Self-Investment, Orison Swett Marden; book summary

Dr. Marden is one of the founding fathers of the personal development movement and the founder and first publisher of Success Magazine.  He wrote many books back in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  What I like about reading books that are older, is that the same things that applied then, apply now, they just had a different spin on them.  Also, I like the fact that some of the material is outdated and made sense for the time, but to see how far we have come as a society is interesting as well.

This book summary is comprised of the chapter titles and a few of my notes from the chapter.  Also, each chapter begins with a quote and these also provide a nice takeaway for you.  I believe the chapter title itself gives you a nice nugget that you can apply today to get be all that you can.

Chapter 1:  If you can talk well.  A good conversationalist is one who has ideas, who reads, thinks, and who has therefore something to say–Sir Walter Scott.

  • Nothing embarrass and bores the average man so much as a girl who has to be entertained. (Authors notes, I like it so I highlighted, I would a guy or a girl :))
  • Good reading will not only broaden the mind and give new ideas, but it will also increase ones vocabulary.

Chapter 2: Put beauty in your life.  Beauty is God’s handwriting.  There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy, and not pain, around us–Emerson.

  • What is the best education? Once asked of Plato.  “It is, that which gives to the body and to the soul all the beauty and all the perfection of which they are capable.”
  • There is no investment which will give such returns as the cute of the finer self, the development of the sense of the beauty the sublime and the true, the development of qualities, that are crushed out or strangled in the mere dollar chaser.
  • If we sin to beautify the outer, we must first beautify the inner, for every thought and every motion shapes the delicate tracings of our face for ugliness or beauty.  Inharmonious and destructive attitudes of mind will warp and mar the most beautiful creatures.

Chapter 3:  Enjoying what others own.  If you are not wealthy yourself, be glad somebody else is, and you will be astonished at the happiness that will result to your self–Rev Dr. Charles F. Aked.  I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.

  • The secret of happiness is in a cheerful, contented mind.  “He is poor who is dissatisfied; he is rich who is contented with what he has, and can enjoy what others own.”

Chapter 4:  Personality as a success asset.  There is something about one’s personality which eludes the photographer, which the painter can’t reproduce, which the sculptor cannot chisel.  The subtle something which everyone feels, nut which no one can describe, which no biographer ever put down in a book, as a great deal to do with one’s success in life.

  • Secretiveness repels as much as frankness attracts.
  • Be open with others.

Chapter 5:  How to be a social success.  The power to please is a great success asset.  It will do for you what money will not do.  It will other give you capital which your financial assets alone would not warrant.  People are governed by their likes and dislikes.  We are powerfully influenced by a pleasing, charming personality.  A persuasive manner is often irresistible. Even judges on the bench feel its fascination.

  • The best way to draw people to you is to make them feel that you are interested in them.  You must not do this for effect.  You must be really interested in them, or they will detect the deception.
  • If you wear a bull-dog expression, if you go about looking sour and disagreeable, you must not wonder that you are not popular with your employees or other people. Everybody loves a pleasant face.
  • There is only one way to win love, and that is to love.

Chapter 6:  The miracle of Tact.  Talent is something, but tact is everything. Talent is no match for tact; we see its failure everywhere.  In the race of life, common sense has the right away.

  • Tact is an extremely delicate quality, difficult to define, hard to cultivate, but absolutely indispensable to one who wishes to get on in the world rapidly and smoothly.
  • The personality of a physician has a great deal to do with his success, and with the chances of his patients.
  • There is no better discipline in the world than to force ourselves to be sociable and interesting to those for whom we do not care.

Chapter 7: I had a friend.  Oh Friendship!  Of all things the most rare, and therefore most scare because most excellent, whose comforts in misery are always sweet, and whose counsels in prosperity and are ever fortunate–Lilly.

  • Life is to be fortified by many friendships, said Sydney Smith.  To love and to be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.
  • True friendship says CC Colton, is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.
  • I know lost of people who have plenty of friends, but they are not the kind that help or elevate them.  They have chosen downward, instead of upward.
  • Friendships must be cultivated.  It cannot be bought, it is priceless.  If you abandon your friends for a quarter of a century or more while you are buried in your pursuit of wealth, you cannot expect to go back and find them where you left them.  Did you ever get or keep anything worthwhile without an effort equal to its value?

Chapter 8:  Ambition. The youth who does not look up will look down, and the spirit that does not soar is destined to grovel.  Whoever is satisfied with what he does has reached the culminating point, He will progress no more.

  • No one ever amounts to much who does not take himself in hand and force himself to do the things that is best for him in the end, not the pleasantest or the easiest.
  • Everything depends on ambition.  The moment it becomes weak all the life standards drop with it.  One must keep the ambition lamp ever trimmed and burning brightly.
  • It is dangerous to dally with ambition killing influences.
  • Nature allows us to keep only what is in constant use.
  • When the desire, the ambition, comes fresh and strong with zeal and enthusiasm, it is easy, but after we have postponed it a few times, we find ourselves less and les inclined to make the necessary effort or sacrifice to attain it, because it does not appeal to us with the same emphasis as at first.
  • Do not allow ambition to cool.  Make up your mind that you cannot and will not spend your life being half satisfied.
  • The expanding man is always dissatisfied with his accomplishments, is always reaching out for something larger, fuller, and completer.
  • Men often fail because of impatient ambition.
  • The heights of great men reached and kept, Were not attained by sudden flight, But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night.
  • Anything that will give us a glimpse of ourselves, that will awaken us to our possibilities, is invaluable.
  • Most people die with the largest percentage of their possibilities still undeveloped.
  • Constantly ask yourself, If others can do them, why cant I?

Chapter 9.  Education by Reading.  Books are the windows through which the soul looks out–H.W. Beecher.

  • Most of us manage somehow to find time for the things we love.  If one is hungry for knowledge, if one yearns for self-improvement, if one has a taste for reading, he will make the opportunity.
  • Where the heart is, there is a treasure. Where the ambition is, there is time.
  • It’s not the number of books, says Professor William Matthews, “which a young man reads that makes him intelligent and well-informed, but the number of well chose ones that he has mastered, so that every valuable thought of them is a familiar friend.”

Chapter 10.  Discrimination in Reading.  Cultivate the habit of reading something good for ten minutes a day.  Then minutes a day will in twenty years make all the difference between a cultivated and an uncultivated mind, provided you read what is good. I mean by the good the proved treasures of the world, the intellectual treasures of the world in story, verse, history, and biography–Charles W. Eliot, Ex-President of Harvard University.

  • Read books that make you look up, which inspire you to be a little bigger man or woman, to amount to a little more in the world.
  • Read books that make you think more of yourself and believe more in yourself and in others.

Chapter 11.  Reading to Spur Ambition. I know of nothing els which will enlarge ones ideals and lift ones life standards more than the study of the lives of great and noble characters, the reading of biographies of great men and women. Abroad, it is impossible for me to avoid the society of fools.  In my study, I can call up the ablest spirits., the learnedest philosophers, the wisest counsellors, the greatest generals, and make them serviceable to me–Sir William Waller.

  • Cotton Mathers “Essay to do Good” influenced the whole career of Benjamin Franklin, we are told.

Chapter 12.  The Self-Improvement Habit, A great Asset.  A boy is better unborn than untaught–Gascolgne.  It is ignorance that wastes, it is knowledge that saves, an untaught faculty is at once quiescent and dead–N.D. Hillis.   The plea that this or that man has no time for culture will vanish as soon as we desire culture so much that we begin to examine seriously into our present us of time–Matthew Arnold.

  • Education as commonly understood, is the process of developing the mind by means of books and teachers.  When educations is neglected, with by a reason of lack of opportunity, or because advantage was not taken of the opportunities afforded, the one remaining hope is self-improvement.
  •  Opportunities of self-improvement surround us, the helps to self-improvement are abundant, and in this day of cheap books, free libraries, and evening schools, there can be no good reason for neglect to use the facilities for mental growth and development which are so abundantly supplied.
  • The trouble with a great many people is they are not willing to make present sacrifices for future gain.
  • The secret of power is use.  Ability will not remain with us, force will evaporate the moment we cease to something with it.

Chapter 13.  The raising of values. Destiny is not about thee, but within, Thyself must make thyself.

  • Of course it hard and painful, and it takes lots of stamina to undergo the processes that produce the finest products, but would you prefer to remain a rough bar of iron or a horseshoe all of you life?

Chapter 14.  Self Improvement Through Public Speaking.

  • Do not be afraid to rise to put a motion or to second it or give your opinion on it.  Do not wait until you are better prepared.  You never will be.
  • The hardest thing for a public speaker to overcome is self-consciousness.

Chapter 15.  What a Good appearance will do.  The apparel oft proclaims the man–Shakespeare.  As a general thing an individual who is neat in his person is neat in his morals–H.W. Shaw.

  • Two chief factors in good appearance cleanliness of the body and comeliness of the attire.
  • Cloths don’t make the man, but good cloths have gout many a man a good job.
  • From every point of view it pays well to dress well.

Chapter 16.  Self Reliance.

  • The greatest service a teacher can render a pupil is to train them to depend on themselves, to trust his own powers. If the youth does not practice self-reliance, the man will be a weakling, a failure.
  • Power is self developed, self-generated.  We cannot increase the strength of our muscles by sitting in a gymnasium and letting another exercise for us.
  • Where ether is no struggle, there is no growth, no character.
  • Self reliance has the best substitute for friends, influence, capital, a pedigree, or assistance.  It has mastered more obstacles, overcome more difficulties, carried through more enterprises, perfected more inventions, than any other human quality.

Chapter 17.  Mental Friends and Foes.  We can make our minds art galleries of beauty or chambers of horror, we can furnish them with anything we please.

  • Ideas, thoughts, like everything else, attract what is akin to them. The thoughts which dominate in the mind will tend to drive out their opposites.  Optimism will drive out pessimism.  Cheerfulness will tend to drive out despondency, hope, discouragement.

I hope you found this book summary helpful and inspiring.  Please share with me your thought on this summary.

To your success and your future.


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I have decided that #noexcuses2015 will be the motto for me in the year 2015.  I think for the most part I try to live my life that way, however there are times and places where I allow the excuses to creep in as well.

I recently conducted a survey with about 100 Sales Professionals.  The question I asked of the group was “List out all of the excuses you made this past year that prevented you from making your goal.”  I gave some additional context around this question, but I think the question is pretty clear.  The responses I received were telling as well:

I gave the group about 5 minutes to work together and come up with as many excuses as they possibly could.   Then I asked the audience to share with all of us what excuses they used.

My guess is that we were about 15 excuses into the exercise before I heard an excuse that was self-inflicted versus external factors.  Meaning the sales people blamed all external forces and variables as the reason they were unsuccessful in accomplishing their goals versus their own performance having anything to do with them missing their goal.

If you are reading this blog my guess is that you are already a very accountable and self-responsible person.   You hold yourself to the highest standards and will not accept anything but the best from yourself.  I would put myself in that same category as well.

However, I know there are many times this year that I used some excuses that prevented me from being the best I could be.  Like you, I don’t allow excuses to creep in on the things that matter the most.  Such as family obligations, work obligations, etc.  However, I have allowed excuses to creep in on some personal goals that I have set for myself.  Some accountability goals that I may have set for the people who I work with.  Or allowed some things that can help me move the ball forward in work as well as personal.

I am prepping for 2015 to be the best year for me.  The only way that this can be accomplished is with a #noexcuses mentality.  So every time that little voice in my head says, “you have already worked out 4 times this week, do you really need a fifth” or “You blogged 3 times, this week, you don’t need to do another one”  “You burned 1000 calories this morning, you deserve a bottle of wine (come on you know this is easy to do:)).

Take the challenge with me this next year.  Lets not allow any excuses to creep in and prevent us from being all that we can be. Please share with me your #noexcuses2015 goals.

To your success and your future.

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Book Summary: Unlocking Potential 7 Coaching Skills

I have been a leader/coach for many years now.  I have had a lot of training in this area, and have read a lot of books on the topic as well. I decided to take a deeper dive into the topic and focus on coaching books versus leadership books to really understand the art of coaching and become an expert in it.

This book summary is from the author Michael K. Simpson.  The title of the book is Unlocking Potential 7 Coaching Skills that Transform individuals, Teams, and Organizations.  Michael is part of the Franklin Covey organization.

The following are the seven skills that he focuses on in his book. (the authors comments are in italics)

1.  Build Trust:  This is foundational competency and skill of all great coaching, without it, individuals will suspect you, question your agenda, slow you down, and possibility reject you as a coach.  Thats why it is the first skill that Simpson recommends.

I agree with the author.  To coach more effectively and to be able to have the participant take the advice from the coach, you must have established a relationship and a foundation with the individual and they must feel that you have their best interest in mind.

2.  Challenge Paradigms:  A paradigm is the way we think.  An individual who believe they can’t improve is not coachable and until that paradigm changes, you’ll go nowhere.  Your individuals paradigms might become barriers to achievement, and as a coach, your task is to challenge them firmly and gently.

I think this is an area for many coaches to improve upon.  I think a lot of times, a coach may feel like the person the are trying to coach may know more than them, so the coach may be hesitant to challenge their thinking.  This is where a coach must challenge the coachee’s thinking and ask them where they could possible give more and do more.

3.  Seek Strategic Clarity: With the coaches help, the individual should choose personal goals and be completely clear about them with measurable endpoints.  Without strategic clarity, coaching becomes aimless and endless.

Again, a major opportunity for many coaches.  They think that having a conversation about performance is good enough.  It’s not.  A coach must challenge the coachee with goals and then specific targets with deadlines when those goals should be met.

4.  Execute Flawlessly:  Execution might be the toughest challenge of all, the coach can help individuals actually to set, prioritize, and achieve their goals and help to hold them accountable.

What I have seen many times, is the coach assumes that they have helped the individual set the goal and that should be sufficient.  It’s not.  If the individual was able to set goals and execute them to get them accomplished they would already be doing it.  As a coach you must equip them with the strategy to execute the goals so they can be accomplished.

5.  Give effective Feedback:  All coaches give feedback.  Some of it is effective. The feedback should consist of things that help create awareness for the individual, focus on actions they need to take.

Some coaches never provide any feedback, much less feedback that creates awareness.  As a coach you must ask questions of the individuals performance.  Click on this link for a playbook on concepts a coach should use to create awareness for the individual.

6.  Tap into Talent: Most people underestimate their own talents. As Dr. Stephen Covey would often say “most people have far more talent than they ever use.”  As a coach you need to know how to help people tap into the unique and vast reserve of talents they already have.

As a coach you must point out things for people that they can’t see in themselves. A leader/coach is someone who challenges and inspires someone.  Helping individuals get into their areas of strength and then pointing out those strengths is what a good coach does.  If you look back on all of the good coaches you have had in your life you will most likely discover the reason they were a good coach is they helped you see talents that you didn’t see in your self, or they helped you maximize those talents.

7.  Move the middle:  Coaches are usually focused on helping high performers get even better. It is essential to reward and promote top talent. However, the biggest opportunity for performance improvement in any organization is to help “move the middle”, among those performers who are good, but not yet great.

I agree with the author.  Your biggest challenge as a coach and where you can have the most significant impact on your organization is on the middle 60% of the team members.  The top 20% are going to do what they do, and you just need to encourage them.  The bottom 20% you should be coaching up or coaching out.

In life, as in work, one of our key leadership responsibilities is to help people gain vision and strategic clarity in their jobs, careers, and in their business.

A global survey on topics of strategy and goal execution called the Execution Quotient (xQ) Survey, was gathered from data from more than 500,000 leaders across 18 global industries and 20 languages.  The xQ survey results showed the common challenges with strategy and goal execution.  The dat validates four key root causes for breakdowns with flawless execution.  These challenges dont vary much across industry or culture.

  • Goal Clarity: Eight five respondents don’t know the goals of the organization they work for; 44 percent of the people say they know, but when asked to identify the goals, only 15 percent can actually do it.
  • Leveraged behaviors: Eighty-five percent of the respondents don’t know what to do to achieve the organizations goals. They often don’t know the strategic reasons for doing the work they are doing.
  • Compelling Scoreboards:  Eighty-seven percent of the respondents don’t know whether their company is winning or losing in relation to its most important goals.  They simply don’t know the score. Or if they do, they are almost always looking at historical “lag measures” results that appear only after it is too late to do anything about them.
  • Weekly Accountability: Seventy-nine percent of the respondents are not held accountable for lack of progress made towards critically important goals. Only 21 percent meet with their bosses even as often as monthly to assess achievement of their most important goals. Usually accountability, is top down, punitive, or intimidating, or it is soft, permissive, and infrequent at best.

Most often the strategy is fine it is the execution and communication that lacks, as the above research suggests.

All in all this was a great book on coaching.  What I liked most was the series of questions the author includes to ask individuals to improve their performance.

To your success and your future.

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Two ears and one mouth

Maybe it is cliché, maybe it is the first time you are hearing it, or reading it.  You have two ears and one mouth and you should at least, yes at least, use them in that proportion.  Meaning you should listen twice as much as you talk.  I would even go a step further and say you should listen three or four times as much as you talk.

Why should you listen more than you talk?

  • You learn more by listening than you do by talking.
  • You show the other person(s) that you want to hear what they have to say.
  • Your influence increases with that person the more they learn to trust that you care what they think.
  • Just as you do and I do, we love to talk about ourselves and share our stories.  So do others, so allow them to tell them to you them and see what happens with your influence.

Some of you may be thinking ok.  I will attempt to listen more than talk.  How do I do that.  If you want to have the most influence with others, you definitely want to listen more than you talk, but secondly to encourage the other person to talk about themselves. You can do this by asking questions.  Just ask questions of others, not in an interrogation way, but in a way that makes sense with the natural flow of the conversation.

Ex:  Its Monday morning.  Ask your colleague, your boss, your peer, what they did this weekend.  And just listen to them. I am sure you will want to respond to them and start saying what you did this weekend as well.  Refrain from doing so. Until you listen to them for a few minutes.  If they say the proverbial “nothing” ask a follow-up question like.  “You had to do something, did you stay inside and watch television?”

In your meetings this week at work do the same thing.  Instead of telling everyone what problems you are faced with in your department or in your job, listen to others and ask questions about their challenges and difficulties in their position.  As a leader or influencer, you will learn more and gain more by asking questions and listening than you doing all of the talking.

As I like to always say, the two ears and one mouth ratio is often known but seldom practiced.  I actually still have to make sure I am not dominating a conversation at times.  I am just consciously competent, when it comes to this.  To better understand the four consciousness states check out a previous blog on this topic at 

To your success and your future.

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The Four Self’s

In the Leadership Training for Managers course from Dale Carnegie  we discuss the Empowerment Cycle that managers can use to coach employees to improve their performance.

The empowerment cycle can not only be used as a manager or leader, but we can use it to improve our own performance in our everyday lives.

1st Self:  Self Confidence:  It all begins here.  You must have the self-confidence to take the initiative to improve in your business, your life, your relationships, and in anything else you want to attempt.  If you haven’t attempted it before, will your confidence be high?  Nope, but the key thing is to just do it.  Most things happen when you just start doing versus just thinking about it.

2nd Self:  Self-Direction:  We all must be self-directed.  How do you become self-directed?  You set goals and have a vision for your future.  Check out my previous blog on this topic  A person that wants to accomplish and improve their own performance will always be seeking a new direction, a better way, a better approach.  Don’t allow life and circumstances determine your direction.  Take the wheel and you steer the car where you want to go.

3rd Self:  Self-Evaluation:  Now that you have built up the confidence to take some iniative, and you have set some goals, and started the pursuit towards these goals.  Now you have to evaluate how you are doing, how you are progressing, and is it working for you.  My mentor says it like this.

Q:  How long do we allow someone to stay in the fourth grade?

A:  One year, right?

How do we know when it is time for them to move to the fifth grade?  We give them a test and evaluate them.  But we don’t wait until the end of the fourth grade year to do so, do we?  Nope, we evaluate all year-long to see how they are progressing.

You have to do the same thing in your life.  You must self evaluate and see how you are doing.

4th Self:  Self-Correction:  You must evaluate your progress and then make adjustments to the course if you are not heading in the right direction.  Self-Correction is one of the most important steps here, because you cant expect to do the same things the same way and get a different result.  You have to make corrections along the way, no body will do it for you.  BTW:  Number one thing I have learned in life is this “Change before you have to”.  When someone comes along and tells you to change it is most likely to late.  More on this topic later.

The fifth self:  Is it begins back at the beginning of the cycle.  Which is Self-Confidence.  Every time you go through the four step cycle your confidence will build and you will get better.

Take the Four Steps above approach today to your work, to your personal life, to your finances, and see how it works and then tell us about here at the SDA blog.

To your success and your future.

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You are special…

I am saying something you may already know, but sometimes we all need to be reminded of it.

We are all special.  If we were all the same, how boring would the world be.  The fact is that you bring a certain skill set to the marketplace, to your family, to your community, to your friends, to anything you are apart of, that is different from what someone else may bring.  And that is why you are special.  No one else brings what you bring.

Today, I am going to allow my special unique talents to shine.  I am going to challenge the ones around me to allow theirs to shine as well. Together when are uniqueness and authenticity comes through we will accomplish so much more than we would if we tried to hide these special talents.

Do you know what your special talents are?  What makes you unique?  What makes you different.  How does your uniqueness and special talents add value to those you come in contact with.

Your challenge on this Monday morning is to identify your uniqueness and special qualities and ensure you use them to add value to others on this awesome day.

To your success and your future.

Brian Willett

Connect with me at: 

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A duh! moment

I had a thought the other day while running.  It really wasn’t a very profound thought, it was more of duh moment.  However, I think those duh moments tend to have the most impact when you actually think of it as a duh moment.

Here is my duh moment. I was running listening to a book on audible.  My thoughts based on the message from the book, had me thinking about the past and what I called memorable things of great significance and importance that I have accomplished.  Maybe it was a promotion, maybe it was accomplishing a degree, a certification, or doing a presentation that I wasn’t comfortable in doing, etc.  You name it.  Most of the things were of great significance and at the time was a major accomplishment.

So the duh moment.  As I look back on all of these accomplishments, I don’t know if any of these things were planned with great in-depth detail.  Most of them were really just “doing”.  Let me put some context around this for you.

After I completed, my bachelors degree, I wondered should I get a master’s degree.  The decision was really made on my question to myself, why not?  It only requires twelve more classes of hard work and effort, of which I have been accustomed to because of my previous work in my undergrad.  It wasn’t anything but more work, well, and showing up.  See that is where most people fail, they just don’t show up.  This is another topic I could go on for days about.  In my mind I just needed to do the work and show up for another eighteen months, and I could get a master’s degree.  The “doing” is all that it required.

As I look back at the above as major accomplishment, I can think of just about everything else since then and maybe before then occurred really from just “doing”.  The more I do, the more I get done.  The goal now is to do bigger and better things.  Things of greater importance, things that can be significant to others, and significant to a legacy.

My mentor said it like this.  What is easy to do, is easy not to do.  The more you do, the more you will accomplish.

The biggest GAP for most people is the Gap between knowing and doing. (For the sake of the blog, the gap between the following doesn’t look that big, but is it?)

knowing (what we know we should do)                                           Doing (what we actually do)

What are you going to do today?

To your success and your future.


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Take A Time-Out

  • It is only very few of us who pause and think of what we are, what we would like to be and what we should do to get there. 

Today, I want to challenge the readers of this blog and who ever else stumbles upon it with the following:

Take a few minutes today and think about where you are and what you have become.  Ask yourself?  Am I ok with this?  Then (this is the fun part) think about what you would like to be.  Q:  Where do you go with that.  A:  Anywhere you want and think you can go.

Next, what do you have to do to get to the place you would like to go and be the person you would like to be.

Lastly, are you willing to do what it takes?

Life is too short to be little—Benjamin Disraeli

To your success and your future. 


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Michael Jordan: The Life (What MJ has taught me)

I have read a dozen or so biographies of some of the most historic and prolific individuals that have contributed to our society.  I grew up watching Michael Jordan and I can remember the 1992 USA Olympic Team and my buddy Wes and I playing the Sega or maybe it was the Nintendo basketball game created from that team and the teams they played during those summer games.  The average margin of victory for the “real” team that summer was 30 points, I think our average margin of victory on the game console was more like 60 points.

We have all heard the many stories of Michael Jordan’s competitiveness and his intense pressure that he put on himself as well as his team mates.  But after reading this book, I have a new appreciation for Michael, not necessarily for what he accomplished.  We know what he accomplished and has accomplished, but I just really appreciate his “pursuit of excellence”.  He is truly a man who pursues excellence in everything he does.

Michael worked EXTREMELY HARD.  Michael was the first person at the gym in the morning and the last one to leave.  He is the best ever, but he still knew that he had to work hard to maintain being the best.

  • Where are you in your career?  You have to show up first and leave last, if you want to be the best.

Maybe you don’t like your boss, but if you are good (great) they will leave you alone.  I had heard the Michael and the General Manager Jerry Krause didn’t get a long.  However, even though Jerry was the boss, he gave Michael his space to do what he needed to do.

  • My advice to anyone is that you don’t have to love your manager or leader (it helps, but it isn’t necessary) but if you are really great at your job they will give you space to make things happen, just like Jerry did for Michael.

When others on the team weren’t giving it there all, Michael called them out.  Time after time the book tells stories of how Michael would challenge players in practice to give it their all, and if they didn’t they would get the scorn of Michael.

  • If you really care about the team and your company you have to not only give it your all, but it is your job and responsibility to make your other team mates give it their all.

There were no off days.  I knew Michael worked hard.  However, in the book there are countless stories of when the Bulls would come back from a series of games on the road, that players would be exhausted from the road trip and would attempt to not push too hard in practice, Michael refused to allow them to do this.  He would work even harder in practice and make them work as well.

  • Have you had a great day at work or maybe even a great week, and you think you can not push it as hard?  What would happen if you pushed hard all day everyday.

Don’t complain about the conditions, just play.  Before the Bulls had nice practice facilities and awesome resources for the players.  They shared an old gym at a community center.  It was old and not much there.  Michael took one look at the facility and threw his gym bag down and said lets play.

  • The conditions will never be perfect. However, your play can be, it’s up to you to change your attitude and just play.

Respect the chain of command.  There were many things that Michael may have disagreed  with over the years with coaches and with his general manager.  However Michael always respected the chain of command and never said things to media or others to discount their authority.

  • You can respect the chain of command by talking to your manager or your leader in person, never do it behind their back or to others on the team.

You have to give it your all even when you don’t feel like it. Yes, we have all heard about the Flu game.  Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals Michael was sick with the flu and ended up with the following stats. Jordan played 44 minutes, finishing the game with 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block

  • You are a professional and what if you approached your job this way everyday?  Now I know if you have the flu we don’t want you in the office getting everyone sick.  However, the point here is that there are times throughout the week, the month or the year, that you are needed.  Be there no matter what.

You can talk smack when you can back it up. I can’t even recall all of the stories in the book and the many players that were quoted for the book describing the language that Michael used to talk trash to them on the floor.  But Michael backed it up, play after play.  

  • If you are going to say your are the best, be able to back it up with results and evidence.

Be humble. Michael was one of the most dominant players to ever play the game.  However, he never put him self above the other players he held himself to the same standards as everyone else (even higher really) and never got too big for the game and fame, even though he could have.

  • You are never bigger than the team or the organization, remember that and always give appreciation to others for their contributions.

Be coachable. Michael was the best player of all time.  He knew it and everyone else knew it.  Michael was his own hardest critic.  However, he would still listen to the advice of his coaches and his fellow teammates on things that he could do better.

  • We are never perfect and we must be willing to be coached, learn, and get better.  Once you think you have it all figured out, you will never reach excellence.

Have fun even in the moment of intense practice and preparation.  Michael was one of the most intense and competitive athletes of all time, but there are countless stories of Michael joking and playing around in practice and in games once the task that needed to be complete was complete.

  • Once your job is complete, make time for cutting up and have fun.  However, only do this once the job is done.

I remember watching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan during their run in the mid 1990′s, however, I didn’t know the man (Michael) the way I do now. I just knew how good he was on the court.   Michael hated losing more than he liked winning.  A loss in basketball, table tennis, golf or anything would just eat at him.  He hated losing, which pushed him to make sure that he won.

I have a greater appreciation for Michael and who the man is.  His daily pursuit of excellence and not settling for anything is amazing.  I would compare Michael’s style to that of the late Steve Jobs.  Jobs and Michael both believed in not doing anything half way, and always giving it their all. These two iconic figures both changed the world.  Michael transformed the NBA and the athletic shoe and apparel industry.  He helped Nike become the dominant force it is now.  Jobs created an entire industry and truly change the world.

Michael was definitely provided with great gifts such as height and athleticism, however, he focused on those gifts and developed and refined, practiced, and worked at them to become what he became and is now one of the most transformative figures of all time.

Define and develop your gifts that you have with the same approach as Michael did and what can you accomplish?

To your success and your future.



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3 Things

Life is really busy, but it is always busy isn’t it?  We have more and more things pulling at us and our most precious commodity, which is the time we are blessed with everyday.

So today, I have put three things to accomplish on my list.   I am calling these three things the big things.  The things I must accomplish to make my day a productive and successful one and move the ball forward in my life and my career.

1.  I will accomplish one thing that will push my company forward and exceed the objectives of my job and my position.

2.  I will accomplish progress towards one of my personal goals. 

3. I will invest some time and resources into my continued development. 

This is how I am approaching today, I would invite you to do the same and then let me know how it works out for you.

To your success and your future.

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