Reaching for the Stars or Grasping at Straws?

Reach for starsI think very few people set out to achieve mediocre results, but without a clear path the majority of people fall short of what they initially imagined.  For example, every January the gym where I work out is absolutely inundated with people who made a New Year’s resolution to “get in shape” without realistically assessing all factors involved, especially the effort.  Those results take commitment and effort.  Usually I see these people show up at the gym, obviously out of shape, not familiar with how to work out and for various reasons they gone within 3 weeks.  I applaud their effort and desire, but getting serious about fitness requires a serious commitment and resolve.  Not being critical, but there is lessons that can be learned from this.

True successes will appear “lucky” or “effortless” on the surface.  If you talk to entrepreneurs they will tell you that there is way more below the surface than the average person sees.  Some businesses don’t see profitability for years.  The owners are the last ones to be paid.  Personal sacrifices were made and these people with vision didn’t quit where others gave up.

So when you feel like you want to commit to a venture or idea in business development, my advice is to study those who have forged ahead with their dream.  Ask questions, get a sense for how they made their idea work.  Then truly weigh the investment on your part as well as those around you.  Don’t just be a dreamer and approach your vision half heatedly.

So the question is, are you reaching for the start or grasping at straws?

  1. Big vision, big results – The vision you have for yourself, your job, and the things you are involved in will have an effect on results. If you think small, you’ll have small results.  Stretch goals are a way to keep us out of being complacent.  When contemplating your goals, always consider what is reasonable, attainable and then add to it.  If you commit to getting in shape, it’s not something you are going to “try out” and see if it works for you.  Fitness is something done for a lifetime.  See it that way.
  2. Don’t accept limitations other put on you, EVER! – Truth be told, its poison. There are going to be those who look down on you and will push their own doubt, disbelief on you.  The fact is, something that is done today was once never done before.  I detest when someone says I cannot do something when it is in my power to do so.  Negativity will NEVER produce a positive result.  Make sure anything you listen to will be positive but also constructive.
  3. Emulate great role models – First you must find them but once you do, study them and identify how they think, how they approach a problem, and how they overcome obstacles. Understand, not just what they did, but the underlying belief, conviction, resolve, commitment.
  4. Cause & Effect – The aim of all education is action. We can have all the positive, brilliant ideas and intentions in the world, but if we fail to back it up with action, nothing will happen.  If you intend to accomplish something like when I learned how to play guitar, I studied great guitarists, I practiced tirelessly, and I was continually trying to push my abilities to be the very best I could be.   At times there were setbacks, but I remained consistent in improving to the point where I became proficient.  It took many, many years too.   If you set out to do something, have the corresponding action.
  5. Consider the cost – This is an area where many fail in their attempt to reach for the stars. Yes, it’s great to reach for the stars figuratively when we have a goal in mind.  However if we fail to plan for success by weighing the cost in its entirety, there will be countless reasons to give up and most will do so.  The old adage that before going into battle, a King must thoroughly weigh the cost of doing so, holds true here.  Take the time to think through everything you can, not just success, but obstacles as well.  Trust me, there will be obstacles you didn’t even consider that will arise.

If we do these things, then we will do a much better job setting ourselves up for success no matter what the endeavor.

Respect the Torch!

Collect your Paycheck

Blank Check

How do you feel after a long day?  If you are like me you feel exhausted and worn out.  That’s because I bust my butt during the day to accomplish what I need to do in order to be successful.  I don’t like to leave anything undone or put things off.  Those who know me very well may beg to differ, but in general it drives me nuts to put things off.

One of the challenges I used to go through was that my mind was so active that I could not sleep, and sometimes it still happens to me.  I would have an idea about something and my mind would begin racing.  But everyone needs their sleep.

Anyway, while we are here, it is imperative that we give to those who are around us and to not withhold the good due them.  People wrong us all the time, that’s life.  We forgive and move on to bigger and better things rather than get all wrapped up into our own self-absorbed drama.  Trust me, our own personal version of how someone wronged us is the polar opposite of how the other person sees it.  Life is short and if someone deserves credit for doing something, then give it to them.  If you need to tell someone that you care about them, then do it.  Having the courage for those 20 seconds to tell someone how you feel can change your life.

My point is, if you have given your all in everything you do; at the end of the day when you lay your head on the pillow, collect your paycheck.  That’s when you reflect on what you did and have the opportunity to know that you did everything you could and made a difference in the lives of people around you.  Don’t go to bed without knowing you could have done something to enhance the lives of those you care about.

The last thing you want to do is to have doubt or regret because you could have done something to affect a situation.  So if it is in your power to help someone, then why wait?  Once I put off seeing my grandfather when he was elderly, when I thought I should go.  But because of a lot of things going on in my life, I delayed and planned on going in the future.  Well I missed my chance and regret visiting when I know it would have meant so much to him.

You earn your paycheck all day long, doing what you are supposed to do.  Don’t take short cuts, but sometimes do the thing that is hard.  Go the extra mile, make the extra sales call, tell someone you care, make that phone call to a relative, or whatever you know that you should do.  THEN, when you lay your head on the pillow, collect your paycheck.

6 keys to more success

success_at_workThese are some ideas on how you can get more out of every day.

#1  Luck be a lady:  Thomas Jefferson said something interesting regarding luck and I really think he was on to something.  Here is what he said (paraphrased, but only slightly), “Sure I believe in luck, the harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.”  The people who succeed are the ones to put the work into it.  Those who are touted for being tremendous innovators and geniuses all used their intellect, passion, personality and all the resources they had to achieve their goal.  The key here is to have purpose.  Purpose clarifies our thoughts and actions so we can harness our being to accomplish great things.  Some have no true purpose, and that’s not a good place to be.  Others have purpose but it’s not clear and will not produce clear results.  Those who have a well-defined purpose are the ones who rise to the top in life.

#2 Crystallize:  If you want desired results in your life, you must be crystal clear on where you want to be.  It won’t matter how self-assured you appear on the surface, if you lack the clear vision for who you are and what you want, you will reap second rate results.  Do this by focusing on where you want to be in 10 years, 5 years and so on.  Then consider what would need to happen in order for that to become a reality.  Forget things falling into your lap.   It just doesn’t work that way.  You MUST clearly plan what you want and what you don’t want in your life and then immediately begin acting accordingly.  Behave as if your vision is a present tense reality.

# 3 Keep your friends close, your enemies closer:  There are people who annoy you.  And for various reasons.  Don’t just ignore those people, as there is much that can be learned from them.  For example, if someone has an abrasive personality, determine what characteristics account for that attribute and become aware of it so you avoid coming across that way.  Another example is a bad habit that an individual manifests.  Note that and don’t let it become a habit for you.  And don’t hate the person.  It’s the attribute that annoys you so don’t confuse the two.  The truth is, you can learn from anyone, so be open to it.

#4  There is no “I” in team:  Human tendency is to focus on what you can get out of a situation.  Survival instinct tells us to protect ourselves at all cost.  However, unless a bear is chasing you through the woods, you have to consider how your actions impact others around you.  The success of any team is contingent each individual acting as one.  If one misses the mark, the team will fail.  A chain is as strong as it’s weakest link.  So rather than focus on what’s in it for you, ask the question, “What can I do for others around me?”  When the focus is not on yourself, you will be able to go beyond the self-serving motives and make the world around you a better place.

#5 You’ll fail before you succeed:   Col. Harlan Sanders famous chicken recipe was turned down 1009 times before someone said “YES” to his chicken recipe.  He traveled around the country, sometimes sleeping in his car but never allowed rejection to stop him from realizing his goal.  He believed in his recipe and was convinced that someone would partner with him.  When we allow our focus to be on failure, we will reap more of the same and our motivation will be negatively affected.  Learn from failures and refuge to make the same mistakes in the future.  Do you think that the Colonel questioned whether he would find someone willing to utilize and profit from hi fired chicken recipe?  I’m sure he did, but he didn’t allow it to stop him or even slow him down.  So don’t allow failure to cloud your vision.  Learn from it and move on.

#6  Enjoy the now, be present: We all use electronic devices that supposedly make us more efficient and more productive.  A few years ago during a conversation a friend told me, “why don’t you put your phone down and be present.”  I’ll never forget that because what these devices do is distract us from whats happening in the present.  Connecting with someone somewhere else, collaborating for a meeting tomorrow, making notes, answering emails or whatever is so darn important – can usually wait.  The other thing it does is train us to not 100% focus on what we’re doing at the moment.  Yes, maybe were engaged in a conversation, but also, listening for that sound of an email we have been waiting for all day.  When you are talking with someone, family, friends, co-workers, give them undivided attention.  You will be amazed how much more you contribute and get out of a conversation.

Enjoy living every day to the fullest.

Respect the torch!