post written by: Marc Chernoff

How To Be The Best You Can Be


 Be The Best You Can Be

This guest post was written by Celestine, author of Personal Excellence.

Do you expect nothing but the best from yourself?  Well, you are not alone.  As someone who’s highly committed to personal excellence and growth, my motto in life is to ‘be my best self and live my best life.’  I strive to uphold this motto every single day.  In doing so, I have adopted ten simple principles which help me stay on track:

Follow Your Heart

Follow your passion.  Life’s too short to spend it doing something you don’t love.  When I made the decision to leave my brand management career last year, I faced varying levels of resistance from people all around me - my parents, friends, managers, colleagues, mentors, etc.  Some thought I went crazy.  Some thought I was undergoing a strange life-phase.  Some thought it was a waste to give up a Fortune 100 career with excellent prospects and a sizable paycheck.  And others thought I was just being rash and wasn’t thinking things through.

If what you are doing now is not your passion,
then you have nothing to lose.

The truth is, it was a decision two years in the making.  I had already discovered my passion before I graduated from college.  After two years of working, I had reached the point where every day I spent at my job was making me unhappy.  And I knew I could be doing something I really loved instead.  So I quit my job to pursue my passion, and I haven’t looked back since.

Today, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, pursuing my passion in full throttle - touching lives through my personal development blog, coaching people and speaking at related events.  The story doesn’t end here either - I have huge plans in the future to transform even more lives and I can’t wait to make this a reality.  Now that I’m in full control of me, there are no limits at all to what can be done!

So what’s your passion?  What are your goals and dreams?  If you absolutely knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do with your life?  To aid your goal achievement process, check out my seven-part goal achievement series.

Prioritize and Focus

One of my core values is excellence, and I believe a key component of excellence is focus.  I ensure that everything I do has a single-minded focus - it starts off first with my purpose in life, laddering down to my life goals, then my long-term goals, my short-term goals, and finally down to my daily tasks.  One of the tools which helps keep me focused is my life handbook.  It’s a life manual I created back in 2007 that contains my purpose, vision, goals, strategies, and specific plans to keep me on track.  It has served me tremendously over the years.

I’m also a strong advocate of the 80-20 rule - where 20% of the causes lead to 80% of the effects.  Many outcomes in life are attributable to a few small actions, and once we get all those key actions right, we will gain phenomenal results.  Thus, I’m always looking out for the most critical factors that require my attention.  Once I identify them, I put forth my best effort to conquer them.  As for the remaining factors, I either do them with lesser attention, delegate them out to others, or outsource the work.  So in summary, I make sure that the things I spend my time doing are the things that have the most impact.

Look on the Positive Side

Probably cliché, but true nonetheless, you must stay positive.  You can look at a half-filled glass from multiple perspectives.  If you are positive, you will cheer at how the glass is half-full.  If you are negative, you will sigh and resign at the half-empty portion of the glass.  If you are a realist, you will simply see the glass as a glass.

At the end of the day, what you are faced with is simply the way it is.  Everything else is your own perspective.  Focus on the negative side of the situation, and you will be mired in negativity.  Focus on the positive upside, and you will gain a positive outlook which will improve your experience and quality of life, giving you the momentum to move onward and upward.

Place Yourself in the Face of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is my compass towards growth.  Whenever I’m faced with something that makes me feel uncomfortable or uncertain, it’s an indicator that there are growth opportunities inside me.  In fact, the more uncertain I feel, the more it signifies the possibility for growth.

If I feel uncertain about a particular topic I’m writing about, it means I need to learn more about this topic before I continue writing.  If I feel uncertain about a circumstance, it means I need to learn how to deal with it.  It has become a natural reaction for me to explore feelings of uncertainty inside of me as they arise, work on them, and then emerge with an increased level of self-awareness.

Are you putting yourself in the face of uncertainty?  Or are you snuggled away in your comfort zone?  Personal growth only occurs when you are faced with an unprecedented situation that forces you to expand your comfort boundaries.

Think and Reflect

Introspection is pretty much my staple hobby.  If there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s the ability to think freely.  Being able to think and reflect on our lives is a gift. Whenever you reflect on your own thoughts and actions, you gain a greater sense of clarity about yourself and the world around you.

Think about the things that make you happy and the things that make you sad.  Why do these things make you feel the way they do?  Think carefully when you answer these questions, and get comfortable with your answers.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be thinking 24/7.  Sometimes, detaching yourself from the reality and becoming an observer (through meditation, another one of my favorite hobbies) is needed as well.

Detach Yourself

There is nothing permanent in this world.  Money, material possessions, success, circumstances, and people – each of these enter and leave our lives continuously.  Thus, there is no reason to attach yourself to whatever you see.  This includes the outcome of different situations.

If there is something happy in your life, relish in it, enjoy it, but don’t develop an unhealthy craving towards it.  If there is something unhappy in your life, experience the emotion and smile at it at the same time, knowing that nothing is permanent and that this situation will dissipate in time.

Many of life’s disappointments and miseries come from attaching yourself to particular outcomes.  When you realize that nothing is permanent and all that you see will be gone soon, then feelings of unhappiness and fear tend to dissipate.

Concentrate on Actionable Steps

Don’t waste your time on things that you cannot change.  I generally classify things you cannot change into 2 categories - (1) The past (2) Other people.  This means that you should focus on effecting the present, so you can shape the future and progress your wellbeing.

Harping on things that cannot be changed is just a waste of your time and energy.  If something happened in the past that upset you, focus on what can be done to alleviate the situation in the future.  If people are annoying you, focus on what you can act on to remove the annoyance.

There was a time at my previous job where I faced a difficult series of challenges.  I became somewhat jaded and fell into a self-victimizing mode.  After a short period of doing this, I just felt sick of it - the negativity, the inaction, everything.  That’s when I realized that no matter what the circumstances are, or how tough they may appear, there are always actionable steps I can take to change the situation.

For whatever challenge you may be facing in life now, think in terms of actionable steps.  What can you do in this situation?  How can you act to move yourself closer to where you want to be?  Check Marc’s excellent post 28 Ways to Slay the Delay to learn more about taking action.

Keep the Momentum Alive

Most people often spend copious amount of time thinking about things and planning things, but then defer the action stage perpetually.  They justify themselves into inaction, citing reasons such as wanting to avoid failure.  It’s a total cop-out.  Here’s another favorite quote of mine:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
-Will Rogers.

It is by taking action and receiving feedback from this action that we expand our horizons.  By constantly acting and moving, you are automatically gaining more knowledge just by virtue of the response you are receiving from your interactions with the world around you.  Remember, information won’t walk up to you on its own.  You have to go get it.

Learn From the Best

Many of the things you want to know have already been experienced firsthand by others.  I have found that I can achieve so much more by studying what others have already done.  Then I can build upon the knowledge I gain from them.  In the process, I keep the best practices and remove everything else.

This doesn’t mean that you stop experiencing new things for yourself.  It just means you aren’t reinventing the wheel a hundred times over.  It’s a simple way to avoid making the mistakes others have already made.  This cuts down the learning curve by a whole lot and gives you much better results in a much shorter timeframe.

In summary:

  • Surround yourself with great people.  As Jim Rohn puts it, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
  • Study the best practices of the people who are succeeding in subjects you would like to pursue.

Help Others

I used to be quite a selfish person, keeping everything, including my knowledge, for myself.  I had heard many talk about the benefits that come from contribution and giving, but I could never comprehend them until I gave it a try.  In the past year after I left my day job, I have dedicated myself to serving others and helping others live their best life. It has been the most incredible and meaningful year of my life yet, and I just know there’s so much more to come.

When you help others, you not only help them grow, but you also grow yourself.  Your generosity opens the floodgates to an abundance of love and resources that flow between everyone involved.

For example, I spend many hours every day working on my personal development blog and writing free articles for others.  While I receive no direct monetary benefit for what I write, the universe pays me back indirectly - in terms of media coverage from journalists who heard about my blog and my story, speaking engagements by organizations which heard about me through word of mouth, coaching sign-ups from people who want to enlist my help in achieving their dreams, love from readers who have benefited from my writings, and much more.

Of course, the motivation to give should come from an unadulterated desire to want to give and contribute, and not for the benefits that follow.  The joy of giving comes from giving itself; the other perks are just a bonus.

Conclusion

Apply these ten principles into your life, and I promise you’ll start seeing positive results.  Please stay in touch and let me know how they work out for you.  ;-)

Also, read these books for more on being your best self:

Celestine Chua is a personal excellence coach who writes at The Personal Excellence Blog to help others like you achieve excellence.  She has been featured frequently in the press and is a highly sought-after life coach.  Some of her top articles: 50 Ways to Boost Your Productivity and Cultivate Good Habits in 21 Days.

Photo by: H. Koppdelaney

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36 Comments

  • Thanks a lot for the honor in guest posting at your site Marc! :) I had a great time writing this and I hope all of you found useful pointers for personal growth journey through this too!

  • I really liked the part about detaching yourself from things and ideas. They say that attachment is the main cause for human suffering and the more I live the more I realize how true this is.

    I also liked helping others and keeping the momentum alive. I often get caught in the process of learning and thinking and not enough doing. I try to overcome this by doing something, no matter how small, everyday.

  • Excellent tips I must say.

    Right now I’m learning to prioritize and focus a lot better than I used to. Having that artistic nature (excuse?) I tend to get distracted easily, thus I try to find ways to constantly keep my focus on what’s important.

    I can attest to being selfish, especially in the past. Another reason why I started a blog, to help others to benefit from what I’ve learned and experienced while opening myself up to the share joy of giving.

    Great post.

  • While this is a good article, all the points have become so much repetitive and the beating has been around the same bush. Possibly the same teachings could have been told in ten lines, or a Bhagvad Gita!

  • Timeless advice…

    Thank you, Celes.

  • Some of the best principles of I’ve come across is being your best self. These tips encompass just that. Now I understand why you’re such a successful blogger :)

    Thanks for this great guest post.

  • Great guest post! I am just starting on my journey of getting to know what I really want to do with my life and these are great tips to get more closer. Thank you!

  • Passion is so important and I don’t think people realize it. For me, I am slowly transitioning from doing something I went to school for because I don’t have the passion any more. I have found arena which excites me and get me motivated to help others. I think when you give yourself the freedom to do that, you will bless your life and others around you. Great post!

  • Way to go Celes, you knocked this one right out of the park.

  • Celestine, this was outstanding! All of your principles have value but my favorite is this one:

    “There is nothing permanent in this world. Money, material possessions, success, circumstances, and people – each of these enter and leave our lives continuously. Thus, there is no reason to attach yourself to whatever you see. This includes the outcome of different situations.”

    In my experience, practicing this principle may be the single best thing you can do to achieve a high level of serenity and well-being.

    Well done!

  • Great post! 10 brilliant principles. I like the point about facing uncertainty.

    My only question regards: “actionable steps”. The past can’t be changed. But surely “other people” is something you can work on? Isn’t that what influence and persuasion are all about?

  • Wow, beautiful! Wise and well written. And concise as well: just ten great points. My list included: Do the best you can with what you have. Appreciate the opportunity. Be grateful… never miss a chance to share & express your gratitude! Look around at all the mystery and wonder surrounding us at every moment. Never stop learning…

    You’ve said it so well… Thanks!

  • “If you absolutely knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do with your life?”

    This is a great question, one I was just thinking about!

    Also like the part about growth and uncertainty, I definitely need to “put myself out there” more than I do now and push my comfort boundaries. I’ve had some good “victories” in that in the past week or so, but I’m sure I’d feel even better if I had more!

    As for action towards my goals, I think learning right now counts, right? There’s a certification (ASE) that I’d eventually like to get, but can’t right now as there’s no school close to me. But I can continue to work on what I know until the day comes that I can take it a step further.

  • […] And Angel – My guest post at Marc’s blog – How To Be The Best You Can Be. Marc runs a highly popular personal development blog and I’m excited to have my guest post […]

  • Gosh, I’m really warmed by the feedback here! Thanks so much everyone!!

    Tejas: Indeed! I once read a quote which said that if we’re hearing the same thing twice, then we should listen even more carefully. I guess the same things keep getting repeated, that means they really do work!

    John: You’re too kind :D

    Kaizan: Great question! :) What I meant is it’s our actions ultimately that we have full control over. We can work on ourselves to bring about outcomes we want from others, but we shouldn’t be expecting others to change or behave in exactly the way we want because they can choose whatever they want to do.

  • Keeping your mind on your goals through action will create a better you. taking bite size steps to toward your desirable result keep the pressure off your mind. Concentrate on making every day a successful day. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Great post. I really thought the point about identifying your purpose and following your passion was an important one. It is so easy to get caught up in what is comfortable and before you know it, you look up and years have passed you by and you are still not doing what you ultimately were meant to do. I think once you do identify your passion and know what you are meant to do, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and into what you were meant to do. Thanks for the wisdom and inspiration.

  • All 10 are great advice. My favorite is “detach yourself.” Too many times I’ve gotten caught up in what I want to happen instead of enjoying what “is” happening. This isn’t easy and I’m still practicing this every single hour. The more I practice the easier it gets.

    I’ve noticed that you’ve been guest posting all over the internet. That’s awesome. Keep up the great work.

  • Hey Celestine.

    Great post and I would like to comment on two things.

    With regards to focus - I’ve recently decided to do a weeks trial away from my blackberry, facebook, IM’s and twitter. It was just a personal experiment to see what it would be like. Sufficed to say my focus has increased 10fold. It’s amazing how easy it is to become distracted by little things; the arrival of an email or text message, an IM etc. To cut these things out has to be a choice however if anyone makes the decision to do so they will notice that automatically they become more focussed on the real things that need attention.

    As for the looking on the positive side - I do actually disagree with that mindset. I believe you have to get to an understanding of the balance of things around you. Yes there are blessings in the bad things. The bad or negative things are there to make us stronger and without those events which challenge us we would not grow. Looking too much at the positive, in my opinion gives us an imbalanced perspective on life. I would say to people to gain a greater understanding the in harmony of why good and bad both exist; of why there is a positive and negative. I recently said on my blog that someone who says ‘half empty’ is not necessarily a negative person as it is all completely contextual.

    Great post and I look forward to seeing more!

    Amit

  • I have visited your personal development and found out that you left your 50,000$/ year job to pursue your passion. That’s a brave move, especially in this economy. I must admit that it was me, I don’t have the courage to do so. There are just so much at stake and it makes sense that a bird at hand beats 2 in the bush. Nonetheless, you are happy with that decision. That’s all one can do.
    In your post, I’m related to the fact that I’m all planning and not much doing. I had very detailed planned out in my freshman year and I had that plan laminated. But there’s not much achievement thus far. The problem is I’m not flexible enough. Time changes so you have to adapt to it by modifying your plan. I learned this the hard way and now are doing my best to make up for the lost time that I kept mourning over unexpected change in my own circumstances.

  • Def. A great list of qualities that will lead someone towards a life of internal and external fulfillment. Keep up the great work!

  • Great guest post and it’s great to be able to comment on one of your posts. I particularly like the section about concentrating on actionable steps and leave the past behind and move forward with your life. And momentum is such an important part of moving forward since once you start seeing positive results from the actions that you are taking I think it’s so much easier to keep the momentum flowing and alive. There is nothing like positive results to keep the focus in the right direction.

    I am so glad that you mentioned helping others. Your life’s work is in this endeavor but for some of us who have “corporate” jobs as you once had, we have to find ways where we can help others. I think the benefits that we receive from helping others are priceless. Sometimes I just wish I had more time to devote to helping others which is one of my goals over the next few years.

    Thanks again for an insightful post…

    Best,
    Bob

  • The hardest part is being kind to yourself after you do not hit the high marks you set for yourself.

    Great read!

    Dr. Letitia Wright
    The Wright Place TV Show
    wrightplacetv.com

  • hi there

    realy helped me pik up today,having a day
    out of my usual routine and making some changes.

  • Excellent post! Some amazing tips on how to bring out the best in us. It definitely makes more sense to introspect and enhance those qualities within us that are lying dormant. I think this is among the essential qualities and pre-requisites for success in life.

  • Great set of points. however life is what you make of it - either a daring adventure or nothing! i am also very impressed by Charlie T Jones statement…you also grow via the people you meet and the books you read. keep up the great work dude. and as Zig says - i shall see you at the top!!! all the bets Nym

  • Hi Celestine

    Very impactful site helped me get in touch with my true desires.I most agree with The do what your most passionate about regardless wether what everyone else thinks.I understand this logically but its great reminder to hear it again.So thank you for that.Love your site.Will be making a habit of coming back to your amazing site alot more often

    Peace Paul

  • My life has been steadily going downhill for the past couple of months. With school, work, and home, I feel like I am not in control of my own life whatsoever, but instead I am simply serving as a product of my environment. This has truly inspired me to take action and work towards joining the peace corps. THANK YOU.

    xo
    Autumn

  • sometimes it is hard to keep these truths in mind when the situations happen. Learning how to diffuse a bomb in a classroom is different than in real life where so many factors are on the line. So similarly, I always feel inspired when I read these articles (thank you by the way) but a day goes by, and then a week goes by, and I lose focus (which is actually one of your points) so i guess my question is, yea it is important to stay focused, but how?

  • hey im dalia, im Egyptian 17years first year in college. however, im truly inspired by you and your writing. today i was looking forwards to write or even be inspired by smeones writing.
    then, i was inspired by you. you truly have no idea about the greatness that you’r writing. its far beyond imagination. its so effective, leading and touching. thank you for writing this. i hope the world discovers you. you’ll always be remembered for your helpful writings. i’ll always remember that i read an article by someone very effective, and it cleared everything. i hpe i can touch someones life, or even clarify matters like you did!!!
    i think highly of you. your unique.

  • Nice blog, so inspiring. can I use this to inspire others as well?. thanks

  • Thank you so much I will definitely take a look at those other books you have suggested. I have always been a motivated person, but there are times when my motivation leaves me and I no longer know what to do to get it back. Once this happens I feel lost and no longer feel sure of myself and my goals.

  • Kashish Chaurasia
    December 6th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I am overwhelmed by the practicality of this article. I’ve been practicing these tips for awhile now (since I first read them here), and they have helped me out a lot. Thanks.

  • Thank you for this article Celestine.
    I know this article will help me tremendously.

  • Hi,
    I worked as a management consultant in a large multinational corporation in Sweden and everyday that went I felt more misrable by not doing what I really wanted to do. It was slowly killing me by going against my basic values. It felt like i was in a big prison. I quit my job and I only have 5 more days to work. I am more than happy and look forward to my uncertain future. It will be hard and not easy but I have big dreams that I will put on paper and strive towards it. Thank you for your list. Motivating to see that you did the same.

  • Thank you! Good tips :) As a Christian I would definitely incorporate God’s will into this, but this is aside from your spiritual life, and is quite helpful.

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