Farhan Rehman on October 23rd, 2012

What is failure? What does it mean to you?

 

Your answer to that question reveals more about how you think about yourself, and others than you might realise.

In the past, I had understood ‘failure’ in an exam, or test, to mean not getting a high enough grade. With regards to my health, and fitness, I used to think failure was not exercising regularly, and having lots of energy. With my mental state, I used to think of failure, as not being always peaceful, composed, relaxed, and mentally neutral.

Most importantly, I used to think that failure meant that I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, or skilled enough to be able to reach a level of success, or accomplishment that would make me ‘happy’.

I hadn’t ‘failed’ or ‘succeeded’ in any significantly different manner than any other kid at the time. I was smart, regularly achieving top grades in my classes, and being in the top 3 students academically in each of my classes. I was physically active, always aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise each morning, and doing at least an hour of sports every other day. I ate a balanced diet, and had a physically fit body. But I wasn’t as good as the kids who were better than me. There was always someone who was just a little bit smarter, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger, had more endurance than me, or appeared to always succeed where I would ‘fail’.

Fixed MindsetI didn’t know it at the time, but I was stuck in a ‘fixed’ mindset. Because of the level of ‘relative’ success that I accomplished, I was regularly congratulated, and praised for my ‘intelligence’, or ‘natural talent’, and so I thought that clearly I had to be smart. That naturally, I’m gifted, and that my ‘limits’ were in place, but that I had to do everything I could do be as good as I could. Ironically, in spite of being told how smart, and intelligent I was, I didn’t ever feel it inside. Things just seemed easy for me, and instead of going deeper into the subjects, or the disciplines that I found easy and effortless to study, I kept wanting to push myself further, to the edges of my limits. I wanted to get to that point where I could grow, and learn more, and develop further.

Enter Farhan at 16. As an accomplished ‘A’ Grade GCSE student, with everything going well for me, I switched to the IB Programme, instead of A’ Levels. Eager for a challenge, and drawn by a curious desire to study French, as well as focus on the Sciences and Maths subjects that I would need to follow my chosen passion of ‘technology’. (Chosen more by the people around me, than myself might I add). For once, I found myself at the bottom of the class. It didn’t help, that I transferred into the IB Classes a month into the term, after starting A’ Levels, and realising I wouldn’t be able to study the combination of subjects that I really wanted to. I was overworked, under prepared, and had to work as hard as I ever had, to just keep my head above water.

If I had thought I was smart before, now I was really failing. I was the dumbest kid in most of my classes. And in some of those classes, that was being kind. Then at University, if I couldn’t have felt dumb at the IB Level, I felt even dumber. Part of my challenge was that all the people I was studying with had a much deeper curiosity and interest in the subjects that we were studying. They had a much deeper and keener interest in what we studied. I realise now, that my real passions, and interest weren’t in pure Computer Science, and that really I did enjoy Business, and Psychology more than just the technical aspects of what makes a machine work. But most importantly, I was flunking big time. From being one of the proverbial ‘smart’ kids, I was now a bonafide dumb ass. I couldn’t figure the stuff out, even if I spent hours and hours looking at it, trying to make sense of it all. Of course I was too proud to ask anyone else for help, and even when I did, half the time it didn’t make any sense, and I still couldn’t understand, or make sense of it.

Growth MindsetWhat I realise now, many years later, after much reflection, and having learnt about the distinction between the fixed mindset and the growth mindset, was that I was deeply entrenched at the time in a ‘fixed’ mindset. I saw myself as being of ‘fixed’ ability. Of being super smart and intelligent, and that I had a limited ability to grow, and become smarter. Heck, when I was younger, I felt so smart, I didn’t think anyone could be as smart as me, and then over time, as I stopped studying, trying, and learning, and growing, and started being surrounded by people more competent, more able, and more intelligent than me, I realised that I was actually quite dumb. Being the proud ‘smart’ person though, it was unbearable, failing to understand or comprehend high level programming concepts, getting numb at the theoretical principles in Computer Science, whilst having to implement obscure, conceptual programs, that appeared to have little or no basis in any practical ‘human’ applications of the knowledge. My mind just couldn’t get itself around the fact that clearly I wasn’t smart, I was dumb. Fortunately, I was able to hide behind that failure well. Because of course, when you fail from high enough up, it doesn’t look so bad. I graduated from University, got an Honours degree, and managed to leverage my language skills to land up in a high paying job in Switzerland, straight out of University. Result! Or so I thought.

But I couldn’t have been more miserable, or unhappy. I had stopped ‘studying’ which meant learning, or growing. I was working a job that I didn’t really have any significant passion or challenge from. I was increasing in weight, exercising next to nothing, and getting by on pretty much will power alone. Living alone, even though it was in a spacious 3 bedroom apartment, with views from the car park of the Jura mountains. I worked in Lausanne, sitting on the borders of Lake Geneva, with views of the Evian mountains. But for all intents and purposes, I was miserable, lonely, depressed, and morbidly obese, and getting ever more fatter. Whilst I had all the ‘material’ trappings of success, I didn’t feel like a successful person. Unless I spoke with friends and family, and then of course, I had to sell them on my ‘success’ and the ‘big life’, and all the perceptions of success that I could leverage, to make it sound like everything was perfect, and that life was great.

Your failures do not define youBut I had failed. I had failed big time. I didn’t really love my work. The passion for learning was gone. There was no growth. Everything was stagnating, and eventually, it all came undone, when I tried too hard, to try to make a difference, to matter again. When I tried pushing the envelope at work, to take on more responsibility than my role had required of me, to try to be more helpful, than I needed to be. It turns out that German line managers prefer it if you do what your job is, not more, not less. A real shocker for me at the time, as I had been used to working in London, where as a temp, people used to appreciate me doing more not less. I had failed to learn about the cultural differences, of working in London, and Switzerland.

Fortunately, fast forward ten years, and I suddenly realise that actually I wasn’t a complete failure. I hadn’t reached my intellectual peak at 16, and I really wasn’t as smart, or as skilled as I could ever be. Having over time, forced myself to continue to try to grow, and develop into the person that I needed to become to succeed, I realised that actually, there are no limits to what we can become. With the right coaching, mentoring, teaching, and mindset, we can learn anything. We can become the best in any field, or any discipline, given enough practice, and training.

All of a sudden, every failure had become a stumbling block to growth. Whilst during the experience, of it, I had thought I had limited potential, that I was naturally at the end of my ability to grow and develop, I had kept trying, and gradually I had started to break through.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again only this time more wiselyYou see, super successful people ‘fail’ all the time. They fall down. They tumble. They make mistakes. They screw up. The difference is, they do it fast, frequently, and often. They ‘label’ failure as part of their growth. As part of their learning. They reflect on the experience, to learn from it, take what learnings they can, and then move on, letting go of their attachment to what happened, and any ‘negatives’ that don’t help or serve them in their growth.

Now that I understand that we are only as smart as our training, our studying, our coaching, or our mentoring, I embrace growth. Which in the past, I thought was failure. You see, growth can only occur, when you hit a limit. When you reach a boundary of yourself. When you come to the edge of your existing knowledge and experience, and experience something that you don’t know, that you don’t understand, that you couldn’t predict, and that you just couldn’t have considered or known was going to happen.

Failure means you’re growing. If you choose to learn from the experience, and make a change. Do something differently as a consequence of your experience. Most importantly, you can only grow, if you don’t attach your identity, or competence to your result. If you see ‘failure’ for what it truly is. Learning. Feedback. A result. Nothing more, nothing less.

I invite you to consider the possibility that perhaps there are no limits to your intelligence, competence, abilities, or skills.

With the best coach in the world, you would be guaranteed to succeed. If you don’t know how, or you don’t even think it’s possible, I invite you to consider what if it is possible? Just yesterday I learnt of a man, who completed the London Marathon at the age of 101 in 2011.

[youtube http://youtu.be/gCY0Xx92YvQ]

It put me to shame, and at the same time, made me realise, I really have a lot to learn. I just need to find solutions, answers, and most importantly, I need to start asking the right questions.

So the next time you have a less than optimal result or an experience, don’t ask yourself why did I fail? Instead ask yourself what did I learn? and how can I grow from this experience?

Failure is an event not a person - Zig Ziglar

I’d love to hear your thoughts on growth, learning, and your perceptions of failure in the comments below.

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Farhan Rehman on October 9th, 2012

A while back, I noticed a work colleague reading a book with the title ‘Bounce’ on the cover of it. Intrigued, I started to inquire after it, and after scanning the back cover and the book itself, and hearing a little bit about what the book contained, I was enthralled. Immediately, I took photos of the books ISBN, and title, expecting to look it up on Amazon, and order it.. Days passed, eventually I just got impatient with myself, unable to find the time, and decided I might as well just buy it straight onto the Kindle. (Since then I’d only bought a few books on the Kindle, none of which I’d enjoyed reading much to be honest). I’m happy to say, I managed to devour Bounce in less than a week.

It’s the kind of book, that if you’re fascinated by human nature, and developing excellence, or reaching your full potential, then you absolutely MUST read it.

With an active fascination in psychology, and the way we develop our intelligence, and expertise, I’ve always been keen on learning the latest and greatest when it comes to unlocking our maximum potential. Admittedly, it’s been a few months since any book remotely grabbed my interest, and pulled me away, into it’s covers (virtual or otherwise), the way that Syed was able to.

Matthew Syed, a former Table Tennis Champion, turned sports journalist, sheds some remarkable insights into the origins of his own success, and also starts to chip away at the myth of ‘natural’ talent, sharing example after example, of sporting atheletic greatness, that was the culmination of many many hours of focussed, dedicated, practice, with the specific intent of developing and deeping one’s skills.

Syed, skillfully weaves his own sporting example, into a tapestry of stories, from tennis champions, golfers, to chess grandmasters, and even into the realm of musicians, unravelling the many countless hours of practice that are essential before the ‘effortless’ success that so many marvel at, when experts and masters in their respective fields compete with each other.

Studies by Anders Ericsson (a man whose name continues to crop up in a few of the other books I’ve started devouring lately, when researching ‘excellence’ and ‘mastery’ of a skill), and his team led them to conclude:
“that the difference between expert performers and normal adults reflects a life-long persistence of deliberate effort to improve performance.”

During their studies Ericsson and his team discovered that:
“Top performers had devoted thousands of additional hours to the task of becoming master performers.
But that’s not all. Ericsson also found that there were no exceptions to this pattern: nobody who had reached the elite group without copious practice, and nobody who had worked their socks off but failed to excel. Purposeful practice was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest.”

With example, after example, Syed breaks down the illusions of ‘natural’ talent, and starts to break down the myths, citing countless hours of instruction, in the case of Mozart, that led him to be capable of composing music at a young age.

Syed, even convincingly breaks down the myths around genetics and sporting ability, diving into the myth of Africans being great at long distance running, when in actual fact, it’s not Africans in general, but Kenyans, and even then 90% of the top Kenyan atheletes all come from within a 60 mile radius of Eldoret, a high altitude region of Kenya, where as children, many of these atheletes would run 20km and more per day, just to attend school. At a speed of 15km/hr, this ends up being more than 80 mins of running/day, which means by the time they hit their 16th birthday, they’ve had more than 16k hours of practice. Though of course Syed does a great job of pursuing all the logical arguments of genetics, and shares some of the research associated with it, before presenting this argument, it’s an unmistakable conculsion, that sheer excellence, and mastery of any talent or skill, requires many thousands of hours of disciplined practice, before any semblance of mastery can begin to emerge.

That said, anyone that chooses to devote themselves to mastery of a skill, through deep practice, and sustained effort, will eventually reach those same heights of excellence, that only the ‘experts’ are able to emulate, and display. Syed, even starts to break down the concept of ‘chunking’ and demonstrates through some of his own experiences, and the research he’s uncovered that ‘skill’ or mastery of one discipline doesn’t automatically mean a refined and highly developed ‘sense’.. The skill can only every be applied in the domain in which it was practiced and developed.

As an example, Syed shares his own story, of being served tennis balls at 130mph, and being completely unable to see them, let alone hit them, which didn’t make any sense to him, as the time it takes to return a serve in tennis is approximately 450 milliseconds, which Syed wasn’t able to see, yet, he could regularly return a smash-kill in table tennis in less than 250 milliseconds. Through examination, and research, Syed starts to discover how the body ‘stores’ information in the whole of it’s cells, and muscles, to be able to ‘know’ how to respond, where to react, and how intelligence is physically stored in the body, in a way that makes a chessmaster physiologically different from a tennis champion, who is again completely different to a golf pro. Each ‘expert’ develops, and stores their own muscle memory, and knowledge, and that acquisition, and storage of that expertise takes those wonderful 10k hours of purposeful practice, at a minimum.

Suffice it to say, if you imagined you were limited in your abilities, or gifts, or talents, Bounce will blow that myth wide apart, as ultimately, the only person responsible for how much practice you do or don’t get is you. Of course, there are ways of making those ‘practice’ hours more focussed, and more intense, and more valuable, but I shan’t spoil all the details for you.

Rest assured, if you imagined for one moment, that you were fighting an uphill struggle in trying to be something that you’re not already an expert in, reading this book will give you the assurance, and peace of mind, that true mastery really is just a matter of ‘practice makes perfect’. On that note, I’m going to get back to practicing learning more about psychology, and human limits 😉

If you want to read the book, you can find the full details from Amazon here:

US Visitors, UK Visitors

There’s also a video, where you can hear directly from Matthew Syed talking about his book Bounce:



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Farhan Rehman on October 7th, 2012

Death is a strange thing. It’s so finite, and so absolute, in the grand scheme of life. Having recently experienced a death in my immediate family, I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect upon death, as my way of dealing with it, and making sense of it.

I was praying for my brother-in-law and watched him pass away a few months ago. He was plugged into a bunch of machines, was unconscious, and passed really peacefully. He seemed at rest. Being able to see him, in his dying moments, and even in the lead up to his operation, it made me realise that we all have to leave this place eventually.

As much as we would like to stay, and imagine there is no end to our lives. There is a definite beginning and an end. In that frame of context, I realised, that actually we regularly have things end in our lives. We don’t mourn, or grieve those endings, for they are but beginnings of another chapter, or the next steps, and why should death be any different.

Of course, there is the obvious loss, and bereavement, that comes with losing a loved one. But if we really look at it, life is constantly teaching us to not be attached to things, and to let go. The moment we are born, we have to let go of that warm comfortable feeling that we have in our mother’s wombs, and of the sustenance that kept us alive through our umbilical cords.

As we grow, from being a baby to a child, we grow out of our clothes, our need to ‘cry’ to communicate we need attention, and our dependence on being carried everywhere, as we learn to use our limbs, and start to become ever more autonomous.

As we become young adults, we grow out of childhood, and often develop the independence, to fend for ourselves, and live our own lives, at times through our own choosing, at other times through necessity. Our parents may lose us as their little dependent children, but we grow into being responsible for our actions, and our destiny.

Death is never absolute. Everything in nature, never dies, it only changes form. You look at the leaves falling off the trees in autumn, when they collapse on the ground, they naturally transform into compost. That compost then nourishes, and feeds the plants all around it, and then in spring new leaves are ‘born’, and return to bring life to the trees.

I think the caterpillar is the epitome of ‘death’, and the perfect metaphor for what happens to any of us, at every stage of our lives. We disappear for a while. Are forced to turn ‘inwards’, as we re-organise ourselves, and as we change from what we were to what we will become. And only, after we reach a certain stage of maturity are we able to ’emerge’ from our cocoons, as beautiful flying creatures, that now move in a completely different way from before.

Some may choose to think that this life is all we have, but knowing from personal experience, death is a ‘liberation’ from our human bodies. It is not the end of our souls, but the beginning of a new journey, of a next step in our experience of existence. We are not physical beings living a mundane human existence, but instead are spiritual beings that briefly live in these mortal bodies, to experience the physicality of life. But when the time for that experience is over, our bodies are no longer needed, and so we leave them. But our souls never die, they live eternally, in other dimensions, through other experiences.

Like the butterfly, our souls are free to soar and fly. At the moment my brother-in-law passed away, I did not feel the grief, or sorrow of his family, but instead I felt his spirit flying free, from a body ravaged by cancer. He was at peace, and he was at rest, in a place beyond this world. But he most certainly lived on, in a different form. So, whilst it has been a tragic loss, and it has been a difficult and trying time for me, and for my family, it has equally been a humble reminder that we are only here for a finite period of time. And in that time, we must do what we can, with what we have, to the best of our abilities.

For when we pass on, we will take nothing of this physical world, but our memories, our experiences, and what we learned. We may leave behind a legacy, or a loving memory, or we may leave this world untouched by our being here. I for one, aspire to be able to have touched as many lives, and inspired as many people as my brother-in-law did. For all his faults, and shortcomings, he meant well, and did his best, and the hole he left in his community was felt, only because of how much he enriched the people he came into contact with.

It’s good to remember our own mortality at times, if only to remind us that we live in an eco-system of life. That no man is an island. And that our lives are only made richer, by what we give to others, not what we take for ourselves.

In loving memory of my brother-in-law. You were loved deeply, by everyone who knew you.

 

Butterfly image sourced from Kumar Gauraw and his excellent telling of the story of a butterfly in a cocoon.
Autumn leaves image sourced from Today I Found Out where they described why leaves change colour in autumn.

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Farhan Rehman on April 20th, 2012

It was Sunday the 15th of April 2012.  I was in a hotel in Gloucester Road, in London, attending Day 3 of an advanced masterclass, as part of Wilson Luna’s Millionaire Apprenticeship Program.

Farhan and Wilson LunaI remember it very distinctly. It was a very very special day. It was the day that I made a decision.

For the second time in my life, I made a decision. Only this time, I knew this was a decision that would affect all the decisions that came before it, and all the decisions that would come after.

The first decision that I had ever made, was many years earlier, when I’d made the conscious choice that I was going to become fit and healthy. I had been sick and tired of being overweight. Of being tired and exhausted all the time, and was just fed up with plodding through life, with no ability to feel lively and jovial. I made a commitment to losing weight, and getting fit and healthy, and since then I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, increased my weight lifting capacity as well as my stamina and physical abilities. I’ve not yet arrived at perfect health, nor have I completely lost all the excess weight. But it was never meant to be an overnight transformation, it was always meant to be a matter of slow and steady wins the race. I’ve had my moments where I’ve lapsed in my focus, and my commitment to myself. But if I didn’t have those moments, how would I learn what it means to pick yourself back up, and keep on persisting?

I may not have the result I’m after yet – but I know that I will get there, eventually, as long as I keep spending at least 80% of my time, developing my habits, and practices, and 20% of my time reviewing what I do, questioning my results, and my measure for success. I’ve adapted my diet, and my exercise patterns, to support me in my ability to deliver work. Once I’d made the commitment to get healthy, the only question was how soon can I get there? (With physical conditions that could flare up, every time I exert myself too much physically, I had to gradually ease myself back into physical activity, and rely on diet, and acupuncture treatments to allow me to work 15/16hr days, for 5 or 6 months, whilst attacking the weight/health dimension of life.)

So that fated Sunday, the 15th of April, 2012, I became aware of a decision that I had made, a long long time ago. It was a decision that I wasn’t even aware of ever making. Whilst on the surface of it, I thought that I didn’t have such programming, in my mind, or in my beliefs, it was only after the ‘shift’ occurred, that I realised it was one of the most deeply held personal beliefs that I’d ever had in my life. It was the belief that it wasn’t my fault. That life was not MY responsibility, but that it just turned out the way it did. I had long before ‘known’ at an intellectual level, that it was much more empowering to come from a perspective of owning, and being responsible for ones actions, and results. However, that had only ever been an intellectual, abstract concept in the past. (I only know that now, as I know what it feels like to truly ‘know’ something by it’s contrast). It’s an entirely different perspective when you finally ‘OWN’ the responsibility for your life.

Wilson Luna, one of my business mentors, talks about how Billionaires take a much greater level of responsibility in their lives.

For example, Oprah Winfrey, a female billionaire in the US, was once reported to have claimed it was her responsibility that her bags had gone missing when she got off her plane. Donald Trump held himself responsible for getting significantly into debt, whilst Warren Buffet never blames anyone but himself for his failed investments.

These are people at the very top of the ‘success’ pole, and they have taken accountability and responsibility for the success of their businesses to another level, compared to most regular people.

Personally, until hearing and understanding this distinction, I had only assumed that I was the one that just didn’t get lucky. I was the one that was going to make it, but I was never sure if I would get there eventually or not.

That all changed that day.

I realised there was a decision I had made, to not take responsibility. In making that decision, it was so much easier to excuse myself, to not be at fault. To not be responsible or accountable for my outcomes in life.

That day, that all stopped.

That morning, I woke up, and even though I had only had 2-4hrs of sleep, all night, I decided today was the day that I was going to hold myself fully accountable, and fully responsible for everything that I say or do.

It suddenly gave me new meaning to the word accountability. It suddenly meant I had no-one to blame, but myself. It also meant that I wasn’t flawed. I wasn’t incapable of success, and my past failures weren’t indicative of my skill or competence level, they were just experiences that I learnt from.

By making that decision, I was suddenly completely in control of my success, and the results I accomplished in life. Nothing would stop me from being successful, unless I decided to let it. In the past, I had considered that there was a ‘limit’ to what I could do. Suddenly that was no longer the case. The only limit, is what I imagine it to be. If I choose to stop trying, then I fail. Until that time, I’m only ever on the path to success. Each hurdle, or obstacle that presents itself in my path, is but a challenge to overcome, or a set of skills that I need to develop.

I know that now.

It’s only the most present, thought/awareness/perspective on a situation that matters. And in everything I look at, I have to ask myself, is this a learning I can use? If not, what’s the learning that has presented itself?

One of the most profound yet simplest words of wisdom I recently received was to:
Stop complaining, and start being grateful.
It’s funny how life starts changing, once you make that shift.

I know that this is just one of the many many lessons I’ve learnt, when it comes to being successful in business. Though I have a sneaky suspicion that the character I have to have, to be able to succeed in business is going to be the more profound change, in my personal circumstances, than necessarily everything that wealth, or financial success might offer me.

I invite you to consider joining me, at one of Wilson Luna’s events, if you’re interested in shifting anything significant in your life. From where I stand now, I can see the road clearly ahead of me. I can see where I will become a millionaire, and just how much hard work I’m going to have to put in to get there.

But more importantly, I know that I’ve made the decision to succeed. I made a choice. I’m now responsible for all my results.

I invite you to step upto the plate, and play the game of life, full on, with all the bases loaded. Find yourself a mentor that inspires you, and helps you move to the next level in your life. (Make sure your mentor is successful outside of their speaking/training events!) If you’re stuck in finding the right people to learn from, I suggest you start going to as many free/introductory events you can find, and finding the right people for you to learn from.

Life is all about the decisions you make, and if you make the decision to find the right person to learn from, then you will. If you make the decision to succeed, no matter what, then you will. And if you make the decision to keep going, regardless of what life throws in your way, then you most definitely will keep going.

Don’t ask for it to be EASY, but ask for it to be WORTH IT. For the worthwhile things in life are always going to be tougher, more challenging, and require a lot more patience, determination, commitment, and perseverance. But if those barriers to entry weren’t there, then we would never value those things for what they truly are.

On that note, I hope you can start to see for yourself, how decisions may have shaped your results in life.

I certainly don’t know what I need to DO – but I know that I’ll keep trying, testing my responses, and measuring my results, until I find the perfect fit between me and wealth. Until next time, stay uniquely you, and I look forward to going onwards and upwards with you on this journey of discovery, and adventure.

Farhan Rehman on April 9th, 2012

Who do you turn to when you need help or advice?

 

I hadn’t given it much thought, until the end of last year, and the beginning of this year, when I started to realise how important it is to be mentored by someone more experienced or more proficient than you, if you wish to succeed.

The realisation came after reading Bounce, The Talent Code, Talent is Overrated and Drive. All great books that talk about the necessary steps involved in going from learner to expert, and how a part of that journey involves being taught by someone more experienced than you, the basics, and then being able to use feedback, and experience to improve your performance, and use each iteration of experience, as a way to become more ‘expert’ in your required skillset/competence.

Most of the examples I read about related to practical skills like playing the violin, or table tennis, or some other sport, or musical instrument. However, it’s a maxim that’s as applicable in the fields of work and business as it is in sports and music.

As I started to digest these facts, and started to appreciate how much more effort it takes to learn without a mentor, and without appropriate guidance, I set about to find the right mentors for where I am in life. As an entrepreneur, who’s yet to break through the £1million annual turnover mark, for any of the businesses I’ve been directly involved in, or run, I’ve always figured that there’s a bunch of reasons for not having broken through such a revenue target.

Having studied human psychology, through my own experiments, and experiences, as well as reading about others life experiences, I soon realised that one of the biggest distinctions between financially successful people and me aspiring to reach such a financial target, was the mindset.

If it was possible for people to go from negative millions, to billions in wealth (like Donald Trump who leveraged his -$900 million debt, and was almost on the verge of bankruptcy, and turned it around to go over $1billion in wealth http://www.pbs.org/wsw/opinion/geoffontrump.html), then it’s less about the actual wealth position of an individual, as it is their thinking in any given situation. Their mindset. How they deal with their circumstances, and most importantly, how they think about money, and manage their finances.

When it comes to money, finance, and business, I’m far from the best person that I would turn to for advice. I have plenty of ideas, and opinions, but without the experience of many failures and successes behind me, I consider them only opinions, of a student of wealth. Ask me about marketing, and social media related activities, and I can speak with some experience, having worked with global brands, on international and local campaigns.

So this year, in an attempt to be much more effective with my time, energy, and attention, I’ve decided to consciously seek out and solicit the mentorship of successful business mentors, and financially independent individuals. After all, a few of them, providing me precise feedback on what I should or shouldn’t focus on, will mean that I’ll have some more structured support, and feedback in everything that I do business and finance related.

Of course, you wouldn’t go to a plumber for advice on baking cakes, and likewise, I suggest that if you’re looking to succeed in business, enterprise, or wealth creation, of any scale, then find someone who represents that level of success that you aspire to, and then find a way to learn from them. If you can study their words, from books, do that. If you can get them in real life, and work with them that way, then do that.

For me, I’ve found a number of business and wealth mentors at the start of this year, and as fate would have it, I met them, at just the right time for me to be able to benefit from their skills and experience in building successful businesses, and creating wealth. Some of them, I won’t name, as they’re not actively looking for the publicity or exposure, and they’re not interested in mentoring more people.

Two who’s details I will share, are Wilson Luna, and Simon Zutshi. Both are financially independent in their own right, and are teaching people about how to be successful, and financially independent, because they can, not because they have to.

I share their names, only, in case you decide that you’re also interested in learning about how to be financially independent. But I must warn you, that whilst the individuals have a wealth of knowledge, the real value comes not in them, per se, but the structures, support and community that gets created around them, of individuals looking to also be successful, and also of the support that you get when having access to other people on a similar journey to you.

It’s about being schooled with others that are going through the same journey as you, and for all our faults and shortcomings, being human, we all tend to have much more in common with each other, when we’re struggling to learn the same things, than when we’re all successful and accomplished individuals, or work alone in isolation.

Of course, there are barriers to entry for all successful communities. Some require time, others require effort. Some look at your accomplishments (think university). And some require for you to make decisions, and investments in yourself (think business/members clubs). Personally my time was far more important than my money, when I made the decisions to invest in learning with these particular mentors (I figure the cost of becoming a millionaire in a year, is worth what they charge, if I take the action, and achieve the results). But then again, that’s not the only way to succeed.

I end this post, by bringing your attention back to the initial question:
Who are your mentors?
Do you have any? If not – why not? Where can you find them? Where have you looked? Who have you asked? What kind of mentoring do you need? Where do you want to excel?

I invite you to take a look at the areas in your life that you’re looking to become more successful in and start keeping an eye out for potential mentors. Once you start looking, you’ll be surprised at what you might find.. Trust me I was.. and a year from now, I’ll be sure to share just how much my life journey has turned out differently as a consequence of the mentorship I received upon my journey.

Will your life be significantly different a year from now? If so – expect your life to turn out like the people you turn to for advice. Are they accomplished and successful to the degree you would like to be?
If not, perhaps you need to find new advisors?

I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter below – be sure to weigh in with your opinions and experiences in the comments below.  Also, if you do have mentors, that you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear about who they are, and what you turn to them to.. I’m always looking for new and inspiring individuals to learn from!!

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Farhan Rehman on January 25th, 2012

Making mistakes, is relatively easy. Unfortunately, learning from them, can take a bit of time.
Today, I’ve been pondering just how long it’s taken me to realise how many mistakes I’ve been making over the last few months. It’s actually shocking to think that it’s possible to make as many mistakes and blunders, as I have, and not even be aware of them.

But it’s true. Just as it’s possible to make mistakes, it’s also possible, to be mistaken, in thinking just making them is enough to learn from them.

Usually, for a mistake to provide you with learning/feedback, you need for something dramatic to occur.

An event, an upset, a breakdown, a crisis, it’s usually of a negative nature, as you’re producing results that aren’t of the desired outocme on an increasing frequency through trying harder.

Whilst in the short term, trying harder might seem like the wisest thing to do, it’s true value is uncovered in accelerating the speed with which your mistakes will accumuiate, and your failures will really start to add up.

As I want to make as many mistakes as possible this year, I’m almost encouraged to try even harder next time. To try to do more, and to make more of an effort, so that I might be able to accumulate a lot more learning in a shorter space of time.

That said, if the lessons you have to learn are unpleasant truths about yourself, then be prepared to get critical of yourself, and not assume that it’ll be easy coasting. It could be traumatic, it will definitely stretch you without a doubt, and it will also be potentially some of the most maturing influences that can happen to you. But I never promised that learning through mistakes was going to be a walk in the park.. It’s a hard graft, that through time, will toughen your disposition, help you sharpen your focus, and become both as tough as nails, and kinder in your dealings with others. But make no mistake, when mistakes are made, it really does test the mettle of your character. If you’re not sure that you’re being stressed enough then you’re not trying hard enough.

Points of failure can only emerge, when the entire system is stress tested, and having gone past the points a system were designed for, it’s when something attempts to grow/adapt past that point, that the real challenge begins to occur. It’s at this point, that you make sure, everyone on your team is still with you, because if you lose them, I guarantee you you definitely won’t succeed.

Teams are crucial to success, and failing to understand, respect and acknowledge their importance, value, and contribution, it’s easy to fail. But with those skills developed, it makes the whole process that much smoother.

But first you have to start with yourself. Make sure you set up some sort of recurrent review/feedback process that you can use on yourself, to check that your internal compass is properly aligned, and that you’re at least reviewing your interactions with others.

Then, over time, you’ll start to find yourself spotting how you could have done better in your dealings with others.

At least that’s a start. Of course, if you think there’s a smarter way to learn from your mistakes, it would be an honour to hear from you your opinion.

So keep making those mistakes, and remember to solicit as many sources of feedback as possible, since without it, you won’t really be able to orient yourself, in the landscape of your failure. But just remember, out of all failure and adversity, are planted the seeds of greatness, if we but realise how to water, and care for them.

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Farhan Rehman on January 2nd, 2012

So I wrote about this a little bit yesterday, but I just wanted to re-iterate the point.

My greatest fear around succeeding has always been something of a stumbling block for me. In the past, I always put it down to being afraid of succeeding, but for whatever reason, I just hadn’t been able to get past it. There would be moments when I would just hit a wall, and not be able to break through it. I would just shut down, and just stop in my tracks. In time, I’ve come to accept those moments as the natural limits of my abilities (as I always imagined abilities could only stretch to a certain point). Now, the more I’m learning about the malleable nature of our talents, and abilites, it seems I might have been very wrong.
Learning to FailFar from being afraid of succeeding, it looks like I could have been more afraid of losing face. Of failing. Of trying, and looking stupid, or dumb. Of just make a right royal mess, and looking like the fool.

Well, it turns out that being afraid of failing, isn’t that uncommon. In fact any child, or adult that has been regularly praised for being smart, or intelligent, and taken that on board, and ‘owned’ that feedback, is afraid of losing that public persona/image. Enron being an example of a corporate entity where ‘talent’, accomplishment and success were celebrated above effort, and constructive feedback. That vicious cycle of being told you’re smart, or intelligent, or brilliant, coupled with a very public desire to not be seen to fail in public, and lose that front, leads us as a species to lie, cheat, steal, beg, borrow, in fact do anything and everything to avoid losing face. (I read about this research in a book recently, at some point, I’ll pull out the reference and pop that in here as well).

Having been on a journey of weight loss, and health challenges, for more than 10 years now, I’ve come to realise just how important failure is a crucial part of the learning process. Typically, when looking at the process of losing weight, and becoming healthy, it’s not uncommon to have a ‘good’ spell, then to have a single moment of failure, and from that point on to relapse into old habits and behaviours that led to the same old patterns. (It doesn’t help that certain foods are generally more addictive, or desirable when your body’s biochemistry is off whack, but that’s a topic for a whole other discussion 😉

The single biggest constant in my journey of weightloss, and health re-discovery has been the constant learning, failing, and trying again. It’s not been uncommon for me to do really well for a stretch, hit a barrier, and fail to continue. The hardest part though, is accepting the failure, taking stock of the situation, understanding why the failure occurred, and then getting back into the good routines again. With the succesful stretch of a good solid 8 months of eating a Paleo Based Diet, this year, and benefitting from the associated weightloss that comes with being in a healthy state of ketosis, I’m determined to make it a full year of Paleo eating/living – purely to see what effect that might have on my body. Weighing myself, on the 1st of Jan 2012, it appears that I’ve risen in weight to 140kg, from the last time I weighed myself a few months ago. Not entirely a surprise on my part to be honest, as I had started to feel my clothes start to get tighter again. But a situation that can be remedied pretty quickly and easily.

However, without the knowledge of what caused that failure to occur, and without taking stock of the experience, and learning something from it, that failure wouldn’t account for much at all. It’s only when I review my life circumstances, around the time that the change in my eating habits occurred, that I start to get a really clear picture of why the failure occurred, and what steps I can take to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, once I go through the same life circumstance again. I’m confident that having learnt this time round, I’ll be smarter the next time the same things happen, if any of those contributing life factors happen again.

Ultimately, I’ve come to realise, that my biggest fear is not about success, but about making a mistake. I’ve been afraid of pursuing my dreams, living my life to the fullest, or pushing myself to work harder, smarter or faster, believing that I have natural limits, and that when I reach those, there’s nothing more that I can or should do.

Now I know that’s entirely false.

We as humans have no limits. We can limit our potential, the moment we stop trying to make an effort, or stop trying to progress. Lady Gaga and Mark Zuckerberg, both have strong work ethics. They take feedback, and use it to steer their course. They don’t ever use it to be the result, or consequence of anything more than a set of actions, with a set of results. If they want different outcomes, they’ll take different actions.

Likewise, I’m going to stop being afraid of trying. Of getting all the work done. Of making the effort. Fortunately, the clearest feedback I can get, when I try, is that I either get the result that I’m after, or I get a different result. Either way, the result is just a result. One result means I need to try something different, the other means I need to keep doing the same thing.

I don’t know what will happen. But I do know that if I’m not afraid of trying, and making mistakes, I should start to see many more mistakes happen. The fastest way to learn, is to make the greatest number of mistakes.

Starting from January the 1st 2012, I made the firm commitment to myself, that this year I’m going to try more often, try harder, try more frequently, and try many many different things. If from all those attempts, I find 100 ways that don’t work, I will consider myself successful. For to have properly tried, and put my heart and soul into 100 different approaches, efforts, and attempts, I’m sure I’ll start to get a much much clearer understanding of what works, and what doesn’t. Perhaps if I hadn’t been so afraid of failing sooner, I would have started earlier, and learnt quicker. But clearly that didn’t happen. Oh well, guess that means I can’t be as smart as I thought I was, and I must be pretty dumb! Well good thing I caught that now. Guess now that I caught that failure, I can start to just focus on ‘effort’ and time spent trying, and let the results, and outputs, and consequences evolve into whatever they end up being.

I encourage you to embrace failure, and to start being more confident, and keen to fail. For the surprising thing with failure is that the harder you try to fail, the more often you try, and the more frequently you keep trying to fail, the sooner you’re going to realise just how little effort it really takes to succeed. Often, the mindset is the only thing standing in our way. The rest of the solution, being readily available, once we’ve gotten over our own sense of self-importance and feeling of entitlement.

So buckle up, batton down the hatches, roll up your sleeves, pull out the stops, and get to work. Whether you succeed or fail, it’s almost irrelevant. What matters, is that you honestly and sincerely made the effort, and continue to do so. For the only failure that is irreversible is the failure to try. Only then are you guaranteed to fail. Otherwise, all failure is nothing more than the navigational correction needed to steer the ship towards it’s correct destination, which is a result, or outcome which has yet to be revealed, as a consequence of focussed effort, and unwavering resolve to keep working.

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Farhan Rehman on January 1st, 2012

As 2012 chimes in, and my Father prepares for his retirement, I’m going into 2012 with a very different attitude that I went into 2011 with.

On the morn of January 1st 2012, at about 4am, local time (GMT, in London), I’ve been spending a bit of ‘quiet’ time with myself, after seeing in the New Year, and everyone retired to bed.
At first, I wanted to stay up, to watch a movie, as was my tradition of entering into the New Year, and yet, there was no decent movie showing at 1am, in the UK, on any of the Sky or Terrestrial channels that I could see. I then thought that now might be a good time to watch some of the recorded movies I had saved up on Sky+. Scrolling through what was saved, I happened across a show I had saved, that followed Mark Zuckerberg, and told the story of Facebook. It had aired on BBC2, on the 14th Dec 2011 (at 22:00), and is called Mark Zuckerberg: Inside Facebook (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017ywty). Watching the show, suddenly put me into a very ‘different’ frame of mind, to the one that I was in, when I was about to watch a movie, before slipping off to bed. Watching Zuckerberg talk, understanding a little bit more about what allowed him to accomplish the success that he has (in the context of talent, mastery of skills, and development of myelin – there’s a whole bunch of book reviews that I’ll share soon, that explain this context) led me to start to understand just how passionate, focussed, and singled minded Zuckerberg was over his project, and made me really start to appreciate just where the gaps were in my own focus, and attention.

Then, I went and watched Lady Gaga, in the episode of ‘A Very Lady Gaga Thanksgiving’, which aired on PBS, in the US, and then here in the UK, on Sky. Ever since I saw an interview of Lady Gage, by Indian Celebrity Simi Agarwal, I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for Lady Gaga, both as an artist, but also as a passionate individual, who’s been lit aflame by her work, and her  passion, and has the requisite skill and mastery to be able to have a meaningful impact with her music.

Watching her interview, when she starts to talk about her song, “Marry the Night”, she says the song was about:

“committing yourself wholeheartedly to the thing you are most passionate about.”
Lady Gaga goes onto say:
“It is about that moment when I decided I was going to tear it up, that I was going to get married to my work, and that my work would be my husband forever. That was the moment when I knew that there was no fire and no rain that could get in my way.”
Lady Gaga
Source: Growing Up Gaga http://abcn.ws/s6KJiL via @ABC (scroll to 5mins 08 seconds)
You can also watch the part directly: http://youtu.be/EDDkt8CjF-Q?t=4m58s

In 2011, both Mark Zuckerberg, and Lady Gaga, whilst in completely different industries, and sectors, represented a pinnacle of success, that is unparalelled in terms of how succesful they have respectively become in each of their fields, at such young ages. The one common thread, between the two is their dedication, and devotion to their work. In Talent Code language, it is the myelin that the two of them laid down internally at an early enough age, and continue to do so, that allowed them to break through the 10,000 hours of practice, make countless mistakes, and then ultimately succeed where others before them hadn’t.

It’s as much about the external success they appear to have, as it is about the internal motivation that stokes their fire, and their unwavering commitment to their own excellence that drives them forward in a way that continues to allow them to learn, to make mistakes, and to grow, and develop further.

The more I’m learning, and studying about how people became excellent in their respective fields, the more I’m starting to appreciate how important it is to make mistakes. In one of the books I read recently (I can’t remember which one, but when I find it, I’ll re-write this to reference it properly), I read about a world class ice skater, who in her trainings, regularly fell on the ice. She was trying to do a difficult jump, with a triple twist, and only had mastery of a jump with a double twist. As the author observed her practicing, she would fall down countless times, in her training sessions. But she would just pick herself up, brush herself off, and then try exactly the same thing again, and again, and again, repeatedly, getting a little bit closer each time, until eventually she had perfected her practice in such a way that she was able to spin 3 times, and land back facing the correct direction, after falling down many many times.

It’s the combination of seeing the commitment, that each of the above celebrities had to their work, coupled with the latest knowledge I’ve gleaned, from reading a few books, about how the brain and people in general stop trying when we’re being told we’re smart. We generally stop making an effort, when we’re congratulated on our skill or talent. It’s a safety mechanism, whereby instead of pursuing ever greater challenges, to try to get even better and develop more skills, we don’t want to lose face, and so try to stick with the easier, simpler route or options that lie ahead of us. Today, it’s finally clicked. Having read ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ many times, I started to appreciate the importance of ‘work’ in the story, but now, I’m starting to really see how fundamental it is, to getting to the bottom of the Talent/Success Myth.

You see, I firmly believe that success is not innate, or reserved for a priviledged few. It is actually available to everyone that works hard, and makes consistent effort, to continuously develop and improve themselves. The only people that really don’t succceed are the ones that stop trying. The one’s that stop making an effort. The one’s that stop growing, developing, pushing their boundaries, and who no longer wish to make the effort, or put in the hard work, those are the success stories that never make it, those are the entrepreneurs, and artists who never make it big.

Unfortunately, with ‘Social Media’ and ‘Reality TV’ doing such a great job of reducing the barrier to celebrity status, more and more children and adults alike, wish they could just step in, and become successful, rarely being able to see all the struggle, effort, or mistakes that were made on the often times 10 or 15 year journey that got them there.

I’m going to go out on a limb now, and say that Marianne Williamson went and got it all wrong. Her famous passage, quoted often as being part of a speech that Nelson Mandela gave, that says:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

had a most undesired detrimental effect. It made people open up to the possibility that they were so powerful, and so brilliant, that they deserved to succeed, and that they were entitled to success, wealth, happiness, the posh cars, the dream lifestyle etc. etc.. When in truth we are all equal, and that sense of ‘entitlement’ or ‘deservedness’ that comes from thinking your better, smarter, more talented, or more capable is actually the biggest weakness that anyone can have. I should know. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life acting, thinking, and behaving as if the world owed me something, and that I was entitled to a better life, or to more success, or better results.

Well, frankly, that sense of entitlement, and deservedness came directly from being repeatedly told that I was smart, and brilliant. You see, off the back of research that’s been happening to understand what makes some children excell and others to stop trying, it became evidently clear, that praising and congratulating a child on their effort, leads to the child making more of an effort next time. Praising a child on their intelligence and how smart they are had the completely opposite effect in all the countless cases of research, with the child then less willing to take on any interesting or difficult challenge always favouring the simplest, easiest solution, in an effort to ‘not’ be seen as being dumb, or as talented.

I think the quote should actually be updated to read now as the following:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we will fail, repeatedly, have to own that failure, and then pick ourselves up and do it all again, for it is not in our brilliance that we create true success, but in the infinite failings, and falling down from which we must pick ourselves up each time and try again, that is the true test of our character, and forges the necessary competence that we require to be able to succeed.”

As you can tell, I’m starting to have a very high opinion of failure. In a way that I never had before. You see, I’m finally starting to get how important it is to fail at stuff. The most spectacular Entrepreneurs have generally had to get good at dealing with all the problems, failures, and challenges that come their way, as well as equally being able to get back in the driving street, and to continue to push forward.

With that in mind, I’m making a commitment to being the absolute best that I can be in my field, and in turn, to make a lot more mistakes this coming year. Expect to see me regularly fail this year 🙂

Happy 2012 to you all!

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Farhan Rehman on June 2nd, 2011

“Plan to succeed or plan to fail.”

Words I’ve heard so often in my life, I’ve lost track of who I originally heard them from.

Success

Yet, I believe truer words have never been spoken.

Either you make the plans, and lay out a course of action, that leads you towards the success in reaching your goal, or you end up not planning, and by default, end up planning on failing any endeavour you start out on.

Whilst it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality, and there’s always going to be some unplanned, unexpected circumstance that trips you up, thwarts you, or causes you to change direction, without some semblance of a plan, you automatically end up defaulting to where the Blown by the windwind blows you, and trust me, most of the time it’s definitely not where you want to be.

I’ve tried various different ways of planning, and have run the full spectrum from micro-planning, where I literally plan out each hour of my day, through to complete spontaneity, where I end up deciding what to do in each moment, and whilst both have their merits, and benefits as life experiences that I recommend going through (at least the spontaneity one), neither, on their own is hugely predictive, or accurate. Overplanning leads to missing too many immediate short term objectives/goals (because things being out by a few minutes, can throw your entire day off schedule, if you plan too little ‘buffer’ time for those unexpected eventualities), and complete spontaneity leads to a complete lack of predictability for lifestyle/cashflow, and sustenance purposes. (Not that it matters when you’re being completely spontaneous, but it does mean you can’t realise any long term visions, by just living day to day, surviving, rather than thriving, at least in my experience of it.)

I’ve found there’s a healthy balance to be had, between planning and spontaneity, and the easiest way to plan sensibly is to do 1 thing each day. No more, no less. Have one clear objective for each day, and then work towards accomplishing that one objective. And make sure your objective is realistic, and practical (for example, if you’re a coder, don’t plan on writing a working prototype of an entire program in a day, unless you’ve got experience in creating prototypes in a day, and know that you can reliably churn that out.) Often, I find myself overly optimistic as to how much work I can complete in a day. In fact, most days I never get anywhere near as much off my to-do list as I’d like. Which is why, you have to always start with your most important action for the day.

That one thing, that if it was all you did, the day was worth it.

Simplifying the day down into a single task, or a single action makes it manageable, and more realistically achievable. (That said, if you’re finding each day you set yourself the same task/goal, and you always end up having to move it to the next days activities, perhaps it’s time to re-think that plan of action!)

Sometimes, the most sensible plan is to spend a fixed amount of time, on a particular activity or project (for example 1 hour per day, on project X, or activity Y), and whilst it won’t guarantee that the activity or project will be completed, it does mean that each day your making a dent, no matter how small, in the grander challenge/problem.

For me, my goal each day is to slowly increase the amount of ‘personal’ time I create each day. I know that I want to have 3-4 hours each day, that I can spend, as ‘me’ time, doing things that aren’t necessarily work related, but are projects that inspire me, or keep me hopeful that there may yet be a change for the better in society at large. That said, every action, or decision I make is based on a ‘Vision’, or goal I had set myself when I was 13/14 (I forget exactly how old I was, but I remember the ‘moment’ of that decision really clearly!). It’s a serious BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), one that I will only share in public when it’s time. For now, it’s something I work towards each day, each month, each year, and whilst it’s been at least 15+ years since I started working on it, it’s informed, and been a part of my decision making process every step of the way these last 10/15 years. That’s not to say I’m anywhere closer to realising that goal, and the longer I spend immersed in the challenge, the more I realise how it will possibly take me a lifetime, to realise my goal, or even get close to making it a reality. But then if it were that simple/easy, I’d have done it by now 😉

I still plan on getting there one day, but the mechanism by which I get there will continue to change/evolve over time, the route I take to get there is uncharted, and unknown, so that shall be it’s own challenge, and the likelihood of me getting to my goal, seems ever more distant/unlikely, the longer it takes. And yet, in spite of it all, I persevere with that vision that inspires me so.. I keep taking small baby pigeon, ant like steps, towards a goal, that I don’t even know if I will ever reach. And yet that deliberate planning, and step by step process of chunking down the goal, into manageable pieces means that each year, I make a plan, and each year I review that plan, and see if I’m still going in the right direction, or if I need to make changes, and if so, what are they?

I encourage you to plan on doing something amazing with your life, and then taking small baby steps each year towards your long term goal. Plan it backwards, into something that can be done, and then keep on chipping away at it, until you finally reach your destination.

So what are you planning now? Care to share? Leave me some details in your comments below!

I also realised, after writing this, that I have a podcast that relates to planning for success, that might also be of interest to folks..
So have a listen to it here:
Listen!

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Farhan Rehman on January 1st, 2011

As 2010 comes to a close, I’m strangely not drawn to celebrate the end of the year, or to find a party to join in with..

Instead, I want nothing to do with the world outside, and want only to curl up into my own interior. I want to spend time alone, by choice, not through a need to be lonely, but through a desire to be in quiet. I don’t want to be surrounded by noise, or people, or festivities, but instead am drawn to reflect on the many changes that I need to make, in my life, my health, and my lifestyle, to reach some of my goals in life. And not for the sake of accomplishing them, but so that I can then be of use to others, be able to benefit those who are nearest and dearest to me, and ultimately, to get to a point, where I can realise my dreams, ambitions, and vision, of having an impact on the world for the better. (Perhaps only a small impact, on a few people, or perhaps a large impact, on the level of a community, or city, or country, or even continent.)

However, right now, I don’t want to say too much about it at all. In fact, there’s very little about my life, or my personal world that I want to share at all. Having experienced a number of deaths in our extended family, I’ve come to realise the fragility of life, and how important it is that we make use of each last moment we have here. At the same time, it’s made me extremely conscious, of how little I really want to share publicly, and openly with everyone, for everyone to see. It just feels wrong, and out of place. When you’re attending a funeral, it’s not something you want to ‘tweet’ about, or ‘check-in’ for. Through these experiences, I’m starting to realise, that there is a very fine line between what I’m comfortable sharing openly, and publicly, and what I reserve for my more personal immediate circle. In fact, it’s a distinction, that is drawing me ever further away from wanting to share as openly, or as honestly, as I have been doing, online, as well as offline.

As early as 2004, I experienced this ‘problem’, or ‘dilemma’ of wanting to share something, with a specific group of individuals, in a very personalised way, for very specific thoughts, and experiences I had in life, and those groups were very fluid, and dynamic, based on how I was feeling at the time that I decided I had experienced something that I wanted to voice, or share. As of yet, I haven’t yet found the right platform/tool/service that lets me be so selective, or granular with regards to what I share with who.

So in the absence of any such technology, I’m going to go from one extreme to another.

This coming year, I’m going to be much more silent, reflective, and introspective. Occasionally, I’ll share some of my thoughts, thinking, and insights. Other times, I won’t share them publicly, but I will find some way of sending them to a select few people that I want to share more personal details with. For now, I’ve decided that my default setting in everything is slowly going to switch to ‘private’. Twitter, maybe not, but gradually, I’m going to find a level of ‘publicness’, and visibility that I’m comfortable with, and that doesn’t challenge me to rethink, or question what it is that I’m sharing, as often as has been the case in the last few months.

For me, 2011 is going to be a year when I start unfriending people online, and start drawing boundaries between myself, and the world of people that I actually know in person, as opposed to the people that I know virtually. I’m going to start being more attentive to smaller groups, and smaller crowds. I’m going to start thinking much more long termist than I have been so far (about my online persona, and identity). I think in the past, I’ve been quick to default to wanting to opt-in, be public, and share as much as possible. I’m going to change to always questioning if I want to join in, or participate, being much more private, and sharing as little ‘personally’ as possible. That may change the nature of how I appear online, and at the same time, that may start to free up signficantly more of my time and energy to work on some of the pet projects I’ve pencilled in for 2011. Let’s see at the end of next year where I stand. For now, I’ve said enough. Have a good New Year, hope that 2011 brings you what you’re in need of, and now I’m going to go find a movie to watch, or book to read, as I end my 2010, and start to be more of a recluse than before.