About Learning

Johannes Stockburger writing about  learningForgetting learning was the one huge mistake I did a few years ago. I was just content with the system that was working for me. I was building a travel agency using Google Adwords, and it worked fine for me. I got new customers, albeit for a price. But through repeat purchases the expenses were coming back.
Next came the meltdown of the financs system 2008. I added money to increase the exposire, but the return was shrinking. This bankrupted me almost, before I just stopped advertisements and worked only with the customers I already had. I improved the service and concentrated on the customers who appreciated my work. Business was growing nicely, and with it profitability. But then in 2012, the crisis of the Euro zone flared up, shrinking the activity of my best customers. Now, I had foreseen this and prepared to add another income stream from publishing. Here I could reach the whole world, depending less on the Euro Zone and its problems.

In Two Years Back to the Newbie-Level

But when I returned in 2011 to build a business using the internet as main communication media, I found that not a single one of my old methods and techniques from the time prior to 2008 was still working. I found myself reduced to the position of a newbie. And worse, it tokk me some time to realize this. There were so many new things:

  • Government regulations have changed. Today it is in Germany courts even raise questions about the double-opt-in routine. Some judges classify the first email sent after a user requested to join a mailing list through a web formas SPAM. There have also been big changes around the use of testimonials and endorsements.
  • Email deliverability and click-through-rates are dramatically down.
  • The way search engines evaluate and rank websites has changed dramatically.
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are now hugely important.
  • Video is in everybody’s reach and absolutely necessary, if you want to build an audience.
  • Publishing ebooks and even printed books is now in reach for everybody.

These are huge changes, and all happened just in a few years. This dynamic is full of opportunities. But if you ignore learning and fall into the trap of doing things the way you always did, this fast flow of change is deadly.

How to Embed Learning into the Daily Work Routine

The only way to survive and thrive is to stay on top of the game and adapt constantly. The question is: how to do this without getting paralyzed and overwhelmed?

Here are some of the answers:

  • Stay connected to the top people in each field, listen to their discussions and whatch what they are doing.
  • Select people with a strong desire to learn to share your working day.
  • Join a mastermind group. Share your observations and brainstorm for solutions.
  • Observe your customer’s feedback closely. Do not rely only on words, watch their behavior.
  • Automate mechanical tasks and processes to avoid being eaten up by daily chores. This allows you to keep learning.
  • Consider outsourcing tasks which can be done better and cheaper by specialists.
  • Develop several income streams. This allows you to react flexibly on sudden changes.
  • Do not allow stress ruling your work experience.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many more possible ways to integrate learning into your day. But I think, the key is to create a working environment fostering an open mind, curiosity and happiness.

The Mindset Question: Scarcity or Abundance

What Do You Want for Yourself, Scarcity or Abundance?
Funny question, I admit. Everybody wants for himself a mindset and a life of abundance. But then: why are so many people ruled by fear to miss something, by lack of confidence and self determination. The answer hides in the next question:

What Do Other People Want for You?
You bet there are plenty of people who would like to see you full of fear and negative expectations. Why? A mind dominated by fear and expectation of scarcity can be manipulated easily.
Example: Somebody comes along offering you a share of the Brooklyn Bridge. Today, but only today you get the part ownership certificate only for 50 Dollars. It will allow you to pass the bridge for lifetime! If not, there will soon be a time where you have to pay 50 bucks per day to pass. (Do not laugh! Many “Get Rich Quick” offers work exactly that way)
Some people dominated by fear might think: “Maybe I need the certificate tomorrow and buy it. This way they can be sure that they can still cross the river. Result: Money gone, no longer available for things really needed, and another useless object collecting dust on your hard disk, or occupying space in your living room. The irony: tomorrow comes something else along, something you really need. you had searched for it for weeks. But now no money available. It went yesterday to buy that brand new dust collector. Anyway, this is proof that you cannot expect that you can get things when you really need them. Proof of a world ruled by scarcity. Yes, life is so hard!
Many people know, consciously or intuitively, that it is easy to rule a person dominated by fear. So they spread stress and fear in their surrounding, making sure that as many people in their reach are focused on what they do not have. If they want you to behave in a certain way, they you offer a small incentive – and yep: Get it while you can take it! Forget this little string attached. You end up with something you may need maybe at some future time, but you paid a steep price for it, in terms of money, health, relationship or whatever. The next day you need money, energy or support from others, but there is barely anything left. Yes, life is hard!

What to Do About It
It sounds simple: you have to rule your own mind, make conscious decisions of what you want and need. Then go for it, and you will get most of it. This experience will help to grow your confidence and it will tell your mind again and again, that the world – or God – provides to you enough of everything you need. You will learn to focus on the good things you have and use. Life is so sweet, a song full of energy. People volunteer to help you because they enjoy to be with you. Even some money will be available when needed, because you do not throw it away for all those dust collectors.

Caveat
Mindset of abundance means to live a live governed by an attitude of gratitude and confidence. It does not mean to pretend that you are rich or have unlimited resources. Happiness is an obligation. This does not mean you should lie to yourself about your circumstance, happiness needs truth. But if you allow confidence to govern your mind and develop a habit of deliberate decision making, your resources will also grow.

For further reading: {openx:113}

The Essence Of Freedom

Is freedom just another word for nothing left to lose? No, this is not the essence of freedom.
I took this line from a song of Janis Joplin, and it was one of my favorites. But later I struggled many years to liberate myself from the thought expressed by this song. Why?

Ability to Say No is Important
This song of Janis reduces the meaning of freedom to one aspect only: The ability to say no. But in truth, freedom is something else: It is the ability to make a choice. This means that you can do something, if you decide so, or you can leave it. Freedom means that you have the ability to determine the course of your live. Freedom is self determination.
If you have nothing, you are not free. If the essence of freedom is the ability to determine the course of your life, then you must have resources to be free. If you have nothing, and somebody offers you food, you must say yes to survive. And, having nothing, you must say no to many opportunities life has to offer because you cannot afford it. If you have nothing, you cannot help others. And if you have nothing, you cannot choose what to learn.

Master Your Things and Social Status
Janis Joplin misses the essence of freedom, when she said “nothing left to lose.” I do not say that anybody should be a slave of things, or of status. It is mostly status, talk of other people about somebody or something, and fear of that, what enslaves us. If we have useless things, we tend to forget them. Useless items will waste our resources, and slow us down, but they will not be able to control our mindset.

Fear Makes Slaves
Fear of gossip surely has the potential to kill off our ambition and make us say yes where we should say no. In postwar Germany, where I grew up, there were plenty of people who should have said no. And there was even more pressure on others, not to speak up and tell the upcoming generation what really happened. So, nothing left to lose said for me merely: “Do not provide others any leverage to force you to do anything.” This has some truth in itself, but it also smells like lost opportunity. It defines the essence of freedom in negative terms.

Positive Approach to Freedom
Let’s try it the positive way. If the essence of freedom means to have choices in life, and to choose what is right for me, how do I get there? This is not a trivial question, but one thing is sure: It involves learning. To identify the right choice, you need to anticipate the possible results. After making a choice, which means in this context setting a goal, you must learn how to reach there. This is done most effectively by looking for people who have done the same thing before. If you study them carefully, you will be able to follow their way.

Internet as a Game Changer
The beauty of the internet is that you can meet there people, who have achieved all kind of things. And many of them are more than willing to share, how they did it. Some provide {openx:29} Others offer and programs showing you how they reached the degree of freedom they have achieved. They help you to learn their trade and show their tools. Iif you have access to the internet, you can certainly reach such people.

Accept Your Responsibility
But this puts the blame squarely on yourself, if you allow yourself still to pose as a victim. Make the right choice, decide to grow. Determination to grow is the final essence of freedom. This determination will not remove the consequences of past mistakes immediately. But it can improve life faster and more profoundly than you can imagine. Wake up! Every journey starts with a single step.

The Aim is Personal Growth

Why to bother with personal growth ?
It seems that we are already grown up persons, who have already achieved many things in our lives?
I ask this question at the change of the year, which is usually a time to evaluate our success, review our goals and refocus our actions and energy.
Usually on the list of our goals we find earning money, paying down debt, maybe a new home, furthering education, helping our children, nurturing the relationship with our spouse. But to what end? What do we really want from life?

Personal Growth Means Taking and Giving
You may already have noticed, that on my list of goals are both, getting and giving. Improving financial metrics, getting the means for an enjoyable and convenient life, like a nice home, and taking care of others, giving to our family, but also to others in need.
To grow means in way to increase our ability to get and to give. This is like a cycle, taking better care of our customers or clients, getting more money for it, improving lifestyle, thus getting better energy, give more to those in need, close to us and not so close, learn by giving.
Now there needs to be a balance between giving and taking. Without this balance, personal growth can easily change into personal decline.

Giving Without Getting Leads to Decline
He, who gives more than he has, runs into a debt problem, ending up at a point where he cannot give anymore. And he, who takes without giving, will inevitably disconnect himself from other people, end up in an emotional vacuum, and personal growth will again make space for personal decline.

Taking Without Providing Leads to Decline
Why giving without taking does not work for a long time, is self explanatory. But why is it not possible to grow if somebody takes and takes, without giving? Think about it: If you see people suffer, and you know that you could help them out with ease, you will have to close your mind and hard, if you want to avoid giving. While closing mind and heart, you will not be able see, hear and feel other information. You have blocked the entrance door for it. This forces a person into decline.

Get More so You Can Give More
This means, the trick is: Getting more, to be able to give a bit more. This will lead again to get more, this will allow again to give more. In the process you will grow in spirit, in knowledge, and in happiness.
Obviously, you cannot help everybody, and you cannot help somebody forever. If Bill Gates would give only one Dollar per day to every hungry person in the world, it would not take a week until he for himself would have to beg, and then he would not be able to help anybody else.

You Can Change Only Your Own Life
Another example is a drug addict. Nobody can help him, before he makes a serious decision to change his life. And that is not only true for drug addicts, but for almost everybody. This is, because the ultimate help is not a material gift, but support in personal growth.
This is perfectly expressed in the old adage: “It is good to give to a hungry a fish. But it is much better teaching him fishing“.