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By Jeffrey Baumgartner

1. Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach.  If Bach doesn’t make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor.

2. Brainstorm.  If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best.

3. Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you.  That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down.  Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft.  Don’t worry, that’s normal.  What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant.

4. If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word.  You’d be surprised how well this works.  The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity.  There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.

5. Define your problem.  Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail.  You’ll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you’ve done this.

6. If you can’t think, go for a walk.  A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.

7. Don’t watch TV.  Experiments performed by the JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose.  It’s not pretty, but it happens.

8. Don’t do drugs.  People on drugs think they are creative.  To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.

9. Read as much as you can about everything possible.  Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.

10. Exercise your brain.  Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit.  If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless.  Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people- arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout.  But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.

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This article was found on Monster.com.

Make Your Mark to Reach the Executive Suite

Plenty important, say headhunters, career coaches and management-development professionals. “You have to arrange your own discovery,” one executive search professional explains. But short of establishing your own vanity press and putting out books on topics you know something about — assuming, of course, you have a book’s worth of hot ideas in you — just how can you get the visibility in your field that will lead headhunters and other talent scouts to your door?

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Get Out of Your Office: Go to conferences, speak up in discussions, have people notice your ideas. Choose your meetings and conventions wisely, where you’ll be likely to meet people from different levels in your industry. Don’t view the time as a play day away from the office, but rather as a time to showcase your own competence and style. Read and think about the theme of the conference or seminar before you go so that you have some intelligent things to say there.
  • Get Quoted: Find friends of friends or family members who write articles about business or your field. Come up with some fresh ideas and get yourself introduced to somebody who is writing relevant articles and might quote you.
  • Speak Up: Volunteer to give talks anywhere there are people to listen — in your community, at your college or in your industry. Have something novel to say — you can’t tell who might be around to quote you.
  • Study Your Favorite Trade Magazines: Consider how you might get mentioned by someone else, or consider writing something yourself for one of those publications. Or get the annual Writer’s Market, a bible of who’s accepting articles on which topics in every kind of publication. Chances are you could find 20 or more likely publications. Some will pay well and some will pay in reprints, but money is not the issue here — what counts is just getting your name out there so some headhunters will want you on their prospect list.
  • Go to Events: Whenever something’s happening in your community or in your industry, go — whether you want to or not. Being seen and heard often can give you the visibility you need to be perceived as a leader, someone to watch.

But What If All This Visibility Isn’t Your Thing?

Well, here’s the rub — being visible, enjoying the limelight and having valuable things to say about the state of your industry, your community and the world are a major part of life at the top of the executive heap. Being honest with yourself about whether you really want to do that is an essential part of your own self-assessment and career management. If doing these five things sounds like an intriguing challenge, then you’d probably enjoy the extracurriculars of senior management. If you find yourself recoiling at the thought, then that tells you a little something about whether you’d be better off planning your career a different way. Life at the top is not necessarily about who is the best or the most talented — it’s largely about who enjoys the art and science of self-promotion. Only you can know if that’s you or not!

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This article was originally published at The Art of Manliness.  Of course, it can apply to both genders.

We all lead at some point in our life. We serve as leaders in our jobs, in our communities, and in our families. For many, being a leader means having the power to control others. Those who take this view eventually find that the more they try to control people, the less influence they have over them. For others, leadership means being in a position of authority. Yet, a man can be a leader even if he’s on the bottom of the totem pole. When a man sees that something must be done, he won’t let his lack of position limit him from taking charge; he steps into the gap and assumes responsibility. True leadership is not about superiority, position, or prestige. It’s about revealing and releasing the potential of those around you. Leadership is not about the power of one, but facilitating the greatness of many.

Unfortunately, many men today are sloughing off leadership responsibilities either because of laziness or apathy. They would rather live a life of ignoble ease and have others shoulder the responsibility for them. But the world needs the leadership of virtuous men more than ever. When you’re called to serve as a leader, will you be ready to take on the challenge?

In 1950, the United States Military printed a small book for all armed forces officers on how to become better leaders and men. In it, five traits are set forth on what makes an effective leader. We’ve taken these traits and explored their meaning and application for every man whether an officer or a civilian.

1. Quiet resolution. An effective leader has the resolve to see every task through to the end. Resolve is easy to have in the quiet before the storm comes. Resolve is a breeze when one’s commitment has never been tested. It is when the fear, chaos, and stress of a crisis hits that true resolve is revealed. In any situation, there will be an opportunity for retreat, an escape hatch, the chance to shirk responsibility and choose safety and defeat over risk and greater reward. At that moment, the man with quiet resolve does not waffle, he does not doubt the choice that he knows is right. Without the terrible grip of indecision seizing him, he is cool and levelheaded, unflappable in the face of challenge. He is not loud, yelling and frenetically scurrying about in an attempt to cover his lack of grit with useless action. The man with quiet resolution is a man others can feel supremely confident in. While the world around him goes to pot, he knows what his mission is and he calmly fulfills it. He is the anchor in the storm.

How to become a leader with quiet resolution:

Do not wait for a crisis to emerge to make a decision. Inventory your values and goals, and set a plan for how you will react when certain crises arise and important decisions need to be made. DO NOT wait to make you choice until the heat of the moment, when you will be most tempted to surrender your values. Set a course for yourself, and when trials come, and you are sorely tested, you will not panic, you will not waver, you will simply remember your plan and follow it through.

2. The hardihood to take risks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Great achievements come to those who are willing to take risks. A leader who continually plays it safe will never put themselves or the people they lead in a position to experience success. A life without risks is surely alluring; its sweet lullaby of safety and comfort has lulled many a man into the trap of mediocrity and apathy. The weak man stands at the crossroads of decision, tempted by the possible reward and yet paralyzed by the fear of defeat. He is blinded to the fact that even failure brings its own rewards. Without failure a man never comes to know himself, his limits, his potential, and what he is truly capable of. A man who never dares greatly fails to see that he has taken the greatest risk of all: the risk that he will never progress, never refine his soul, never amount to anything worthwhile.

How to become a leader that takes risks:

The fear of taking risks can be very real. You cannot expect to have the courage to take a large risk when you have had no experience taking small ones. So find opportunities in your daily life to take little risks. It could be as small as approaching a stranger and striking up a conversation. Find an activity that frightens you, like public speaking and go for it. As you venture more risks, you develop the capacity to overcome your fear and gain the wisdom to know when a risk is worth taking. You will achieve the mettle to take the big risk when your leadership abilities are truly called upon.

3. The readiness to share in rewards with subordinates. A great leader, although supremely confident, humbly acknowledges that no success, no matter how large of a role he personally played in bringing it to fruition, is a wholly solo effort. He is deeply grateful for all those, even those with small roles, who played a part in the achievement. And he understands human nature. He understands that people love to be recognized for their contributions. When a group or organization succeeds, a true leader makes it a priority to recognize both in public and private the contributions of those he led. When a person sees that a leader is humble and will share in success, they’ll be more willing to follow that person.

How to become a leader that shares rewards with subordinates:

Sharing success with the people who follow you can be as easy as offering public recognition or increasing their compensation. A simple thank you card expressing your gratitude for an employee’s effort in completing a project can go a long ways in building loyalty to you and your organization. When offering thanks or giving praise, try to be as specific as possible. It shows the person you lead that you are keenly aware of what they do and makes the thanks or praise more personal and sincere.

4. An equal readiness to take the blame when things go adversely. It is when things go wrong that true leaders are separated from the pretenders. The weasel leader will gladly accept the accolades when he and his team succeeds, but will find another individual to take the fall when things get tough. When followers see this, it completely demolishes any confidence and allegiance to that leader. True leaders will take responsibility for all consequences of their decisions, even the bad ones. Even when the results were the fault of a subordinate, a true leader will still take all the blame. Perhaps the leader failed to communicate clearly what the subordinate’s duty was, or maybe the leader failed to match the right man with the right job. After taking responsibility for the results, an effective leader will immediately take action to correct the situation.

How to be a leader by taking the blame when things go adversely:

When taking the blame, you must do so sincerely. Your confession must spring from a genuine belief that you were at fault. To accept blame, but to do so grudgingly, makes you a boy, not a man. Never play the part of the martyr and seek glory for taking the fall. Likewise, don’t take the blame publically, but then tell your subordinates that the only reason you took responsibility was to save their asses. You’ll look like a phony and deteriorate their trust in you.

5. The nerve to survive storm and disappointment and to face each new day with the score sheet wiped clean; neither dwelling on one’s successes, nor accepting discouragement from one’s failures. All of history’s great leaders had moments of supreme success and moments of devastating defeat. Great leaders focus on the things they can change and influence, and the past is not one of those things. If you fail, learn from it and then immediately cease to dwell on it. Rehashing the past will not do anything for you. Moreover, the people a man leads will lose confidence in their leader if they continually brood over their failures.

When you succeed, celebrate with your followers, and move on. A leader who continually dwells on past success shows that he has not set his eye on greater things. Additionally, as we learn from the Greeks, a leader’s hubris can quikcly become their downfall. Always stay humble and hungry.

How to become a leader by not living in the past:

Read biographies of great leaders from history. By reading about the lives of these great men, you’ll learn that even the best leaders faced enormous setbacks. You’ll gain perspective and come to see that one failure does not mean the death of a man’s capacity to lead. And the amazing feats of the great men of history will inspire you to believe in the powerful influence on history a true leader can wield.

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(found at The Cheap Revolution)

  1. I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison, inventor and scientist
  2. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. – Vidal Sassoon, entrepreneur
  3. Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. – A student in Warren G. Tracy’s class, entrepreneur (Thanks Daniel!)
  4. The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning – to create a product or service to make the world a better place. – Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur, investor, author
  5. Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory. – Mahatma Gandhi, political and spiritual leader
  6. Failure defeats losers, failure inspires winners. – Robert T. Kiyosaki, author, entrepreneur, investor
  7. Entrepreneurs average 3.8 failures before final success. What sets the successful ones apart is their amazing persistence. – Lisa M. Amos
  8. Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life. – John F. Kennedy, U.S. President
  9. In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. – Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. President
  10. The greatest reward in becoming a millionaire is not the amount of money that you earn. It is the kind of person that you have to become to become a millionaire in the first place. – Jim Rohn
  11. Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them. – Anonymous
  12. Experience taught me a few things. One is to listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper. The second is that you’re generally better off sticking with what you know. And the third is that sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make. – Donald Trump, real estate and entertainment mogul
  13. The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look. The entrepreneur in us is more concerned with discriminating between opportunities than he or she is with failing to see the opportunities. – Michael Gerber, author, entrepreneur
  14. An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it. – Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries
  15. The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. – Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s
  16. I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful. – Warren Buffet, investor and billionaire
  17. I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent. – Thomas Edison, inventor and scientist
  18. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain, author
  19. There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are now afloat;
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose the ventures before us. – William Shakespeare, author
  20. Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. – Thomas Edison, inventor and scientist

Two more good quotes given by The Cheap Revolution authors:

Being an entrepreneur is a lot like playing poker – you can fold, limp in, or go for it – Yasmine Mustafa

If you kick it around enough, it starts to look like a ball. – Skip Shuda

What’s your favorite quote? Share your favorite bit of success wisdom in the comments section!

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