What does success means to us?

huge tacoYou aren’t gonna win ‘em all… Maybe that shocks you. If you know anything about me you might say, that’s not like you to say something like that, which for the most part I would agree with. Normally I have the mindset that I can and will get what I want, when I want and will begin moving in that direction. However, obstacles, problems (that’s right, I didn’t say challenges), and external variables may contribute to the fact that maybe something didn’t go your way when you thought it would.

Our process of introducing a concept to an individual or group of individuals is subject to their own method of evaluation and validation, and we must understand that. It’s like eating the worlds largest taco, success is on your terms, not someone else’s.  Some would consider that an incredible accomplishment, others wouldn’t care.  It’s subjective.

Habitually making the same mistakes would be catastrophic to our success. Knowing that we will not succeed 100% of the time, it is imperative to learn from our failures and set backs so we do not repeat it and break the cycle. You cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a new result.

You are not defined by your success, you define your own success.  Previous achievements do not determine who we are, nor are we beholden to the standards of others.  It is important that we crystallize and clarify what success means to us.  Further, what we may have considered success in the past may no longer be relevant.  If we are to grow as individuals we must always be reaching for new plateaus of achievement and to do that it takes constant reevaluation and assessment of where we are and where we wish to be.

5 Keys in improving your success ratio:

Research: Do your homework. Find out everything you can about the company or individual you are calling on. Make a call to someone within the company to get intel that may help you.  Be creative in gathering information.

Preparation: Come armed with questions and get the information you need to understand how to position yourself as a trusted adviser. Don’t just wing it or rely on your experience. Customers will see right through you and recognize you have not prepared.

Practice: Rehearse what you are going to talk about, and how. The most costly thing you can do is to practice on potential customers.  Role play if you have to.  One thing that I’ve been doing for years is to have a list of bullet points that I want to discuss.  It helps keep me on track.

De-brief: Always do a self assessment whether you won or lost the deal. You will always learn more from the deals you lose than the ones you win. Look at what you did right and what you may have been able to do better.

Do things different: Always be looking at ways to improve and be open to consider new ways of looking at things.  You’d be surprised what you can learn if you are open to learn. Refuse to look at things from the same old tired perspective.  If you continually look at things the same way, you’ll continue to have the same perspective, when a fresh view is needed.

In the end, you will win more deal if you apply these principles. Unfortunately you are not going to win every deal you work on and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Refine yourself, your process and continue to improve incrementally each day and you will bring more success to yourself. Success is about setting goals and realizing achievement by your standards, not anyone else’s.

To your success and Ignite you passion.

Which version of the truth will you choose?

rutsThere is a sign that was once seen on the side Australian Outback road that said, “Choose your rut carefully, you’ll be on it for the next 200 miles.”   In those days it was nearly impossible to change course once a rut was chosen.  We may not be able to change our circumstances in the present or in the foreseeable future.  Although we may think that a change will make us happier it still may be a long way off.  Whether we desire a new job, a large purchase, or whatever it is, we may have to deal with the situation we are in.  So what are we supposed to do?  Excellent question!

The one thing we can control is how we view a situation or circumstances.  Our belief system is paramount to our mental state and psychological well-being.  The truth is that we are limited by how we perceive things.  Others will try and influence us on how we view a scenario, but we must control out thinking and choose how we view it, and on our terms.

How we view and how we react to something is the dominant force in our actions and mental state.  The thing is, it’s within our power to control.  Here are some ways we can help turn things around.

  1. Know that you have a Choice: You are not predestinated to be a certain way, or be in a predicament.  The old adage, “the glass is half full/empty” shows how we can always make a choice in the way we view something.  We are not predisposed to being negative or positive.  We choose one or the other.
  2. Continually focus on where you want to be: Don’t constantly focus on the bad in a situation or fear things might be getting worse.  Rather focus on the good that could be coming your way.  Move your mind and then your actions in the direction that YOU want to go in.
  3. Be realistic about your how you feel about the situation: Honesty about your true feelings will go a lone way here.  Don’t simply wish to feel differently but take steps to change your view and be constructive in the process.  Wishers never achieve anything, it’s the doers who make an impact.  Get clear on how you feel and why.  Then ACT!
  4. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people: Mark those around you who consistently have a negative attitude and avoid them like the plague.  Being around negativity will only bring you down.  If all of your friends are negative, then find new ones.  Being around positive people will rub off.
  5. Make positive confessions: Check your own thoughts.  Choose to find the good, confess the positive, think positive, and expect a positive outcome.  Always take the high road and be positive in every aspect of life.

The space between our ears is ours to control, so make the most of what you have been given by being selective of what we choose to fee our minds.  You may not be able to change course at the moment, but you can sure decide how you think about it and act accordingly.  Remember that you can only think one thought at a time and you can choose what those thoughts are.  We have the gift to think freely and can choose which version of the truth to focus on, so chose wisely.

Respect the Torch!

Where will you be at the end of the week?

Calendar-600We should ask ourselves that question at the beginning of every week. If we do not, then we will fail to achieve the results we truly desire and sort of take what we get rather than planning for and anticipating how great it could be. It doesn’t take using a crystal ball, but it does require having a vision for where we want to be short term and long term.

Do you feel like random things come your way and life turns into a whirlwind?  This may be true in your professional or personal life. In my years of interfacing with top performers a common thread rings true: “Those who are truly successful either find circumstances that help them and if they cannot find them, they go out and make them!”  You never wait for success to come and find you, you go out and find it. If you are looking hard enough, you can find a way to make things happen that are congruent with what you want.

Having a vision for your life must involve projecting yourself into the future and taking a look around and being observant of what it is like. Try starting off your week, with planning and having a clear picture where you want to be at the end of the week. What do you want and how will you get it.

You might say, “OK, if it’s so easy, then how does it all work”. Excellent question.  Here are some things I’ve picked up from highly successful people that can help get you started in the right direction.

Key #1: Know where you want to go; Without a clear destination, we will not get to where we wish to be. Think of it as a plane preparing to fly. It has a starting point and a final destination. From there a determination is made as to the best way to get there and what will be required. They have to build in who will fly the plane, how much fuel is needed, what snacks and beverages will be consumed, how they will book the flight, what time the plane will leave in order to arrive on time, other factors that may affect like weather, air traffic, and a myriad of other factors that must be thought out way in advance. Here is an interesting fact: A plane going to Hawaii is off course 95% of the time. Constant adjustments are made to get back on course and somehow they get to their destination.

Key#2: Set reasonable and measurable goals; Setting realistic goals will help build success. And we don’t want to set them too small, but make them achievable. For example; if you normally only can run for 20 minutes without a break, a long term goal may be to run a marathon someday. Realistically, you will have to work up to that point. You may want to add 10 minutes a week and stick to it. That way you will be able to build on what you achieve every week.

Key #3: Set stretch goals; Hey, don’t make it too easy. Using the previous key, maybe you should push yourself a little and do more. I like to set goals that are just beyond what you think you can achieve. And if you achieve too easily, then raise the bar. I have had to do this many, many times in my life.

Key#4: Make yourself accountable; Lack of accountability can be a curse and set yourself up for failure. If you have a coach, friend, or someone you can talk with, it will be helpful. If not, then at least write down you goals with what you actually did.

Key #5: Know WHY you set this goal; If you cannot definitively articulate why you wish to achieve something, then you will probably never accomplish it. Understanding what it means to you is a huge factor in personal achievement.

Key #6: Remember that the process is important; Don’t forget to enjoy the process and to go about it in an honest and ethical manner. The destination is important, but so is the way you arrive at your destination.

Take time every week, before the week begins, to get quiet and set your vision for how your week will go and what you will achieve. The more clear we are on what we want and why, the more clear our reality will be.

Remember to always “ignite your passion”

Act your age? Not me…

90_young_at_heart_button-p145795930568402624t5sj_400People say you are supposed to act your age.  On many occasions I have been accused of acting like a child or not acting my age. That’s not a bad thing in my book. People consistently guess my age as about 10 years younger than I am. I don’t mind that one bit.

I am not advocating that we all act silly, purposefully childlike and immature. Rather, think of the enthusiasm and energy that young people and children have. They see endless possibilities, are fearless, they don’t conform, and make the world cater to them instead of the other way around.Who wants to be known for being an old fogie.  Even in business, we see those who are younger and have innovative ideas that are progressive and appeal to the younger crowd. That being said, there is certainly a lot of room for wisdom that comes with age and there is real value in that. The point is that being a vibrant person is generally the kind of person that most want to be around and find interesting. This has to be a genuine part of your personality too. It is a mindset and an attitude. My mother says that she doesn’t feel her age and she is a very vibrant and energetic person.

A key in this is to stay moving in a positive manner. Stay mentally young and excited about life. What’s wrong with living with excitement and color.

Here are some ways to help you be more vibrant.

  • Be positive: Negative people and being negative will bring you down and drain the life out of you. Always having a positive outlook can help shape your character and others will be drawn to you.
  • Be a friend: A friend is one that cares about the welfare of others and listens more than he talks. A friend reaches out to others and thinks of things to do with them or for them. Without friends you will be lonely and lack the interaction that people need by nature.
  • Exercise consistently: An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so keep moving. Develop a consistent exercise program and stick with it. It will help relieve stress, give you energy and help prevent the body from breaking down. Of you don’t use it you are gonna lose it.
  • Eat right: It’s amazing how the foods (and portions) we eat contribute to our well-being. So be aware of your diet as it relates to what your body needs.You will feel better when you eat a more balanced diet that consists of foods that contribute to your health rather than eating for pleasure.
  • Laugh: Studies have shown that laughter is an important element to health and the state of our being. Some studies have shown that it can contribute to physical healing and restoration. So do it.
  • Get out of your comfort zone: If you always do what’s easy, how will you grow. Try new things, see family members you haven’t seen in a while, sign up for cooking classes, interact with people outside your normal circle, invite someone over for dinner that you normally wouldn’t, try parasailing, yoga, anything that is outside your routine. This will help round out your experiences in life and you will may be surprised at what you enjoy. My daughter and I recently did a pottery class and I really enjoyed it.
  • Have a grateful attitude: No matter how bad things are in your life, they could always be worse. We should be grateful for the opportunity to draw breath every day. And every day will consist of what you make of it, so be thankful for what you have and for the people in your life.

So, stay young at heart and excited about the adventures of everyday life.  You will be glad you did and have a fuller life and so will those around you.

Ignite your passion!

Sand in the machinery of life

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Many years ago I heard the phrase, “Fear is sand in the machinery of life.” It destroys, it impedes, it prevents us from being the kind of people we want to be. Another definition is, FEAR; False Evidence Appearing Real. When we buy into fear, we claim for ourselves a reality that is not necessarily a destiny that has to happen. In other words, we are the ones who shape and determine what will happen to us.

When we allow fear to control us, we get the opposite of what we desire to have. It may begin in a subtle way, maybe a word from a friend, co-worker, a television commercial; and may directly or indirectly affect our thinking. Like in a garden, we must weed these thoughts out and get rid of them. Don’t learn to deal with them, just pull them out and dispose of them. If they cannot help us get to where we wish to go, then take them out with the trash.

Can you imagine adding a spoonful of sand in with your next oil change? Your engine wouldn’t run very long and then it would be followed by an expensive repair. The engine would be ruined and need to be replaced because it would cease the engine. That’s why fear must be rooted out of our thinking. We are surrounded by it at times and to me it is extremely distasteful and disgusting. Fear has been used on me numerous times, and a few times in my past I have made decisions based on the negative emotion. However, now I am more adept at recognizing it and heading it off at the pass before it festers into a wrong decision.

The exception would be something like – if you got a letter from the IRS, and you had to act now, you might get a little rush of adrenaline, and then developed a plan of action. Even then, you turn the initially negative emotion into something useful by taking POSITIVE action.

The opposite of fear is: Confidence, Bravery, Courage, Faith, and the active pursuit of a worthy endeavor. The natural, human message of fear is to get prepared to act. Like if we see a bear in the woods – RUN! You decide and act. Or if you see a shark in the ocean while surfing – get to land NOW! The point is to act in a positive way. But when people try to get me to do something by using fear in a negative way, then I have some sign language I would like to send their way. Something like: We had better get this result in one week – Or Else!

The mind set is to direct our thinking in a positive way and therefore control what we want and how we will get there in a positive way. In business, for someone to say that; so far this month you are below where your projected results should be is ludicrous. Nice, Captain obvious. Tell me something I don’t know. And then tell me that investors are closely monitoring my results is again painfully obvious. I believe it takes maturity to be able to constructively evaluate in a state of flux, glean from the situation, change what needs to change and develop a solid plan based on something positive and not fear of failure. I have no place in my life for that and won’t tolerate and neither should you.

So, focus on what is good and right in your life, and move toward that which is positive. Make decisions because they are going to take you in a direction in which you want to go and not because you are afraid of negative consequences and “OMG what will happen if????”

You are the keeper of your thoughts and therefore your destiny. Keep your life in check by keeping your thoughts well arranged and lined up with the goals and desires you have in life and let NO ONE steal your peace by introducing fear. Keep positive and keep on truckin’.

Ignite your passion!

Control what you can, one great rule…

shoeSome things are within our control, and yet others are beyond our ability to control. Personally, I am a firm believer that there is always something we can do to influence an outcome. We can prepare, plan, strategize, train, visualize, map out, and involve people who can help us get to where we want to be. And then there is the element beyond our control which involves others and their freewill.

One of the greatest freedoms we have is the ability to freely think, speak, and decide for ourselves. It is a God given right. This is, of course, within the confines of some basic morals common to all people. But nevertheless we have the power to decide. When trying to influence or persuade someone, it is imperative that we go about it the right way. What I mean by that is we should always endeavor to be objective and not have a self serving attitude.When this is our motive we will get a better and more equitable result all the way around. It is when people use power and money to serve themselves that they take short cuts and harm others and eventually themselves.

All of us at times persuade others on our ideas. Each of us has opinions based on what we have been exposed to and genuinely believe. Sometimes we try and sell our ideas to others. Other times family members may invite us to their home for the holidays and give reasons why we should go and what we will get out of it and how others will be affected if we choose not to attend. Let’s face it, we all persuade people at various times. We are all salesman.

The main key here is that all too often we have one point of view and don’t take the time to put ourselves in the other shoes. It’s when we do this that we will truly understand how the person across from you really feels. Before we can put on someone else’s shoes, we must first take off our own shoes. This gives us the privilege to be in their world and realize how something will affect them. See it from their point of view.

Some questions we may want to ask:

  • How will this affect them?
  • How would I react if I was them?
  • What will this mean a year from now?
  • Do I have their best interest or is it just my opinion of their interest?
  • Why would they want to go along with this?
  • Why should they care?
  • What is in it for them?
  • In the end, it is worth it?

These questions are generic, but they may help you see things from their point of view. The great key here is that we should endeavor to persuade from their vantage point. You cannot control what they will do, but if we put the time in, we will have a better shot at conveying to them, in terms they can relate to, how an idea or concept can benefit them. In sales, take the time to see a prospect or customer using the solution we proposed to them and how it will improve their situation. This will give you a better shot at effectively communicating in terms they relate to. So control what you can and don’t leave the rest to chance. Put on their shoes and walk around a little bit.

Ignite your passion.

No guts, no glory!

When mohammed_aliI was younger I was discussing business pursuits with an elderly English gentleman.  I very much appreciated his direct and humorous way of looking at things as well as the experience he had in life. As we were talking about how to tackle something seemingly beyond your reach, I said “No guts, no glory”, he responded with the English version which is, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” He then proceeded to tell me several examples of how he and others reaped tremendous rewards by taking some calculated risks and having the courage to pursue their dreams.

I know many people who had a vision for what they wanted to achieve and allowed nothing to stop them from their dream. One person in particular referred to nay-sayers as “dreamstealers.” Not sure if he came up with that phrase on his own, but he sure lived that way. I watched him field criticism and take shots. He had to let it run off his back and move on.

What others think of us affects individuals differently.  Some are impacted by the words of a stranger or co-worker more that those who are close to them.  Approval is important to some personality types, which can eventually shape and mold them. How about positive affirmations and praise by peers?  Why are some people affected by others so much? Truth be told, we all like to be well thought of and respected and liked. But in the end, what does it really matter what someone else thinks of us?  So what if were embarrassed in front of someone we may never see again. Why do we emphasize it so much and magnify it bigger than it has to be or really is?

When you have are truly confident you won’t be rattled about by opinions of others and will stay focused on your goal.

  • Your inner peace: For many, inner peace is a spiritual strength that comes from their personal faith. Peace is a sense of rest, inner quietness, and a lack of strife internally. This comes when we resolve internal conflicts and live up to the moral and ethical standard we’ve held ourselves to. It means we are comfortable with ourselves and are growing into the person we wish to become.
  • Inner confidence: This comes from a belief in ourselves and our ability as well as a respect and the esteem that goes along with it. It doesn’t include someone who isn’t adept in a area and fakes it until he makes it. It won’t include those who are cocky or brag. You have seen these people, they are able, competent, willing to put in some effort and expect to succeed. They are determined to win, and prepare to do so. They love themselves, yet know their limitations. Most of all they believe in themselves and the task they have set at hand.
  • Know who you are: Have you really sat down and thought about who you are? What kind of person are you? Somewhere, whether conscious or unconscious, we have a belief about who we are and It may not all be good.That’s why we need to figure it out. Truthfully, we have the ability to make that decision for ourselves. Its not a hand that is dealt to us that we are tied to. We shape and decide who we are and who we will become. When we get off course, get back on and align ourselves with that vision.

The biggest obstacles are the ones that we allow to stay in our way in preventing us from where we wish to be. We need to have the courage along with our vision and pursue our dreams no matter what others will say or think. Who cares anyway? Have the character to do what others are not willing to do and realize our dreams. Only you can do this for yourself, so make it happen every day.

Respect the Torch!

Opinions, everybody’s got one…

big mouthThe other day I was involved in a very interesting group discussion revolving around how we communicate with others. We talked about how we can affect people with our words without meaning to and turn off others to the end they will not listen to what we have to say. I know that personally I have been brash and spoke to hastily more times than I care to remember. If we are to be a leader or a person that people can come to for help, friendship, advice, we need to communicate in a way that is palatable to everyone.

We all communicate and receive information differently and we must consider that when releasing our opinion into the air without regard to the aroma of it. This is true with business, socially, and personally. I may have the best product in the world, and I may think that everyone who uses a competitive product is paying too much for inferior technology. However, if I criticize someone who uses it when I am trying to do business with them, I insult their intellect, and basically count them foolish for being swindled into making a bad decision. How would you feel in that case?

People make decisions based on their criteria, not yours. What makes perfect sense to you, may not to someone else. You must look a few layers beyond the surface to understand motives. Also, people generally make the best decision they can based on the information they have at the time. In sales, there is always a competitive alternative to what we have. Competition keeps us sharp and should push us to be the best that we can and prove our worth, rather than bash the other guy. In doing so, we bash the person were selling to. EVEN IF: the customer begins bashing what they have, do not give in to this but take the high road and focus on the value you bring to the table.

The person that is a notch above is the one who is respected because he does a few things differently than most, and there are a couple of them:

· Think before you speak: Truly take a minute to think through what you are really saying. Sounds pretty basic and fundamental, but the more I practice this, the more I stay out of trouble (some of the time anyway).

· What will others think of this? Before you can walk in someone else’s shoes you first have to take off your own shoes. There is an old Native American proverb that says, “Never judge a man until you’ve walked 10 miles in his moccasins.” Consider how someone will take it.

· What does this say about me? Consider if you were hearing this for the first time and had a contrary opinion. Don’t force your opinion on someone, first establish mutual ground and build from there.

· How are you saying it? You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Make it appealing. Just because you think you’re right, doesn’t make you superior in any way.

And, its Independence Day Weekend. Remember what we have in this country and be thankful for the freedoms we so easily can forget were paid with a price. And thank a military veteran if you see one.

Ignite your passion!

The Secret Ingredient

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My family and are fond of the movie Kung Fu Panda.  In the film, the main character is out of place,  expected to fail and seeking a secret ingredient enabling him to succeed.   At a key point, the main character comes to the realization that there is no magical, secret ingredient, but that you are the one who makes whatever you do special by what you bring to the table. The thing that made my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies so intoxicating was the secret ingredient she put into it was her care for her family and the joy of watching us eat them with smiles on our faces.

In our interfaces and interactions with others, what is the uniqueness that we bring to the mix? What is our secret ingredient? If your personality were a restaurant, what item would people come back for again and again? What trait, quirk or attribute is the thing people want more of? What do they admire, appreciate, and what can’t they get enough of.

In business what unique and indefinable quality do we each bring to the table that only we can provide? If you aren’t aware of what that is, maybe you should. Knowing what we are good at will help us sharpen our skills and focus on areas where we can be successful. I was meeting with a CEO recently and when I left the meeting I knew exactly what he thought of me and I knew what he liked about me and what he didn’t. I was fully aware immediately after I left his office. Later this was confirmed when I probed his team for comments and impressions about me. I have found this useful over the years because it helps me know where I stand and what someone else likes or doesn’t like about my ideas and vision. I can read people pretty well. One great way to be able to read people is to ask questions and gage reactions. Look for a change in physiology, a shift in tone, a shift in eye contact, etc. These are all things I look for when interacting with others.That’s part of my secret ingredient, although I’m not claiming to be an expert, more like a student who is always learning and perfecting my craft.

You should have a sense for what you are good at and what you bring to the table and why others want to be around you. And don’t guess or assume.You know this by what others say about you. At one of my jobs it got to the point that I couldn’t get any work done in the office because co-workers would constantly come by my office and start conversations, and then another, and another. For the most part I really enjoyed the interaction and the conversations because they were light, humorous and invigorating. I knew what my secret ingredient was because I knew what others said about me (and said behind my back). It’s good to know the truth about what others say because it can help you be a better friend, co-worker, and person.Not saying that we buy into the negatives, hell no! but those parts that show what we bring that people want more of, so we can bring it again. It’s like Jeff Foxworthy. For a while we all wanted more redneck jokes because they were funny, so he did more. Thankfully he diversified after a while. But while it was hot, he milked it and got the most of it.

Whether it be your intellect, expertise, sense of humor, charisma, communication style, ability to listen, problem solving, or whatever your strength may be, be aware and bring it into what you are doing.

One word of caution! Like Jeff Foxworthy, if not done in good measure and balanced, it will become rote and boring, so use it in moderation and look for ways to expand and build upon the unique qualities you have to offer.Lastly, see yourself as that irreplaceable person that has a lot to contribute.

Ignite your passion!