Four hundred times later, this is what I’ve learned

On January 13, 2014, I was sitting and staring at my computer just like I am now.  I had just purchased the domain name selfdevelopmentaddict.com My goal was to write/type a blog at least once a week for a year, and at the end of that year turn those blog posts into a book.  I now write everything on that domain and share it to my website brianwillettgroup.com

I quickly turned that original goal in to something else soon after.  My goal was then to write as often as possible and see at the end of the year what I tended to write about the most.  I was looking to see what it was that I was really passionate about.  By looking back at what topics and things I wrote about most, I would be able to clarify a path for future writings or even a different career path.

I did switch careers, and with that, I changed the path for my writings to what they are today.  My job is to increase the skills and the performance of leadership professionals and sales professionals in all facets of business. To ensure I continue to make the biggest impact with my clients, I use my writing to flesh out thoughts I may have.  I use my writings as a follow-up with my clients to reenforce a concept that we may have discussed. I use some of what I write to generate leads or provoke a thought in someone’s mind.  And lastly, I even use my writings to rant at times.

The reason for my reflection this evening, is because this post is my 400th blog post since I started writing. Although 400 hundred doesn’t seem like a lot, and I know I am capable of more, and I could do more writing.  I am still happy to say that 1,075 days have passed since I started writing.  Which means:

  • Over the last 153 weeks of my life I blogged at least twice a week.
  • I have roughly compiled about 240,000 words.
  • I wrote a self published book titled “Seven Ways to More”
  • I wrote two e-books.
  • I switched careers
  • I wrote my fathers eulogy.  The reason this is so important, is writing provided me the confidence to write the thoughts I shared that day.

I haven’t made any money from any thing I have written so far.  I don’t think I have written anything that has gone viral. Most of my closest friends, family, etc. rarely ever comment, share, mention, etc. anything I have written.  I don’t know if I am a better writer today than I was on January 13, 2014.

In church last week, my pastor asked the congregation a question that was posed to him at an event he attended several years ago.  The question that was asked of him was this: “If your church were to disappear tomorrow, would your community even know it.”

He took that question and modified it and challenged us with this question: “If our church were to disappear tomorrow, would our community even know it.”  He just changed the “your” to “our”.  He challenged us with continuing to commit time and resources, and help the church and the community in any way we can.

The reason I share this story is because I am asking myself this same question about my writing.  If my blog posts didn’t exist anymore, would anyone even know it.

And here is how I answer this question.  It may sound a little selfish, but my heart is in the right place.  Based on my experiences so far, the answer is, nobody would miss it.  Lets be honest.  If you are reading this, you are most likely finding out that I have written four hundred times.

None of that matters though.  I am going to make it my mission to matter though.  I am going to go back to the drawing board and see what I need to do to produce a better and more compelling product.  I am going to continue to challenge myself to become a better writer and storyteller.  And if I still haven’t gone viral or received many comments or shares, it wont matter.  Because, here is the selfish part.  I started writing for me.

The benefits I have gained from 4oo blog posts.

  • I am more confident
  • I have added value to the people and clients that have read anything I have written.
  • That ongoing writing propelled me and gave me the confidence to find another career.
  • I expanded my skills sets. For every skill you develop you increase your potential income.
  • I have become a better communicator verbally, because I have expressed my words in written format first.
  • I have become a better goal accomplisher.
  • I have monetized writing by being a better trainer.  I don’t get paid for writing, but I do get paid for training. The writing has made me a better trainer.
  • I have met people who I would have never met, because of something I have written that they liked.
  • I showed myself that I can commit to something that is very hard to do and do it, over and over.
  • I have 135 drafts of blogs that I have never published. Because they are undone thoughts I had. Not worthy of pushing out just yet.
  • I have about ten writings that are not for public consumption. That are near and dear to me.

I am sure there are other benefits to my writing then the ones I mentioned above, but that is all I can think of this evening.  If you happen to read this, or have read anything I have written. I want to thank you.  My next goal for my writing is to make sure it doesn’t take another 1,075 days to get to 800 blog posts.

To your success and your future.

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Four reasons you aren’t happy, and the one path to happiness

Do you remember the sound of dial-up?  The chances are if you are not in at least your mid to late thirties, you probably don’t remember that excruciating pain associated with getting on the Internet.  A Pew Research Poll in 2008, stated that less than 10% of adults are using a dial-up connection to get on the internet.

This morning as I was doing a quick google search of the word Happiness, it returned  580,000,000 million associations to the word in 1.42 seconds.  This would have taken me at least ten to fifteen minutes in the early 2000’s.

I recently finished a book titled “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. He is a best-selling author and speaker around behavioral economics.  His research and studies have all revolved around decision-making and why we as humans make the decisions we make and why we are increasingly, according the CDC, becoming less happier as a nation, and in the world for that matter, than ever before.

It is to nobody’s surprise, especially mine, that happiness is an elusive word and it is a word, a condition of being, that all of us are looking to have more of.

In this book, Schwartz cites a person by the name of  Alex Michalos, who argues that people establish standards of satisfaction and happiness based on the assessment of three gaps:

  • the gap between what one has and wants,
  • the gap between what one has and thinks others like oneself have,
  • the gap between what one has and the best one has had in the past

The author, Schwartz, goes on to add a fourth gap, which is the gap between what one has and what we expect.

Back to the dial-up thing.  The chances are you are reading this blog on your smart phone, tablet, or maybe a desktop computer that is connected to the internet at all times. If for some reason, your connection runs just a little bit slow. You have almost zero patience to wait a few seconds as this page loads.  You wont read it. Bad for me.

As I started off by saying.  When I first started getting on the internet it would take several minutes to use the internet. It took me 1.42 seconds to get five hundred and eighty million returns on the word happiness, if it would have taken thirty seconds, I probably wouldn’t have included that information in this blog, because I would have said it isn’t that important to the message.

As Michalos points out, the gap between the best I have had, to the best I have had in the past is in play here.  Comparing the speed of which I can get on the internet and do a search today, versus the speed of which I did it back in the early 2000’s. This is a comparison that makes todays standards look amazing and I am happy with the speed.  However, I am not comparing the speed to what it was in the early 2000’s.  No, I am comparing the speed to what was the best I ever had.

If tomorrow I do a search and it takes one minute instead of the 1.42 seconds it took today, I will complain that it is taking too long. To state it simply, it is hard for all of us to go backwards in anything in our life.  Once we have something that we consider to be better than what we have had in the past, it is hard to go back to whatever that standard was in the past.

This is really the American way.  We are constantly seeking for better and we will constantly compare todays success, tools, resources, etc. to yesterdays lack or standard.

I currently drive a 2006 Lexus LS 430.  Now this car isn’t even made any more.  However, the standards and features it has have only been ungraded by a thousand, and that is probably an understatement.  The next time I go and buy a car, I will compare all features of a new car to the standards I have gotten used to in my car. Most cars today, have caught up with some of the luxuries a 2006 Lexus has.  However, it will be difficult for me to drive anything else. No offense to you here if you drive one.  But lets just say a Kia or something similar, it would be difficult for me to drive one of those cars and I would be less happy about driving it, because of what I have had in the past.

They say once you fly first class, it is hard to ever fly coach again.

These gaps are real and I can see how they impact me on a daily basis.  We all compare ourselves to others that we consider to be like ourselves. I can think of a situation right now, where I have a friend who thinks they are better, or should be better, than others at a particular activity.  Because of their conditioning and consistency of the activity, they believe that others shouldn’t be above them at performing this activity.  And when others are, it causes unhappiness for them and it is obvious to anyone who knows the situation.

Maybe you can relate.

We all know the gap that exists between what we want and what we have.  This is the one everyone struggles with on a daily basis. Look around yourself.  A kid comes to mind.  They always want more, and nowadays, they think they are entitled to more.  So this unhappiness gap is created.

We have all been on a trip, eaten at a restaurant, or attended a concert or some kind of an event, and we left that event not satisfied with the purchase. The reason for this is because we had higher expectations. Since the expectations weren’t met, there is some regret, remorse, and unhappiness attached to the experience we had.  These are hard to overcome. That is why restaurants have to continue to invest in better customer service and better food options.

The reason I wrote this blog was to really point out the four gaps that we are all faced with every single day and how they either hurt our ability to be happy, or if you have a surplus in all of the four areas, lead to more happiness. I am not sure we can ever really solve these gaps.  I believe the best we can do is strive to manage them the best we can, to seek happiness in everything we do.  And the best way to find that happiness is to always keep things in the perspective.

It may take me thirty seconds, or maybe even minutes, to get a google search return. Instead of getting upset about it. I need to remember that back in the day, it took me at least  quadruple that amount of time to even get on the internet to do the search.

To your success and your future.

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My first business purchase and why you shouldn’t listen to most people

“Was that a roach?” My buddy said to me as we were walking through the property.  This had to be one of the nastiest homes I have personally ever walked in and he said the same.

As I walked through the apartment of this three bedroom and one and a half bath bottom unit of this duplex, it was hard to see the carpet because of all the boxes and trash bags piled on top of more garbage.   It’s as hard to tell what color the walls were because of  the layer of film on all of the  walls from years of smoking.  The smell that permeated throughout the twelve-hundred square foot of living space was a combination of old boxes, body odor, and food that had been sitting in the garbage can for days.

As we walked through each of the bedrooms, I couldn’t believe that children actually were allowed to occupy the space.  I also never understood how every single light fixture or wall socket, was missing the little plate that hides the electrical wires in the wall.

As we walked into one the bedrooms, a 1980’s television set was on, and had the old bunny ears were attempting to put a picture on the screen that was even watchable.  Keep in mind it is now 2006 when I was in walking through.

We walked out of that apartment to the upstairs apartment. This apartment was exactly the opposite of what we were just walking through.  It was the same size and dimensions. However,  this apartment was clean, uncluttered, and the white paint on the walls were white. We didn’t spend as much time in that apartment.  My decision was made.

As we exited both apartments:
My buddy said “What do you think?”
I said “Lets put an offer in on it.”
He said “What?”
I said, “Yes, I want to buy it.”

And about a month or so later, I now owned my first official business.   I bought that duplex and it was my first of many rental properties.  I didn’t know it at the time, because I was twenty-seven years old and didn’t know really what I was doing.   Nobody in my family that I was close with, at least not my immediate family, had ever owned rental real estate before.

As I was in the process of buying this property, I had many people in my family and my friends asking me the questions, of which you have either asked yourself most likely.  Or if you own rental real estate someone has asked you.

Questions like.  “What are you going to do if you don’t have a renter?”  “Renters will mess your place up?”  “Who is going to do all of your repairs?”  “How will you find renters?”  “What do you know about owning real estate?”  “You know that this will impact your taxes?” “You will get calls in the middle of the night.”

All of these statements, that are posed in a way of a question were asked of me.  Many of the people who made these statements had never owned rental real estate in their life.  Many of the people didn’t have a clue of what it was like to find a renter.  Paying taxes on rental properties. Doing repairs on rental properties.

This first rental property investment I made was such a learning experience for me.

First, I had to see through all of the muck and junk and realize that there was an opportunity to make some money.  The bad smells, the dirty walls, the ripped carpet that was so filthy that I was scared to even walk on it with shoes.  But I saw through it all.

And in life, most of the good opportunities and possibilities are usually covered up with a little muck and junk.  It is up to us to not listen to the conventional wisdom and to go against the grain and decide to pursue the opportunity anyway. Also, you have to work to clear out the muck and junk to expose the opportunity.

The second thing I learned was.  That most of the people telling you not to do something.  Or questioning why you would want to do something.  These same people are usually the ones that have no experience with whatever it is they are questioning you about.

I am a big believer in learning from other people.  However, many times I have listened to people who don’t have the experience with that of which I am trying to learn about or attempt to do.  Most of the naysayers in my life, and your life, are trying to tell you something they don’t have any experiences with.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now.  That for any of us to accomplish something that we have never been able to accomplish, we will have to do something that most people we know haven’t done or haven’t done well. Because we are all a product of our own environments at some level.

Quit listening to the people who don’t have the ability to help you to begin with.

To your success and your future.

 

 

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One of my greatest embarrassments, and why I should do it more often.

There I was standing on the stage in front of one hundred and forty-three people.  These people were all high performing sales people, vice presidents in our company, sales managers, sales assistants, etc.  I was kicking off a two-day sales training event. As the Corporate Sales Manager, all of these people had dotted line responsibilities to me.  I knew most of them very well, and some fairly well.

I had spoken in front of large groups before, but standing there that day, it was really the first time I was doing something like that and of that magnitude.  As the person who spearheaded the event and was kicking it off, I felt extra pressure that day to set high expectations and create excitement and enthusiasm, that would create momentum for the next two days.

As I was standing there facing that group to my front, behind me was what was really making me nervous.  It wasn’t the one hundred and forty-three people staring at me.  It was the one person that was right behind me on the stage.  This person was the type that would judge and comment on everything I said and did.  And they didn’t give a shit either. They would do it right there on the stage if I created the opportunity for them to do so.   This person was the owner of our company.

I had a great relationship with him.  I spent a lot of time with him.  And because of that I knew what to expect or not to expect at any given time when you were in his presence.  He had a way to undermine you and call you out in such an awkward way that you would want to run and hide.

As I am standing there on that stage that morning, I decided to do something that I had never done before to kick-off the meeting.  I decided to tell a joke. I had heard this joke at least fifty times.  One of my colleagues who had been in the business for forty years, who I highly respected. Had told this joke at lots of different meetings with internal and external customers over the years.  He was, and still is, one of the best public speakers I have ever known or met.   The joke always landed when he told it. His southern draw and timing with this joke was impeccable.

I went to him and asked if I could use it.  He said sure.  Go ahead.  He probably knew that I was in trouble.  However, he told me to go with it.

This joke was fairly complex.  Well, at that time it seemed complex to me. It had four characters in it.  And I had a sentence or two on each one of the characters in the joke.  Maybe it wasn’t that complex, but it was all new to me at that time.

The stage is now set.  I am kicking off a two-day sales meeting, in front of me is the entire executive committee and sales team, behind me is the owner and my supervisor. In my head is my colleague who had set the bar extremely high for me.

And what happens…I chickened out that morning on telling the joke. Well, not totally.  I told the joke, but I decided to read it from note cards instead.  I was so nervous that I would screw it up, that I decided that reading it from note cards was the better option.

I tell the joke, reading from the cards.  Not directly reading, but using it as a guide mainly. The joke had a message about how timing and things being in the right conditions have to exist and we must seize those opportunities when they present themselves. I then tied that into the two-day training event being the right time and the right conditions.  So everyone in the group must seize the opportunity.

It was really a beautiful message.

As a read the joke from the cards, I screwed it up.  My timing was off.  And the joke didn’t land. After that I was to introduce the owner of our company and my boss, and we were going to conduct a panel interview with submitted questions from the audience in advance.

As I walk towards where I was going to sit.  Right next to the owner of our company. He was mic’d up already and leans over to me and says “If you are going to tell that joke, you need to learn how to tell it without reading it.”

Since I am being honest here.  I agree with him. He was right.  It is not what I wanted to hear at that moment, because I knew it was weak and could have been so much better.

The next two days I facilitated an awesome event.

I learned several things that morning.  First, never tell a joke that you can’t tell without note cards.  Duh!  I know. I will never forget that.

The big thing that I learned was this though.  That for me to grow and to develop, I must be willing to be embarrassed from time to time. Yep.  Embarrassed. Most people cringe at the thought of being embarrassed, much less actually doing something that could end in an embarrassment.

By taking that risk that day, I learned more about public speaking and telling jokes than I would have ever learned if I wouldn’t have done it.  I took a risk to do something different and it failed, but I learned and I have told that joke a hundred times since.

If you aren’t willing to be embarrassed from time to time, then the chances of you growing are greatly diminished. Be willing to take risks, screw up.  You learn more in the screw ups than you do in the successes.

To your success and your future.

 

 

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Why betting on yourself is the best bet, unless…

As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Louisville, Ky we were lucky enough to spend lots of time in the woods playing, or on the streets playing pickup basketball games and football games, or just riding our bicycles around.

Being young and be an adventurous boy, hanging out with other boys. We were always doing dumb things.  Whether it was building a ramp out of plywood and cinder blocks and riding our bikes off the ramps.  To swinging across a creek on a tree vine. Grabbing the backs of cars, while on our skateboards and letting the cars pull us.  You know, kind of like Michael J. Fox did in the movie Back to the Future.  Yes.  I know this was really stupid and dangerous.

In all of these scenarios, as dangerous and innocent as they were.  What we were really doing was betting on ourselves to accomplish whatever it was we set out to do.

Why were we willing to do all of these dumb things?  It wasn’t just the testosterone. It wasn’t because we were young and dumb.  It was because we were fearless. We didn’t lack fear.  We just believed in ourselves enough to overcome the fear or any doubt that we had to have the nerve to attempt what ever dumb thing it was we were attempting to do.

When you’re young you weren’t afraid to take risks.  You weren’t afraid to do things that you didn’t know how it would turn out.  You were willing to bet on yourself.  You were confident in your abilities and your skills, or lack of, to take a risk and do something that wasn’t certain and wasn’t guaranteed to work.  And in most cases, when you attempted these things, there is a big chance of you looking foolish in the process.  It didn’t matter though.  You were willing to look foolish because you were willing to take that kind of risk to prove that you could do it, to yourself and to others.

Most people aren’t willing to invest in themselves.  They are scared to make an investment in to something that might not work out the way it should.  They don’t take the new job, because they might not have it the same way they have it now.  They don’t attend the meeting that could change their life, because they are afraid to be uncountable getting around people they don’t know.

In the last few years I have invested more money in to my personal development than I did the previous ten years.  I sold a house to move to an apartment that I didn’t know if I would like living in.  I got married. I moved from my hometown.  I went from a very lucrative and stable six-figure plus position to a job that paid zero, unless I produced. I put thousands of dollars and lots of time into a potential business opportunity, that ultimately didn’t work out the way I planned for it to.  I met countless numbers of people who I would have never met before.  I made thousands of phone calls to people who didn’t have a clue on what I did or what I could do for them.  All of this was because I was willing to bet on myself to make whatever I wanted to happen to happen.

I have to be honest though, sometime between the days as a kid growing up in my neighborhood to becoming an adult, I lost that willingness to bet on myself.  As I look at the last two years of my life.  I believe I have finally found it again.  I am willing and ready to continue to bet on myself that things will happen because I will make them happen.

I heard a lyric in a song recently that really jumped out at me.  I don’t know who sings it or I would give them credit.  They said “The grass is always greener where I am standing”.

I firmly believe that as well.  Conditions don’t make me.  I make the conditions.  I choose what conditions will exist and so do you.  Betting on yourself is your best bet.  Nobody cares as much as you do about you.  Nobody can impact your future more than you.  Betting and investing in yourself is the best way to ensure your future is the future you want and not the future you get.  Or as my mentor told me “You get what you deserve.”    If you do less, invest less, contribute less, work less, then you deserve less.

Take some risks, be that fearless kid again.  I am.  The only time you should be worried to bet on yourself is if you are not prepared. That is why you must continue to prepare yourself daily.

To your success and your future.

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The day everything became clear to me…

Recently, I have had some conversations with several of my good friends and some of my clients about life, work, family, etc.  These are all highly successful people in their careers and in their life.  They have their finances in order and live a very good life.

However, a theme that I noticed that kept popping up with them and with me, is “What do I want to do and be when I grow up?”

Sure, they and I have nice careers, but we are all thinking to ourselves what is the next thing?  Does it mean that we aren’t happy doing what we are currently doing?  I would say no. Because they all love what they do and they are really good at it and so am I.

Is it that the job doesn’t pay enough?  I mean, I think all of us would always like to make more money, but we are all satisfied (I say that loosely) with the amount of money we are making.

Is it that they hate their bosses?  Their company?  No.  Because most of them have worked for their current employer for many years.  So what is it?

I don’t have the answer to the question, but I do have some opinions.

Since I know each of these people and myself, the first thing is we all have reached a pretty high level of success in our current career choices.  Whatever this level is varies for each of us, but nonetheless success has been reached.

I think that high performing individuals like all of us, and probably you to.  We are just wired to constantly think about what does the future hold and what does the next steps look like for me.  What can I do next.  Especially if you have had some level of success financially or career growth wise.

What do we do with this constant pursuit of what is next?  For some this can be an all-consuming burden that takes it toll on our health and causes undue stress.  Believe me, I have lived it personally through my own career at times.   I am currently going through that right now personally.

My wife and I are asking ourselves what do we want to do and where do we want to do it? Are the decisions we made over a year ago the ones we want to live with in the near future?Or is there a different path for us?

A year ago we packed ourselves up and moved over 1000 miles to a place neither one of us have ever lived.  We didn’t know anybody in the community.  We don’t have any connections in the community. We knew absolutely nothing about this place.

Here we are a year later with a lot of questions about our future. But what is clear to me and what is clear to my wife.  Is that we can do whatever we want.  We have done it.  We have made ourselves uncomfortable.  We have pursued the opportunity when we didn’t have all of the answers.  We know we will find a path forward even when one is not as clear as we would like it to be.

When things are not certain and the path is not clear you have to find some absolutes in your life.  Meaning what absolutely must exist in my career, my family, my home, my community, etc.  In all of the major pieces of your life.

What are those things that must be present for you to make a decision. For example: An absolute in our life right now is that wherever we go, my wife must be able to work for her current company. Another absolute is: wherever we live must not experience winter the way we always experienced winter growing up.  Meaning very little or no snow.

Now, that I got you thinking some.  Come up with your absolute list. Here is the challenge. Don’t be so narrow in your list that you rule out everything possible.

If you are thinking about switching companies.  What must exist at that new company.  What are the absolutes that must exist before you would ever switch companies.  If it is a new career what are the absolutes that must exist in this new career.

I am not saying that creating this list will solve all of your problems, but once you decide on the things that must be absolutely present in your future, it makes it a little bit easier to decide how to go forward.  It also allows you to decide what not to do and pursue when those absolutes don’t exist.

And then lastly, the key is to take action. Make a decision and go.  Will it be right?  I hope so.  But if it is not. You will figure it out and decide what you need to do next. And so will I…

To your success and your future.

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Are you high maintenance?

Most of us have known someone who we considered to be high maintenance. I didn’t know there was a television show by the same name on HBO until I did a quick google search of the term high maintenance this morning. I digress.

The high maintenance I am talking about is not the show and it is not your vehicle that requires a lot of trips to the service center where you take your cars to get worked on.  No. I am talking about people.  All people. High maintenance doesn’t discriminate. It could be male or female.  It could be any ethnicity.  It doesn’t matter.

We have all have known a person that we considered to be high maintenance.  If you haven’t known someone, or you can’t think of someone quickly.  I am sorry, because the chances are, “You are most likely the high maintenance person.”

A quick definition according to google of high maintenance.  Demanding, challenging, exacting, difficult, hard to please, needy. Looking at the synonyms of high maintenance.  I personally don’t have a problem with any of them except the last one.  Needy.  

Over the years in management I have had several needy people who have worked on my teams. These are the people who tell you they don’t need any accolades.  But the first time you miss the opportunity to not give them any.  They remind you that you didn’t.

Now, as a manager it is my job to reward and celebrate achievements and wins with my team.  And I would think that a lot of managers do.  I know that I did and do.  However, there comes a point where a person who is needy on your team requires too much of it. They want it at every turn.

Here are some high maintenance or needy people’s behaviors:

  • Want credit for something they should be doing anyway
  • Want credit for something they chose to do on their own that wasn’t part of the overall strategy.
  • Want constant affirmation that they are doing a great job.
  • Are concerned with what everyone else is doing, instead of staying focused on their own agenda.
  • Everything is urgent to them.
  • They thrive on constant attention and want it at every turn.  Wether it was warranted or not.
  • They typically have very high highs and very low lows.

I love a highly competitive and engaged person on my team.  However, if it gets to the point where any of the above conditions exist on an ongoing basis, it will start to become a problem with me.

So what do you do with a high maintenance person?  Very simply. You must tell them that they are being perceived that way.

I have done this.  It hurts them at first and they want to know why you feel that way or why others feels that way. Be prepared to have lots of very specific examples of times where they have been high maintenance.

Also, be sure after you provide them this feedback, tell them how you would like for things to look going forward.  Let them know that you will remind them and provide ongoing feedback as you see other opportunities where they are being high maintenance.

Lets face it.  Nobody wants to be considered high maintenance. Unless you are a diva.  And the chances are you aren’t reading this anyway.  Very simply be a team player.  Be someone who does things for the right reasons.  Which are usually for others best interests and not your own.

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

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Accountability? You don’t want none.

Earlier this week I sat down with someone who I have been doing some coaching with.  They don’t have an actual contract with me, but they come to me for a little coaching from time to time.  This person, like a lot of people, had these big aspirations on January 1 earlier this year.  Like many of us, we all have these big goals and dreams, also known as new years resolutions, that we are going to accomplish in almost every new year.

Side note here:  A good friend of mine told me once.  I was telling him that I was going to start a program in the new year.  He said “That’s cool”. “But what is going to change between now and the new year.”  At this time, it was probably the end of October, kind of like today as I am writing this. I responded and said “nothing”.  He said “Why don’t you start the program now?”  I responded and said “You are right”.  “Nothing is going to change, what is preventing from starting it now”.

Since that time I have declared that anything that is worth starting in the future, is worth starting now.  Don’t wait.  The time will never be right.  The resources and everything else will not be any better in the future.  The only way to ensure the future is better, is to start making the future better in the present, and you must start now.

Now back to the original discussion: Now I know, and you know, that most people don’t accomplish these goals they set for themselves, or the so-called new years resolutions.  There are a variety of reasons why they don’t.  However, the biggest one is they don’t hold themselves accountable for doing so.  And in ninety-nine percent of most cases, I believe that having someone else hold you accountable is critical for your success in accomplishing most goals.

Think about it.  When we set a goal, the chances are, we have never accomplished that goal before.  That is why we set it in the first place.  So for us to now accomplish this goal, a lot has to change.  If you have always over eaten.  Then changing behaviors so you don’t overeat is going to be a challenge at first.  If you have always overspent.  Then changing your spending habits is going to take a while to do.  None of us are very good at quitting anything cold turkey.  It is too hard.

Most of us need some accountability in accomplishing something we have never accomplished.  The chances are, whatever it is we are seeking to do, has been too hard for us in the past.  Which means we quit pursuing it.  We may have tried to do it alone.  And when we do things alone, then we don’t have to share our shortcomings with others.

And lets face it.  You always give yourself a pass, but you never give others a pass.  You are allowed to not use a turn signal to turn off the highway, but others aren’t.  You are allowed to not finish the project, but if someone else does it, they are a, you know what.  We allow ourselves to look at Facebook all day, but if someone else does it, they are lazy. You get the point here.  We give ourselves more slack then we give others.

So let me ask you.  Do you really want some accountability in your life?  Or let me say it another way.  Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish this year?  If the answer is no.  Why not?  Did you not hold yourself accountable to some kind of measurements and progress?  The chances are, your answers to that question is yes.

If you want to accomplish something that you have never accomplished, then it is going to require you to find a coach , an accountability partner, to help you achieve that of which you have been unable to achieve on your own.

I am no different from you.  We all need accountability in our lives, we just have to be willing to go out and find some.  If we don’t, we will never accomplish what we truly can accomplish.

To your success and your future.

 

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Charms Blow Pops and Dum-Dums suckers

I am not sure how big Charms Blow Pops are in todays culture, but when I was a kid they were the best suckers you could buy.  They were two treats in one.  You got the hard candy part, just like all suckers, and then you got the gum in the middle.  Now, let’s be honest, you could only chew the gum for about five minutes or less and all of the flavor would be gone.  But they were still the best suckers.

At the time, the only comparison I had was the Tootsie Roll pop. Which I personally thought were gross.  They were similar to the Charms Blow Pop except they had a chocolate tootsie roll in the center versus bubble gum.  I personally never liked the taste of any kind of flavored candy on top of that chocolate.  So the Charms Blow Pop and the Dum-Dums suckers were my go to, and the Dum Dums didn’t have any thing in the center.  It was just a sucker.

It must have been when I was in middle school that these Charms Blow Pops became popular in my neighborhood in Louisville, Ky.  All of us kids loved them.  I loved them a lot.  To this day, my mom still teases me that I spent all of my money on candy while growing up.  While my older brother, the smarter one of us two.  Spent his money on actual tangible things that lasted and didn’t give you a tummy ache or acne.

Between my love of candy and my love of making money. At this young age, whatever middle school age is. Is when I started thinking entrepreneurial.   At the time my local grocery store and the local Walgreens sold a bag of Charms Blow Pops for ninety-nine cents.  For that ninety-nine cents you would get four Charms Blow Pops.  I would buy that bag and then take it to school the next day and sell the suckers for fifty cents a piece.  So I would double my money.

My biggest challenge was holding myself accountable to take my profits and invest them in to more suckers for the next day. Instead of, taking my extra dollar or my original investment of a dollar, and buying myself something.  I am not much different from I was then, I like to spend money.  And even then, I would be in that candy aisle and be motivated to buy myself a Hershey’s chocolate bar instead of buying more stock for the next day.

So each day, I would put those suckers on the inside pocket of my blue jean jacket and sell those four or eight suckers to my friends and other people on the bus, in the cafeteria, or in the halls.   You could only fit so many suckers in those pockets.

I am sure there were other examples as a kid when I thought entrepreneurial, but this is the one that sticks out to me most.  I am not sure how long I had this candy store business in the pockets of my blue jean jacket, but I do remember during my seventh and eighth grade years at my middle school being the guy that people would come to and knew they could purchase a sucker from.  Over time a friend of mine and I actually combined efforts and expanded our product lines to include candy bars and other little snacks.

To this day, although I have worked for companies for a long periods of time, and I have also owned my own businesses and still do.  I still have that entrepreneurial spirit inside me.

And it is a pretty simple philosophy that I have when it comes to business and being an entrepreneur.  How can I invest a dollar into something and get my money back and a dollar more.  My biggest challenge is that I have to continue to think bigger and say how can I invest two hundred thousand dollars and get four hundred thousand dollars back in return.   This is where I am today. Where are you?

I am curious to know what your first entrepreneurial experience was?  How has that impacted you to this day?  And are you running your own business because of these early life entrepreneurial experiences?

To your success and your future.

 

 

 

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The biggest myth we all tell ourselves

In a far, far, place…way off into the future.  It could be six months, one year, three years, or ten years.  This future place, it is pretty magical.

We have less stress in our lives.  We have more time to do the things we want to do.  The kids are more self-sufficient.  Work is demanding less.  We have more money. We have better support.

This future place is just amazing.  Its like free ice cream and pizza all day long.  And they never run out.

Now if you haven’t picked up on it yet.  I will bust your bubble now.  This future place.  Where we have more time.  More money. Less stress.  Less demands, etc.  Well, it doesn’t really exist does it?

If you are like most people, you actually tell yourself that it does exist. It is a myth. This mythical place in the future will never come to exist in your present.  Because in the future, you will find other things, activities, and needs that must be accomplished before you can take on the things you would like to do.

Since this place doesn’t exist. Why do we keep telling ourselves it does? Why do we keep delaying the things that are important to us?  Why do we keep procrastinating?  Why don’t we just make the time to do the things we want and should be doing?

As my mentor told me “I don’t know the answers, but I have an opinion.”

My first opinion is:  Whatever it is that we are telling ourselves we will do in the future, just hasn’t become important enough to us in the present.  

A well-known example of this that you have probably witnessed or it may have even happened to you or someone close to you.   The person that is unhealthy, doesn’t exercise, maybe smokes, is overweight by a lot. And one day they get the bad test result from the doctor.  Or the chest pain.  Or the, you name it.  Then they decide at that moment that they are going to change.  And from that day going forward they make eating right and exercising a priority.  They find the time.  They find the money. They find whatever it is they need to ensure that they are making time for their health.

My second opinion is this. Very similar to the other, but a little different variation. We don’t think it can happen to us.  My job is safe.  I have been here for years.  I have a lot of experience.  I get a long with everyone here.  They can’t replace me. Sound familiar.  Yes.

Instead of learning new skills and becoming more valuable to our company.  We just think everything is good and we will always have a job.  Then we all have heard this story before.  The company loses a big contract.  Or technology disrupts the business.  Or you name it, happens.  And the person that was safe is no longer employed.

Lets be honest here.  If one of the two above didn’t strike a chord with you.  Then my guess is, you aren’t a human.  We all have been surprised at one time or another, because we chose to delay and put off something that we should have been doing.  We thought that there would be more time in the future to accomplish those things. It could have been saving for retirement, focusing on our health, spending time with kids, investing in our own education and skill development. You pick the topic.

My advice is simple. Whatever you think is a good idea to do in the future.  The chances are, it is a good idea to do now. You just have to find the time, energy, and discipline to make it happen. The magical place in the future doesn’t exist.

If it is good enough to do in the future, it is good enough to do now.

To your success and your future.

 

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