presenter?”  By following these 3 simple steps:

  1. First, you have to have a reason (a “why”) for being a great presenter.
    • What can you achieve that you couldn’t otherwise?  Who could you influence to take action?  Why does this matter to you?  How would your self-concept change if you were an amazing presenter?
  2. Second, name your fears.
    • What are you afraid of?  Explore the worst case scenario.  Explore the best case scenario.  In order to practice, practice, practice, make a list of opportunities you have to present.  Rank these opportunities as high to low risk. Start with presenting in as many low risk situations as you can and build on your success from there.
  3. Third, audit your strengths and areas of opportunity as a presenter.
    • Get feedback and input from friends, colleagues, fellow volunteers, your coach, or someone else you trust who has seen you present.  Consider who are the best presenters you have ever seen and make a list of their names.  Note what makes them great.  The combination of these behaviours are your “success profile”.  Develop personalized learning objectives based on the gap between your current abilities and what you would like to be capable of as a presenter.  Now, figure out where and how will you learn these things.  Most importantly, prioritize your learning objectives (focus!) and take action (execute!).

Never forget to celebrate your successes.  Without noticing and acknowledging your progress, even the smallest degree of progress, it will be difficult to maintain momentum.  Finally, realize that it’s a journey – seek to continuously and never endingly improve your competence and confidence and without fail, you will become a better presenter.


Creating Your Own World View

By understanding our world, we stand a far better chance of changing it.

Similar to a scientist, who is seeking to understand the world from their discipline’s perspective (e.g., Physics, Biology, Chemistry), we too can make use of their powerful approach to create our own individual world view.  This post is about the value of actively pursuing the creation of your own world view.

“Now why would I want to do that”, you ask?  Well, first, it’s useful to understand that you are doing it anyway – just unconsciously and unintentionally.  As human beings, we are “meaning making machines”, constantly striving to make sense of our world as we perceive it.  We are continually trying to figure out our place in the world and how to best interact with it in a way that helps us avoid pain and move towards pleasure.

My point is that these world views are passively created.  If your aim is to be in the driver’s seat of your own life, wouldn’t you agree that you should do everything you can to actively pursue the creation of your own world view, such that it serves you?

Did I hear you say, “Okay, I’m sold.  So, where do I go from here?”  It’s fairly simple, but like many things, not always easy.  By regularly and consciously creating hypotheses and testing them, you will begin to form your own world view.  With your latest hypothesis in hand, when you come across information (evidence) that supports or refutes your hypothesis, you are essentially testing your ideas, assumptions, and beliefs about something that matters to you in your life.

As a result of consistently practicing this habit, you will notice that you gradually become more confident in your view of how things and people operate/work.  Consequently, because your perspective on the world will be evidence-based, you will become more effective at predicting and influencing the behaviour of yourself and other people.

Do you have a perspective on this post, from your own world view?  If so, please comment below!