Leaders share, sharing 6 thoughts on the mind today

I am sure there will be many times throughout my life that I will think and ponder the lessons I have learned that I don’t want to forget.  At 35 years of age, I have been thinking about it and like most things in life, in work, and in just about everything, there is not a dozen things I need to know or do to be successful.  There is typically just a few things we must do well, a half a dozen or so that lead to success.  The great Vince Lombardi said football is just “blocking and tackling.”  When you break things down to their simplest form and focus on the simplest things it brings clarity to the situation.

So as I think about life and success I really wanted to pair down some philosophical views that I think have led me to success and more importantly views that I think have shaped and continue to shape my daily pursuit of doing and accomplishing great things.  My definition of success is “steady progress towards ones personal goals.”

Seeking excellence in everything I do is the goal.

Why wouldn’t I, I gotta stay here until I go, why not do whatever I do the to the best of my ability.  There have been times in my life as I look back and say, I could have done better there, I should have done this, I could have done that.  I hate thinking that way.  I don’t want to live in the past, but it is ok to think about the past as an education and an investment in your future.  If you don’t learn from your past and you just dwell on it, then we call you a complainer.  But if you learn from it, we call you smart.

I am now at a point in my life, where I am challenging myself daily to be excellent in everything I do.  If I am in a relationship I need to be an excellent partner in that relationship. If I am not, I should not be in the relationship.  If I am a leader, I need to be excellent in leading, which means I start with leading myself first.  In whatever I decide to invest my time or my money in, I will do it to the best of my ability and pursue excellence in it.

There is a direct correlation between formal education combined with personal education and self-development and your income.

My mentor Jim Rohn says this:  “Formal education will make you a living and self-education and personal education will make you a fortune.”  The first time I heard that it changed my life.  I was already dabbling in the area of self-development and taking additional training, reading a few books, etc.  But when I heard that statement my life hasn’t been the same since.  I can an honestly say that my income has increased about 40% and my assets have doubled since then.  John Maxwell who is another mentor of mine, asked the question one day “What is your growth plan?”  “And are you intentional about your growth.”  I answered both of those questions with “I don’t have a growth plan that is intentional.”  Since that day, I have had an intentional growth plan, and I invest a percentage of my income towards personal growth and self-development.

There are two areas of personal growth and self development that I work on.  Personal growth is reading the right kinds of books with a goal.  Three years ago, I set a goal to read a book a month.  I have accomplished that goal each of the last three years, actually reading more than a book a month.  I am sure everyone who is reading this blog probably reads a lot as well, and you are saying I read all day long.  Emails, certain websites, blogs, etc.  However, you have to be more intentional than that. Pick a subject and become engrossed in it.  My goal this year is to read four books a month.  That is the funny thing about goal setting, is that when you accomplish the goal, you will set new goals and you accomplish even more, I get so excited about goal setting.

Self development is a little broader.  Reading the books, watching the seminars, listening to the recordings, etc. is a piece.  But your health is a piece of this as well.  A person who can have the discipline to be healthy can also have disciplines in other areas of their life as well.  So health and fitness is just as important to me as mind fitness and education fitness, you have to do them all everyday. Being disciplined in health to me includes exercising and eating correctly.  Eating correctly is being conscientious of my eating habits, and be disciplined in what I eat and drink.  I have found that discipline in this area of my life leads to other disciplines in my life that are all positive.

Without the journey the destination doesn’t mean anything:

I have heard for many years from much wiser people than I am, to enjoy the journey, that it is not about the destination.  I am sure we have all heard this and it makes sense, but without an example of the application in our own lives I don’t think it makes much sense or you can’t really understand the true meaning of this message.  I think a better way to say this is.  The destination doesn’t mean a damn thing without the journey.  The journey is where the growth happens. The journey is where the learning takes place.  I personally feel that we never truly arrive at the destination and I am constantly moving the goal line.  My mentor Jim Rohn says we all must make “measurable progress in reasonable time.”  I think that is a good goal to achieve in most things.  Some things can’t be hurried.  For example, it has taken me about 35 years to become this philosophical where I can actually think long enough to type a blog of this nature.

Destination disease.  I am trying to remember who I heard that from.  I think it was John Maxwell.  He says that many leaders have destination disease we all want to get somewhere, because leaders are goal oriented and we want to achieve something.  I think that is where we must have a vision for ourselves and everything we do in our daily lives, activities, work, etc. should be in pursuit of that vision.

Enjoy the journey and take notes, so when you do arrive to destination you will know how you got there.

The hardest and best lessons learned were probably the hardest to take at that time 

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my grandparents house, especially during the summer. What a blessing this was for my brother and I as well as my parents that we were able to spend that time with our grandparents while my parents worked.  We have all heard a story of the lesson you can learn from touching a hot stove.  Well, I actually touched a hot stove when I was kid and learned that lesson. It hurt.  That is a lesson that I have never had to learn again.

Many of the lessons I have learned throughout my life so far have hurt in one way or the other.  Hurt can be physical pain, financial pain, opportunity lost pain, relationship pain,  etc.  I remember buying a vehicle I couldn’t afford and I didn’t want to afford any longer.  So I made the decision to sell the vehicle.  The offer I received wasn’t enough to pay the vehicle off.  So I had to get a loan to cover the rest of the money to be able to sell the vehicle.  What a lesson I learned.  When you are making payments on absolutely nothing, you tell yourself, “I won’t do that again.”  Another example of something that hurt.  Here am I doing what I can to make a difference and drive business in a position that I am in.  I think I am doing things well, and really making the team and everyone around me better.  My boss, pulls me to the side one day and says, my colleagues are not happy with me, because I am too aggressive.  It was a good lesson in being more aware of people around me.  I had no idea that I was being divisive. Lesson learned, but I was kind of upset at that time.  I thought I was doing the right thing.

Many times we learn what to do, from doing what not to do.  The way we learn what not to do, is to try new things more often.  I have not failed fast enough to learn more lessons, I am just now at a point in my life where I am taking more risks and learning from my failures more often.  The only way to learn is to try new things.  This is my goal, fail more often.

My retirement, My health, and My wealth is up to me. 

Being a single hard-working guy this is not meant to say I don’t care about the people in my life and that the people in my life don’t care about me. I am just being very specific in saying, what happens to you in your life is up to you.  Nobody but you can control the above mentioned.  Why does this one make my list?  Well, it is a reminder to me that I must control those things and that ultimate responsibility of my health, my wealth, and my retirement is up to me.

No brainer right?  Sure it is.  But do you really know this. I have great friends and a great family.  I am truly blessed in this area beyond my wildest dreams and have been my entire life.  However, at the end of the day, or the beginning of the month it is just me and my responsibilities. Recently, I had a surgery (minor at best) but its surgery and it isn’t just a cut on your hand.  I had family that helped me to the hospital and back, I had friends and colleagues that asked me how I was doing, I was so blessed to have this in my life.  However, at the end of the day, when it came down to healing and getting better, it was up to me.

Time Flies

Many people talk about milestones in their life.  Maybe it was when they turned 16 and could drive, maybe it was when they turned 50 (not there yet), maybe it was 30.  It seems that we all have a number in our head that we joke about and when we get there we can’t believe we are that age.  For me, age 16 was significant, because I could start driving, but I wasn’t sophisticated at that time to think about anything else, so now at age 35 (seems like it was just yesterday I was learning how to drive), I look up and I say time flies.  How did I get to 35!  When I say 15 years ago I was 20, and in 15 more years, I will be 50.  I know how fast the last 15 years have gone by, and if the next 15 flies as quickly as the last 15, I will look up and be 50 before I know it.  Knowing how quickly time flies, I am committed to getting things done quicker and more efficiently.

I am going to do the things I have to do quickly, so I can focus on doing the things I want to do–Jim Rohn.

Since I have started blogging, I have become more organized in my thoughts, more disciplined in daily activities, more clear in my goals, and all of these things have made me a better trainer, leader, friend, and mentor.

Thanks for reading the blog.  I always welcome feedback.

Brian Willett



Change your attitude

I am conducting some training this morning and if I am being honest with myself, I am feeling kind of blah today.   I don’t know about most of you, but this happens from time to time.  I guess that is life.   So knowing I feel this way, I have to change this.  I have to be on stage in about two hours and it is my duty as a leader and a trainer to bring my A game.  So I am getting my head into whatever I can this morning.  I have read, I have listened, I am now blogging some quotes.  I got into my filing cabinet of quotes and just started reading them.  Sometimes reading them is not enough so I decided to type them into my blog.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
– Oscar Wilde

“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” — Steve Jobs

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close

“Being a professional is doing the things you love to do even on the days you don’t feel like doing them.” — Julius Erving

The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get--Jim Rohn

Your personal philosophy is the greatest determining factor in how your life works out–Jim Rohn

It’s not how you feel, it’s what you do about it when you feel a certain way.  We all have the ability to have a better attitude and change our attitudes.  What you choose versus what you allow are totally opposite.  I could allow myself to feel blah or I can choose to change it.  As I am typing this blog my mind-set is getting to a place where it needs to be, so I can be an A player today.

Brian Willett


  • a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.

This morning as I was reading the word opportunity came up over and over.  It has also been on my mind because in my business with my employer, we talk about taking advantage of the opportunities we have at our disposal all of the time.   My employer offers a lot of huge additional benefits and opportunities outside of a stable paycheck (better than average wages for similar positions), great working conditions, a good insurance package, great training, to name a few.

My mentor Jim Rohn said:  Don’t waste too much time trying to figure out why some people decide to spend all of their money first and save what is left and other people save first and spend what is left.  We don’t know why people do this so don’t spend too much time thinking about it.

I have asked this question so many times here of late why some people don’t take advantage of the great opportunities our company offers.  Why some people respond to emails that ask for a response and some don’t.  Why some people actively participate and some don’t.  Why some people are coachable and some are not. Why some people value training and appreciate it and some don’t.  I guess it is just like my mentor said:  We DONT KNOW!  So don’t spend your time thinking about it.  Get on with getting on, with the people who do want to take advantage of the opportunities and those who don’t will just have to watch the others.

The beginning of this blog started with the definition of opportunity.  What a great definition: A set of circumstances that make it possible to do something.   Read that definition a few times.  The word possible has to be the most powerful word in the english dictionary doesn’t it?  I know I am going to take advantage of the circumstances and not only do what I know is possible, but also seek to do what we might not even know is possible until we do it.

Brian Willett



Choose Excellence!

One of my favorite coaches and leadership mentors is Vince Lombardi.  One of his most notable quotes is “Strive for perfection and settle for excellence.”  I think he goes on to say, that perfection may not be attainable, but when you fall short of perfection and land in excellence, you are still in a good place.  Since I read this quote for the first time it has resonated with me on a consistent basis and in most endeavors I attempt to achieve and be excellent. However, I can think of areas of my life currently (cleaning them up now) where I haven’t been excellent.

I have a mentor/friend (Chase) that I work with on a daily basis.  Through out the day we will text each other, call each other, and email each other and ask ourselves to rank how we are doing so far for the day.  On a 1-10 scale where do you fall right now.  It requires us to be accountable.  We are both professionals and we don’t need that level of accountability.  However, it does require me to take a minute and ask myself, “How am I performing so far for the day?” He also stated to me in one of our many conversations that Jesus never did anything that was not excellent and that we (Chase and I) will not accept anything less than being excellent in everything we do, because that is how we are wired. I know personally there are times I may not be as excellent as I should be, but with our relationship I have no doubt there are areas in my life that are becoming more excellent and will continue to become more excellent.

I am currently reading two books on “Excellence.”  Tom Peters is an author and has written a few books on this subject.  To pull a quote out of his book titled “The Little Big Things, 163 Ways to pursue excellence.”

Excellence can be obtained if you:

  • care more than others think is wise
  • risk more than others think is safe
  • dream more than others think is practical
  • expect more than others think is possible

Tom Watson (IBM Legendary Boss):  You achieve excellence by promising yourself right now that you’ll never again knowingly do anything that is not excellent–regardless of any pressure to do otherwise by any boss or situation.

It is obviously up to an individual to determine whether or not they are being excellent and pursuing excellence in any endeavor (at work I guess it is your boss)  However, many of my writings revolve around personal and self-development and leadership. If you use the above highlighted outline as the basis for excellence, when you apply those four statements to life, work, your career, your family, you name it, you will be seeking excellence in all areas of your life and great things are sure to occur.

Brian Willett

Taking the Temperature

Another chapter from my book that I have been working on for eight years.  My goal is to have a working e-book by June.

We all have cooked a burger, a piece of chicken, a cake, or something that requires you to constantly check it and see if it is cooked they way you like it, or cooked so it won’t make you sick, one or the other. I prefer to cook things the way I like them.  For example: I like my brownies a little undercooked. Most of you are better cooks than me and probably use a thermometer, I am just not that kind of cook.  I prefer to constantly check the in on it and see how it is coming along.  This is also my leadership style when leading a team.  I take the temperature quite often to see where it is.  As a leader you are constantly acting like a thermostat and a thermometer.  Taking the temperature and regulating the temperature.

I have always been the type of leader that keeps his finger on the pulse and have always had a good gage on where the team is and how they are mentally. During times of change and unfortunately during times where turnover has occurred and even layoffs, checking the temperature of the team is critical so you know where you need to give more attention and where to turn up the heat.

In leadership you are typically the last one to know what is going on, and if you are not constantly doing a temperature check you will definitely be the last one to know.  So it is vital for you to have a few key people who are in the trenches that you can rely on to give you the scoop on what is going on with the team.  They can let you know how the team is feeling and what the true temperature is.

I have found that using this key person is even more critical when rolling out new policies and procedures, especially the ones that you know will cause the most fear or concern.  Running things past a key person that can give you some input before you roll it out to the rest of the team can be invaluable.  Again, this person must be very trustworthy and you know will not break confidence.  If they ever do, they will never have that opportunity again.  For me usually this person is the person I have targeted for growth opportunities in the future, this is usually their first test with me on their trustworthiness.

Lastly, the key to knowing the temperature is being involved.  Every leadership book or analysis will tell you this.  But what does involved mean?

To me, it means meeting with the people daily and listening to what is going on.  Whether you have three people who you lead or you lead an entire company, being involved in the areas you should be involved in so valuable.  You can’t and won’t know what the temperature is if you are living in box.  Many leaders that have leaders underneath them, I encourage you to go to the people, unfortunately you have managers at times that are more concerned about looking good than actually being honest about what is going on.  So you have to go to the people and ask really great questions to find out where the issues are and see what is really going on in the business.

As a young leader, I attributed much of my success to always knowing what the temperature of the team was.  I did this through being heavily involved, setting the pace, and relying on a few keep people to help me manage the team with the right things in the right way at the right time.  However, the one thing a leader must always remember, regardless of the temperature of the team, they must make decisions quickly and do what is best for the business at that time, regardless of where the team is mentally.  In a later chapter, I will discuss how leadership is not a Popularity Contest, if your goal is to be liked, don’t get into leadership.

Brian Willett

My last 5 book summaries twitter style

Title: The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill; author Napoleon Hill

  • Having a definite purpose in life and pursuing that purpose with self-discipline and hardwork.  The best BOOK for Success I have ever read

Title: Early Rising; author Benjamin Franklin

  • Early to bed, early to rise, will make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. The habit of getting up early leads to more habits for success.

Title: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success (Connect with customers to get results); author Colleen Stanley

  • Sale organizations should define who their customers are and only pursue those customers with the approach to serve first and sale second

Title: The Victorious Attitude; author Orison Swett Marden

  • You are what you think about, you think you can’t win, you won’t win. You think you can accomplish anything you will accomplish a lot.

Title: The Sales Advantage (How to Get it, Keep It, and sell more than ever); authors J Oliver Crom and Michael Crom (DC Associates)

  • Rapport, Interest, Solution, Motive, Commitment is the 5 step sales process for Sales Success. Processed selling is for sales professionals

These are all great reads and I have many notes, but the summaries are the gist of what I got from the books.

Brian Willett

Reading the books of dead people

An author and well know personality in the world of Sales Training and Personal Development (Jeffrey Gitomer) suggested that his followers read more books from authors who are dead.   So this year, I have done just that.  What Jeffrey Gitomer is suggesting is there is a lot of great information, thoughts, processes, and suggestions in older books that still apply today.  Being a Dale Carnegie Trainer, I have been exposed to the thinking of Mr. Dale Carnegie that dates back over 100 years ago, and I would suggest that his 30 Human Relations principles that he wrote about in his classic book “How to win Friends and Influence People” apply more today than they did when he wrote the book.

One essay/book that I have come across here recently is from no other than Benjamin Franklin.  His quote “Early to bed, and Early To rise, makes a man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise” is one of my favorite quotes that I try to live by every day.  After looking this quote up I learned that he wrote an essay named “Early Rising” around this quote.  The essay outlines the benefits of getting your day started early.  I start many of my days at 4:00 am and in the essay he suggests that as well, I am glad to know I am not too crazy and in good company.

What I like about reading the older books:

  • The history lessons that you get.
  • You see how different customs and norms of society were (even in America) and it gives you an appreciation of what we have today, or encourages you to act in a way like people used to act.
  • People are people and the same challenges that existed a hundred years ago, still exist today with regards to people.
  • Life appears to have been simpler and it is interesting to get caught up in what it would have been like.
  •  Learning how things were done then and how I can apply it today in business and in life.

Here are some of the authors that I am currently reading or have read this year:

  • Napoleon Hill
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Percy Whiting
  • Dale Carnegie
  • Jim Rohn (he hasn’t been dead too long)
  • Orison Swett Marden
  • Benjamin Franklin

Whether you read books written by dead people or people who are alive, if you are reading you are learning and that is the goal.

Brian Willett


10 Ideas on finding time for your Self-Development

John C. Maxwell suggested to me 5 years ago, that I should have an intentional plan for my growth and development.  Up until then, my development consisted of a lot of formal education and intermittent personal development.  I took his suggestion to heart. Since then I have had an intentional plan for my growth and self-development that has paid off time and time again. There is a time and place for focused and committed time for this development, but I have tried to find places and times that are not so conventional to increase my growth and development wherever I can.

Below is a list of everyday activities that I have weaved in personal education and self-development in my life. The tools I use to accomplish this can be books, audio books, purchased seminars, apps, church sermons, cd clubs, blogs, etc.

1.  Mixing physical activity/health and fitness: They are a match made in heaven. Why not listen to a book or a seminar while working out. I feel that this is the ultimate time management activity in my life.  Killing two birds with one stone.

2.  In the shower:  Yes I said in the shower.  Why not, there have been many studies that show a HOT shower does something to stimulate the brain, and many people (myself included) have had great epiphanies in the shower.  Why not encourage that by listening to something of value.  My mentor Jim Rohn would disagree with me on this, he would say, wherever you are be there, but I am looking to maximize my time and my learning.

3.  The Car:  We all have heard turning your car into a mobile classroom.  One hour a day on any subject you can become an expert on this subject within five years.  How much do you drive?

4.  Lunch break:  Many people have an hour for lunch, but even if you don’t.  Why wouldn’t you invest in yourself why you have a sandwich.  Again, that 30 minutes or 1 hour, you may listen or read one great idea, that could change your life.

5.  Cleaning the house:  Yes.  Instead of jamming to Prince.  Listen to an audio book or something that could be motivational, inspirational, or educational.

6.  Yard work:  I hate yard work.  However, when I do yard work it does present me with a set amount of time that I can invest in my own personal development.

7.  Even though I have cut my cable off.  I still watch a few games that are on regular television.  Instead of listing to the commentators though, I turn on YouTube, or pop in one of my cd subscriptions that I have.  I don’t need the commentator telling me what is going on with the game, my eyes can tell me that.

8.  Shopping: If I am on a mission to go purchase something and I go alone.  I will attempt to listen to something that can add value to me.  I won’t be anti social, but if you are in a mall, or even worse at Wal-Mart or something, why wouldn’t you want to drown out the noise in these places (lol).

9.  On the computer:  Some of us probably spend a certain amount of time at our computers throughout the day.  Depending on what you have to do and how much thought you must put into it, have something on in the background.

10. When I am early: This may not make sense to some of you, because you are never early to anything, that is another blog for another day.  Anytime I am early to any kind of appointment or meeting which is most of the time, I squeeze it in.

Some are saying, you are crazy Brian you are ate up with personal development.  Yep, I guess you are right.  But I have a busy lifestyle as well, and I have to be intentional about my growth.  I am not suggesting that I do the above things all of the time, however, I do it wherever I can.  I just know I must be intentional about everything I do and personal development and growth are critical to my success and my career, so I must find a time and a place for it.

Brian Willett

Self Discipline

Andrew Carnegie stated that the greatest and the most essential ingredient to success is Self Discipline. Self discipline is complete control over ones mind which in turn complete control over their actions.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my self-discipline is absent.  I allow life or circumstances to get in my way. Mr. Carnegie goes on and explains that Self Discipline begins with constructive habits in the areas of food, drink, sex, and the use of spare time. When you have self-discipline in these areas it controls everything else.

Food:  There is a correlation between how we feel and what we eat.  I know when I am eating healthier food, I feel better, and I get more accomplished.  You can’t be very productive if you feel bad.  I honestly think the state of the nation with regards to food is kind of scary.  The stuff we put into our mouth that we don’t even know about is absurd.  I know we all make decisions on what we do eat, but what is it doing to us?  I don’t even know.  What I do know is that when I have discipline in the area of food I feel better.  I lost about 35 pounds last year, and that act alone required self-discipline and a lot of it.  I feel so much better since I made the decision to cut calories and watch what I eat.  I also credit that discipline (losing weight) leading me to many other disciplines that I now have in my life.

Drink:  Wow. Having self-discipline in the area of drinking.  I don’t necessarily think about alcohol here either, I think about cokes and other artificially flavored drinks.  What are they doing to us.  Again, a lot of health issues can be attributed to both alcohol and soft drinks.

Sex:  How many times have we seen politicians or prominent figures lack self-discipline in this area and it ruin their careers?  Too many times to count.  That is just prominent people that we hear about.  But what about everyday life where marriages are ruined, finances are ruined, lives are ruined because of lack of discipline with regards to sex. I think we can all agree that self-discipline in this area can be a major contributor to our own success.  I listen to the Dave Ramsey show in the morning when I work out.  He states that the fastest growing addiction online is porn.  He said he has watched it ruin many lives spiritually and financially.

The use of spare time.  How do you spend your spare time?  Are you watching sports or Are you actively engaged in adding value to yourself or to others?  The day can be broken down into 3 eight-hour segments.  (8) work, (8) sleep, (8) recreation.  Most successful people spend closer to 10 hours working, but that is another blog for another day.  Your success is determined by what you do in that recreation time, Lets call it “opportunity time.”  Do you spend it attending school and getting further education?  Do you spend that time reading?  Do you spend it networking?  Do you spend it working part-time on something that can generate income?

I became intentional about spare time about three years ago.  I can honestly say that everything that I have accomplished during the last three years was in direct correlation to that decision I made.  I am now being even more disciplined in how I spend my spare time to increase my success even more.

Self Discipline:  Mr. Carnegie’s teachings on this subject has inspired me even more, and I hope to do the same for you by sharing this information with you.

Brian Willett

Motives are the beginning of all desires

Dr. Napoleon Hill asked Mr. Andrew Carnegie:  Was your major motive to make money?

Mr. Carnegie replied with: NO, my major motive always has been that of making men more useful to themselves and to others.

What a worthwhile motive Mr. Carnegie had.  With inflation factored in, Mr. Carnegie hits the list as one of the top 4 richest people to ever walk this earth.  Yes this list includes Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet and they are way down the list.

How did Mr. Carnegie do it?  As stated above, it was all about making people better.  He created the environment in his businesses for people to rise out of the ranks through hard work and discipline to achieve greater jobs and greater responsibility.

As a leader it is our job to equip men/women with the environment and opportunity to become more useful to themselves and to others.  We do this by creating a motivating culture where people can express their thoughts, take risks, fail, and contribute to the overall goals of the company or department.  We also do this by guidance, mentoring, and educating them to develop themselves personally and professionally.

Be a leader today and do like Mr. Carnegie did and be motivated by equipping your team to be more useful to themselves, and others, and in turn they will be more useful to your business.

Brian Willett