Be Better…Not Bitter.

There are three things that you cannot avoid in life. Death, taxes, and the fact that life is just simply not fair.

Think about it…when your position in the food chain is largely determined by whether or not you were born with a thumb…it’s pretty easy to determine that life isn’t fair. There is often no rhyme or reason why things happen the way they do…they just happen. The problem occurs when we let this truth become a self-limiting belief. More often than not, we adopt the fact that “life isn’t fair” and then use that as an excuse to keep from performing at our true potential.

I believe it was Thomas Jefferson (I could be mistaken) that said:

“The only thing worse than an excuse…is a good excuse.”

Let’s face it. There are going to be things that don’t go your way. There are going to be things that happen to you that shouldn’t. There are going to be things that are beyond your control that have a significant impact on your life. Sometimes life can be really tough. BUT…the true test isn’t what happens to us, but rather what happens within us during those moments.

You have two options: Be bitter or be better.

  • If you’re not where you want in your career – be better at your job.
  • If you’re not where you want in your marriage – be a better spouse.
  • If you’re not where you want with your children – be a better a parent.

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says:

“If you see a good man, emulate him. If you see a bad man, examine your heart.”

Another common mistake we make is basing the idea of our own success on the success of other people. We see people doing great things and say to ourselves “I want to do that” or “I want to feel like that” or “I want to look like that” – and in a lot of ways…that’s okay. But there’s a stark realization that also has to come with that…

If you want what other people have…you better be prepared to do MORE than what they’ve already done. That’s why I say the only person you should try to “beat” or “be better than” is the person you were yesterday. You want a better product? Make a product better than the one you made yesterday. Don’t worry about beating the “other guy” – focus on being better than you were yesterday…and one day…you’ll look up and realize you’ve left everyone in the dust.

Don’t allow yourself to become bitter…focus on becoming better…it’s much easier to win that way.

Step 1

Happy New Year!

I know that with the new year comes goals, resolutions, dreams, new aspirations, etc. But the big question always remains the same: how do I start? What is step one?

Here is step one.

Give.

Give more than you’ve ever given before, and I assure you you’ll see bigger returns than you’ve ever seen. The key is doing something for someone that they could never be able to do for themselves or ever be able to return to you. Do it out of the spirit of giving, and not the expectation of getting something in return.

Zig Ziglar said it best, “In order to get everything you want out of life, you must first help enough other people get what they want.” This isn’t just some half-cocked idea…I’m telling this works every single time.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~Lao-Tzu

Contrary to what you may see on TV today…love remains the strongest force in the world and love is at the root of true success.

Be Happy. Help others. Spread love.

Do that…and you’ll win. I promise.

Let It Go!

Happy New Year!

A new year is a great time to give yourself the opportunity to experience new beginnings and start fresh. Leave, what may have been, a bad year behind and start over…but first…YOU have to let go. That’s what this blog is about.

Have you ever wondered why you hold onto emotional and physical pain longer than needed? There is a belief that we create and maintain problems to give us a sense of identity – to define who we are – to give us purpose.

Do you know of anyone who creates problems and then swoops in to save the day? Or someone who creates problems to then play the role of victim for sympathy and attention?

These behaviors, whether in ourselves or around us are due to the need to replay our past mistakes like a broken record in our minds which in turn builds feelings of shame and regret. Carrying these burdens dictates the actions we take in the now. In addition, we hold onto worry and frustration about the future creating unnecessary stress. Stress has been linked to numerous health issues and the majority of us live with this fabricated stress every day treating is as our normal state.

We all know that if we put a little energy to something we get a little out… the same holds true for letting go. By letting go just a little of your past and future regrets, you obtain a little peace in your life but if you let go of a lot, then you will bring in a lot of peace. More peace equals less stress! Isn’t that the formula we all desire?

Here are a few samples of actions you can take TODAY to begin to let go of the pain and allow peace into your mind and body:

  1. Meditation/Yoga
  2. Physical Activity
  3. Learn a new skill
  4. List out your accomplishments and continue to add to the list daily
  5. Focus your energy on that which you CAN control and not that which you CAN’T control
  6. Engage in a creative project (painting, crafts, gardening, book club)
  7. Write a letter to whomever you hold your anger for, then burn the letter
  8. Take responsibility for you could have done better
  9. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and pull it every time you begin to obsess on the angry thoughts
  10. Have gratitude for the positive memories and know that life is a learning experience
  11. Visualize how you were before the event and know that you now can be that again
  12. Take deep breaths and focus on your breath when you feel angry

And lastly, fill a backpack with rocks representing your past hurts and take a hike. When you are ready, remove one rock at a time, naming the rock with a specific memory or person or event that has brought you pain and release it. You may find that you have packed more rocks than actual pains!

Letting go allows you to make space in your life for new and exciting adventures, experiences, loves, memories. Letting go brings you inner peace and reduces stress. Letting go allows you to view the world with new eyes ready to create, build and live that life you have always dreamt about.

2015 can be your year…but it starts with letting go of the past…and allowing good things to happen! Get out of your own way and give yourself permission to live the life intended for you! You deserve it!

It Really Is That Simple

One of my favorite books is “How To Become CEO” by Jeffrey J. Fox. In fact, I’ve read it cover to cover several times, and it’s a book that I reference frequently. The chapters are short, and the information and advice is SPOT ON! I was going back through it over the weekend and this really stuck out to me:

Ten Things to Say That Make People Feel Good

  1. “Please.”
  2. “Thank You” (As he points out in the book – A good leader has cause to say “Thank You” twenty times a day.)
  3. “You remember Larry Kessler in our Accounts Payable department?” (An introduction of someone to a superior.)
  4. “That was a first-class job you did.”
  5. “I appreciate your effort.”
  6. “I hear nothing but good words about you.”
  7. “I’m glad you’re on the team.” 
  8. “I need your help.”
  9. “You certainly earned and deserve this.” 
  10. “Congratulations.” 

(How To Become CEO p.102)

Simply working these 10 phrases into your daily professional routine will automatically increase morale and take workplace productivity to new levels…and almost overnight. At the end of the day, people want to feel appreciated and know they’re contributing to something bigger than themselves. Simple affirmations go a long way.

Check out Jeffrey J. Fox’s website and other books here

99.9% Won’t Cut It

Every day I make a point to set aside time toward my personal growth and development. Sometimes it’s a chat with a mentor, being part of a mastermind group, etc – but at the very least I read and write every day. Sometimes it’s a blog that ends up here, sometimes it’s part of a keynote I’m working on, sometimes it’s nothing more than just random ideas on a scratch pad. The important thing is that I make a point to spend some time every day – investing in myself. One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned is that the greatest investment we’ll EVER make is in ourselves. (I wrote an entire blog about that…scroll down…you’ll find it.)

I say all of that to say this: I was reading tonight and came across something that I wanted to share. This comes from Jack Canfield’s (he’s the guy behind all of the Chicken Soup For The Soul books) book The Success Principles. If you don’t own this book – I highly recommend picking it up. Anyway, I want to share an excerpt from “Principle 35: 99% is a bitch; 100% is a breeze” –

Why won’t 99.9% cut it? Here’s what 99.9% quality would mean in the following situations:

  • One hour of unsafe drinking water every month
  • Two unsafe landings at O’Hare International Airport each day
  • 16,000 lost pieces of mail per hour
  • 20,000 incorrectly filled drug prescriptions every year
  • 500 incorrect surgical operations performed each week
  • 50 newborn babies dropped at birth by doctors every day
  • 22,000 checks deducted from the wrong account each hour
  • Your heart failing to beat 32,000 times a year

Can you see why 100% is such an important percentage?

Pretty staggering when it’s put in those terms, isn’t it? The author closes the chapter with this:

“Just think how much better your life and the whole world would work if you were committed to 100% excellence in everything you do.”

The next time you’re tempted to cut a corner or “let something slide this once” think back to this list. Refocus and recommit yourself. It’s worth it. YOU are worth it.

Make It Happen

I was talking with a friend earlier about the importance of making things happen for yourself. Whether it’s having well written goals, a vision board, daily affirmations or incantations…the root of all of them is the same.

You have to believe these things will happen to you or for you long before they do. It all starts with your own mindset and approach to, well, life. One of my favorite sayings is “we don’t get, in life, what we want…we get who we are.” You want to be a person that makes things happens and challenges the status quo – unless you’re already doing that – you’re cheating yourself.

People don’t fail in life because they aim too high and miss…they don’t reach their full potential because they aim too low and HIT!” ~Les Brown

In his New York Times bestselling book “Getting Things Done” David Allen puts it this way:

“When you start to make things happen, you really begin to believe that you can make things happen. And that makes things happen.”

Success isn’t accident. Success won’t show up on your doorstep with an instruction manual. Napoleon Hill said “riches are shy and timid…and must be attracted.” Attraction requires action. If you’re really looking for change…make a change.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Start with your daily routines.

Start now.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

So many people wish life was easier, with less challenges and obstacles but without challenges, life becomes stagnant and we stop growing.  Challenges help us uncover who we are and it allows us to become better people.

Let’s examine a very simple 4-step method to overcoming challenges.

First, state the problem clearly.  When we are faced with challenges, we tend to avoid the issue and run the other way burying our heads in the sand hoping it goes away.  Or we may say – ok, there is an obstacle, instead of heading right to it and plowing through, I am going to look for another path and even though that is not the way I want to go – it looks easier… less headache… but rarely does that work out.  When we avoid or go out of our way, we cause more headache in the end.  It takes more of our time, it takes more of our energy and we don’t get the end result we are looking for.  So take this time to understand what the challenge is.  Ask yourself what is the question, what is asked of me, what is the main goal? Write this down on paper.

Second, identify what you have at your disposal – what resources are available to you to work through this challenge? List all of these resources out.  These should include things such as tangible assets – money, computer, books, etc.  And then what skills you have, what are your strengths to work through this?  Don’t forget others – what access do you have to others that can help?

Third, design the strategy to overcome this challenge.  Utilize all your assets to create a plan of action.  You may find this plan will need to be tweaked as you execute and that is ok.  Keep at it.

Lastly, execute the strategy with effort and determination.  Do your very best with all you have to overcome your challenge.

If you find that you still cannot overcome a challenge, then re-evaluate.  If your strategy just won’t work because it isn’t viable or effective then change it. If your strategy doesn’t work because you didn’t execute it well enough, be persistent and tweak your efforts, giving it more.

Practice this method on small challenges and see how easy it is to overcome.  Then try it on the big rocks!