Successful people often come from humble beginnings. Leonard Kim, an accomplished writer and personal branding expert, is no exception. Kim climbed his way out from the corporate grind to find himself and found a prosperous business.
Kim’s most famous articles have appeared on platforms like Quora and Inc, where he often reveals how you can take your business and lifestyle to the next level.
1. How to Become A Better Version of yourself
Kim says, “The answer is simple. Yet with all things that are simple in life, it is also simple not to do. It’s kind of a like brushing your teeth and flossing every day. Some people do it and have pearly white teeth, while others may have dental complications.” Kim is hinting at something powerful here. According to Leonard Kim, positive habits are crucial to success in life.
The good news is that you can form new habits at any age by embracing neuroplasticity. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., discusses in his paper how we have much more influence over our own minds than we may feel. Neuroplasticity is this phenomenon whereby the brain creates pathways depending on where you focus. By focusing on staying positive and productive, your brain will create supporting neural pathways.
Published in the journal Biofeedback, this paper stresses the importance in understanding neuroplasticity. It’s worth a read to analyze this concept as to best understand peak performance. Let’s take a look at a few more items from Kim’s Article.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Kim says, you should always strive to get eight hours of sleep per day. Unsurprisingly, the experts agree. According to John Underwood, director of Life of an Athlete Human Performance Project, the amount of sleep you get each night is an incredibly accurate predictor of performance—and not just for sports, either. Says Underwood, “If an athlete pulls an ‘all nighter,’ speed, power and endurance capacities can decrease.” You can read their full sleep manual here.
According to a paper in Seminars in Neurology, sleep restriction increases daytime cognitive dysfunction. It goes on to say that several days of sleep restriction can cause the same effect as acute total sleep deprivation. In other words, you should expect your performance—both cognitive and physical—to decrease from missing sleep. In other words, after a week or so of not getting enough sleep, you should expect your performance—both cognitive and physical—to decrease significantly. Moreover, the prefrontal cortex, responsible for complex planning, is particularly susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation. The study found that after just 16 hours of wakefulness, participants began exhibiting lapses in concentration.
3. Live in the Present
The third item on Kim’s list was an admonishment to, ‘stop living in the past or the future.’ On the surface, this advice seems a bit wishy-washy. After all, no one truly lives in the present. However, upon looking deeper, we found some interesting research to back this up. According to Peter Shepherd, founder of The Insight Project, all fear is fear of the future. But according to the University of California Behavioral Medicine Research Center, most of what we fear will never come to pass.
It seems that ‘live in the moment’ isn’t a wishy-washy new age notion after all. Why worry when most of the things you worry about won’t happen? Worrying is a mental activity, and as such, it requires quite a bit of mental energy. The brain is the most energy-hungry organ in the body, requiring around 400 calories per day. How much of that energy is going to waste?
See this short guide if you need help with dealing with worry.
4. Be Grateful
Another seeming bit of ‘new age’ advice, this statement also stands up to scrutiny. According to the paper Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life, which appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there are a number of beneficial effects of focusing on what one is grateful for.
These include altruism, rosier outlook on life, reduced fatigue and an easier time getting and sleep. According to Yale University, Daily gratitude practice can enhance mental health and may even play a role in preventing mental illness.
5. Maintain an Attitude of Abundance
According to Leonard Kim, adopting an attitude of abundance can help you get the things you want. This seems paradoxical until we look at the research. According to Rich Bayer, Ph.D., in his article Benefits of Optimism, optimism is an explanatory style. That is to say, optimism is a means in which optimists define what happens to them. According to Bayer, how you explain what happens to you has a major effect on how you respond to similar situations in the future, and in turn, how well you fare. Over time, your response to crisis has a definite impact on your self-image. This notion of seeing abundance in the moment can, if you let it, help you focus on how to get what you want, instead of how badly you want something. It’s like holding a door open in your mind, a door that leads to what you want.
Q&A with Leonard Kim
Q: What has been the hardest part of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
“The hardest part of my entrepreneurial journey has been linking my online success to my real life. Back when I started writing, I did it out of passion. I didn’t have a plan to monetize. I didn’t even think anyone would have read what I was writing. But as it started to take off, my life began to change.
It was weird. People were calling me an inspiration. They were calling me a success. They were calling me brave and talking about how much they looked up to me. But at that point in life, I was working at an entry level job at a Fortune 100 company earning $16.24 an hour, or around $30k a year.
I had a hard time associating my online success into my real life. It made me feel like I was an impostor. I started to discount myself, along with my accomplishments. That impostor syndrome carried over into my entire life and it cost me my relationship. After I lost something so important to me, I realized I needed to overcome this and continued onward with my journey. I did that by accepting that I truly did achieve what I set out to do. That it was me who did it all. And in return, my life started to mold around that belief in myself.” -Leonard Kim
Q: What is one thing you’ve learned that you don’t usually tell people?
“My parents think they’re full Korean. I took 23andme and realized I was only 51.8% Korean. Anyway, from observation of being Korean myself, being around Korean families during my childhood and living in Koreatown for the majority of my adult life, I have come to that many (not all) of them have huge egos and brag a lot about what they have.
The usual trajectory of a Korean person looks like this. In childhood, they study and get good grades, but get beat for speaking their minds. When they start to rebel in their late teens and early 20s, they brag about how much they party. In their 30s, they find stable careers and significant others. They brag about their wonderful job and their spouse. When they’re in their 40s, they brag about their kids and what they do with their friends. And it just continues in this way, until they decide to go to church and become judgmental of what others do.
Anyway, what I learned from both this observation and real world experience is that when you brag about stuff, people don’t like you. When you have a big ego, you push people away. When you’re judgmental about others, people are judgmental about you too. And if you do all three, then people just don’t like you period.
So I figured if I wanted to be likable, I needed to do something different than what everyone else around me was doing. I needed to be humble, think of what I was grateful for each morning and be vulnerable. It’s worked wonders.” -Leonard Kim
Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising agency in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at the world’s top publications. Brian is the Founder of Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures.