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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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