Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote for the week

The most successful people consistently ask themselves, "Is this the best use of my attention at this moment?" - David Cottrell

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Degree Makes All The Difference

One degree is the difference between hot water and boiling water. One degree of effort is often the difference between achieving success and missing the mark. The link at the end of this short post takes you to a short movie from (a wonderful source for motivational/inspirational products) which does a great job illustrating how important one degree can be. Click the link below watch the movie. Think about the message. It is simple, powerful and effective. Forward this post to friends, co-workers or anyone else you think could benefit from this information (and really, who couldn’t benefit).

212: The Extra Degree

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Positive Mental Diet Yields a Positive Mental Attitude

I am sure you have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. You cannot fill your body with “junk” food and then expect it to perform at a high level. In order to maintain a strong and healthy body you must keep it fueled by following a nutritious high quality food plan. Your mind is no different.

In order to operate at peak levels you need to “feed” you mind inspiring high quality information. Left on its own your mind operates in a “safety” mode. It is wired to make sure you are safe; your brain does not come pre-wired to keep you inspired or engaged with the world around you. It is your responsibility to get and keep your mind focused where you want it to go. To start making improvements to your mental diet keep the following three points in mind.

1. Turn off the talking heads on the radio and the TV. Yes you need to be informed about what is happening in the world but you do not need to be continually bombarded with negative messages. Listening to someone berate other people over and over does absolutely nothing to lift or keep your mind on a positive track. You really can get all the need from a 3o minute national news program – either on the radio or the TV. For those of you with satellite radio try listening to the news on the BBC. It can be very interesting to get information without a strictly U.S. political slant.

2. Read something inspirational every day. You’ll be surprised at how much more positive your overall attitude will become when you consistently expose yourself to some uplifting information. What inspires you is a personal choice – it may be the bible or similar, it may be biographies of successful entrepreneurs, it may be a host of blogs or a magazine like success. Try different sources and keep it up for at least 30 days. You will feel the difference.

3. Surround yourself with positive energy. Do not get involved in the petty politics and gossip in your office. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and realize that they are trying their best. Offer to help those who you see are struggling. It’s a karma thing – you never know when someone will return the favor. If you are involved in a toxic relationship you need to end it. This could be either a family relationship or what you think of as a friendship. How can you build up our self-esteem and personal energy level if those around you are tearing you down? True friends and loving family members should be there to listen to and encourage you to reach for the stars. Additionally, look in the mirror and make sure you are not simply reaping what you sow. If you criticize or in some other way do not support your family or friends how can you possibly expect them to be a source of support for you.

The better your diet, the better the results. This holds true whether we are talking about food and your body, or information and your mind. Help put yourself on a faster track to overall success by taking control of the information you are feeding your mind. It will work wonders in improving the happiness and satisfaction you can enjoy on a daily basis.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quote for the week

"What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that's another matter." Peter F. Drucker

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Forget Bucket List - Think Life List

The other night I noticed that “The Bucket List” was on cable. Although I have never seen the movie I do know the story line and it got me thinking. How sad is it to think that anyone would wait until the end of their life to really consider what they want to do and accomplish – their personal “bucket list” if you will.

How much more fun would it be to put together a life list early in life and then work to cross things off. Instead of worrying about fitting it all in you could take your time to really savor each moment, each milestone and each victory. Crossing something off the list would be a momentous occasion and another reason to celebrate life.

Have you ever really spent time thinking about your life list? Have you committed your list to paper? What should be included you ask. That is really up to you. What will give you the most satisfaction and sense of accomplishment? What is important enough in your life to keep you pushing forward through good times and not so good times? These are the things that should be on your list; as well as some “just for the heck of it” items.

Just for the heck of it items may include taking a hot air balloon ride, going white water rafting, or attending Clown College. These items should just make you smile. More serious items could include a healthy marriage and a close knit family; helping to build a Habitat for Humanity house or some sort of similar charity work. This is your list and only you can determine what to write down.

The point is this: take the time to make your list now and then enjoy the adventure as you work to cross everything you can off the list. The goal is to cross everything off and then start a new list. The list is life – spend some time simply enjoying it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quote for the week

“Determine the specific goal you want to achieve. Then dedicate yourself to its attainment with unswerving singleness of purpose, the trenchant zeal of a crusader.” - Paul J. Meyer

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Your Goals Must be Specific and Known

Any serious student of success is certainly familiar with the concept of goal setting. Goals provide a target to focus on and to measure your movement against. In order to accomplish both of these two objectives your goals must be specific, written down and shared.

The act of writing your goals down forces you to get focused. As you write, and re-write, you begin the process of selection. What are you seeking, what will light the fire of determination within you? If you do not put your goals on paper they remain merely passing thoughts and dreams. For years I thought about running a marathon but never got focused. I finally put the goal on paper, let others know what I am doing and am now training six days a week for a run in the spring.

Letting other s know what your goal or goals are is another powerful motivator. It’s sort of a “put your money where your mouth is” thing. By sharing your goal with others you are forcing yourself into action – lest you let yourself look foolish. Consider the ancient general Tariq ibn Ziyad who on April 30, 711, after he and his army landed at Gibraltar, ordered his ships to be burned so that his troops had no choice but to defeat their enemy or die a coward’s death (his armies swept through Spain killing the King later that summer).

I am sure your goals and aspirations do not include the invasion of Spain, but just as General Ziyad left no room for retreat if you are serious about success you should be thinking the same. How can you define your goals in such a way that you have move forward? Who can you share your goals with that can offer assistance or simply pressure you to stay the course?

Take the time to write very specific goals down as well as some time to think about the two questions noted above. The more focused you can be in both goal setting and who to share them with will help you attain all the success you are looking for.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quote for the week

"The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." - Vincent T. Lombardi

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quote for the week

"No problem is insurmountable. With a little courage teamwork & determination a person can overcome anything." - B. Dodge

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Top Three Qualities of a Leader

The question “What are the three top qualities a leader must have?” was posted on a discussion within the Linked2Leadership group on LinkedIn. Leadership qualities and leadership development are both subjects that have been and will continue to be studied, discussed and debated. Deciding on the top three is an almost impossible task. As situations develop and change within an organization of any kind the needed qualities and abilities for the leader change. That said let me offer three leadership qualities that I believe necessary regardless of situation.

1. A Strong Sense of Self. A good leader thoroughly understands his strengths and his weaknesses. He is comfortable in his skin. This knowledge of self allows him to build a diverse team that shores up his weaknesses and compliments his strengths.

2. Visibility. You cannot lead if you are not seen or heard. A good leader knows that she has to get out amongst her team and work hand in hand with them. An office, cubical or desk-based leader rapidly loses touch with what is happening day to day with members of her team. When you lose touch on a day to day basis you miss seeing small and easily fixed issues before they become a larger crisis. If you are consistently dealing with large problems I would suggest you need to dial up the visibility and find out what is actually taking place with your organization.

3. Excellent Communicator. By communication I mean both speaking and listening. A good leader listens more than he/she speaks. You need to ask questions and get the full picture before acting. A good leader gets input but accepts the final responsibility for whatever action is decided upon. You also need to constantly remind your people about the larger purpose of the organization in general and their job in particular. People become truly motivated when they understand the greater purpose they are involved in.

Obviously these three qualities and this blog entry just begin to scratch the surface of leadership. There are many (1000’s) of books and articles that discuss leadership. Two of my favorites are:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

In order to develop your fullest potential you need to develop your leadership skills. There is just no getting around the fact that good leaders are always in demand and that your leadership skills will propel you farther and faster on your success journey than any other skill set you may acquire.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quote for the Week

"It's not about what happens. It's about perspective. I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking." - Michelle Sedas

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Four Stages of Behavioral Change

Everyone's success journey will involve adding or changing behavior. As you learn and as you grow your behavior will change. Oprah Winfrey was not born the person she is today. As she experinced life her experiences help mold her into the successful business mogul she is today. This holds true for any other successful person in the world past or present. This holds true for you as well. To make your journey a little easier you need to be aware of the following four stages of behavioral change.

Stage 1: Aware
Becoming aware of a new process or procedure is the first stage in learning something new. This information was not part of your consciousness before. Once you become aware you move immediately to stage two.

Stage 2: Clumsy
Any time you are changing behavior it will be uncomfortable and you will no doubt be clumsy in your attempts to put the information into successful action. Think about customer service training. Most companies have specific greetings for their employees to use. At first these greetings come across very scripted and unnatural. As the employees practice and use these greetings with customers they become less clumsy and the employees move into stage three.

Stage 3: Comfortable
As you practice a new behavior or process you become comfortable with it. It starts to feel natural. Staying with the greeting example from above - the lines change from being unnatural and scripted to a more natural sounding speech pattern. The employees understand and are comfortable with the greeting. They have incorporated it into their natural speech pattern and it flows naturally. In addition, through repetition they no longer have to concentrate on the words themselves but understand the greeting at an unconscious level. This leads them right into stage four.

Stage 4: Automatic
Over time, and through repeated practice the behavior becomes automatic. When this happens you can say that the learning is complete. The information has been absorbed into the mind and the behavior has been modified to match the need and expectation.

Conventional wisdom notes that it takes 30 days in order to change behavior. It is in stage two, the clumsy stage that most people fail. Since the new behavior feels odd most people will stop trying and revert back to previous more comfortable behavior. You have to power on and get through to the comfortable stage in order to truly change behavior. The 30 day period provides enough time to push thru all four stages and truly establish a new behavioral pattern.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory." - Ghandi

3 Steps to Success Roadblock Removal

Be honest with yourself now. You have goals you want to achieve. Goals for your business or career and goals for your personal relationships and family. Ideally you have these written down and are specific as possible. (The more specific you are the more focused you can be and the more attainable they will be) . Regardless if they are written down or not, if you are like most people (I would say 95% or more) you just are not making the headway you want. You are not moving fast enough (if at all) towards achieving these goals.

Why? Roadblocks. Whether you realize it or not you are putting up roadblocks to your own success. That is the bad news. The good news is that you can tear down your roadblocks in three steps and get yourself moving again down the road to true success.

1. Identify the issues. You need to be honest and identify what is stopping you from moving forward. Is it a lack of skills, is it a lack of commitment/follow-thru, or is it fear.

2. Take ownership and stop making excuses. This is the hardest one for most people. When you take complete ownership of an issue you have no one else to blame. This puts it all on your shoulders which can be very uncomfortable. But until you finally take the ownership you will continue to make excuses and put the blame everywhere except where it belongs - and that would be with you. These are your goals after all. If you own the goals, then you have the responsibility to make them happen - which leads us to roadblock removal step three.

3. Focus on solutions. Once you accept the weight of responsibility you can begin to focus your thoughts and your energy on finding solutions. If your lack of success is due to a lack of skills - then get the skills. Find a way to get the training/education you need. Practice these skills until you become proficient in their use. Admitting to yourself that the problem is a lack of commitment/follow-thru is a huge first step in tearing this barrier down. A lack of commitment may be telling you that what you think is a goal is not really that important after all. Or maybe the goal needs fine tuning and a sharper focus. You can battle a lack of follow-thru by breaking the goal down into smaller and smaller pieces. The sense of victory you will get as you accomplish each of these smaller goals will help you gain momentum towards your ultimate larger goals. And if your roadblock is fear based you have to acknowledge that fact and not be embarrassed about it (fear impacts every one). If the fear is truly paralyzing you may need to talk to a professional in order to find a way harness the fear instead of letting it be in control.

You are an amazing person. There is nothing you can not accomplish if you put your mind to it. Yes, there may be work involved but that does not bother you. You already know that with hard work comes sweet rewards. Thomas Edison said "If we did all the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves". Don't you dare settle for less than you are capable of. You have so much to give to the world and to those you love. Identify your roadblocks to success, take ownership, and rip each and every one down.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is your greater purpose

Successful people know and understand what their greater purpose is. Having this knowledge helps keep them fully engaged in whatever endeavor they are involved in.

Depending upon the research study, as much as 65% of employees across the country are disengaged in their jobs and actively looking elsewhere. What a shame. Just think about how much stronger we would be as a nation if we could cut that number down to even just 40% disengaged. The lost potential from such a high number is impossible to calculate but my point in this blog is to talk about you and your purpose.

You see, it does not matter what line of work you are engaged in; there is a greater purpose than you likely realize. For example – have you seen the Pizza Hut commercials that have various employees talking about their greater purpose? They make statements such as “This is not just a pizza, this is a team celebration”, or “This is not a pizza, this is mom’s night off”. The point they are making is that the pizza is not just dough and toppings, but that it actually an important part of the customer’s life (at least for that moment in time).

You need to look at your job and your life the same way. You need to realize and keep in mind that your actions impact a wide variety of people. I work in the pet industry. I tell our people on a regular basis that we are in the “love business”. People do not need to have pets – they want to have pets. Pet owners (pet lovers actually) have strong emotional bonds with their pets. Our business is to both help enhance these relationships and encourage new ones. Sure, we sell pets and supplies – but in reality we serve a much greater purpose.

Your job and your life is the same. If you are one disengaged and unhappy you need to sit back and reflect on just what is your greater purpose. This greater purpose may not be immediately apparent to you, but if you stand back and really think this idea through you will uncover it. And when you do, I can promise you that you’ll find your life (work AND home) will become much more positive. Understanding and remembering the greater purpose will help push you through the sometimes monotonous everyday tasks that we all face.

Never underestimate the impact you have on the world all around you. Not only the people that you have direct contact with, but on all the people who your contacts interact with. Think of it as the ripples caused from throwing a small pebble into a pond. The ripples keep expanding outward from the point of impact. You my friend are that point.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit." - Conrad Hilton

The Complete Success Alphabet

Learning the alphabet was the key to reading, writing and communicating. Numbers and basic mathematical equations were the key to algebra, geometry and more. Basic laws of matter, energy and motion were the foundation to physics. Your Personal and Professional Development (PPD©) is no different. Learning your Success ABC’s will provide a strong base on which to build a lifetime of success upon.

The following list summarizes the Success ABC’s. Follow links individually to learn about a particular concept or start at “A” and follow the links from page to page. Commit these to memory. Practice them regularly. By building a strong foundation you’ll find your journey towards true success easier and more life more fulfilling.

A is for Attitude.
B is for Bounce-Back.
C is for Confidence
D is for Define
E is for Endurance
F is for Family/Friends
G is for Gratitude
H is for Healthy
I is for Initiative
J is for Journal
K is for Knowledge
L is for Library
M is for Mentor
N is for Network
O is for Optimistic
P is for Planning
Q is for Quit
R is for Responsive
S is for Sacrifice
T is for Team
U is for Undeterred
V is for Values
W is for Work-Ethic
X is for Xtra
Y is for You
Z is for Zest

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out" - Robert Collier

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finding Success by Changing Lanes

Here something I am sure you have experienced many times. You are driving down a multi-lane highway and the person behind you is driving almost in your trunk. You are already doing the speed limit or even an extra 10 miles an hour but this car is smack dab in the center of your rear view mirror. The lanes around you are open, the car behind could easily shift lanes but does not. He/she even flips their headlights on and off to let you know they are there. When you do move over (I'll confess - sometimes it takes me a while to move over when someone is clearly being a jerk) the car simply speeds up and does the same thing to the next driver on the road.

It seems so odd that the driver would not simply change lanes him/herself and fly on down the road to his/her destination. But they never do. They repeat the same actions over and over, day after day, week after week, month after month, etc, etc.

Sort of what some people do in life. They run up against and obstacle somewhere in their life (home, career, financial, etc) and they just try to push right over it. They push and push and push and get no where. Why continue to push against a wall when you can find a way to go around? Step back, cool down, and look at the situation as objectively as possible. Ask yourself what alternatives can you try. There are always alternatives, there are always options.

Do not let yourself get so frustrated that you lose your peripheral vision. When you focus too narrowly you miss a whole range of possibilities. Life is full of endless alternatives. If what you are doing is not getting the results you are looking for it is time to vary your course. Don't be the tailgating driver, always pushing to get ahead but never seeing the easier route.

Slow it down a little, relax a little and look at all of your options. I'll bet a dollar to a donut there is an easier way. You are just too focused on the one lane you are in to even see the other wide-open lanes available to you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Success is not so much what we have, as it is what we are" - Jim Rohn

Success Lessons from a Glass Studio

Professional success comes from not only living your passion but from working with a team that shares the same passion. This simple truth revealed itself again during a recent trip to San Antonio and a visit to a local glass artisan (see My wife and I spent several hours watching a team of five artisans - from Master thru assistant - produce a number of beautiful pieces.

Besides the final glass works, I was also watching the beautiful and almost choreographed movements of the artisans. They were all fully in tune with the molten glass and with each other. The work shifted from furnace to several work stations over and over again as each piece was being born. Each member of the team knew their role and moved effortlessly around one another in what was actually a surprisingly small space. Sometimes it was a word, a tap on the arm, or a simple head nod but each gesture, each movement communicated to the others what was happening and who and what were moving where. There was not only mastery of the glass but we were watching mastery of the entire process as well.

Make no mistake- this mastery is a product of passion. Finding your passion and then having the discipline and drive to go after it is what brings people to life. It is what will bring you to life. Pursuing a professional that is part of who you are, that actually pumps through your body, produces the most success. Success not only in the workplace but throughout your life as well. How could it not effect your entire life. You are living and working with the "true" you. When you are true to yourself you become a force and a light that everyone around you can see. How did these five artisans find themselves - they saw the light that each other possessed and were drawn together to become even better as a group than individuals. I am sure they go home at the end of a day fulfilled, energized and happy to be alive. Who could ask for anything more.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quote for the week

"Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success." - Dr. Joyce Brothers

Change is your Responsibilty

The recent U.S. recession was years in the making. Likewise, the life you are experiencing today is the result of the choices that you have been making for years. If you are not where you want to be stop casting blame, take responsibility for your life and make some new choices and changes.

Here are some suggested changes for each of the five main life success elements:

Head: Get the knowledge, get the training, develop the skills. I have heard it said that the skills you have today will not be the skills you need just 18 months from now. Technology is moving forward at a faster and faster rate. To be successful in the future you have to keep yourself current.

Heart: Turn off the TV and re-connect with your loved ones. How about setting up a weekly "date night" with your spouse or taking an evening walk together to talk and share your feelings, hopes, frustrations and desires for your future together.

Health: There are thousands of books on the subjects of exercise and diet. Trouble is reading a book doesn't get you back in shape. Stop procrastinating and get started. The sooner you start the more energy you will have and the more years you will be adding to your life. There are just too many things to learn, explore and discover in the world to let poor health slow you down.

Wealth: If you are not building your wealth you need to make serious changes today. STOP living on credit (in fact get rid of all but one emergency card). Start living on cash- you'll find that you really start paying attention to what you are spending your money on. Stop trying to live up with the neighbors - you never know if you will just be following them right into bankruptcy.

World: Give something back. You'll feel better and you'll be helping someone else. It can be as easy as mowing an elderly neighbor's lawn, helping a friend build a shed, or volunteering with a local organization. You don't have to discover the cure for AIDS or Cancer - you just need to give some time or money to help some one or some organization.

The only one who can change your life is you. But the resulting benefits spread out all around you. Your family, your neighborhood, your workplace and your community. The more you push yourself along the path of personal and professional development the more enriched your life will become.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Self Talk your way to Success

Every one of us has a constant conversation running thorough our heads. This is often referred to as self-talk and it can be a very powerful ally in helping you reach all of your success goals. The key is to be aware of this conversation and to work on keeping it positive and focused.

You have to be very aware of this conversation and of the specific words being used. As you know, words have the power to invigorate and motivate as well as the power to damage your spirit and zap your energy. It is all in the phrasing and how you internally react to what ever it happening around you.

You can't beat yourself up over and over in your mind and expect to be a positive and energetic force in your life or the lives of others. Monitor the conversation in your head and step in if it is going the wrong direction. If you are hearing "why can't I..., " or "I keep making mistakes", or anything similar you need to stop what you are doing and re-phrase the internal conversation. You need to be saying "How can I...", or "What is the best way to..."

You need to congratulate yourself on your victories no matter how small and keep reminding yourself of all the skills and talents you have developed. You are a force to be recognized and you are on your way to accomplishing great things. Know it, believe it, and own it. The more aware and in control of your self-talk the better your outlook about yourself and on the life around you will be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Change your Philosophy - Change your Life

Your personal philosophy defines who you are and how you interact with the world around you. Whether you have thought about it consciously or not, you do have a personal philosophy.

If you have actually taken the time to think about your philosophy give yourself a high five. I find that most people have not. Or if they have it was no more than a five minute exercise and was no more than skin deep. Defining your personal philosophy, your outlook on life if you will, takes time and a fare bit of soul searching.

Not sure what your philosophy is, or how to start defining it? Try this exercise. Sit down with a blank sheet of paper and answer these questions:

How do I want to be remembered after I am gone?

Who was the worst person I ever worked for and why? How did he/she treat you and why was that a problem?

If you could go back in time to one event in your life, where would you go and why?

What were three of the happiest moments in my life?

If you could speak one more time to a deceased loved one what would you want to tell them?

Now I am sure as you quickly read this you are wondering what these questions have to do with your philosophy on life. For many people, coming at the idea of a personal philosophy head-on is like running into a brick wall. You just can't get anywhere. But, go around that wall and you can suddenly see into the distance. These questions, or more importantly your answers to these questions, will help shed light on what is truly important to you from the inside. The answers reveal your deepest desires, your innate feelings about how to treat people, and your personal regrets.

After you finish all the questions (it could take more than one sitting) put your paper away. Come back after a few days or a week and review your answers. Do they still feel right, do you need to clarify anything. Once you are satisfied with your answers look for the underlying theme. This theme is your personal philosophy coming to the surface. It reveals how you feel about the world, about your place in the world, and your future. Not happy with what bubbled up. That's okay. Knowledge is power. Being aware of your base tendencies means you can focus on changing them to what you desire them to be. You cannot change what you are not aware of.

My hope, and my suggestion, is that you take the time and work through your answers to these questions. There is no right or wrong and no grade. There is just knowledge. There is just light. And when something is brought into the light it can be better appreciated or worked on (depending upon what you see and your feelings about it).

There is only one you. You are unique and you are a gift to the world. You owe it to yourself to become the absolute best version of you that you can be. Do not deprive yourself or those around you the greatness within you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quote for the Week

"Yesterday is in the history books and tomorrow has yet to arrive, but today is yours to create" - Paul Kamm

Think Relational not Transactional

During a recent training session I was speaking with my store managers about making an emotional connection with their customers. These emotional connections help create long-term relationships which in turn help drive repeat business. As every successful salesperson knows, a single sale is not enough - you need to build long-term relationships in order for your sales to truly soar.

But can't we take that out of the context of the sales arena and apply it throughout our lives. True success does not happen without the help and participation of many other people. It just can't happen in a vacuum. So, in reality, we need to be thinking relational at all times and not transactional.

What the heck am I talking about it? Stop thinking about the bank teller as just a "teller" who is going to take your checks, deposit them in your account and return a deposit slip to you. Look them in the eye and ask how they are doing today. Comment on their outfit, nails, hair or eye color. Let them know that you see them as a fellow human being and that you appreciate them helping you with the task at hand.

Successful people do this all day, every day. By all accounts Oprah Winfrey is an extremely successful person. But her success is firmly grounded in the fact that she treats her guests and her audience as human beings. She connects emotionally, not just with the studio audience but the television audience as well. She genuinely cares and that connection is felt right through the television. I am very confident in saying that her humanity played a very large part in her reaching mega-success.

Your aspirations may not be to be the next Oprah, but regardless of where you are headed showing compassion and genuine interest in those around you will certainly shorten the journey.

We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. Make it a point to think about the connections you can make, however brief, with everyone you encounter throughout your day. You will find that your life becomes richer, your mood lighter and the entire day brighter. Now that is called having a GREAT day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quote for the week

"It's tempting to sit and wait for life to come to you. But you can't, it's too busy. Life is out there. You have to go for it." - Harry Beckwith

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A great read on the Truth About Motivation

Sooner or later, in your career or at home, you are going to find yourself needing to motivate a person or persons to achieve some defined result. Google the term motivation and you get more than 53,000,000 results. It’s clearly a topic that gets a lot of attention.

I recently finished reading Daniel H. Pink’s newest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This is a must read for anyone serious about achieving results in their professional and personal life. This book takes a fresh look at the science of motivation and reveals that what we think we know, we do not.

In an easy to follow and logical progression Daniel discusses what the science of motivation has shown and how today’s businesses are, for the most part, not using the science to their advantage. He points out the old carrot and stick philosophy only works in a select number of situations. Today’s knowledge workers are motivated by something completely different. They need autonomy (time to work on their own), mastery (time/resources to become experts in their given area) and purpose (the job most be relevant to some greater good).

I am of course greatly simplifying the main points in the book. Daniel provides much more depth into each of these areas as well as a look into several companies who have achieved wonderful results by incorporated these points into their culture.

I cannot urge you enough to get copy and read this book. In addition check out Daniel’s blog and check out his talk about Drive on TED.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Success includes focusing on the Heart

Heart is the second success element. As I have stated before, family relationships stand at the top of the heart category. Remember that on a daily basis these relationships need to be nurtured. Simple and seemingly unrelated things can go a long way in letting those you love know they are important to you.

Case in point: I recently installed microwave oven over our stove. This is something my wife asked about several years back. I could argue that since we had a working countertop unit I was being frugal. My wife, rightfully so, would be correct by calling me cheap. I could also argue that I have been busy but again my wife would be correct in replacing the word busy with procrastinating. Yes, I had to find a cabinet maker to cut down and resize a cabinet but that only took one phone call. And yes I had to wire up an electrical outlet and fix some ductwork but that did not take that much time either. I simply did not start the project because I felt it was going to turn into a major ordeal. It did not. The cabinet ended up an easy fix and the kitchen looks great.

Being perfectly honest about it I was just not focused on the second success element. I was focused elsewhere and let family relationships take a back seat. This was not a decision on my part, it just happened. Time moves quickly and if you are not paying attention things slip to the back burner. By getting my ass in gear and getting the cabinet re-made and the microwave installed I was telling my wife that her needs are important to me as well. The lesson here is to make sure you listen and make sure you react quickly. It took way too long for this to be completed and until I finished it I did not fully comprehend how I was ignoring part of the relationship. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference.

Take a lesson from me. If a loved one needs your time and your skills – make the commitment to act on that need today. It is one of the easiest ways to say I love you.

Quote for the week

"Life is not about what you accomplish, it's about what you become in the process." - Unknown

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Z is for Zest

Z is for Zest: a zest for life and a zest for learning. Without zest the journey along your path to success will be long and difficult.

Zest defined: keen relish, hearty enjoyment, gusto.

Look at the definition above. If you cannot apply this to your life, your family or your career you need to make some changes. You’ve heard it before: Life is too short; Life is too precious. We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. Yes, you can work on your “time management” skills, but you cannot slow time down or create more of it. You have to remember to make the most of the time you have.

You have more gifts to share with the world than you realize. These gifts will never rise to the surface if you are not fully engaged. Whenever you are truly connected with an activity the best of who you are and the gifts you were born with naturally come out. When you fully engage time becomes irrelevant and your energy levels stay high. Your zest for life and your zest for success shine for everyone to see. It becomes a bright light that attracts people, possibilities and opportunities to you.

Do not sit back and just let your life happen. Live zestfully and take life by the horns. You will have more fun and you will enrich the lives of countless others along the way, and that, by anyone’s standards is a life well lived.

Click here to start at the beginning of the series: A is for Attitude

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Y is for YOU

YOU are the most important factor in determining the level of success that you achieve in life. Your personal and professional development will of course be influenced and helped along through the assistance of others but make no mistake, you and you alone are responsible for your own growth. Where you go, what you do and who you become are results of decisions that you make. Yes, you will seek advice and counsel but in the end it is you that makes the final decisions.

Now this may sound like a heavy burden to carry but rest assured that you are more than capable of carrying it. Most people do not realize just what they are capable of. You can do almost anything you want and need to do as long as you are disciplined, organized, and perseverant. It is your internal desire and drive that helps you to achieve success.

True Success requires motivation. You have to want it. You have to have laser like focus. You have to be willing to give up activities that do not help push you down the path to overall success. Most people will not change until the pain of change is less than the pain of remaining the same. But true change is going to cause some pain. It’s inevitable. It’s unavoidable. How can you grow if you do not push yourself? And by pushing yourself you are going to stumble. Not every time, but certainly some of the time. And that’s the point. If you play it so safe that you never make a mistake and never stumble you will not grow.

You have within you the ability to achieve true success. You simply have to take that proverbial leap of faith and go for it. Know up front that adjustments and course corrections lie in the future. You cannot possibly map out your exact path before you start. But start nonetheless. Trust me when I tell you that you will look back in a few months time and be asking yourself why I didn’t start earlier.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

X is for Xtra

Finding True Success in all areas of your life requires Xtra focus, Xtra commitment and Xtra effort (and yes I know I am stretching it on this one. If you have a better “x” word to suggest please add a comment to this post). This may be a bit of a continuation from my last post (W is for work-ethic) but let me share a slightly different take on it.

True success is the culmination of hundreds, if not thousands, of small decisions made and actions taken on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You will seldom get any sort of recognition for these small things but they do matter and do pay off in the long run. The more you can do, the Xtra if you will, the faster the pay off.

Think of it this way. Say that you, on average, make ten small decisions or take ten small actions to help you achieve success each day. If you accomplished, again on average, just two more per day you would be six days farther along each month. In effect, you would be adding 72 more days to your year. That’s more than two months of Xtra accomplishment each year. Talk about a return on your personal investment.

What are these Xtra things? They will of course be different for everyone, but keep the following proverb in mind: Never out off till tomorrow what can be done today. Those ten words are incredibly powerful and incredibly simple to put into action. How many times have you left something undone and when you came back to take care of it the next day it took only a few minutes? It happens all the time. Try this rule as well: Once you pick up a piece of paper take action on it. You need to react, respond, file or toss. Do not put it back into your inbox. Clear the clutter and watch your productivity soar.

Remember, Xtra efforts always pay dividends.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quote for the week

"Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used." - Richard E. Byrd

W is for Work-ethic

Let’s face it. Finding True Success requires effort. You have to do the work in all areas of your life in order to find success. It is not just putting in time (although it will take time) but hard work that is required. You have to be willing to apply maximum effort over an extended period of time.

If that last sentence sounds scary to you then your journey is going to be difficult, if not impossible. You have to expend maximum effort in order to move yourself forward. If you are not willing to do that, if you are only planning to “try” to find success for a little while and see how it goes, then you should just walk away now and not waste your time and more importantly anyone else’s time.

As a reader of this blog, and this series in particular, you know that finding true success requires a network, a team, a mentor or mentors, and the help of many, many other people along the way. Successful people love to help others climb the mountain as long as they know the people they help are just as committed as they are. They also expect that you will then turn around and help others who are coming behind you.

None of that can take place without a strong work-ethic. You need to be disciplined and focused with your time. You need to sort out the important from the frivolous and spend your time and energy on those endeavors that help strengthen one of the five basic success elements in your life.

Many people will say they are committed to changing their lives, to achieving more for themselves and adding more value into the lives of others - but words are easy. What separates the truly successful from the rest of the pack is a solid personal work-ethic. A commitment to doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes; for putting forth the best effort on each and everything they do in life, whether it be working in their business or working on family relationships. A commitment to doing their absolute best is the difference maker.

Do you really want to find balanced success in your life? Then commit here and now to putting forth your maximum effort in everything you do. Make that extra sales call each day. Spend a few extra min with a staff member asking and really listening to what they need. Make sure you are at each of your son or daughters’ soccer games or piano recitals. Read an extra book each week or month. Push past the pain and add another set of reps to your lifting routine or run an extra mile each morning. The combination of all these things will move push you well ahead of the pack.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

V is for Values

Until you have pinpointed your personal values you cannot find true success. Part of any success formula is being both aware of and in sync with your values. Do you know what your values are? Have you really spent time thinking about the values that are truly important to you? Ask someone about their values and you’ll likely receive answers such as honesty, integrity, hard work, commitment, etc. These sound good but are they what make you tick; do they really drive your life?

In my mind, your true values are the ones that make you change your behavior. For instance, if you strongly value helping others you would stop your car and help another motorist change a flat tire or drive them to the closest gas station and back if they ran out of gas.

To really define your internal values takes time. It takes a fair bit of introspection and then discussion with friends and family. This is not a simple ten minute exercise. We are talking about principles that will guide you for the rest of your life. The more time you invest in the discovery/definition process the better you will come to understand yourself and what is truly important to you. Once defined your value system can be used to help guide and steer you into the future. Consider options and make decisions based upon your value system and you cannot go wrong. Your choices may be different from someone else’s but you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you have made the right decision based upon those values that are most important to you.

Make a commitment to yourself, here and now, that you will work through this process. Pick a time and a quiet place to think. Take a pad of paper and begin by writing down what you think your values are. Start with words or phrases. Brainstorm a little and do not edit what you write. It may take some time to get started but once you get going you’ll find quite a few ideas come forth. Put the pad away for a day or two and then come back again and write down the most clear and concise definitions for each word or phrase that you can. Take your time. Make sure that you agree with the written definitions.

Again put the pad away for a couple of days and then come back and study your list. Circle the ones that resonate the most with you. These are your strongest values. Review your list with supportive family or friends. Ask if they feel your listed values are an accurate reflection of what influences your behavior. Listen to their feedback – others see your actions every day. They can tell you if you are honest and accurate or are off the mark. You need reality here and those around you can most easily provide it.

This is not a simple or quick process. If it is, I would challenge that you are really only scraping the surface and you need to think more deeply about your value system and what values you will not compromise on. When you have found values that you simply will NOT compromise on you have found your reality. Bring these up to the surface, clearly define and embrace them. They are a true reflection of what guides your heart and your mind. Stay true to them and you’ll find your path will get much easier and much more clearly defined.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote for the week

"The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will." - Vincent T. Lombardi

U is for Undeterred

Finding true success in all areas of your life is not a simple endeavor. It takes commitment, focus, energy and hard work. There will always be things that pop up during the journey. Issues outside of your control will cast influence over you what you are trying to accomplish. These could be financial issues, health issues, relationship issues, or any of a whole host of issues.

Finding true success requires that you remain undeterred from your path. Yes, you will be pulled and pushed on a regular basis, but you have to accept that this will happen but remain focused on getting back to your personal path.

After all, your success journey is just that. It is yours and yours alone. No two people have the exact same dreams, desires, plans or commitment. No two people have the exact personal values. Everyone places a different level of importance, and therefore a different level of attention, onto the various areas of their life.

Unfortunately this often causes other people to, at best, offer advice or at worst, become critical of you and your plans. Even if a person wants the best for you they cannot see through your eyes, they cannot see the future you see, and they do not have the passions you have.

Do not let anyone, no matter how much they care for you bring your journey to a stop. You and you alone know what is truly important in your heart. You and you alone can see your future. Yes, you need a network and a team but you also need to stay true to yourself, your calling and your journey. Listen to their advice, thank them for their assistance, but at the end of the day make sure you are moving along the path that you have planned.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

T is for Team

As I have stated before success does not happen in a vacuum nor is it a solo sport. When Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier there were hundreds if not thousands of people behind him working on his behalf. When Neal Armstrong stepped on the moon that was just the final step to a long success journey moved along by the efforts of thousands of individuals all doing their part to help. The only way to achieve success is to surround your self with a strong team.

Two teams actually.

One team is your professional team: a team of individuals all working together towards the same end. You may be the entrepreneur, the lead, the boss or you may be team member working somewhere along the process. Regardless of the position, every team member is vital to the person or organization achieving their overall objective.

The second team is your personal support team: your family and your close friends; people that will support and encourage your vision and your dreams. These are the people that lift you up when you down; these are the people who re-energize you when you get tired and push you if you start to get the least bit disillusioned.

In my book your personal support team is the most critical. You have to have people who will stand beside you not matter what, but who are also not afraid to tell it to you straight. A little dose of reality can be quite enlightening. Only your closest family and friends will tell you when you are being an idiot or not walking the talk.

Whether you are just starting to put together a plan for achieving success or you are already moving along, make sure you have both teams. Evaluate the members on your teams. If they are not helping you along, adding value or insight, or helping to support you emotionally I would suggest you begin looking to make some changes. Your journey towards true success will take time and lots of effort. By building up two rock-solid support teams you will help make things a bit easier in the long run.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Monday, August 16, 2010

S is for Sacrifice

Success in any endeavor requires, among other things, commitment and follow through. You cannot simply wish to be successful in any area of your life and really expect that to be enough. If all it took was wishing and no effort beyond that the world would be full of spoiled, unhappy and disillusioned people. There is a sense of satisfaction earned when you reach milestones. As I said before, success is a journey and not an actual destination. You may plateau for a while but you’ll then need to push up to reach another level or risk sliding downward. There is no steady-state.

SO, it stands to reason that there will be trade offs throughout your success journey. You have to decide what is more important to you and what you are willing to put off or give up entirely throughout the process. Some will be easy – you can get along just fine without watching television or surfing the web every night from dinner to bedtime. Some will be hard – do you say yes when asked to chair another committee at your local church, mosque or synagogue, or do you decline so that you can focus more time on family or business needs.

It will not always be easy to decide which path to take, which decision is right for you but let me throw out this one caution. Make sure you sacrifice evenly in all of the five basic elements of personal development (Head, Heart, Health, Wealth, and World). True success comes from a balance among the five. If you consistently sacrifice time in one area then you are slowing down your own development. This leads to an unbalanced life and to a lack of self fulfillment. You can’t find true success down just one path. You may be successful in that one area but the lack of development in the remaining areas will pull you down just as fast as trying to swim with 50 pounds shackles on your feet. It just can’t be done.

Yes, you have to make sacrifices along the way. But you need to balance them out. Give up time this week or month in the area of wealth building, but then not next month. It isn’t always easy but you are not on this path because it is easy. You are on a path of personal development in order to become all that you were made to be. You are on this path in order to shine all the brilliance that is you onto the earth.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Quote for the week

"Act as though it is impossible to fail." - Anonymous

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

R is for Responsive

How you respond to a given event or circumstance greatly influences your quality of life and the ultimate level of success you attain. There are two sayings I want you to think about.

Number One: Shit happens.

Number Two: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

The first is a very concise description of life. No one has it perfect; every one has challenges and hardships that pop up. You can fantasize all you want about being rich, successful, a Hollywood or Wall Street star. But every one has “shit” in there lives.

The second saying gets to the heart of finding success. How you deal with the “surprises” is the important lesson. When you look at what you have to work with and make the best of it you are on a path to a successful life. I am not talking about telling yourself everything is alright when things are not alright. I am talking about accepting the situation and working through it.

In short you need to respond, not react. Your immediate reaction is rarely your best option. Reactions are emotion based, not intellect based. True success required intellect. You have to stop, think and choose your response. Take a moment to reflect on a recent set-back. Did you react and put the first thought that came to mind into action? How did that work out for you? I am willing to bet that if you are being honest you will admit that your first thought (your reaction) was not the best way to go.

Stepping back and thinking things through (choosing your response) will always lead to the best results. Achieving true success in life is not easy, but if you make the choice to be responsive instead of just reactive you will find your stress level will decrease and your overall level of happiness will increase.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quote for the week

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." Herman Cain

Q is for Quit

Let’s spend some time talking about quitting. I realize that can pertain to a lot of things: Quit whining, Quit blaming others for what is not working in your life, Or Quit doing the same things over and over expecting different results (the basic definition of insanity). But what I want to focus on is to quit doing so much.

Simply put success requires quitting. I know this sounds a bit odd but stop and think about it for a moment. Success requires focus, and you simply cannot focus on multiple tasks at once. Most people have convinced themselves that they are good multi-taskers. Hell, the term multi-tasking is almost a badge of honor in most companies. But multi-tasking equals mediocrity. Successful people have no room for mediocrity in their lives.

You have to pare down you to-do list.

Quitting allows you to spend more time on those things that will help you to achieve the success you are looking for. Quit spending time reading trashy novels or gossip magazines and read something informational or inspirational to help you on your journey. Quit watching so much television and take a class or put in some extra time working on improving your knowledge and your skills. Quit spending time drinking with your buddies and start a work out routine.

Starting and staying with a work out routine will make sure you have both the energy and the stamina to complete a full and productive day. Taking a class will either teach you a new skill or sharpen one you already have. (I was listening to a speaker on CD the other day that mentioned that due to the speed of change in our world today that the skills needed in every job in the country completely change every three years. You simply have to stay ahead of that curve.) Reading something inspirational every day keeps your mind open to new possibilities for that day and for your life in general. (Opportunities come by every day – but most people have not prepared their minds to be open and watchful for the possibilities all around them. Regular inspirational reading helps remove those blinders).

Every one of us gets 24 hours each day. No more and no less. The difference maker is how you choose to use that time. Use it wisely and quit spending it on activities that do not help you become better prepared to meet the challenges of your future or that strengthen bonds with your family. I can think of no two more important areas to spend your time.

Click here for te next blog in the series.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

P is for Planning

I have to assume you are truly serious about finding success in all areas of your life. You would not still be reading these blog postings if the idea of finding success did not resonate somewhere deep within you. You are looking for some guidance, some information, some tip to help make your journey both shorter and more rewarding.

Here is one of the best pieces of info you are going to get: Make a plan. Without a plan you may or may not end up where you want to be (most likely not). Without a plan you are simply bouncing through life hoping to end up happy and content. Hope is not a plan. Hope is never a plan.

You have to take some time to stop, sit and really think about what you want out of your life. You only get one life (with the possible exception of Shirley MacLaine). You need to determine what is important to you, what are non-negotiable areas and issues in your life. Where is it you want to end up? Determine that and then start planning backward to the present. Talk with your spouse, your loved ones, trusted friends, and/or other people whom you admire. Yes, this process is not simple and it is not easy. But when you combine the information you discover about your self with an equally well thought out plan of action you will find yourself truly becoming that successful person you want and deserve to be.

Put a plan together that moves you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Some things will be easy to plan and easy to accomplish. In the larger scheme of things eating healthier is not very difficult. For instance you could buy only fresh fruits and produce and skip the snack food aisles at the grocery starting with your next shopping trip.

Other areas of your life will be more difficult and take more time. Fixing damaged relationships can take quite a lot of effort on your part and may take years to see results. You cannot control how the other person feels or will react to your efforts to move the relationship out of rough water.

I do need to throw in one word of caution: Do not get too caught up in making the perfect plan. No plan will ever be perfect. All plans will end up being modified as you move forward. Some people get stuck in the planning process and never move forward. A poor plan executed well is always better than trying to develop the perfect plan. Perfection is impossible.

Make the best plans you can and jump in. Yes, you may stumble here or there. And yes, you will need to make modifications. But achieving success in life is about moving forward and learning as you go. If you knew all you needed to know you would already have the successful life you desire.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quote for the week

"The distance of the road to success becomes shorter as soon as you take the first step." - Greg Phillips

O is for Optimistic

An optimistic attitude is an essential element for achieving success. You have to be able to see in your mind what it is you are striving for. And you have to believe, to know deep down inside, that you are capable and deserving of achieving it.

You know this to be true. Think back over all the various projects you have been involved throughout your life. Remember how easy some were to complete, and how much of a struggle others seemed to be. Now if you take some time to really think about your overall frame of mind at the beginning of each project you will discover that things came easier when you were optimistic and excited about the endeavor. When you were not thinking so confidently (when you did not truly believe or see the end in your mind) you found it much harder to finish, if you finished at all.

I suppose someone could come up with an example of finding success in spite of their own pessimistic attitude. But I think those instances are few and far between. And certainly the success was most likely not enjoyed or celebrated with the energy and vigor that an optimist attitude would have brought.

You must stay aware of the inner conversation you are always having. Your subconscious and conscious minds are always talking. They simply can’t help it. There is always a dialogue running though your head and it is your responsibility to pay attention to that conversation. It is your responsibility to jump in and change it when it is drifting toward the negative. My own theory is that most of these internal conversations will drift towards the negative, and if not caught and changed, quickly spiral deeper and deeper into negative territory. You have to “listen” in and change the words being used and the questions being asked. You have to change the conversation form “Why can’t I….?” to “How can I…?” You have to push the positive thoughts and an optimistic “Yes I can” attitude to the forefront.

For most people it takes practice to remain positive. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” You need to be aware of your reactions to life’s events and practice remaining positive. You will never be able to control everything that happens to you or those around you, but you do have complete control over how you choose to react. Make a commitment to yourself to remain optimistic. Once you make that a habit you’ll have taken quite a large leap down your trail towards success.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Quote for the week

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."
- Thomas J. Watson

N is for Network

Success does not occur in a vacuum. Without the help of others it is virtually impossible to find success in any area of your life. Additionally, what good is finding success without having people around to share your achievements and to celebrate with you.

You need to always be looking to add to your networks. And yes, I said networks with an “s”. A network is nothing more than a group of people with related interests who share their knowledge and their journeys with each other. Obviously you will have a network of family and friends. You will have a professional network. Humans are “wired” for social interaction. We need the emotional and intellectual stimulation that only comes from working and socializing with other humans.

Now the thing about networks is that you have to add value. You have to be willing to jump in with assistance at a moments notice. If you are thinking about a network as a means to end, as a tool to use for your needs, then you have it all backwards.

Yes, building a network can, and should, help you in any number of ways but if you are just looking to extract from and not add to your network it will crumble. Over time the other members shift away from you. If you are not adding any value to them why would they continue to help you? It is the combined assistance to all that gives any network its real value.

So yes, work on building networks in every area of your life: Work, Health, Financial, Social, Recreational, etc, etc. But remember always that the more you give the more you will get back. It’s sort of a 1+1=3 deal. Networking is invaluable to your overall success, and through it you can be invaluable to others as well. Everyone wins. You gotta love that!

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

M is for Mentor

Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth books, states that entrepreneurs need to work on their business as opposed to in their business. The same applies to having a successful life. If you do not take the time to plan and work on the path your life is taking, then you really are leaving your success totally up to chance. Not the best plan of action on my book.

Part of the “working on your life” should involve having a mentor. A mentor can really be anyone that has a profession or social position or lifestyle that you are aspiring to. Successful people are often willing to help someone else along their own journey, as long as that someone is willing to put forth the effort to take control and change the path of their life.

A mentor can help catapult you farther and faster down your success path. They have learned from experience what does and what does not work. Their insight can often save you time, money and frustration. A mentor stimulates the gray matter between your ears by asking questions, challenging your assumptions and by suggesting alternate paradigms. A simple change in perspective can often open your eyes to a variety of possibilities previously unseen or imagined.

A mentor can be living or deceased. Many successful people have left behind volumes of information in the form of books, speeches and interviews. I have been mentored by many people that I have never met. As you move along on your success journey you will likely have many mentors. As you grow as a person your needs will change. Be grateful to those who have helped you get to the point you are at, and be ever watchful for the next hand to help pull you up even higher.

No one I their right mind would even consider a trip to climb Mount Everest without seeking the assistance of those who had done it before. Putting together your successful life is not any different. Ask for and let others help you. And then turn around and do the same for those coming behind you. The more you help others, the more you grow. That is the power of mentoring. The benefits go both ways. Use mentors to help you move ahead, and be a mentor yourself to help others.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quote for the week

"Each and every sunrise provides the opportunity to enhance your knowledge, improve your skills, increase your productivity and deepen your relationships" - Paul Kamm

L is for Library

Words have the ability to touch us spiritually, the ability to move us emotionally, and the ability to expand us intellectually. As the Declaration of Independence illustrates, well thought out written words can have a long term impact on the lives of generations to follow. As Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech illustrates, words spoken by a powerful orator can also have a dramatic and long lasting impact.

Considering the lessons and the power that words carry it only makes sense to gather the ideas from the best and the brightest persons both living and deceased. I simply cannot encourage you enough to start building your personal development and success library. Pretend you are a visitor in your home. Look at the books in the bookcase or on the shelf. What do they tell you about the person living in this home? Do you get the sense that the person living here is actively engaged in finding success in all facets of their life?

You have complete control over the answers to the two preceding questions. If you already have started a collection of written books, audio books, CDs and DVDs give yourself a pat on the back. You are already well ahead of most people. If you have not started your library yet do not despair – but make a personal commitment to start. Take a look at my Suggested Readings page for ideas. Spend time in your local book store or on Amazon researching topics such as personal management, personal finance, relationship building, and health management and exercise.

Why have a library you may ask. Your library becomes a storehouse of knowledge that you can refer to over and over again for inspiration and education. As you grow and develop more and more of a success mindset and your life experiences expand you will find that each book becomes more insightful each time you open it up. The way I look at it is this: The more you read and the more you have to refer back to can only help to make the journey along you path to success easier. Put the experiences and knowledge gained by others to work for you. That is why authors write books. To pass on what they have learned to a larger and larger audience than they could do in person.

Start or add to your library today. Take a moment to decide which area of your life (head, heart, health, wealth or world) that you want to focus on, and then find a book in that area. Open your mind up to new ideas and I promise you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you can learn and then apply to your own life. Life is about growth – books and the like will assist in your growth immensely.

Click here for the next blog in the series.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

K is for Knowledge

The key to success in any area of your life is knowledge. Increasing your knowledge increases both your understanding and the options available to you in every situation that presents itself to you.

No matter what business/industry you are involved in you need knowledge in some or all of the following: sales, marketing, logistics, production, purchasing, negotiation, gross profit, net profit, motivation, leadership, accounting, finance, and customer service to name a few.

To be successful in your quest for good health you need to understand nutrition, exercise, metabolic processes, strength training, stamina, physiology, stress management and caloric content.

In order to put together a sound wealth strategy you need to understand asset allocation, risk diversification, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, annuities, assets, liabilities, income and expense control among other financial instruments and concepts.

Strong relationships with family and friends require some basic understanding of psychology, perception, intelligence and behavior.

The above lists could be a lot longer and that may seem overwhelming but do not despair. The great thing about knowledge is once you get it and put it into practice you do not have to relearn it. You can then learn the next piece, and the next piece, and so on and so on.

Okay, so now you’re asking how to amass all this knowledge. How about books, magazines, internet research and/or one or more mentors? How about taking a class? What about good old trial and error? The point here is simple – make it a quest to increase your knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Gather as much information as you can, sift through it, keep what feels right and leave the rest behind. Your definition and ultimate success will be different than mine, which means that the information you will gather will be different than mine. But never doubt that the more knowledge you have the faster and farther you will travel down your road to ultimate success.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Quote for the week

"True success cannot be measured by the size of one's car, house, paycheck or bank account but rather by the size of one's heart and the value he/she adds to the lives of family, friends and the world at large." - Paul Kamm

J is for Journal

Do you realize that on any given day literally thousands of thoughts/ideas pass through your mind? Your brain never stops; it move from idea to idea to idea from birth until death. Wouldn’t it be nice to capture some of these ideas before they are lost forever? Start keeping a journal and you can.

Keeping a notepad with you at all times allows you to jot ideas down. Do not edit them and do not critique them – just write down the ones you want to save. This is your journal and unless you want to share what’s inside it is for your eyes only. Over time (and not that long of a time either) your journal begins to reveal a path towards success. Your ideas start to take shape and what you really care about shows up over and over. True success lies at the junction of your true passion, lots of hard work and having the guts to go after it.

I also keep a small voice recorder handy – especially when I am driving. If some thing pops into my head I simply dictate it to myself and then transcribe it into my journal later that day or the next. This is a simple and safe way to capture an idea for evaluation at a later time.

You will want to periodically (no less than weekly) sit and review the recent additions to your journal. Carve out some time and a place to sit and really think about and through what you have added to your journal. Let the thoughts turn over in your mind. If you set aside a specific time and space for this exercise you will be able to make better decisions as well specific plans of action for accomplishing your goals.

One last comment before I complete this entry. Make sure the comments you write in your journal are positive and that you add only well-worded questions. Questions that start with “Why can’t…” need to be abolished from your vocabulary. A well-worded question leads to a positive answer. Questions should be “How can…” or “What’s the best…”. Your journal is an aid to help you achieve all the success you are capable of. Use it as a positive tool and let it help speed your journey along.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

I is for Initiative

Success does not just come knocking at your door. A great career or business, warm and loving family relationships, and a healthy and energetic body do not just happen. You have to make a plan and then go after it. You have to put down the chips, get off the couch and make it happen.

You have to first make the decision that you want a successful life. You have to decide that you are willing to put forth the effort in your professional world and in your personal world. You need to make a commitment to yourself that you are not going to give up or cave in just because the road gets more and more rocky and steep. You cannot find success until the crowd thins out.

Once you have truly committed to your goal it is time to make your move. Be brave, believe in yourself and dive in. You cannot take the initiative from the sidelines. You have to step boldly forward and push to where you want to go. Sure, you may stumble here and there along the way, but that is part of the learning process. Re-group and then step forward again.

I am not suggesting that you do not take the time to plan, but always keep the following in mind: a plan is just a plan, a plan is never perfect, and a plan does not get you where you want to go. Taking the initiative and taking action will propel you forward. If you are constantly tweaking your plan, or waiting for the ideal moment you will find yourself years in the future still on the sidelines. Yes, make a plan. Think it through. Take a little time to do some research. Talk to other people who have gotten to where you want to go (successful people really do enjoy helping others climb the mountain). But don’t get bogged down in minutia.

Carpe Diem! Seize the day! Step off the curb and get moving. You’ll find you are capable of so much more than you thought. You’ll find yourself wondering why you waited so long. Don’t beat yourself up over it – you are moving now and you are another step closer to achieving the success you are looking for. Keep moving, keep stepping boldly. Take the initiative to meet others, to propose new ideas, to seek out new opportunities and to let those around you know how important they are to you.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

H is for Healthy

Success requires stamina. There is just no question about that. It is pretty difficult to imagine a sickly person finding real success in either their personal or professional life. You need to have a healthy body in order to put in the time and effort needed to become successful. Although I do not know who made the following statement, it makes a lot of sense: “Most people do only what they are required to do, but successful people do a little more.” You need to be in the best of health in order to do a little more.

I am not going to lecture you on getting in shape or help you design a complete health plan. There is an abundance of information available online and at your local library that you can easily access. Additionally you can join a local health club and/or start working with a personal trainer if you want to really get going on a complete physical (and mental) change in your life.

I am however going to touch on a couple simple things that every one of us can easily fit into our lives on a daily basis that will make a difference in our overall health.

The magic number 10,000. Buy yourself an inexpensive pedometer to track your daily step count. Make it a goal to reach 10,000 steps each and every day. Small changes in your routine can really add on steps. Use the stairs instead of the escalator. Park your car farther out in the parking lot at work and when running errands/shopping. If you are low on your step count take an evening walk around the neighborhood. I easily add 3500 steps just taking the dog for a walk.

The 5/9 rule. When speaking about the daily servings of fruits and vegetables five is the minimum but nine is the best. And yes, I can hear you already: “Paul, are you kidding me?” No I am not – and it is not that hard to do. Keep juice in the house and have a glass every morning. Take some V-8 or similar drink to work. Take a piece of fruit to the office. I try to take a banana every day. It’s the perfect portable snack for mid-afternoon. Skip the burger at lunch and get a salad or a sandwich loaded with vegetables. Dinner should include a salad and a vegetable. I always buy apples at the store. They are easy to keep and easy to grab when the evening “munchies” hit me about 9:00 PM. One last comment – iceberg lettuce has very little nutritive value; use romaine or other greens in your salad.

Will 10,000 steps and 5 to 9 servings of fruits/vegetable daily guarantee your success? Of course not. But they will both help improve your health and give you the overall stamina you need to do just “a little more.” You have dreams and you have plans for your future. Don’t shortchange yourself by not making these small and simple adjustments to your daily routine. You owe it to yourself and to all of the people whose lives you will impact in the future.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quote for the week

"No one has yet climbed the ladder of success with his hands in his pocket" - Unknown

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quote for the week

"Success is a journey, not a destination." Ben Sweetland

G is for Gratitude

Develop and maintain an attitude of gratitude. Your overall success depends upon the help and efforts of everyone around you. As I have said many times, you will not become successful in any area of your life working alone.

Saying “Thank-you” is one of the simplest acts you can perform but the ramifications are huge. People need to feel appreciated. Everyone needs to know that what they are doing is valued by others. By acknowledging their efforts, especially those on your behalf, you validate them as a human being and as a valued part of your life.

When my wife asks if I closed the garage door in the evening I say thank-you. I may have already closed the door, but I appreciated the reminder. I do not get annoyed or upset that she has asked the question. I am no where near perfect (none of us are) and the question has no hidden agenda behind it. It is simply a question and I thank her for asking it. That is what I mean by an attitude of gratitude.

For the next 72 hours focus on expressing gratitude. Say thanks to anyone who has helped in any way; no matter how big or how small. Watch how those around you react. Very often people will tell you “it was nothing” or “no thanks needed”. But don’t let that fool you or stop you. Everyone appreciates a thank-you. Keep expressing gratitude and you will find people start going out of there way to help you. Since gratitude is not so easy to come by they are naturally drawn to it. It’s not being manipulative – it’s being human, and there is no greater act you can perform than to acknowledge the value of another person to your life or the lives of others.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

F is for Family/Friends

Close friends and family are one of the secret weapons of success. They can listen and help shape your dream. They can support you on your journey. And most importantly friends and family are there to celebrate the milestones along the way.

Share your hopes and your dreams with those closest to you. Describe what success looks like to you and enlist their help and input in crafting a plan. You cannot achieve any meaningful success without help. A strong support system is part of that help. When times get tough, and they will, you need people close to you that can offer words of encouragement or a swift kick in the rear (which ever is more appropriate).

Just as it is important to for you to recognize and celebrate specific points along the path, it is equally important to share the celebrations with those closest who have helped shape your journey. Family and friends enrich our lives; they add love, happiness and humor. Family and friends have helped us to become who we are and will continue to shape who we are going to become in the future.

Enlist their help and include them in all your victories. You must admit, celebrating alone is really not much of a celebration. As the saying goes: the more the merrier.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quote for the week

" A mind that is stretched by a new idea can never go back to its old dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

E is for Endurance

Achieving success in all areas of your life is a marathon, it is not a sprint. It starts with defining success in your own terms and continues with daily focus on matching your behavior and results with your definitions. It will take time – nothing good or lasting comes quickly.

Having endurance means being able to weather the inevitable storms that will arise over the weeks, months and years ahead. Staying power is vital to achieving success. You can pick any successful person from the present or the past and you will find each was able to stay true to their vision regardless of what was happening around them.

Endurance is a discipline that has to be practiced throughout your life. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you achieve your definitions of success that you will no longer need the use of all the disciplines that make the achievement possible. You are either moving forward in life or slipping backward. There is no standing still. You may pause when you reach a certain plateau (which you should celebrate) but then you will need to re-group, re-focus and re-energize.

Develop your endurance. Just as a long distance runner gets better and better the more miles he/she puts in each week, you will accomplish more and more as you work on developing a single minded focus on your life’s objectives. True success begins within and true success takes time.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

D is for Define

Just as no two snowflakes are exactly alike, no two people are the same. Every one of us has different abilities, different interests, and has had different experiences. It is this individuality that makes life so exciting and success possible in so many different ways.

Your task is to define success on your own terms. You need to take some time to think about, really think about what success is and how much effort you are ready to put into making it happen. It will not happen on its own.

As you are aware I break success into five basic elements: head, heart, health, wealth and world. You need to decide and define what success in each of these areas. Let’s take wealth for example. Do you define success in this area as a 7-figure income and living in a 12 bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills with a Maybach or two in the garage? Or are you expectations more like a 6-figure income living in four bedroom home in Naples Florida with a Lexus in the garage? Or perhaps just a three bedroom home in a nice suburb with the kids’ college having been paid for and a retirement nest-egg put away. There is quite a difference between these three in terms of the actions needed to make them happen. One is not better than the other – it is strictly a matter of choice. You have to write down how you define success in this area.

Be a specific as possible in the definition. Being “rich” is not specific. Having a 12 bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills with a 5 car garage and a swimming pool and pool house in the back is more specific. See the destination in your mind and then write it out.

Do this for all five success elements and then put the sheets of paper in a drawer or save in your computer. Come back to your definitions after four or five days. Read through them to see if the still resonate in you. If they do, you now need to make a plan of action to get you from where you are now to where you want to end up – in all five areas. If you cannot or will not put a plan together your definitions are just a wish list.

If you decide your definitions are too lofty (and that is ok – these are your definitions) then go through the exercise again. It may take several versions before you get on paper what you see in your mind and feel in your heart. Don’t rush it. You’ll know when it’s right – you’ll feel it in your bones when you read them or talk about them with your spouse, loved one, or trusted friend.

Once you have them and a plan of action you will not be denied. Things may pop up on the way but you will work passed them and keep going. When your definition is so specific that you can almost taste it, you will start to see opportunities in areas you never even imagined. You will find clarity, focus and a drive you never knew you had. It has been inside of you all along – it has just been waiting for you to unleash it and let it run.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

C is for Confidence

It is hard to think of a person finding success in any area of their life if they are lacking in confidence. Those who are unsure, frightened, and easily influenced will not find the success they desire. You have to know what you want, and know that you can achieve it.

Successful people are confident that both the gifts they were born with and the skills & knowledge they have collected to this point have them well prepared to deal with today’s needs and tomorrow’s challenges. All of us are born with certain gifts. Throughout your own life maybe you have found that you have a “natural” ability with numbers; or a “natural” ability to read and remember large amounts of information; or a “natural” ability to dance or play a musical instrument. Having “natural” abilities doesn’t mean these things were easy to master. No one attains mastery of anything without practice. But you were drawn to these areas and you found that you learned more quickly than others. That is what I mean by having been born with certain gifts. We all have our own unique set of gifts. Successful people have discovered their gifts and are working in harmony with them.

Successful people are also confident in the vision of what their life should be. They spend time thinking about and planning the path that their lives will take. Sure, there will be bumps in the road, but with a vision and understanding of where you are going the bumps will not push you permanently off course. Successful people deal with the bumps and move on. True confidence in where you are going is the only way to ensure that you arrive at the intended destination. We are all travelers down the road of life. Having the vision in your mind of where you want to go and the confidence in your ability to get there is the difference between successful drivers and unhappy passengers.

There is one word of caution. Do not let confidence turn into cocky. It is one thing to be confident in your abilities but you need to make sure you maintain some humility as well. True confidence shows itself to others when you are willing to ask for advice or assistance, and when you freely point out and celebrate the skills and contributions of others. You do not need to toot your own horn – your confidence will show through in your actions, your attitudes, and the challenges you are willing to undertake.

Confidence grows each time you master a new skill or achieve a short term goal you set for yourself. Take some time to think about what you have already accomplished in your life. Think about the obstacles that have popped up and how you worked through or around them. You already have all the skills you need to be successful. Be confident in yourself and your abilities and you’ll find yourself moving farther and farther down the road of success in both your personal life and your professional life.

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