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Robin Sharma says you have the potential to be a hero. The best-selling author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari now flits across oceans, mixing with the famous and nudging top leaders to further excel. But a school principal warned his mother that he had minimal potential. The book that catapulted him to gurudom was initially rejected by the book industry and self-published at a 24-hour Toronto copy shop.

He doesn’t know you. But his experience is that greatness lies within. “Trust not your detractors. Pay no attention to your diminishers. Ignore your discouragers. They do not know of the wonders within you,” he writes in his latest book, The Everyday Hero Manifesto.

Mr. Sharma says being faithful to your ideals is a “force multiplier.” He gave up a well-remunerated life as a litigation lawyer on Bay St. to try the career advice field because he was dying on the inside. “Don’t live your finest hours in the waiting room of life,” he says.

To do that, Sharma says you must move from being a victim to a hero, through five leaps:

  • Shift from a mindset of “can’t” to the mentality of “can.” Victims are prisoners of can’t, relentlessly telling everyone why something can’t work. Beneath that mindset is a fear of getting hurt by following their ambition. You need to seize the power of hope, focusing your thoughts on the positive. Each morning he recites mantras to stoke that hope, such as, “I am so grateful for the day ahead and the beauty, joys and excitement.”
  • Shift from making excuses to delivering results. “You can make excuses or you can change our world. You can’t do both,” he says. Some people have recited excuses so often they have brainwashed themselves into believing those explanations are true. Assuming absolute personal responsibility will help you grow.
  • Shift from living in the past to making a better future. Victims enjoy living in the past of resentment rather than exploiting the future. “See your history as an academy you can learn from versus a jail to stay chained in,” he says.
  • Shift from being busy to becoming productive. Busy is not to be confused with productive nor should movement be confused with progress. He says busyness, for a victim, is a drug of choice, an escape filling their day with superficiality, allowing them to think they have too much to do to achieve triumph.
  • Shift from taking from the world to giving to the world. Don’t succumb to the common belief that winner takes all. Give to the world, serving others. He quotes former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir: “Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of higher achievement.”

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One step toward this future might be to emulate Benjamin Franklin. Every night, he reviewed and scored himself on the 13 virtues he considered essential for human greatness: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and humility.

Mr. Sharma adds to that some GCAs – his shorthand for Gargantuan Competitive Advantages:

  • Always be early. He argues that if you’re not early you’re late – and it’s smarter to be an hour early for a meeting than one minute behind. “When I have lunch with a business legend, they usually are already seated at the table when I arrive, generally reading a book. Or writing notes in their creativity journal,” he says.
  • Clear out diversions. Simplify your life. Build your days and life around a few major pursuits.
  • Underpromise, then overdeliver. At every point with a customer or colleague deliver 10 times more value than they would expect. Do this on a continuing basis and others will respond favourably to you.
  • Pursue granularity rather than superficiality. Go deep in your thinking and the rigour with which you carry out your craft. Thoughtfulness, patience, meticulousness, pride in your work and mastery will help you stand out in a culture that he argues has gone ultralight.

Live up to your potential to be a hero.

Quick hits

  • Do less, advises Atomic Habits author James Clear. Keep returning to one thing and continue to refine it.
  • Job interviews are all about your attitudes, says public speaking coach Jezra Kaye. If you got the interview, they know that you’re qualified. Now they are deciding if they want you around. View it as going to meet some new people who might be nice, and if you like them have a good conversation.
  • Career coach Lee Cristina Beaser notes that the number one way she knows if her clients are on the right career path is if they are operating from an internal frame of reference. They are in touch with their core strengths, interests, personality traits and passions, rather than externally focused on how much money they might make or what family and friends think.
  • “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me no plans” are the opening lyrics of a song from Fiddler on the Roof – but also a warning to well-meaning individuals who want to bring two work associates together to make magic, warns Yale University management professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. Always check with the potential matches before giving out personal e-mail addresses or phone numbers.
  • Two questions worth pondering, from career development consultant Julie Winkle Giulioni: What does “career” mean to you, and what feelings would you like to experience more during your daily work?

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