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These days we have a plethora of communication options available to us.

You can write a fantastic email that delivers your message instantaneously to dozens of people.

You can connect with hundreds of acquaintances or like-minded people (they can’t all be friends) through Facebook or twitter.

Perhaps you can start a YouTube channel and begin speaking your message to the camera and the masses beyond.

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Jim Stynes at the 150 Heroes function

Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, at the young age of 45, Jim has passed away after a long, brave battle with cancer, but his legacy lives on.  He was a truly inspirational individual and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sam, and two children.

From his humble beginnings as a Gaelic footballer trying to learn how to play Aussie rules to his recent courageous battle with cancer, Jim consistently displayed traits that we can all learn from.

His list of awards as a footballer is very impressive, winning the coveted Brownlow Medal as the Best and Fairest player in the AFL in 1991, 4 time club B&F winner, 2 time All-Australian, AFL Hall of Famer and member of the Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century.

But as with most great people, his achievements reach far beyond the sporting field, so what principles can we learn from the life of Jim Stynes?

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A man once went to a fortune teller, curious to know what she would say about his future.  The fortune teller looked into her crystal ball and her facial expression said it all.

The man would die, she said, involved in a bus accident.  This would happen within two to three months time, but she couldn’t say exactly when.  The man went home, depressed and worried, telling himself how he had never really believed in fortune tellers.  Why should he now?

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One of the constant challenges that I’ve found in leadership is getting people to listen to, grasp and deliver on the vision and strategy that you have for the group.

There have been times when I have become frustrated and annoyed that the message just isn’t getting through and I’ve seen numerous leaders build a chasm between themselves and their people because “they” just don’t get it.

The temptation is to become condescending or just to stop talking to your people.  What’s the point, the message isn’t getting through anyway?

Great leaders understand that it’s not the fault of the people if the message isn’t getting through.  They take responsibility and adapt their communication techniques until they find a way to get their message across.

How can you do that?

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One of the challenges in leadership or even when trying to set goals for your own life is setting achievable, yet demanding targets.

Set the bar too low and you’ll do it in a canter, but set it too high and you may subconsciously give up because you know (or think you know) that it can’t be done.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an epiphany regarding this challenge.  There’s no such thing as incremental improvement!

In other words, if you are looking for a piddly 2-3% gain from year to year you are not genuinely getting better and not achieving all that you can.

Let me explain why:

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I’ve touched on the importance of body language in the past (5 Simple Tips for Better Interviews) and want to expand on these thoughts in today’s post.

According to a recent survey of 2,500 hiring managers, poor body language can significantly impact your chances of being successful in an interview situation, so getting this right will increase your opportunity to be successful in finding your dream job.

Eight body language concerns were raised by the hiring managers in this survey.  Thankfully they are all easily solved if you are aware of them.

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I was driving to work the other day when the classic BeeGees song “You Should Be Dancing” came on my iPod.

The song asks the question, “Watcha doing in your bed?”

Then answers, “You should be dancing!”

As I tapped my fingers on the steering wheel, I couldn’t help but think that we should be asking ourselves similar questions throughout the day.  You see, today you could be doing something to get you closer to your goal, something purposeful that you can look back on with pride.  Unfortunately, we often find ourselves distracted by the miscellaneous, mundane and easy thing right in front of us.

Here are a few ideas to get us started:

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I first heard this terrific story from author and pastor, Charles Swindoll, although one of my attentive readers has informed me that it was originally written by George Reavis in 1940 (thanks Grace).

Once upon a time, the animals decided that they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world, so they organised a school.

They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying.  To make it easier to administer, all of the animals took all of the subjects.

The duck was excellent at swimming.  In fact, he was better than his instructor.  However, he made only passing marks in flying and was very poor at running.  Since he was so slow in running, he had to drop his swimming class and do extra running.  This caused his webbed feet to become badly worn, meaning that he dropped to an average mark in swimming.  Fortunately, “average” was acceptable, therefore nobody worried about it – except the duck.

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Sidney Poitier's image, cropped from Civil Rig...

Image via Wikipedia

Sidney Poitier is well known as one of the greatest actors of his generation, and was the first black person to win an Academy Award in 1963.

Such is his contribution to movie making that he was ranked the 22nd greatest male actor of all-time by the American Film Institute in 1999 and in 2009 was granted the Presidential Medal of freedom by President Barack Obama.

However it is the ground that he broke in becoming the first genuine mainstream black film star and the continued dignity, class and resilience that he has consistently displayed throughout his career that makes him an inspirational person to me.

Whilst he is revered today, he certainly didn’t have a glamorous start to his career and when you read about the hurdles that he has overcome you realise that people can overcome anything if they put their mind to it and work hard.

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If you’re doing anything worthwhile, chances are that at some stage you will come in for criticism. 

Some will be face to face, some will be anonymous.  In this day and age, much of it will be on-line, either as a hurtful comment on your blog or an attack on your credibility on someone else’s site.  No matter how it’s delivered, if you don’t have techniques to deal with it, it can all hurt and prevent you from achieving all that you are meant to achieve.

Here are a few tips to help you cope with criticism:

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