Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Are you strong enough to fail?

Are you strong enough to fail?

What? You thought failure was for the weak?

Sorry to say this but you are dead wrong.

Failure requires strength of character, strength of conviction and strength of the mind.

You cannot fail if you are not pushing forward. You cannot fail if you are not stretching yourself to achieve maximum results. It requires no strength to not try; the weak simply go with the flow.

True Success requires you to go against the flow and to demand much more from yourself. True Success requires commitment and planning in all five success areas. True Success is a lifelong endeavor and one that requires your focus, your stamina and your internal strength.

There is a well-known Japanese proverb: “fall seven times, get up eight”. Simply put it means to never give up and to always keep moving forward. Clearly not something the weak will ever understand or accomplish.

But you are not weak. You know inside that you have incredible talents and gifts to offer the world around you. You also have dreams and plans for making those dreams a reality. You are smart enough to know that you will face adversity and at times feel like you have run into a wall. But you also know that you can go over or around those walls. It will not be easy but you are ready for the challenge.

Strength of mind, strength of character, and strength of will; these all exist within you and in greater abundance than you realize.  You have everything it takes to be as successful as you desire. But you will be tested along the way. No one obtains any worthwhile level of success without experiencing some failures along the way.

Failure teaches us so much more than success. Failure teaches you what not to do and helps refine your plans and your actions. Failure tests your resolve. And failures along the way make success taste that much sweeter in the end.

So I ask again: Are you strong enough to fail? I say you are but what I say doesn’t matter. It’s how you answer for yourself that will make all the difference in your life.

Commit. Embrace life with wide open arms and enjoy the ride. Go after your dreams. No one else can or will do it for you.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind.

I just love quotes that are simple and to the point. This quote nails it.

You cannot expect to sound educated if you are not educated.

The better your vocabulary and the knowledge you have on a wide variety of subjects the better you will come across to others.

The more you read, the better your vocabulary becomes. (Aim for at least a book a month to start)

The more you listen to educated presenters (think YouTube or TedTalks) the better your vocabulary becomes. (Aim for at least one per week – one per day is even better).

You will begin to assimilate the vocabulary you are feeding your minds into your own speech.

Same holds true for knowledge.

The more you read, the more knowledge you acquire.

The more you listen to educated presenters, the more ideas you are exposed to, the more your knowledge increases.

And the wider the range of subjects you read about or listen to, the more you will begin to see connections which, again, increase your overall knowledge (and value to employers).

Feed your mind a healthy diet of substantive information and ideas and you will find yourself able to speak more intelligently on a wider array of subjects.

The mind controls the mouth. Strive to provide your mind with good information to work with.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Do you have what it takes to achieve True Success? Part 2

Part 1 was about having the Stamina for the sustained effort needed to achieve true success.

Part 2 is about Mental Fortitude.

Do you have the willpower and attitude to achieve true success?

Everyone’s success journey is different, but every journey will encounter trial and tribulations, bumps and setbacks along the way. Nothing worthwhile comes without effort and achieving success is certainly a worthwhile endeavor.

How well do you handle problems?

Do you have the emotional intelligence and emotional maturity to continue on when faced with adversity?

You have to make the choice to respond to adversity and not just react. Reacting is a knee jerk response. Anyone can and most do just react. The more mature and intelligent choice is to think and then respond.

Responding means that you take the time to understand what has happened and then to evaluate a range of options regarding the best course to move forward. It is not always easy – anger, pain, grief, and/or frustration often get in the way and sometimes you will need to let those emotions play out before actually responding and moving forward.

When my wife passed from her battle with cancer I knew I had to work through a grieving process. I knew it was coming, but I still had to go process my grief and my anger. I made a deal with myself that I would not make any life altering decisions until my head was back in the game. My response was to let myself deal with my emotions and then I would put my life back on track.

I certainly hope no one reading this ever has to go through a similar experience, but my point is that, unfortunately, at one time or another we all have curve balls in life to deal with.

The bigger point is to get you thinking about the difference between reacting and responding. Responding is the more mature and positive path. Reacting is often rash and negative.

Your success journey will no doubt have unexpected twists and turns, but the more solid your plan and the more focused you are on your ultimate goal, the more you can push forward during tough times.

Start working on your mental fortitude now, before you need to draw on it. Make a mental note of what you are thinking when issues crop up at work or at home. Are you kneejerk reacting, or taking time to respond? Work on taking a breath, taking a pause and then deciding on an appropriate, emotionally balanced and intelligent response.

Above all, know that you are worthy of the success you seek, and that you have within you all that you need to achieve it. Have faith that you possess the inner strength you need to move through both the peaks and valleys of your journey.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

You cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth, and height.

None of us are born with a countdown timer attached telling us just how many more days we have on this planet. We just do not know if today, tomorrow or next Wednesday will be the last day we will be with our family, friends and co-workers. 

My intention with that somewhat sobering comment is not to depress you, but to get you to realize that you need to take control of each and every day as it comes. You can control what you do and how you react to events around you each and every day.

John Wooden used to say that you need to make each day your masterpiece. Not only was he trying to get you to bring your very best on a daily basis, but I think he also knew that we all have a finite number of days left and that we have a responsibility to ourselves and the world at large to make the best of each and every one.

When was the last time you took a moment to smell the air outside, to tell someone how much they mean to you or to try something new and scratch it off your Life List (those who know me know I do not like the term bucket list).

Life is all about experiences and about making a difference. That is the breadth, depth and height this week’s quote is talking about. What can you do each day so that at the end you can say to yourself “I lived a great day today”?

Try to make regular activities a bit more special. Simple things like eating dinner with the family around the table (instead of the TV) and on the good dishes (what good are they doing just sitting in the cabinet) and cloth napkins.

Try to make it a point to provide some words of encouragement or praise to at least one person each and every day. Simple gestures that let people know you care and that will actually lift your spirits at the same time.

None of know what tomorrow has in store, but we can make today a better day for ourselves and for everyone around us.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Do you have what it takes to achieve True Success? Part 1

Let’s jump right in and talk about stamina.


Yes, Stamina!

True Success, in whatever way you define it, takes effort. And effort takes stamina.

Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Contrary to stories that get told, success does not happen overnight. Those people who achieved “overnight success” actually had worked for years in the background. Just like almost everything else in the world, success has a price. And that price is sustained effort over the long term. And sustained effort takes stamina.

How is your overall health?

When was the last time you had a check-up at the doctor? And are you following the advice you were given?

What is your Blood Pressure?

What are your Cholesterol numbers?

Is your weight in-line with your height?

Are you still smoking?

Are you eating properly (lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats)?

How many beers do you drink a week?

Are you getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 to 4 times per week?

Are you happy with the way your body looks in the mirror?

These are all important questions. Your health is nothing to take for granted. You have dreams and aspirations for your life. And you have people who love you and who want to have you around for many years to come.

You owe it to yourself and to those you love to do everything you can to improve and then maintain the best overall health possible.

You CAN achieve incredible levels of success, in all five success areas, but only if you have the stamina to sustain consistent effort over time. If you are not in optimal health, make today the day you truly commit to getting control of your health habits. Take it one day at a time and one healthy choice at a time. You CAN do this. You ARE stronger than you know. You ARE worthy of a long, healthy and truly successful life.

Click here to continue on to Part 2.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

“Procrastination is attitude’s natural assassin. There’s nothing so fatiguing as an uncompleted task.” – William James

So true, yet so avoidable.

Procrastination zips you of energy. You use up your energy thinking about the task, thinking about how hard the task will be, thinking about how much you do not want to do the task, thinking about everything else you would rather be doing than the task.

Get it. You are actually wasting more time and energy NOT getting the task accomplished than you would if you just buckled down and got the job done.

This quote reminds me of another that (and I am paraphrasing here) if you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning and nothing worse can happen the rest of the day. Point being, get the bad thing out of the way and your day can only improve from there.

Procrastination is a silent and insidious disease. You put something off and nothing horrible happens. SO, you put something else off and nothing horrible happens. It seems to you that it’s not a big deal. BUT – the more you put things off, the more the problems start to build.
You don’t see the problems at first but they are coming. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But trust me, sooner or later you will have to deal with a much larger problem than you realize.

I had a boss that would bring me a task to do. I would tell him “let me get right on that”. He would almost always reply with “you don’t have to do it now.” The problem was that I already had a full plate for the day, week, etc. My standard response was always “If I don’t jump on it now, it may never get finished.”

I would jump on that task right away and get it done. That way, I was not thinking about, or worrying about, getting something done that my boss directly asked me to do. Win-Win for me. I looked good for making his request a priority, and I did not have the stress of worrying about it throughout the day or days to come.

If you have a list of things to do (and who doesn’t), I encourage you to jump in with both feet and challenge yourself to see how quickly you can start crossing things off the list. I promise you that you will find that each task you have been avoiding will actually take you less time than you think.

And when that list is done, you can truly relax without stressing over having this or that to do.

You can assassinate the assassin, and get some energy back in the process.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Choosing Healthy Relationships

Each and every day you have choices to make. What to eat for breakfast, what lane to choose driving the highway, what tasks to do first at the office, where to stop on the way home, etc., etc. The list can go on and on infinitum. But the only choice I want to focus on today is choosing to have healthy relationships.

It is always your choice to make. How are you going to interact with the people in your life? Your friends, your lover or spouse, and your co-workers to name a few. This is an everyday decision and a course of action not to be taken lightly or just left to chance.

Are you happy with the quality of relationships you are having? If not, it’s probably time to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and zero in on the attitude and energy level you are bringing to the relationship. The energy and attitudes you put out oftentimes are reflected right back at you. If you are negative, the people around you are going to be negative back. If you are angry or nasty, most likely you will get the same directly back at you.

Conversely, if you are happy and loving you will likely receive the same.  

Positive attracts positive.

Make it a daily habit to stop and consciously think about where you are emotionally as well as what type of relationship you want to have with whomever you are about to be with (could be a business meeting or home with the family for the evening). Take a few deep breaths to relax and center your thoughts. Remind yourself that your goal is to nurture and build healthy relationships throughout your life. Put a smile on your face and walk thru the 
door. You’ll feel better and your relationships will be better.

When you pull into the garage after a long hard day at work, sit for a moment in your car. Remind yourself that you are home and that your loved ones are the most important people in your life (I trust I am correct on that one). Commit to focusing on nurturing the relationships before you walk through the door. The few seconds or minutes that you take can change your evening and your life.

Always choose healthy relationships. And by doing so, you are making your world and the world of those around you better. Be the change. Make the world a better place. It all happens one interaction at a time.

Monday, October 28, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

If you want to arrange it, this world you an change it. - Paul O'Neill

Another favorite of mine. It is part of the lyrics from a song called Old City Bar by Trans Siberian Orchestra. The photo is my left forearm. I have it in plain site to remind me each and every day how I want to live my life.

We all have the power to change the world around us each and every day.

Simple acts of kindness make a difference and a change. Holding open the door for a stranger coming or going from a store or paying the difference for someone who is a bit short on cash at a fast food restaurant counter. Each of these brightens the receiver's day but also brightens yours.

Volunteering at your local school, church or synagogue. Joining a local civic organization. Running for public office. Even mowing the lawn or blowing snow for an elderly neighbor on your street.

Changing the world does not mean some grand gesture or huge financial endeavor. I am not suggesting you have change the world at large (although I am not talking you out of it either). I am talking specifically about your part of the world. The world that is right outside your door and in the city where you live.

Small miracles happen when you do for others; when you are focused and looking for ways to make a difference. Your heart beats a little stronger and those you have touched feel it as well. When you are focused on making a difference your problems just do not seem as big and your energy level improves. Helping others feeds the soul. Your soul and their soul.

Imagine just how wonderful the world could be if everyone would take this thought to heart. We can only control how we act and interact. But if each of us works to make a difference in the world each day, over time others will follow. Imagine what that may lead to....

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

True success only comes after you break this habit

Successful people share a common trait; they are positive and forward looking. It is generally not intelligence, passion or focus that holds people back. The number one thing that holds most people back, and the number one habit you need to break, is negativity.

Negative thoughts can be focused in many areas: negativity about yourself, negativity about others and negativity about the world around you.

You can’t be negative about your abilities and be beating yourself up mentally if you desire to become successful in any area of your life. That self-doubt and those negative conversations have to come to an end. You have developed a bad habit that you must, and can, stop.

Additionally, you cannot be negative about people in your life and the world around you (family, friends, co-worker, neighbors, work, the shopping mall, etc.). Whether you realize it or not, those negative thoughts are affecting your actions and the decisions you make. They cloud your judgement and hold you back from stepping boldly forward, trying new things and from asking others for assistance. The game of life, and especially a successful life, is not a solo endeavor. You need the input and help from others in order to reach the heights you are capable (Don’t believe me? – There is that negative self-talk again…. Sneaky bad habit isn’t it?)

You mind needs food as much as your body does. Healthy, nutritious food. To break the negativity habit you have developed over time you need to consciously start feeding positive thoughts, ideas and energy into your mind. TED talks, inspirational books and videos, romantic novels, seeing a therapist- whatever you can do to feed your conscious and subconscious mind a healthier and more positive diet will make a difference.

Want another difference maker (Stay with me on this one). Stop binge watching the news (24/7 news channels) and eliminate Twitter/Facebook, etc., for at least 30 days. I know, I know, I sound like a crazy man. But if you really stop and think about it, these information sources primarily plant seeds of negativity.  Yes, there are feel good posts and stories but overall social media and mass media news are designed to get an emotional reaction. Unfortunately the negative gets more attention than the positive.  You want to replace your “negative diet” with a more positive and inspirational diet.

You can break the negativity habit. You just have to admit that you can be negative at times (can’t we all), but make it a goal to catch yourself when you start to think or speak negatively and stop/think. If you really try, you can find something positive in almost any situation. And by taking control of your own thoughts and internal dialogue you have already started the process of retraining you mind and breaking the negativity habit.

It will not happen overnight. But it will happen.  You have the mental fortitude to become a more positive thinker, a more positive person and to see just how much the world has to offer to you and to your future.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

In other words: preparation, preparation, preparation. Too many people want to “get busy” or “get to work” when they have an idea in their head, or a task to accomplish.

Sometimes we jump in because we are excited. Sometimes we jump in because we just want to get it over with. Sometimes we jump in because we really don’t know what to do and think we will figure it out once we get busy.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Without proper consideration and planning you will often times waste both your time and your energy. You might even waste your hard earned money (buying supplies for instance that you end up not even needing).

Take the time to sit, think and plan. Think the task through as much as you can. When you have put together a plan, stop and ask yourself if there might be a better way. When you review your plan you might just realize that you overlooked a vital part or step, or that there is a more efficient way to accomplish your goal.

This applies as much to physical tasks, such as building a shed in your backyard, as it does to mental tasks, such as planning an investment portfolio to build your nest egg for retirement.  

Spend the hours sharpening your axe and then, and only then, go ahead and chop down that try. I promise you the task will be both faster and easier if you do.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Have you thought about your Legacy?

What you do for or a living, or, if you are a student, what you are studying is not as important as how you go about it and just what you are accomplishing on a daily basis.

At first glance, that may seem like a mouthful of a sentence but it really is quite simple. The quality of your work makes a statement to the world each and every day. The quality of your work, along with your focus and dedication, is your daily legacy.

Your work represents your character and your commitment to excellence. This is a commitment both to yourself and the world around you.

Think of this a different way. If you died tonight and will be remembered for both how you acted and what you accomplished today, would you be proud of your legacy?

None of us know how long we have on this planet. We all hope to live a long life and grow older with our loved ones, but we really do not know if this will happen. We have to live each day to its fullest and put the best of ourselves into each and every day. That is the only way to ensure when we do reach the end of our lives (no matter when that is) we can look back and know we did our best.

I can think of no valid reason to hold back, to not give 100%, to not attempt new challenges and experiences. Fear is not a valid excuse, and fear is what holds you back. Fear of the unknown, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure. But failure is often times the best teacher. It may not feel great in the moment but the best lessons, the most ingrained lessons, come from trying something new and falling on our face.

It is never the falling flat that should embarrass you. It is only if you do not get up and start again that you should be embarrassed. If anything, you should be proud that you had the guts to challenge yourself and try when most people would shy away.

Don’t be most people. Always be the best version of you. See yourself as strong, brave and willing to push out of your comfort zone in order to try something new and to grow. Now that is a life worth living and a life that will leave behind an inspiring legacy for others.

You are stronger than you know and more resilient than you realize. Embrace life and all it has to offer you. Leave behind a legacy that leaves no doubt you put it all out there and pushed yourself to grow and give back to the world more than you even realized you could. What you accomplish each and every day is your personal signature to the world. Make that signature big and bold!   

Thursday, October 10, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

It’s not what happens around us that determines where we end up, it’s what we do and how we respond that makes that determination.”

This quote is all about personal responsibility. YOU are responsible for how your life turns out. Let me repeat that. YOU are responsible for how your life turns out. Events will happen that you cannot control, but YOU can control your reactions to those events.

I generally don’t talk about myself in this blog but I do believe some of my experiences are relevant to this post.

I have been let go from a job. 

Three times in fact. 

The first time was very scary. I was newly married and had a one year old son. How was I going to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table? Would it help to blame the company that decided to make changes? Of course not. The only thing to do was make some phone calls (network) to find a new opportunity. Was it a little embarrassing to call friends and business associates to tell them I was out of work? IT was, but that didn’t matter. I had a family and myself to support. 

The second time was a little unnerving, but not nearly as scary (sort of a been there, done that sort of thing). I had been in this position before and it had all worked out. I went through the same drill as before and within 6 weeks I had found a new position with a great company and great people. The next 20 years were some of the most productive years of my life. 

Number three was frustrating just because of what was happening in my personal life. My wife was undergoing chemotherapy for appendix cancer that ultimately took her life. Talk about feeling like the universe was screwing with me. Long story short (way too long of a story for a blog post) I find myself again gainfully employed and happily married to a wonderful woman.

Why share all this? To help make my point – life will throw you curve balls but it is how you handle those curves that determine where you end up. I always say that my story is the proverbial when one door closes another opens. 

Did I have some bad days? You bet I did. We all do. But you cannot let those bad days take over. You have to find a way to take back control. 
You may find that you need some help (a doctor, a therapist, some medication, a support group). You have to find what works best for you at that moment. My wife loves the saying “Suck it up, buttercup”. She uses it more as a joke but it is both blunt and true. It all comes back to ultimately taking responsibility for your life and how you deal with those curve balls.

You have more resources inside you than you even realize. When push comes to shove you are stronger than you know. Yes, there will be tough times and sad days. But you cannot let them overwhelm you or become the narrative of your life. Even if you can’t see it today, this world has so much to offer you, and YOU have so much to give to the world.

Take responsibility and take action when those inevitable curve balls come your way. You will find yourself on the other side of the challenge a stronger, wiser and happier person than you were before the curve ball came your way. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Taking Flight to Success

Achieving success in any area of your life is much like taking a flight. You start from a standstill with a destination in mind and finish moving having built up speed and momentum.

Initially you are at the gate sitting still. You have done your planning and are ready to get moving.

Much like starting to execute a plan for success, your flight starts with a little backward motion as you get pushed back from the gate. It takes the help of many people to get you started on the trip. You are perhaps a little unsure of where you are going, but your ground crew (family, friends, co-workers) help to guide you in the right direction.

After push back it is time to taxi to the runway. This can be a frustrating time. You are anxious to get going but often times you end up following a meandering path. You know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but that line might run you off track. Although you cannot see it, often times the circuitous path is actually the best.

When your plane arrives at the start of the runway there is often a pause. This allows the pilot one last systems check and to make sure the path ahead is clear. The same applies for your success journey. A pause to make sure your direction and intention are aligned with your goals will help ensure you will arrive on target.

After a pause, the plane starts rolling forward, picks up speed and lifts off the ground and into the air. In your success journey you will also find yourself picking up speed and moving at a faster and faster rate as you learn more, gain experience and become more effective and efficient.

During any flight the combined forces from the wind and turbulence force pilots to make corrections and adjustments. You will find yourself doing the same. There are always a variety of factors that will impact your trajectory. You can encounter forces from all directions that are trying to slow you down or push you off course. Your job is to stay focused and continue to keep moving forward.

Finally the plane lands at its destination, only to immediately start preparing for another flight. You will do the same. You will achieve your goal and then set your sights on the next milepost. The more you achieve the more you will want to achieve. You will realize that you are capable of so much more than you thought and after a little celebration (vacation possibly) you will be ready to again put together a plan and head to the gate for another soon to be successful journey.

I wish you a lifetime of success and enjoyable journeys.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

"It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop." – Confucius

Success in each and every one on the five areas of success (Head, Heart, Health, Wealth, World) happens as you grow and move forward. If you stop moving, you stop growing. It really is as simple as that.

Never worry about your speed, just try to take at least one step forward each day in at least one success area. I am sure you have heard the saying “slow and steady wins the race.” While I do not believe that being successful is a race, I do believe that moving forward is true.

Every person is on their own journey through life. And no one really understands exactly what another person is going through. I do not know you, my reader, but I do know two things:

First - no matter what is going on in your life at this moment, you will get through it. You may not even know how yet, or even believe that you can, but you will. You have more strength internally than you realize and you have so much more to offer the world.  

Second – there is no timetable on success. We all have our own definition of what success looks like and we are all moving at our own pace. And that’s the point to make – We are all moving at our own pace. At different times in your life your pace will increase and at other times it will slow down. That is normal. No one maintains a constant pace over a lifetime. We all just need to keep moving. Take it one day at a time or one moment at a time if necessary.

Set small goals. Your first goal of each day may just be to get out of bed. No worries. Give yourself a high five when you get up and then work on the next goal. Small goals over time make habits. Habits become routine. Routines keep you moving. Moving keeps you growing.

Confucius was right on the money. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. My wish for each and every one of you is that you always remember his words and that you do not stop. Keep moving, keep growing and one day you’ll look back and be both amazed and proud of how far you traveled and how much you accomplished.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Effective Work Time Management

As a list maker myself, I know how productive and satisfying it can be to plow through the day finishing tasks and scratching items off the list. The problem is that you can very often finish the day both mentally and physically exhausted, which is not healthy for you or for the relationships with the loved ones in your life.

Most of us are aware of our energy levels early in the day before being distracted by family or work obligations. Some of us can pop out of bed and hit the ground running. Others need time to wake up and get their motor running for the day. After we are moving we seem to forget to check in with ourselves and our mental energy levels.

Out mental energy levels greatly influence our overall productivity throughout the day, as well as how we feel at the end of the day. Very often the reason we finish the day physically exhausted is that we are mentally exhausted as well. We run our mental batteries down and then the brain robs energy from our body. We are not aware of the energy transfer as it happens, but boy do we feel it after we get home and sit down. We suddenly realize just how tired we are.

What if there was a way to help avoid that? What if we could have both more mental and physical energy at the end of the day?

There is.

Schedule your time into three parts.

Activity Time:
Schedule activity time in maximum 45 minute segments. Set the timer on your phone and focus on working on a specific task. Don’t be trying to multitask – studies have shown that although we believe we get more done when we multitask the reality is that the actual amount and quality of the work performed is lower than if we worked on each item separately.  If the task is going to take longer than 45 minutes – break it up. You need to build in mental breaks.

Recovery Time:
After 45 minutes your brain needs a break. Take 5-10 minutes to shift focus. Get a cup of coffee or a bottle of water from the break room. Chat with a colleague in person or on the phone.  Check email or Facebook (just don’t get so absorbed that time ticks by before you realize). Anything to shift your focus and mind from the previous task. Then after 5-10 minutes, resume or start working on a new task. I call this approach “chunking”. I chunk my way through the day so that I can actually get more accomplished, but am not so mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the work day.

As you cycle through activity/recovery you are letting your mind naturally relax and recharge. (And speaking of recharge – try not to lunch at your desk. You are not really mentally disengaging and likely continuing to drain your mental batteries.)

Thinking Time:
This is quite often the toughest block to schedule for all of us. Try to schedule some time each day to just let yourself think. Having time to think about issues and possible solutions or ideas and ways to implement them may sound like a luxury you don’t have but I can assure you it is time well spent. If you are just go-go-go at work and home all day you will end up in a mental rut, never innovating or coming up with “outside the box” ideas. Free thought is the only way that happens. Try going for a walk. I used to walk around the warehouse a few times just to get both the blood and thoughts flowing.

We all have 24 hours in our day. No more and no less. Successful people schedule and use their time wisely. They work in spurts to maximize productivity and then allow themselves time to recover before tackling the next task.

Friday, September 27, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

“You can’t have a better tomorrow if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.” – Charles F. Kettering

So simple and true, yet so many of us spend inordinate amounts of time thinking and/or lamenting about the past. You are wasting precious amounts of time when you let your thoughts dwell on the past. Learn from your past experiences and bring those lessons with you as you move forward.

You only have control over today. You have no control over yesterday. It’s done and over. Focus on the here and now. What are you going to do today to make it a successful day for you and for those around you? What are you going to do today in order to make tomorrow a better day? You need to focus your energies on the activities of today and forward planning for your tomorrows.

A life well lived happens one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity to learn, to grow, and to help others. Tomorrow gets better when you put your best efforts and attitude into today. Tomorrow ended last night. Today needs to be your focus, so your tomorrows can become everything you want them to be. You have the strength within you to chart any course in life you desire, but you have to be seriously working on that life each and every today.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Success requires your active participation

Success does not happen without your active participation. You must improve in all areas in order to achieve the level of success you desire. Success comes to those who work at it, and although success does have a price it’s not something you can simply go to the store and buy. The price for success is effort, growth and time. It takes all three my friends, all three. It takes your effort, your growth and your time.

YOU have to put forth the effort. YOU have to become focused and dedicated to increasing your knowledge and improving your skills in all areas. YOU have to seek out information from a variety of sources. If you are not absorbing new information and increasing your overall knowledge how can you expect to change and become more and more successful in any area of your life?

YOU have to grow. Growth comes from gaining knowledge, putting it into practice, reflecting on what is and what is not working, and then making adjustments as you move forward. Don’t be afraid of or discouraged by mistakes. Mistakes are often the best teacher as long as you reflect on what happened, why it happened and come away with a plan for doing it differently moving forward. Growth starts slow, but over time you gain momentum. The more you learn, the more connections you make. It is these connections that propel your growth.

YOU have to put in the time. Success does not happen overnight. Success is the result of thousands of little things you learn and do day in and day out. There are no shortcuts and everyone’s success journey is different. It takes time to try things, to make mistakes and to learn from them. It takes time to take classes, read books and talk to other successful people. Never waste the time you have by not taking advantage of each and every opportunity to learn something new.

Never forget that you are in control of your life. Events may occur but it is your choice on how you will react. Will you choose to let events define and dictate who you are and what you can achieve, or will you use the incredible strength you have within to rise up, find your path and achieve all the levels of success you desire. Always choose the latter – you have too much to offer and contribute to the world around you.   

Thursday, September 19, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

Each and every one of us holds the amazing power to modify our life at any time we decide to do so. - Michael Bailey

This quote is so true but does require commitment and work. The harsh reality is where you are in life today is the sum total of all the decisions and actions you have taken in the past. And yes, I know circumstance does play apart but your reaction to circumstance plays an even bigger role. If you are not completely thrilled with the level of success you have achieved in any or all of the five success areas it is you that needs to make some changes. When you work on yourself and make changes, changes can and will happen all around you.

Every single person on the planet, including you my friend, has an amazing capacity to change and grow. Our minds can continually learn and adapt. The more information we pour in, the more we have to draw from and apply to any situation we are in.

There is a quote from Bill Gates that ties into this idea well; “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, but underestimate what they can do in ten years.” In today’s immediate gratification society most people get frustrated or discouraged when their attempts at change do not immediately yield results.  Changing your life’s trajectory starts slow. An aircraft carrier speeding along the ocean’s surface cannot turn on a dime. It takes the ship miles to make a complete turnaround.

Behaviors and habits need to change before you start to see real results. You can’t simply skip a meal today and expect significant weight loss. You cannot read one book and expect to be a subject matter expert. But modifying your diet and adding a consistent exercise routine will, over time, result in a much healthier you. Taking classes and researching a subject over time will make you a subject matter expert.

You have the power to greatly modify any facet of yourself and your life. The questions are how committed are you to the change, and will you stay the course over the long haul. You can be in a completely different place in all areas of success in ten years, but not in one year. The difference between those who succeed and those who do not is that successful people put in the effort, put in the time, and play the long game. Trust me on this – You can do it too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Is it time for new friends?

I realize that question may sound a bit harsh but hear me out. Every once in a while (say once every year or two) you need to take a hard look at who you are spending the most time with and ask what impact they are having on your life. It is likely they are impacting you more more than you realize and you need to understand whether or not they are a positive or negative influence on you.

Did you know that your overall happiness is roughly the average of the happiness of the 5 people you spend the most time with? Your attitude about life is greatly influenced by the 5 people you spend the most time with. Your trajectory (personally and professionally) is, you guessed it, again influenced primarily by the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Get it yet? The 5 people you spend the most time with greatly determine who you are, how you interact with the world, and where you are heading. You have to ask yourself the following question about each and every one of your top friends: Are they helping to lift me up, are the supporting and encouraging my dreams or are they holding me back?

Your friends do not have nefarious intentions. But very often people subconsciously resist change, and your growth and success is a change they just not might be comfortable with. Again, this is not intentional and more of a subconscious act. They may not encourage you or push you to grow as much as they could simply because it may change the dynamic of your relationship. Remember, it's not intentional but change makes many people uncomfortable.

If you are serious about becoming the best version of yourself and about achieving success in all 5 areas (Head, Heart, Health, Wealth, and World) then you seriously need to take a strong and unbiased look at your friends. You need to determine who is a plus in your life (encouraging you, pushing you, exposing you to new ideas, etc.) and who is a minus in your life (not pushing you to grow, not bringing new ideas to your attention, not encouraging your dreams, keeping you in the same routine, etc.). Spend as much time as you can with the plus people in your life and reduce the time with the minus people in your life.

Again, I know this sounds a bit harsh or uncaring but really it’s not. Life is short and you cannot get time back. We all have 24 hours each day- no one gets more. Choose to use your waking hours to expand your horizons, challenge yourself to grow and become the best you that you can be (and trust me – you can do and achieve a lot more than you give yourself credit for today). Surround yourself as much as possible with people who truly want you to flourish. The people who are a plus will help you on the next leg of your journey.

None of this makes your current friends bad people. It’s just that you need to understand who is truly helping you move develop to your full potential and who is not. The reality is that we change over time. Our wants, needs, hopes, dreams all change. Doesn’t it make sense that our friends wants, needs, hopes and dreams are changing as well and the fact that you have known someone for a period of time should not be the only determining factor whether or not they should continue to have influence over you? I am not at all saying to cut old friends out of your life, I am just asking you to take some time and think about who is helping you grow and who is really not, both in actions and words.

You and only you are responsible for your achieving your definition of success. Make sure you have the best support team you can in order to give yourself the best chance at making that happen.     

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This week's Quote and Commentary

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
Anyone who knows me or has heard me talk knows this is one of my favorite quotes. I love it’s simple yet powerful reminder that it is never too late to start. Stop with the shoulda, coulda, and woulda excuses or regrets. Every day you delay taking action is another day lost.

Let’s say you are overweight. You already know you should eat better and exercise. You have three choices.

1.      Ignore what you know and just keep doing what you are doing.
2.      Complain that it’s too hard to change or it’s too late to make a difference now.
3.      Make a change starting today.

These three choices apply to every facet of your life.

Health options – weight loss, diet, stop smoking, stop drug use, etc.

Work skills – typing speed, computer skills, specialized skills (Machine operator, computer programmer for example).

Hobbies/Leisure – Learn to play the guitar, learn to paint, become a better reader, etc., etc.

Financial literacy – Budgeting, learning about investment options, making investments, retirement planning.  

Here is the deal – Stop complaining that you are too old, that it’s too late, or that it won’t make a difference now. Those are all just bullshit excuses (pardon my language).  It’s never too late, you are never too old and any change will make a difference.

20 years ago may have been the best time. That doesn’t matter. Today is your second best option. Don’t waste it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Giving the Moment

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. It’s a basic psychological need. We all want to matter to others – to our families, to our friends, to our bosses and to our co-workers.

How do you make yourself matter? By giving other’s your time and attention. When you validate others you are validated in the process. That may sound a little odd but think about it for a moment – the more of yourself you give to others, the more they will rely on and trust you. You become more important because you are helping meet other’s needs.

Give others the moment. Let them speak, uninterrupted. Listen, really listen to them. Seek to understand; do not listen just to respond. Ask questions for clarification if needed after they have spoken (do not interrupt). We are all guilty of completing someone’s sentence or thought. We want to help and we want to move the conversation along. This moving along is really more about YOU than it is about them. You are busy, you want to get back to what you were doing, you want to be the hero and quickly provide the answer or advice. That all might make you feel better, but in reality it discounts the other person.

We all need to be aware of the other person’s feelings and needs. Remember, everyone needs to feel like they matter. By cutting them off, finishing their thoughts and rushing to respond you are actually signally to them that you have much more important matters that need your attention. Your intention may be good, but the results are not.

Instead of trying to rush the conversation along, why don’t you just stop what you are doing, put down the pen and paper, put down the book, mute the TV, turn off or turn the screen (computer, laptop, tablet or phone) and make true eye contact with the other person. Nod slightly as you listen, and listen for comprehension. Give them their moment, show them they matter. Your interactions will be better, the outcomes will be better, your communication will be clearer, your relationships will strengthen and you will both come away knowing that you both matter. 

It is only a moment. Let others have them. You will both be glad you did.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

Your level of success will never exceed your level of personal development.

I really like this quote. Focused and to the point. It is your commitment and follow-thru to your personal development that will help propel you up the ladder of success. If you are not willing to put in the time to develop yourself how can you reasonably expect to succeed in whatever area you are focused on.

This holds true for each of the five elements of success: Head, Heart, Health, Wealth and World. Head obviously takes the lead. Successful people are lifetime learners. They are consistently active and open to new information. They know that the world around them is changing at an ever increasing pace and the only way to keep up is to seek out and find new information and skills on a variety of subjects. The more you know, he more you can connect and use ideas from multiple disciplines. What is working in one area may well be the answer to a problem in another area.

To be successful in the Heart requires learning how to communicate and relate to the people in your life. It requires you to be both vulnerable and giving at the same time. The more you learn about interpersonal practices the more successful you can become with all your relationships.

Health success requires you to keep up with the latest science on nutrition, exercise and mental health. Learning what, when and how much to eat help you achieve weight control success. What you learn and practice in the area of exercise helps your body stay strong, lean and flexible. What you learn about yoga, meditation and other forms of relaxation help maintain your mental health. Staying healthy helps you climb the success ladder in every other area as well.

Success on the Wealth front requires developing money saving and investing strategies. You have to commit to developing your financial acumen in order to move ahead both personally in wealth management but very often to move forward in the workplace as well. The more you know the more valuable you become to the marketplace. The more valuable to the marketplace you become, the more options you have and the more likely that those options include higher salary become.   

World success requires a high level of personal development. How else can you successfully mentor other people or know where you can best give back (time and/or money) to make a lasting impact on the world around you. You may not impact the entire world at large (hard to impact over 7 billion people at once) but you can make an impact in your part of the world (your home, your workplace, your neighborhood, your town).

Your level of personal development truly affects your level of success. You owe it to yourself and those you love and are yet to love, to become the best possible version of you. Develop yourself and let everyone see and benefit from all you can bring to the world. Success is yours for the making. Take up the personal development challenge and see just how high up the ladder you can climb.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Share Your Humanity

I want to challenge you all to make a commitment to changing how you interact with the people in the world around you. The concept I am challenging you all to embrace is “Share Your Humanity”. At the heart is the concept of treating others how you would like to be treated. We all want to be seen (noticed, acknowledged), we all want to be shown compassion, and we all want to valued and respected.

Sharing Your Humanity is just that. Notice the people around you, respect the people around you and show some compassion to the people around you. How hard is that really? We are not talking about any bold action on your part. Start small and hold a door open for complete strangers and wishing them a good day is a simple way to start. Taking a few seconds (yes, literally seconds) to make a connection and show some kindness impacts both your day and the strangers day in a positive way.

Each one of us, through our actions, sends energy into the world around us. The choice you need to make is whether that energy is going to be positive or negative. I urge you to choose positive. In a world that seems so full of negative thoughts and actions, we need more positive to be sent out to help offset the gloom and doom of the news. Sharing Your Humanity puts a spring in your step. Don’t believe it. Get up, get out and make someone’s day. You will feel better and I assure you so will they.

You Share Your Humanity when you do something unexpected for someone else with no thought of any payback to yourself. It is the free giving of goodwill on your part. We can all find a way to make that happen. I saw a short video on LinkedIn this morning about a man who bought a small amount of food (bag of chips and a Gatorade) for homeless people he saw on the street. That was his way of Sharing his Humanity; a simple and compassionate action his part with obviously no expectation of payback. I am not advocating you do the same (although that would be wonderful), but I am advocating you find ways to Share Your Humanity with the world around you.

Make this challenge part of your daily routine. Put it into action and practice every day until it becomes automatic. Think about the chain reaction your one act of kindness could set in motion today, and then stop thinking about it and go do it. Let’s set in motion thousands of ripples of humanity throughout our world and the universe. It just takes a few seconds of awareness and effort from each of us.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

This Week's Quote and Commentary

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

There is some debate over the original source of this quote but that is really not important. What is important is that you understand the underlying message. You need to continually feed your mind new information if you are serious about becoming successful.  It’s really pretty simple - focused, serious people achieve their goals and unfocused people do not.

Reading books, magazine articles, blog posts, etc., exposes you to new ideas. The more you read the more internal knowledge you have to draw from. How can you grow as a person, how you can you get better at your craft, and how can you get better at improving your personal health or the health of your relationships if you do not learn new methods and new ideas.

And please do not try to convince me, or yourself, that you are getting new ideas from watching TV or your phone screen. Sound bites are just not going to feed your mind with many substantive ideas or much new information. We tend to watch shows and read social media posts that confirm what we think we already know (Conformational bias). That is no way to expand your horizons.

Read as much as you can and about as many different topics as you can. The more you read, the more you will begin to connect dots between subjects and that my friend is where the advantage comes from. The more you have exposed your mind to a variety of information, the more able you are to “see” options when confronted with a challenge.

True success comes to those who really want it and are willing to put in the focused time and effort to learn all they can. You will get achieve more in each of the five Success areas as you read and learn more. What you learn (Head) will help you deepen your relationships (Heart), improve your overall well-being (Health), become more productive and valuable to the marketplace (Wealth), and be a wiser philanthropist as you give back (World).  

Books are easy to come by. Libraries are everywhere as are bookstores (brick & mortar or online). Take full advantage of what's right in front of you to help develop yourself to your full potential. You and the world will be a better place for your efforts.