A new season

Over 100 million people watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday.  The New England Patriots were the heavy favorite and rightfully so going into the game.  But, unless you have been hiding the last seventy-two hours you know that they didn’t win. They were beaten by the underdog, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, I am not a NFL Football expert. However, the New England Patriots are considered to be one of the best teams ever, because of their long time coach Bill Belichick and their quarterback Tom Brady.  There has been a lot of speculation on whether they both will return next year to play and coach another year.  Or will they retire.  I believe all of the experts agree that Tom Brady will most likely be back in uniform next year, but most of them are unsure about whether or not Bill Belichick will be back as the head coach.

Regardless if they retire or not, they both have now moved on from the last season.  Last season ended on Sunday night after losing the Super Bowl.  For the last nineteen years,  with their eight Super Bowl appearances, five Super Bowl wins, and the countless other victories and accomplishments.  They both know that for them to have that sustained success, that they can’t dwell in the past too long, and they must move on to the next season and start preparing for the next season.

The sad part about a season ending is the fact that all of the hard work, sacrifice, and wins don’t carry any weight into the new season.  Well, at least not the victories.  For them to have success in the next season, they have to do it all over again.  They have to prepare, they have to be disciplined, and they have to sacrifice all over again.  And they have to start all over at Zero Wins and Zero Losses.

Even though starting fresh and new can be challenging and daunting, when you think about it.  It can also be exciting and exhilarating.  The fact that you get to start all over, in many cases with new team mates and new opponents.  They both will be another year wiser and more experienced.

In the NFL they have no choice.  A season only lasts so long.  I know the regular season is seventeen weeks, and when you include the playoffs, I believe the entire season, including the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, it is like twenty-three weeks.  The season has an end date.  Once it is over, it’s over.

Life for the rest of us is different.  It doesn’t necessarily have end dates for our seasons.  It isn’t that definitive.   Now, there may be a season where you work someone where for a period of time and then decide to move on to another employer.  Or there may be a season where you are living your life a certain way, like maybe when you were single or in your twenties.  Or you may be in a relationship with a person for a period of time, and then that relationship ends.  All of these situations could have been a season for you.

But in most cases, our lives are not that seasonal and defined with a begin date and end date.  When we need to be our best and when we can slack off some.  Nope instead we are left to ourselves to determine when a season begins and when a season should end. And from my experience there have been many times where I may have stayed within a season too long.

Here is my challenge for you.  Do you know what season you are in?  Have you been in your current season too long?  Maybe you have been complaining about this job for the last several years, but you haven’t taken the next steps to move on.

Maybe you have been in that relationship that isn’t going anywhere too long.  You just keep breaking up and getting back together.  Or maybe you have been together, but the relationship is not growing.  Maybe you have been thinking about going back to school, but you just haven’t pulled the trigger.

Regardless of where you are in life right now, it isn’t always going to be that way.  But you have the ability and the right to make it whatever you want.  You just have to decide to make a change and start a new season for your life.

Tom Brady , Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots season ended on Sunday.  But they know the next one starts soon and they are already preparing for it.  In your case, you have to decide when your next season will start?  Are you ready for it?  Or are you going to ride this season out to the end?

To your success and your future.

 

My broken down car on the side of the road reminded me of how good “people” really are

Imagine this, you have been driving on the road for eleven hours.  You are traveling south back home from your hometown where you visited your family for the holidays.  The trip should take about fourteen hours, but because of traffic, and a two-hour delay, you are still five hours from your house. When things start to go a little crazy.

In addition to bringing a few christmas presents back with you from Louisville, you and your wife are also bringing back a cold, the flu, or something in between.  You also have your dog with you, who is just there for the ride.

How do things go crazy?

Well, at this point your battery alert light comes on the dash of your car.  You say lets not stop the car, (stupid me) and lets push it and see how far we can get.  It is now dark, it is starting to rain, and your lights on the speedometer and GPS all go out, and your car starts to sputter a long.  You pull over to the side of the road driving and hoping to push it to the next exit off the highway.  And you don’t make it.

It is now completely dark, the rain is coming down even more, your car doesn’t have any power, and you are sitting on the side of the road about five or so hours from home.

This is the situation my wife and I were in last night. Not a very fun situation. Luckily we had roadside assistance with our insurance provider, who we immediately called and was able to get a car towing service scheduled to pick us up.

Then as luck would have it, my wife called about six or seven hotels in the area to see what their availability was at this late hour.  It is around 8:30 pm at this time.  A few had rooms available, but would not allow pets.  Ugh.  She eventually found one that would accept pets.

We now have the towing service on its way, a hotel room secured, and I knew where I was going to have the car towed to.

Now we just sit for the next hour.  The car is cold, the cars are flying by at 80 and 90 miles per hour less than 10 feet or so away from our car.  The rain is coming down harder, and our dog is going a little wacky in the backseat at this point.

The towing service guy gets there, his name is Kenny.  Kenny was coming from a wreck that required his services before he could get to us.  He gets there, and says to me, “This is a dangerous place to be.”  I said “You think”.  No, I didn’t say that, I am not an ass.  But I wanted to.

He immediately started hooking my car up, and asked for my wife and the dog to get out of the car and get in to his truck.  His truck was so warm.

We get the car on the back of the tow truck and we are now on our way.

Kenny asked us what we were going to do that night.  And were we able to find a hotel room.  We told him yes and he said that he would drop our car off and then take us there.

He didn’t have to do that, but he insisted.  When we got to the dealership to drop the car off, my wife knew exactly what we needed to do, because she had talked to DJ already, and he was expecting us. We dropped the car off and headed to the hotel with Kenny.

Kenny dropped us off at the hotel, and my wife and I both slept like babies last night.

This morning I got up and in this small town, Uber is a new thing.  I was a little blown away by that, but nonetheless, because of that, there aren’t very many cars in the area and the hotel doesn’t have a shuttle service.

As I am talking to the service person at the hotel front desk, the assistant manager, was eavesdropping on our conversation where I was asking her to call me a cab. Yuck a cab.  But that is all I had.

He said “Where do you need to go?”.  I told him, and he said “I am about to get off of work and I can take you over there.”  I said that would be awesome.

Zack and I get into his Jeep and made our way over to the dealership where we dropped the car last night.  I meet with DJ, who my wife had talked with the night before.

DJ and I talk and as of right now we are waiting to determine what is the problem with the car.

So often we hear that people are not as nice as they used to be. Or in my case, I was complaining about customer service at a fast food restaurant just yesterday.

Between last night and this morning, my wife and I ran in to three very friendly people who were willing to help us out in a time of need.

The cynics out there are saying, “That is what they are supposed to do aren’t they?”,  I agree.  However, how you do it and the way you help people matter.  They put themselves out a little, to help us even though they didn’t have to.

Most people aren’t willing to inconvenience themselves for themselves, or the their own family most of the time.  And they definitely wont inconvenience themselves for someone else.

Kenny, DJ, and Zack did exactly that.  They were willing to inconvenience themselves to help out complete strangers a little more than they had to.

I am not sure how this little unwanted adventure will end.  They way it sounds, is that our car needs a new alternator and one has been ordered and will be here sometime this afternoon.  So our fourteen hour drive will turn into a 48 hour drive, that included a few twists and turns, but those twists and turns reminded me that I need to be willing to inconvenience myself at times for others, just like Kenny, Zack, and DJ did.

To your success and your future.

 

 

#NOEXCUSES2015

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.

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 http://wp.me/p4eY1f-6o 

To your success and your future.

The justification

Yep, we have all been there done that “The Justification.”  We have a decision that we have made or we need to make.  It can be big or small, major consequences could come from it, or no consequences.  It could have very little impact on our lives or major impact on our lives.  It could be a daily decision, weekly, monthly, or a recurring decision.

Do you know that little person inside your head.  The one that sounds like you talking to you.  Telling you that you’re good, just do it, or don’t do it.  It can be either one.  But this voice (which is your voice) has a way of convincing you to do something or nothing doesn’t it?

I had the conversation this morning with this little voice.  Yep, I and the other me inside my head had a long conversation.  The real me, ended up winning though.  I’ll call the “real me” the outside me.  The one who decided to do it any way.

I woke up at my normal time and hit the snooze button on the annoying alarm sound that the iPhone perfected. It has to be the most annoying sound ever.  Call me lazy.  I then hit snooze again. After hitting it twice, I finally got up.  Not up and out of bed.  Just awake and stopped trying to fall back asleep. (this is called being extra lazy)  The whole time I was doing all of this,  the little voice inside me is telling me, “you don’t need to work out Brian.”  “You deserve this day off.”  “You have earned it.”  “Come on sleep in”.  I actually went back and forth with this person several times this morning.  After two hours.  Yes two hours.  The real me won.  I got up and said, let’s go and get this work out done.

What are you trying to justify in your head right now.  Are you trying to justify that you and your spouse didn’t talk last night before you went to bed, because of a stupid argument.  Did you justify eating that dessert last night because of a long day at work?  Or are you like me and struggled with that little voice in your head that tried to prevent me from getting closer to my goal that I have for my health?

 

That little voice is the best salesperson on earth, but he didn’t win this morning.  I did.  Excellence is pursued daily, it is not a sometime thing or when I feel like it thing, it is an everyday thing.

To your success and your future.

“If Only”

These are the two most commonly used words within a psychiatrists office says one psychiatrist with over 25 years of experience.

What does “If Only” mean?  Well it means a person is living in the past.  Looking back over their past failures, misdeeds, issues, etc. as the reason they are where they are.  As Einstein said, you cannot fix the problems with the same thinking that got you into those problems.  So we must change our thinking about the past, present, and future to change our problems and situation.   You can’t see the future looking in the rear view mirror.  Take a look at this post. http://wp.me/p4eY1f-99

Are you an “If Only” person?  Do you ever use these two words?  If so, it is your lucky day!  You have the opportunity to start today and say I am glad I did.  I am glad I did start that diet.  I am glad I did work the extra hours at the office to get closer to my goal.  I am glad I did take advantage of that unique opportunity.  I am glad I did spend some more time with my family.  I am glad I did attend church.

Be an I am glad I did person today and let me know how it worked out for you.

To your success and your future.

 

The meter is still running

I am sure most of us have been in a taxi cab before.  If you are like me there have been times when you have been sitting in traffic just watching the meter just keep running.  You are in the back seat just watching the dollars add up.  I really hate that.  It just seems like a total waste of money and there is nothing you can do about it.

Don’t you wish the cab driver would turn the meter off when you are sitting in traffic not moving?  That would be awesome.  But that would never happen.  Our lives are just like the cab sitting in traffic, whether or not we are moving towards our destination which are our goals, ambitions, or purpose the meter/time is still running.  If we are not moving towards these things, just like the taxi cab driver doesn’t care, time doesn’t care what we do with it either, it just keeps moving also.

So today, I am choosing to not let the meter keep running while I sit in traffic, I am going to get out of the cab, tell the driver to take an alternate route, or never get in the cab to begin with.  I am not going to let another day go by that I am not working towards my purpose and I suggest you do the same.

 

A link in the chain

Every discipline that you make in your life will lead to another discipline.  Eventually you will have enough links in the chain to have a well designed life.  Maybe you start off small with just turning the television off and reading/listening to something educational an hour before you would normally turn the television off.  You do that for a while.  And then you decide to turn it off a couple of hours before you go to bed.  Then over a few months or several months, you just don’t turn the television on at all.   As human beings we have to set up disciplines in our life incrementally at times to push us towards new disciplines that will eventually become habits.

What are some areas that you need to start small, developing a few small disciplines to get you going on the right or new track?  Just start small.  The key is to just start.  The mind is an amazing thing.  By just starting you begin the process of turning the new discipline into a commitment and then in to habit.  Who knows where these little changes will take you.

40 hours is the starting line

This morning I was listening to the recorded version of the Dave Ramsey show like I do every morning.  In all his wisdom (which is why I listen) he said to someone who called in that they had competing goals.  I believe the caller was asking if her husband should go back to school or they should pay off debt.  I can’t remember the full context of the story.  However, Dave talked about competing goals and gave a few illustrations of what competing goals look like.

Maybe your goal is to grow within your company.  But you also want to spend more time with your family.  We have some competing goals here don’t we.  So what do you do?  Life is full of seasons.  You may be in a season right now where you have to pay now so you can play later.  Nothing in life is forever, seasons come and go. Summer is almost over and it will soon be fall, so seasons constantly change.   

You can’t get ahead by working 40 hours.  The bottom line is 40 hours is basically the starting line.  What you do after that first 40 hours is what will lead to success.  I have seen it, witnessed it, and experienced it.  So what is your goal?  

Yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mine. He likes to play golf, he is a big time golfer and is really good at golf.  However, in our weekly accountability meeting we discussed the fact that he doesn’t have much time for golf right now because his goal is to sacrifice now, so it will pay later.  He made his decision and even though one of his goals is to maintain being really good at golf.  What is more important right now is putting in 60 hours a week in work, training, education, etc. So he can feed his family and prep for his future desires. Which is even more important. After 40 Hours is where his real work begins.

Competing goals.  In the pursuit multiple high priority goals, one is diluted.  You can’t serve two masters. Pick a goal, pursue it, and don’t look back.  I say this many times: The reason I write/blog is for my own accountability.  I have competing goals right now in my life and career.  I have to find more focus, pick a major goal and stick with it.

Remember life is full of seasons.  Just like a baseball player, basketball player, or football player, the more seasons we have the closer we get to greatness.  Athletes during their season don’t do anything else except focus on the goal, which is a championship.  We should do the same.

What is your definition of championship?  Is it a promotion?  If so, it is time to focus on the season you are in or need to be in and pursue that goal.

Lift someone up today

I have heard this before and so have you.

  • Zig Ziglar said:  Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours. 
  • Be careful placing judgment upon others, for you know not what battles they are fighting.

I was reminded of these two simple statements last night.  A person in our class came in late, which was not normal for them.  They contributed some, but not as much as they usually do.  But they showed up and stuck it out for the entire class.

We ended the class with an exercise where we have the participants write their name at the top of a 3 X 5 index card.  Then they take that card and hand it to someone else. Now the class participant has to take the 3 x 5 index card with one of the other participants name on it and write something about them that they have noticed about them that is unique, positive, and that the individual might not see in themselves.  Now there are about 20 people in the class. So over the last 6 weeks every Monday for roughly 3.5 hours, we all have been together.  So we have developed a lot of relationships and we all know each other fairly well.

This little exercise is probably one of my favorite that we do in this course.  Who doesn’t like to be told something positive about themselves.  Sometimes the participants get overwhelmed with emotion during this exercise.

So going back to the class participant.  This person had a bad day at work.  It was very clear.  I am not sure what exactly happened, but they were different.  So this one little exercise we did, and the 3 x 5 index card with the positive note about them on it, changed their day.  How do I know this?  They told us.  They told us how much they appreciated it after the day they had.

So what can you do today?  This is a pretty simple act that any of us can do. So who in your life needs this kind of appreciation, acknowledgement, encouragement?  Who can you send a note to?  Who is going through something right now, that needs some pick me up?  I would encourage you to be like Zig Ziglar states, lift someone up.