Flow1On many occasions you start a project or set of work activities and find yourself stalled by an issue or bottleneck that emerges. The issue or bottleneck could be due to a resource issue, a skills issue, a lack of knowledge or not having a suitable process. The project could also be affected by your attitude, beliefs and mindset, with the lack of motivation being a defining factor. You then find yourself parking the project to work on another activity or to seek the missing requirements to complete the project.

Alternatively, on some occasions, you find that a project is working as planned or even better than expected. The tasks seem to be completed effortlessly and all elements are coming together as anticipated. You also find yourself so immersed and completely absorbed in the project that time goes by without notice. Furthermore, you experience a high level of motivation and exhilaration at the same time. This mental state of being is called “Flow“.

The Russian researcher Mihályi Csíkszentmihályi, through his work in positive psychology, coined the concept of flow as a result of interviews with people who described their mental state as if a water current was carrying them along while they were undertaking a particular project or work activities. The state of flow has also been metaphorically described by a number of terms including, being in the zone, being in the moment, being in tune or being on a roll.

Some of the key characteristics of being in a state of flow include:

  • Intense and focused concentration
  • Action oriented
  • Loss of self-consciousness
  • Personal control over the activities
  • Distorted sense of time
  • Intrinsically rewarding experience

In order to achieve a state of flow you need to perform the following activities:

  1. Clearly identify and define the task or set of activities that you wish to achieve
  2. Set clear goals on what you want to achieve and how you will obtain the results and outcomes
  3. Ensure you have the skills and resources to be able to meet the goals
  4. Before you begin, pause and take at least three deep breaths, holding each breath and then slowly exhaling
  5. Focus your attention on the immediate task, eliminate any distractions and concentrate on completing the activities.
  6. Ensure you have allocated sufficient time for each activity to allow you to become fully immersed
  7. Remain alert, keeping the mind fully attentive in the present state while maintaining a level of awareness
  8. Become completely absorbed in the activity as if it feels like you are playing a game
  9. Monitor your progress and your emotional state to ensure you are achieving your goals

If we can experience extended time in a mental state of flow, then we can improve performance and productivity, increase happiness and achieve success.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Effective Execution

January 9th, 2013 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Action - (2 Comments)

Effective Execution“Success comes from transforming thoughts, ideas and opportunities into action”. John Kapeleris

Despite the emphasis on taking massive action and getting things done as the cornerstone of success, we continue to make new year’s resolutions that dissipate within a few weeks of starting the new year. Individuals and corporations find it difficult to effectively execute personal and strategic initiatives. Although we have clear goals and objectives, detailed plans and the commitment to achieve the results we want, we continue to struggle with effective implementation. Therefore, what can we do to implement effective execution in our personal and business lives?

Gilbert, Buchel and Davidson in their book “Smarter Execution: Seven Steps to Getting Results” identify seven steps to achieving effective execution:

  1. Focus first – Focus can provide clarity and at the same time magnification of the tasks we want to achieve. If we focus on the high value tasks that will make the difference in our work and personal lives, then we can easily execute our plans.
  2. Pick the best possible team (resources) – You need to have the right skills and capabilities for effective execution. If you are assembling a team of people ensure that you have the correct alignment of skills with the tasks required. If the skill set is not available internally then it should be outsourced.
  3. Set the course – You need to set a clear direction of where we want to go and develop clear execution steps that remove confusion.
  4. Play to win – The team and its members need to possess a winning spirit. Strong personal motives can drive projects and tasks to successful completion.
  5. Think it through – You need to think through the foreseeable future steps and have in place alternative courses of action. Mental rehearsal provides a clear pathway but at the same time can anticipate potential impediments that can be overcome in advance. It is important to think through the resources required, reviewing the key success factors and being prepared for any risks for the upcoming execution steps.
  6. Get all aboard – Every team member must be committed to the vision and direction of the project. Communication will be an important factor to ensure the team is informed of the progress against the agreed vision and direction. Any deviation should be evaluated, agreed and communicated to the team.
  7. Follow through – One of the critical steps in achieving effective execution is the follow through. The lack of follow through could certainly guarantee failure.

Wishing you a happy, prosperous and successful New Year 2013!

Dr John Kapeleris

 

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The start of the New Year is a signpost that always brings a feeling of a new awakening and subsequent change.  Many people will set New Year’s resolutions that will not be followed through. Others will continue doing the same old thing and getting the same result. A small percentage of people will set new written goals and objectives, and develop detailed action plans for their major projects, that will ultimately achieve their ambitions and success.

I came across the “10 Commandments of Goal Setting” on the GoalsGuy.com website that I thought may be of value to you:

  1. Thou Shall Be DecisiveSuccess is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.
  2. Thou Shall Stay Focused – A close relative to being decisive, but your ability to sustain your focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your outcomes.
  3. Thou Shall Welcome Failure – The fundamental question is not whether you should accept failure. You have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the pathway of progress. Rather, the question is how to anticipate failure and redirect resources to grow from the experience.
  4. Thou Shall Write Down Thou Goals – Your mind while blessed with permanent memory is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things. Avoid the temptation of being cute. Write down your goals.
  5. Thou Shall Plan ThoroughlyPlanning saves time and resources in execution. Proper planning prevents poor performance.
  6. Thou Shall Involve Others – Nobody goes through life alone. Establish your own “Personal Board of Directors“, people whose wisdom, knowledge and character you respect to help you achieve your goals.
  7. Thou Shall Take Massive Action – Success is not a spectator sport – achievement demands action. You cannot expect to arrive at success without having made the trip.
  8. Thou Shall Reward Thyself – Rewards work! Think of what you will give yourself as a result of your hard work, focus and persistence – you deserve it!
  9. Thou Shall Inspect What Thou Expect – The Shelf life of all plans is limited. No plan holds up against opposition. Everything changes. Therefore inspect and review frequently and closely, it’s an insurance policy on your success.
  10. Thou Shall Maintain Personal Integrity – Maintain your commitment to your promise. Set your goals, promise yourself that you will achieve them. Eliminate complacency and excuses. That’s personal integrity!

Start today, and set your goals and objectives that will influence the rest of your life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“The purpose of man is in action, not thought.” — Thomas Carlyle

We are fast approaching Christmas and this is always a sign that we have once again reached the end of another calendar year. I always find the end of the year to be a time of reflection and review. It is also a time to evaluate the progress of your life purpose, goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year or the longer term goals set in previous years.

The end of the year also offers a fresh start for activities that we had intended to do but never got around to doing them. Although I had previously stated that any day can be the start of the rest of your life, the end of the year can be a special time because it can provide closure to outstanding action items that may no longer be relevant, but also removing limiting beliefs by leaving them behind in the current year. The dawning of a new year provides the incentive to start a fresh action list and the motivation to get things done.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions, however, they quickly discover that the resolutions fade even before the first quarter of the calender year is reached. It is not just about making New Year’s resolutions at the dawn of the New Year, it is about making a committed effort to set written goals and objectives for the coming year and for the medium to longer term timeframe.

I challenge you to make a committed effort, that is, take ACTION, to review your previous goals and objectives, and to set new goals and objectives for 2011. Begin by identifying the major achievements and highlights for 2010. These could include work achievements, financial objectives, family highlights, personal development, educational achievements or personal success outcomes. Achievements should also be acknowledged and celebrated to ensure mental reinforcement and capitalizing on the motivation that this can provide to your subconscious mind. I try to reward myself when I achieve a particular goal or objective. For example, I will buy a gift for myself that reminds me of the success that I have achieved, or I will organise a special holiday trip for myself and my family. Last January I decided to go to Byron Bay and live in a beach house for ten days to celebrate a very successful 2009. In previous years I bought myself a Tag Heuer watch to remind me of a successful multi-million dollar deal I had closed in the year.

I use a visual journal with white pages to document my goals and objectives for the new calendar year. Once I complete this activity I then develop Action Plans for the major goals and objectives. Throughout the year I periodically review my goals and revise any action plans that are not progressing as expected. You should also prepare a vision board which consists of a portfolio of visual material or a collage of images that portray your vision, goals and objectives. The vision board helps to stimulate your reticular activating system in your mind to reaffirm your subconscious.

Like most people I also identify a few missed opportunities or disappointments for the year. This allows me to learn from the experience so that I can strengthen my future plans moving forward. Go ahead and document the missed opportunities and disappointments. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities or overcame the disappointments?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. Don’t spend too much time regretting the missed opportunities. The rest of your life starts now, therefore focus on your future goals and plans for 2011. Some of these goals could also be carried over from 2010. Particularly goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

I had also previously posted a number of blog entries that can provide further detailed information on developing your goals and objectives (see below). Furthermore, I have included a Personal Development Plan Template that may also be used as a guide. A decent driveway paint site will get you the driveway paint you want.

What does your personal development plan look like?

Have a merry Christmas and I wish you every success for 2011!

Dr John Kapeleris

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My high school’s motto was “Scientia est Potestas” which in Latin means “Knowledge is Power”. The well-known phrase was first coined by Sir Francis Bacon in 1597, when he wrote “scientia potestas est” to mean “knowledge is power”. I continue to hear this phrase mentioned in presentations and discussions, particularly in the academic world. I would like to challenge the phrase and provide a variation to reflect current thinking.

Someone once said to me that knowledge is power if you actually use the knowledge or share it. Hoarding knowledge alone will not result in power. Now you would think that in the academic world, knowledge is openly shared, however, I have found that many academics do not openly share their knowledge as they are afraid that someone may acquire their ideas or take advantage of the knowledge. Academics generally share their knowledge when they are “ready” and have something to write about, usually in a high-tiered journal. I praise those academics and researchers who, in addition to publishing in peer-reviewed journals, also contribute to blogs, submit online articles and write content for trade journals and magazines. By sharing their knowledge to the greater masses, this can stimulate better diffusion and adoption of knowledge by the wider community, rather than just a limited reader group in an academic journal.

By the way I am not advocating sharing confidential information that may result in protectable intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, designs or trade secrets. I am merely stating that non-confidential information or know-how should be shared where possible. That is, once a preliminary assessment of the value of the know-how has been undertaken to ensure that a patent opportunity has not been inadvertently disclosed.

Applied knowledge is what will create value in the market, in society or in organisations. If we can translate research outcomes and tacit knowledge into applications that result in products and services, or assist in solving industry and societal problems, then we will create the power that we seek.

The diagram below outlines the Knowledge Cycle which involves knowledge production, knowledge transfer, knowledge application and knowledge diffusion. Other inputs required include creative inspiration, an intellectual property strategy and entrepreneurial skills and resources, including funding.Unfortunately, one of the most difficult processes that we encounter, both from a research-borne or industry-borne perspective, is the translation of great ideas into practical solutions and applications. A number of factors contribute to the difficulty in successfully applying knowledge and ideas , and conversion  into products and services:

  1. Humans are generally risk averse
  2. Limited availability of early stage risk capital
  3. Access to know-how required to take ideas to market
  4. Scarcity of entrepreneurial skills and experience
  5. Lack of motivation and desire – it is hard work!

Those who seek and acquire knowledge through reading, learning, observation, investigation and experimentation will grow and develop in their specific disciplines. Those who then adopt or apply the knowledge will create significant value for society.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Having a well articulated and proven implementation process will ensure that any system, plan or method is implemented appropriately.  Implementation (or deployment) of a system, plan or method is commonly viewed as the execution of a series of related activities, each activity termed an implementation stage. Implementation is the action that follows any preliminary thinking in order for something to actually be achieved. The implementation approach will be dependent on the particular system, plan or method being deployed, however, a number of broad steps can be used to guide an implementation process, including:

  1. Initiation – Determine the key strategic objectives of the implementation plan.
  2. Key Processes or Activities – Identify the key processes or activities required. You may need to investigate the “as is” processes (current situation) and then design the “to be” processes (desired situation) that may be required; particularly when new processes are being considered through a change management or process improvement initiative.
  3. Identify Tasks – Under each process identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the strategic objectives. Undertaking a Risk Analysis at this stage will ensure that any risks are identified and a risk management plan, with contingencies, is developed.
  4. Action Steps – Each task may be subdivided into further individual sub-tasks or action steps. Breaking down the tasks into smaller sub-tasks allows focus and therefore easier implementation.
  5. Assign Responsibility – The next step is to assign responsibility for each sub-task to a specific human resource. The human resources may be internal or external. The assignment of the task should reflect the best person able to complete or deliver the task. The composition of the team is important for successful implementation.
  6. Prioritize – Activities or tasks need to be prioritised to reflect the most important tasks that need to be completed, or specific tasks that need to be actioned before other tasks can begin. Some tasks can be scheduled in parallel to reduce the overall time.
  7. Timeline – The time required to complete each task must be estimated in advance. The forecast will need to be as realistic as possible, but allow some flexibility should any issues arise. The addition of the time required to complete all tasks will translate to the total project time.
  8. Cost & Budget – The costs to complete each task must be calculated in advance and an overall budget should be assigned for the implementation plan. Costs should not only include time, but also additional resources or tools required during the implementation stages.
  9. Do It! – The key to successful implementation is taking action and executing the assigned tasks as outlined in the implementation plan. This step is always crucial for successful implementation.
  10. Review and evaluate – Finally, the implementation plan will require continuous monitoring and review to evaluate progress. Any issues or delays encountered will require modification of the original implementation plan.

The action plan template can be used as a tool to assist with recording actions and tasks, assigning responsibility, confirming the due date and setting priorities.

“Success comes from transforming thoughts and ideas into action”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Self-discipline refers to instructing oneself to accomplish certain tasks or to adopt a particular pattern of behaviour, even though one would really rather revert to a passive or non-motivated state. Self-discipline is also known as self-control where assertion of willpower dominates a person’s state of being.

An example of self-discipline is when a person maintains a home-study course over a period of time and completes it within the required time-frame and minimum competency level. Another example relates to maintaining a daily exercise regime despite wanting to do something else like watch television or to lie in bed for a longer period in the morning.

One of the key factors of achieving successful outcomes is the power of self-discipline. Brian Tracy’s courses on “Maximizing Your Performance” state that self-discipline is a key success factor to achieving one’s goals and objectives. He defines self-discipline as “the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not”.

Self-discipline provides the ability to achieve outcomes faster than you ever thought possible. Once you become a highly disciplined person you can take control of yourself and your life to achieve goals that you previously thought were not possible. Self-discipline requires you to making a sacrifice in the short-term so that you achieve greater rewards in the long-term. You need to action what is necessary first (putting in the effort today) and enjoy the benefits later.

Self-discipline allows you to accomplish a number of activities that we would otherwise try to avoid, including:

  • Difficult tasks that require hard work e.g. delivering a presentation in front of a large audience
  • Unpleasant activities that we would rather avoid e.g. daily exercise program
  • Complex tasks with many steps that require patience e.g. collating receipts and expenses for your annual tax return
  • Solving problems requiring specialised skills

The following steps will help you to develop and master your self-discipline:

  1. Take responsibility – You control your direction in life, therefore, you need to make a personal commitment to self-discipline. Your positive state of mind is also important to achieving self-discipline.
  2. Develop a plan – Define the purpose, goals and objectives you desire. Develop and document your plan with the  activities that need to be actioned.
  3. Become action-oriented – If you have clearly outlined your plan you must continue to action the activities until you achieve the outcomes you desire.
  4. Avoid procrastination and distractions – Leave procrastination for another day and remove negative thoughts and habits from your life.
  5. Commit to consistent repetition – The more often you perform an activity the easier it becomes. For example, as you continue to exercise daily for a period of time it becomes a natural activity that you easily perform. The new behaviour then becomes a habit as neural patterns are created in the brain.
  6. Be persistent – Life is full of set backs. You need to maintain your focus on your goals and objectives and continue to make small steps towards success on a daily basis. If something goes wrong continue to persevere and get back on track.

It is not too late to start a life of self-discipline. All it takes is the commitment to maintain and repeat a series of actions or activities that follow a plan over a period of at least 20 to 30 days.

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Genius (success) is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”  Thomas Edison

Having the right mindset and attitude through positive thinking is the first step to achieving success. However, ultimately achieving successful outcomes will require action through the power of positive doing.  Success will only emerge from the actions you implement in life, once you have taken the opportunity to think about what you want and then plan what you are going to do.

Positive doing is about being motivated to take responsibility and to action a number of activities that result in progress along a planned roadmap or action plan. Even though we may deviate from our initial plan the key to success is the power of positive doing.

Tips to becoming more positive in life:

  • Focus on positive thoughts and remove any negative thoughts from your mind
  • Take responsibility of your life or someone else will
  • Find your direction and sense of purpose in life
  • Be assertive by cultivating your self-confidence
  • Value and respect yourself to improve your self-esteem
  • Face your fears and challenges in life as a first step to releasing your negative blocks
  • Get involved and make a contribution through the actions you take
  • Enjoy and celebrate your achievements

Positive thinking must be followed up with positive doing. Although I am a strong advocate of positive thinking, this alone will not achieve the outcomes you desire. You must act upon the positive thoughts, ideas and plans that you establish by implementing positive action.

Following are the ingredients to implementing  a positive action plan:

  1. Determine the goals and objectives
  2. Define the “what, who, when, where and how”
  3. Identify the specific tasks and sub-components
  4. Determine the key milestones
  5. Assign responsibility for each task and the timeline required
  6. Implement tasks and monitor progress
  7. Revise any tasks as required and celebrate the outcomes

You can use the following template to develop and implement your action plan.

The key to positive doing after establishing your action plan is to just START. Many people fail to execute their plans because they don’t start implementation for a number of reasons, including procrastination, not knowing how to begin, wanting everything to be perfect, mental roadblocks, or fear of taking action.

To implement a “positive doing” strategy in your life you must:

  1. Start your action plan
  2. Begin taking positive action steps
  3. Maintain self-discipline
  4. Persevere
  5. Periodically stop to reflect and evaluate
  6. Continue to drive your actions
  7. Check off your milestones

Dr John Kapeleris

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Ideation or idea generation is a key driver of the innovation process. So how do we find our best ideas? Many of us generate our best ideas during the morning shower, or while we are listening to music or driving. Sometimes we come up with ideas when we are actively trying to solve problems or when we wake up in the morning. The greatest impediment to extracting value from these ideas is firstly our ability to actively capture these great ideas before the hard work begins to evaluate, harvest and implement these ideas.

Converting ideas into successful outcomes or benefits, i.e. innovations, requires a disciplined approach, although creativity forms the foundation of the process.  A typical idea management process may involve the following steps:

Generating Ideas

Dr Linus Pauling, the dual Nobel Prize Laureate stated “The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas”. The more ideas you produce the greater the chance of finding a winning idea. Idea generation was popularized by Alex Osborne in his 1953 book “Applied Imagination” where he described the concept of “Brainstorming”. Brainstorming is now widely used as a tool to generate a large number of ideas in a group setting. Furthermore, Tony Buzan’s Mindmapping® technique has also provided the means for individual brainstorming. Individuals or groups have the capacity to come up with ideas when they are in a conducive state or environment, such as relaxing in a quiet and comfortable place or while taking a shower. Relaxation allows the subconscious mind to continue to process information and make connections.

Capturing Ideas

Where do you look for ideas? You don’t need to go far. Ideas already exist within individuals working in an organization or they can be easily sourced from the external environment, including the market, customers, competitors and the Internet. We can improve the process of capturing ideas by:

  • Actively looking for ideas around us through observation and listening e.g. talking to people, newspapers, the environment
  • Building idea sources such as reference books, the Internet, thought leaders
  • Recording and banking ideas in journals, notebooks, electronic databases or mobile phone apps

Discovery through serendipity results in a random coincidence or accident that triggers an idea or concept. An attentive mind is important in recognizing and capturing these random ideas. Alternatively, synchronicity or focused awareness is more powerful since the individual is actively seeking an idea or a solution to a problem.

Constructing and Harvesting Ideas

When ideas are generated and captured they are usually in a raw form and require further constructing or processing into a concept or application. For this to occur a number of creative thinking tools can be used including brainstorming, morphological analysis, scenario building, rearranging, cross-linking or randomizing. The final step involves harvesting the developed ideas that will either, satisfy an existing market need, solve a known problem or provide a new opportunity for further development. At this stage some people will include an incubation step to sleep on the ideas before the evaluation stage.

Evaluating and Protecting Ideas

The previous steps in the idea management process all involve some element of creative input, while, the evaluation stage involves traditional analysis of the ideas using a number of predefined criteria relevant to the individual or the organization. Although, intuition may also play a role.  In evaluating ideas an initial feasibility should include a preliminary market, technical and risk assessment to determine the viability of the opportunity. It should also include an intellectual property search to determine whether someone else has already patented the idea, and to confirm that you have the freedom to operate. This step is followed by determining the value of the idea to the organization and the costs associated with the implementation phase. Paralysis by analysis should be avoided if the idea is to progress to implementation.

Implementing Ideas

One of the most difficult steps is the implementation phase. To develop great ideas and not to action them is the same as not having any ideas at all. Implementation requires planning, hard work and discipline to achieve successful outcomes. Many people underestimate the effort involved in converting their ideas into successful products, services or processes. A typical implementation process may involve:

  • clarifying the objective,
  • developing the plan,
  • identifying key processes and tasks,
  • prioritizing activities,
  • resourcing and budgeting,
  • funding,
  • assigning responsibility, and then
  • doing it!

Developing a compelling business case or business model with a clear path to market is a key factor of success.

Measuring Outcomes and Results

Progress can be monitored using appropriate measures to determine the effectiveness of the idea. Measures include value currencies such as revenue, cost savings, efficiency gains, social benefits and environmental benefits. Remember, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

Your next idea could be the breakthrough innovation, new solution, new product, new service or organisational system that could add value to your organisation or to society.

Dr John Kapeleris

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We have now reached the middle of the calendar year which is a good time to review your major goals and objectives that were set at the start of the year, and determine progress along your personal development journey. I challenge you to allocate some time and action this important task. Your goals, objectives and personal action plan are not set in stone. Circumstances change and new opportunities emerge that you need to consider and build into your plan.

If you have maintained a journal to document your action plans for your major goals and objectives, and tracked your journey and progress, then this will be the first place to start. Alternatively you may have your action plan documented in electronic format or you may be using a task list. Review the action plan for each of the goals and objectives that your set to determine your progress; whether you need to focus and give more attention and time to your plan, or whether you need to revise or delete a particular action plan. Add a review note next to each action or task. I usually use a “Status” column where I add the words: Completed, On target, On hold, Needs revision, Delete task or New task. If a task or action needs to be revised then I document the necessary changes. Most of my revisions relate to the due date for the task or action, particularly for goals that were over ambitious, which is common amongst high achievers.

If you have missed certain opportunities then you should ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to capitalise on the missed opportunities that would have added value to my personal and professional life?”, and document potential changes and actions for the future. This could include learnings such as:

  • Focus on the specific goal or action,
  • Allocate more time to a particular goal,
  • Take action – “Just Do It”,
  • Invest more time to personal development instead of wasting time on non-value activities, and
  • Seek assistance from mentors, peers or role models

I also review my journal entries that I have recorded, particularly the ideas and information I have captured over the last six months. The ideas and information can be quite valuable for further reflection and implementation. Who knows; one of your ideas might be the next “blockbuster” product, service or business opportunity! The recent review of my journal entries identified thirteen new business opportunities that I have extracted and recorded separately. I am now in the process of developing individual goals and action plans for each of the business opportunities. Many of the action plans will concentrate on undertaking further research followed by conducting a feasibility for the business opportunity, while other action plans will be in the form of implementation plans.

As I have stated previously “The rest of your life starts now!”, therefore focus on your future goals and plans, and don’t spend time regretting the missed opportunities of the past.

What does your revised personal development plan or life plan look like?

Good luck and I wish you every success for the remainder of 2010!

Dr John Kapeleris

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