Good Leaders ask Great Questions; book summary

John C . Maxwell is by far one of my favorite authors and speakers.  In his book Good Leaders ask Great Questions he outlines what good questions are.  He outlines a playbook for leaders as well as anyone else who wants to influence other people.  These questions transfer across all walks of life.  The book link is below.

In this book summary I will follow the table of contents and how it is laid out and give some of my key insights/notes that I took from each of the chapters.  In this book there are  2 parts.  Then there are the 10 main questions as outlined below numerically.  The bullet points within each of the chapters and main questions are designed around the key concepts within the chapter.

PART 1:  Questions I ask

1.  Why are questions so important?

  • Richard Thalheimer, the founder of Sharper Image, once asserted, “It is better to look uninformed than to be uninformed.”
  • Questions unlock and open doors that otherwise remain closed.
  • Questions are the most effective means of connecting people
  • My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions–Peter Drucker.
  • The most effective way to connect with others is by asking questions.
  • Questions connect people.
  • All fear stems from either “I am not enough” or “I don’t have enough.”
  • Questions allow us to build better ideas.
  • Questions give us a different perspective.

2.  What questions do I ask myself as a leader?

  • Am I investing in myself?
  • Am I genuinely interested on others?
  • Am I grounded as a leader?
  • As a leader your goal is to lift people up.

When I found my why, I found my way;

When I found my why, I found my will;

When I found my why, I found my wings. 

  • Am I adding value to my team.
  • If you are giving 50% today, you can’t give 150% tomorrow. You can never give more than 100%.
  • CS Lewis: God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way.
  • Samuel Johnson: Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities he does not possess.
  • Focus on your strength zone.
  • Am I investing my time with the right people?
  • The unexamined leader is not worth following.

3.  What questions do I ask my team members?

  • How good of a listener are you?
  • Mary Kay Ash asserted: If you listen long enough the person will generally come up with an adequate solution.
  • What do you think?
  • Decisions should always be made as close to the problem as possible.
  • How can I serve you?
  • What do I need to communicate?
  • Did we exceed expectations?
  • What did you learn?
  • Did we add value?
  • How do we maximize this experience?
  • What do I need to know?
  • How are the numbers?

Part 2:  Questions leaders ask me

4.  What must I do to lead myself successfully?

  • Identify your blindspots
  • Don’t let ego, pride, or insecurity get in your way.
  • Succesful people do what unsuccessful people do occasionally.
  • True Leaders serve people. Serves their best interests, and in doing so will not always be popular.
  • Warren Bennis observed: It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from followers. 
  • You do not have to pay the price to grow and expand intellectually.  The mind nether requires it or demands it.

5.  How does leadership work?

  • Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others to follow his or her lead.
  • Leadership is developed not discovered.
  • What is your plan for leadership growth? The odds are against you if you don’t have a plan.
  • You’re not made in a crisis, you’re revealed.  When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. When you squeeze a lemon, you get lemon juice. When a human being gets squeezed you get what is inside, positive or negative.
  • The first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive, the hope that we can finally find our way through to a better world.

Growth by age:

  • Twenties–Alignment: We build our foundation and prepare for future success. 
  • Thirties–Adjustment: We try different things and find out what does and doesn’t work. 
  • Forties–Advancement: We focus in our strength zone and make the most out of what works. 
  • Fifties–Assessment: We reevaluate our priorities and hopefully shift from success to significance.
  • Sixties–Ascendance: We reach the top of our game and the height of our influence. 

6.  How do I get started in leadership?

  • Pay attention to the need you see.
  • Leadership begins with a need, not when someone wants to fill an empty leadership position.
  • Specialize until you’re special.

7.  How do I resolve conflict and lead challenging people?

  • Two questions: Can they change?  This deals with ability.   Will they change? This deals with attitude.
  • The bookends of success are starting and finishing.

Questions you should ask yourself as a leader dealing with challenging people.  

  • How much of my energy will I let them take?
  • How much of my time will I let them take?
  • How much of my focus will I let them take?
  • How much of my joy will I let them take?
  • How much of my resources will I let them take?
  • no job has a future. Only people have a future. If people keep growing, learning, and expanding their potential, their future is bright. If not, its uncertain at best.
  • Most people do not push themselves to their full capacity to reach their potential. Gerald Brook says it this way: If life is like an elevator ride, most people will get off one floor lower than they have to.

8.  How can I succeed working under poor leadership?

  • Consider whether or not you might actually be the problem?
  • Determine whether or not you have specific evidence to support your opinion?
  • Ask to speak with your leader privately.
  • Determine whether or not you should stay or move on?
  • A person with a clear purpose will make progress on even the toughest road.  A person with no purpose will make no progress on even the smoothest road.

9.  How can I successfully navigate leadership?

  • Don’t leave something, go to something.
  • Weigh the risks and rewards.
  • All change does not represent progress, but without change there can be no progress.
  • Bill Gates said this:  In three years every product my company makes will be obsolete. The only question is whether we will make it obsolete or someone else will. 
  • Most entrepreneurial leaders don’t struggle to find opportunities. They struggle to focus on the best opportunities.
  • Succession plans do not develop anyone, only development experiences develop people.

10.  How can I develop leaders?

  • Look for potential leaders.
  • Leaders are catalysts.
  • Leaders are influencers.
  • Leaders are relationship builders.
  • Leaders are value adders.
  • Leaders are gatherers.
  • Leaders by definition are out in front.
  • Leaders are finishers.

How to identify your TOP 20 Percent

  • Passion:  Are they excited.
  • Teachability: Are the growing now and are they open to growing more.
  • Capacity: What is their potential? Is there plenty of room for growth.

The desire to stay ahead of my best people drives me to keep growing and learning. 

There is only one way to lead leaders. Become a better leader yourself. Good leaders do not follow poor ones. People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. 

This book was a great read and is in an easy format.  I suggest reading this book if you seek to have influence.

To your success and your future.


Take NO days off (completely)

Yesterday morning I was listening to an audio download by one of my favorite authors on leadership.  I get a monthly lesson on leadership and personal development from John.  The John Maxwell audio was on an article John read from Paul C. Brunson.  Paul worked for two billionaires.  You can read the article here:

The lesson that I liked the most that resonated with me is the lesson of: Take NO days off completely.  If you are thinking this is another blog post on working hard, you are right, and if this is not what you want, stop reading now!

In Johns lesson he unpack’s this lesson some, but I want to unpack it some more and what he means to me.

Do you need some down time?  Yes we all do.  But the point of taking no days off means this, as John eloquently states:  “On days off work is not FIRST, but it isn’t FORGOTTEN either.”  In the article Paul references work being like a baby and you would never leave your baby.  I get that.

I like Johns approach on it and that is the approach I prefer to take. On my days off, I still have my routine which underscores my mission and my goals I have in my life.  I have certain things I do everyday.  Yes everyday, this never changes.  Everyday I read or listen to something educational.  Yes everyday.  Everyday I try to add value to others through one on one or through writing something.  These are two things that I do everyday.  They fall into my bigger purpose in my life and fits into my other business interests as well.

Do you always have to be taking action towards your work?  Not necessarily, on your days off you can use that time to think about the work you want and need to do, and how you should do it.  These days are good for strategy and brainstorming.

Here is what I have learned in the last 10 years or so, most specifically the last three years since becoming an entrepreneur. There are really no off days.  If you are desirous of getting to certain point in your career, you have to approach your job this way.  When you are cutting the grass at home on Sunday, thinking about what you can do to increase the business has to be on your mind.  If you are desirous of running your own company, it takes constant work, especially if you are starting it out on the side and you have a full-time job.  In the business we call it your side HUSTLE.  If you have a side HUSTLE, there are definitely no days off.  If you are passionate about what you are doing, you wouldn’t want to take a day off anyway.

Here is what I want to leave you with.  If you truly need days off from your work and that is important to you. I get it.  If you are truly doing work within what you are passionate about, then you wont want to take days off. My advice is to start doing work within a field or career you are passionate about.

To your success and your future.

15 Invaluable Laws of Growth Summary

My mentor and favorite thought leader John C. Maxwell published a book titled “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” about a year ago.  It is a great playbook on how to be intentional about your own personal growth.  I pulled it back out and read it again, and I want to share the super short summary of the book.

1.  The Law of Intentionality

  • Growth doesn’t just happen.  You must be intentional about your growth

2.  The Law of Awareness

  • You must know yourself to grow yourself. The first step in change is awareness, then you can change.  Check out my blog titled “Are you competent”.  For additional insight on the phase of learning and growing.

3.  The Law of the Mirror

  • You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself.  Don’t compare yourself to others and limit your own self talk that is negative.

4.  The Law of Reflection

  • Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you.  Peter Drucker says it like this:  “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”  I personally need to do more of this.

5.  The Law of Consistency

  • Motivation gets you going–Discipline keeps you growing.  Develop the good habits that lead to success.  Just showing up is 80% of success.  Some people just don’t show up. You can beat them pretty easily by just being consistent in showing up.

6.  The Law of Environment

  • Growth thrives in conducive surroundings.  Mark Cane says: “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment you first find yourself in.”  Check out my blog titled “Are you in a Growth environment.”  If you are always at the head of the class you are in the wrong class.

7.  The Law of Design

  • To maximize growth, develop strategies.  Jim Rohn says:  “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you will fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they may have planned for you?  NOT much.”

8.  The Law of Pain

  • Good management of bad experiences leads to great growth.  You must suffer pain to realize a gain.  No pain, No gain.  No investment, no ROI.

9.  The Law of the Ladder

  • Character growth determines the height of your personal growth.  Doug Firebaugh says: “Achievement to most people is something you do…to the high achiever, it is something you are.”  Be great!

10.  The Law of the Rubber Band

  • Growth stops when you lose the tension between where you are and where you could be.  W. Somerset Maugham says: “Only a mediocre person is always at his best.”  If you aren’t stretching yourself than you aren’t growing.  Don’t let the rubber band become limp.

11.  The Law of the Trade Offs

  • You have to give up to grow up.  Eric Hoffer says:  “People will cling to an unsatisfactory way of life rather than change in order to get something better for fear of getting something worse.”  The difference between where we are and where we want to be is created by the changes we are willing to make in our lives.  This is an area where I need to continue to grow.

12.  The Law of Curiosity

  • Growth is stimulated by asking Why?  Ask more questions.  The old saying:  Those who can do will always have a job, and the people who know why, will always be their boss.

13.  The Law of Modeling

  • It’s hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow.  Find a mentor and look for a coach.  You can’t learn from someone who hasn’t been there before.  Find the people who have been there and done that and ask them lots of questions.

14.  The Law of Expansion

  • Growth always increases your capacity. Most experts believe we only use 10% of their potential.  Wow!  Scary and wonderful at the same time.  We all have the capacity to grow ourselves.

15.  The Law of Contribution

  • Growing yourself enables you to grow others.  You can’t give what you don’t possess.  So first you must grow yourself to be able to grow others, the 14 other laws tell us how to grow ourselves.

There are a lot of little nuggets in the above text.  As the last law states, my hope through my blog and my book summaries is to make a contribution to someone else’s growth.

Brian Willett

Are you a COACH?

This morning I spent some time reflecting on some of the books I have read over the last couple of years.  I did this mainly because I have become a better note taker in the last six months and I wanted to be sure I wrote down the material from some of the great books I have read. Secondly I started this blog seven months ago and I want to share the information.

I was having a conversation yesterday with a really good friend of mine.  I was humbled when he asked me to be his personal coach.  The reason I was humbled, is because I get as much from them as they get from me.  We really do make each other better.  Our conversations and meetings haven’t been well scheduled or planned, but we made an agreement to make sure we plan some regular meetings. We get so much from each other, we need to spend more time talking to each other.  Planning well means we are intentional about our growth and development.  We coach each other.

I pulled out one of my books from one of my favorite authors and thought leaders.  Mr. John C. Maxwell.   His book titled the 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth is probably one of the best play books on personal development that I have read.  In one of the chapters he shares some insights on coaches.

What is a coach?  The word coach is actually derived from the horse-drawn coaches that were developed in the town of Kocs during the fifteenth century.  The vehicles were created to transport Royalty, but they also carried valuables, mail, and eventually common folks.  Kevin Hall wrote in his book Aspire, a “coach” is something or someone, who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. So if you have a coach you would end up at your desired destination.  Isn’t this what a coach does?

Who is a coach?  We can all be coaches.  If you are a parent, a sibling, a manager, a leader, a CEO, a friend, a colleague, a subordinate, a middle manager, a trainer, etc.  We can all be coaches.  You don’t need a title in a company to be a coach.  You can coach from where ever.  It is all about making a decision to do the things below and do it with grace and a good heart for the right reasons.

  • C  are for the People the Coach
  • O  bserve their Attitudes, Behavior, and Performance
  • A  lign Them with their strengths for Peak Performance
  • C  ommunicate and Give Feedback about their Performance
  • H  elp them to improve their lives and their performance

I think the acronym above explains exactly what a coach is.  So for my coaches out there, are you doing those things? I would love to hear any feedback that you may have on this subject.

Brian Willett


6 Awesome Book’s you have to read

My last 6 reads were awesome!  I have read a lot of great books, but these were all amazing.  What I have discovered through this journey is the more I read the better resource I become, and I can be a better friend, employee, leader, colleague, mentor, etc.

More than Enough; author Dave Ramsey

If you don’t know who Dave Ramsey is, then you must live under a rock or don’t listen to the radio very much.  Dave Ramsey is the financial guy.  Over 25 years ago Dave went broke twice and after that he decided to create a system that helped him get out of debt and on the path to wealth.  This book doesn’t go through all of the steps he teaches in his programs, but it does give a lot of content on how to live a life of contentment.  That is the key to financial success.  How can you be content today with what you have, while you work towards having more.  And then obviously, he says never, never borrow money.

Crush It (Why now is the time to cash in on your passion); author Gary Vaynerchuk

This book was written in 2006 and some of the information was a little dated.  However, Gary is now the expert in the speaking and author world on anything related to social media.  His style is very unique in that he tells it how it is and he will actually use cuss words in his speaking engagements.  Not to say that it is right, but it shows how passionate he really is.  Currently, he has amassed a sizable fortune, but it all started with him being passionate about being passionate about something.  That is the gist of this book.  What are you passionate about, and how can you start to monetize it. Period.

START (Punch fear in the face, escape average, do work that matters); author Jon Acuff

Actually this book was really along the same lines as the above book by Gary Vaynerchuk. Except, Jon Acuff has a very unique and witty writing style that keeps you interested.  He found his passion and monetized it, just like Gary recommends.  Jon was founded by and developed by Dave Ramsey.  So Jon’s style is very similar to Dave’s in that he talks about walking away from whatever one else is doing, because most people are average and you don’t want to be average “do you”.

Never Go Back (10 Things You’ll never do again); author Dr. Henry Cloud

I recently posted a blog on this book.  I found it so inspiring that I had to write about it.  Check out my blog post titled the same as the book.  But just like the title illustrates, we have all learned lessons in our life, and many of these lessons revolved around the 10 things Dr. Cloud talks about.  This book will now be the book I recommend to people who ask me for advice on relationships.  This book is very relational, but so is life.

48 Days to the work you love; author Dan Miller

I went into this book thinking that it would be a road map to figuring out your passion.  Instead it was really a play book on how to find a job/career that you want to really be in.  The author does a great job at providing resources and really a “how to”, to finding a new job, if that is what you are looking for.  It will now be a book I recommend to any one looking to find a new job, his playbook is well done.

The Laws of Lifetime Growth (Always make your future bigger than your past); author Dan Sullivan 

Dr. John C. Maxwell, one of my favorite authors and speakers wrote a book last year titled the 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  This was a great read and provided a lot of great tools on how to be intentional about growth and development.  The book by Dan Sullivan, has a little bit different tenor and style to it.  It was more about the mindset and attitude you should have with your growth, your growth is all about your attitude.

Brian Willett

Are you in a Growth Environment?

I heard this lesson years ago from my mentor John C. Maxwell.  Many of the elements he suggests for a growth environment have inspired my leadership style and my thinking to develop a growth environment for people in my circle.

This morning as I look at my 2014 goals and see which ones I have accomplished or can accomplish by the end of the year, I had to come back to this lesson again.  I searched through my archives and found it because I had to hear again, especially right now. In this lesson, John talks about being 27 years old and having to make a critical decision in his life on which way to go.  He said he had to be in a growth environment and this was the basis for his decision at that crossroads as well as his entire life.

What is a growth environment?  John provides a great checklist to determine if you are in a growth environment.

  • Others are ahead of you

If you are always out in front, then you are not growing.  You can’t, it is impossible.          You have to be around people who push you.  The only way to be pushed is when others are challenging you to think differently than you are thinking, they are out in front of you.  You get better when you are around better.

Example:  In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Kenyan David Rudisha set the world record in the 800 meter race.  Seven of the eight runners set their personal bests during that race.  The last place runner was the fastest last place in the history of the event.   David Symmonds fifth place time would have been good enough for a gold in every Olympics, except one in 1896.

  • You are continually challenged

What is a challenge?  I don’t consider challenges to be the same stuff that you have already done time and time again.  I think challenges are new challenges, seeing things and doing things you haven’t done before.  Those are the challenges that are fun.

  • Your focus is forward

When you are thinking forward in “How can we”, “In what way can we”, “If we do this”, “We do this, we can expect this”, all of these statements require us to think and “DO” things with a forward thinking mentality.

  • The atmosphere is affirming

When the atmosphere is affirming, it means that it is stated and recognized as being an environment where growth and development is encouraged publicly.

  • You’re often out of your comfort zone.

A growth environment must have you out of your comfort zone a lot.  Not out of your strength zone, but out of your comfort zone.  Doing things that you have done, but doing them differently than you have ever done them before.

  • You wake up excited

A growth environment makes you get up early and stay late, because you want to.

  • Failure is not your enemy

You are encouraged to fail, a lot.  If you are failing a lot, it means you are trying lots of different things.  In a growth environment failure is not a bad thing, it is a good thing and it is celebrated.

  • Others are growing

When the people around you are growing and everyone is thinking about growth and development of the business in every way, then you are in a growth environment.

  • People desire change

Change is hard, but for things to change you must change.  If you want success and you are not having success, then something must change for that success to happen. For this to occur, change must be actively pursued and implemented.  The key is implementation of the changes to be made.  No lip service or one of these days we will.  If it is good enough to talk about, it is good enough to implement now.

  • Growth is modeled and expected

If you are the only one growing that means you are the model, and if you go back to the first bullet point above then it would be very clear that you are at the head of the class.  So there must be models of growth around you.  The expectation of personal growth, which in turn will lead to business growth must be modeled, expected, and sought out.

The question John doesn’t answer is this.  Can you have some of the elements above and not all of them.  As I look at the list, my answer is no.  A growth environment must include all of the elements for it to truly be a growth environment. What kind of environment are you in?  Are you growing, or are things about the same they have always been?  Do people really desire change?

Brian Willett


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



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