As we get into December and the last month of the year, it's a great time to set things up for success in the new year. Just about everyone knows that they can get better, but the biggest challenge is where to start? What do you actually need to do to set yourself up for future success?
Here is a 5 step plan to follow that will put you on the path to success in the new year.
1.) Know Who You Are and What Guides You
Who are you? What do you believe? What do you stand for? These are questions that most people never think deeply about in their lives. On the surface, they think they know the answers, but when they dive deep into who they are and what they believe, most of the time they find the real answers to be much different.
So, how do you learn who you truly are? You ask a lot of questions - but start with defining your principles and your standards. What are the principles you will live by and not sacrifice for anything? What are the standards you will live up to in your life. Principles are you foundation, your core. Standards are how you maintain that core in your life. For example, one of my principles is to act with integrity. One of my standards is that I will carry myself as though my daughter is watching me in all situations. This standard helps to ensure my integrity principle in my life.
2.) Discover Your True Passion
What are you deeply, truly passionate about? What makes you excited in anticipation like a kid waiting for Christmas morning? What truly invigorates and excites you? You're answers may be surprising. I never thought that one of my deepest and most important passions would be loving to teach people, but it is. And I use it throughout my businesses. It brings me deep satisfaction to help someone discover how to get better or create success in their lives. What are truly passionate about and how can you maximize it's impact in your life and the lives of others?
3.) Set Goals with Milestones
Once you understand who you are with your principles/standards and what you are deeply passionate about, it makes it easy to decide where you want to go. But, in order to get there, you need milestones - things to strive for. In running Ironmans, the final portion, the marathon, is typically the toughest part for people. After all, you are doing it after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride. The best advice I ever received was not to focus on running a marathon - it's too overwhelming at that point - but instead to focus on running to the next aid station, fueling up, and the to the next one and so on. The aid stations are the milestones and each one you make it to, the closer you are to your goal of finishing. It is the same with your goals. Once you know where you want to go, you can set the big goal for yourself, but then you need to break it up into your milestones, your personal aid stations.
And remember, people overestimate what they accomplish in a week and underestimate what they can accomplish in a year. Focus on getting the next milestone and you be amazed at how fast you can get to your larger goal.
4.) Write Down Your Goals with Milestones and Share Them
The next logical step once you have your goals and milestones is to write them down, so you have your plan. But, most people don't take the most important step and that is to share them with those that can help your achieve them and that will help hold you accountable. No matter what, to get to your goals, you will need help in some form or another, so sharing your goals will open up those opportunities. But, most importantly, you will put it out there for others to see and help hold yourself accountable to what you are going to do.
5.) Set Deadlines and Execute
Lastly, you need to set deadlines in place and start executing. Deadlines are important as they are set in stone. Don't use time frames because "time frames" are expandable and let your weasel out of hitting your milestones and goals. Of course, none of this matters unless you act on your plan and execute - so get rid of any excuses and resolve to act every day toward your next milestone.
This simple 5 step exercise will help you know yourself better, identify what really matters, your true goals, and ensure you act on them. All you have to do is take action and follow it. Here's to your success in the new year!
I was in a meeting with the leadership of a pretty successful company the other day where we were discussing ways to speed up the revenue growth of the organization over the next year. There were a number of good ideas discussed, but one in particular really made me shake my head.
At some point, the group got on to the discussion of "Why don't we just focus on selling what is easiest to implement as that will speed up the time to get paid and grow revenues faster." On the surface this seems logical, but if you've been in sales for any length of time, you will immediate notice a few flaws in the logic.
First, when I looked at the products that had the shortest implementation time, they were also the ones that added the least amount of revenue - they were ancillary products. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with selling ancillary products, but those are typically add-ons to the main product set which is the higher revenue generator. And to be able to sell ancillaries, you need to sell the main products or you run our of ancillary opportunities.
Second, the group also failed to look at the sales cycle of these products. Just because it is an ancillary doesn't mean that it necessarily sells faster than other products. In fact, in talking to one of their top salespeople, I found that a lot of times it can take just as long or longer to add an ancillary after an initial sale. The best opportunity to sell the ancillaries is when the initial sale of the new product is done. This tells me that if they want to sell more revenue, the group should focus on creating a highly enticing and valuable offer for the ancillary upsell at the time of a main product sale.
Third, the company is in the process of creating an entirely new marketing plan and process and it is not ready yet, so there is a lot of unknown and alignment with sales/marketing is yet to happen.
So, needless to say, even though this company has been pretty successful, they need to take a step back and really think through their plan for the year. Selling is not as easy as "sell more of our products that are easy to implement." Their salespeople are selling everything they can, but they must sell to what the customers want and need. The organization can't just sell what it wants because "it is easier for them." That is a reality that doesn't exist.
Now, there are some things that this company can do to speed up revenue growth without the potential pitfalls discussed. First, as mentioned above, they can introduce a better ancillary offer at the time of a main product sale to capture more revenue at this most opportune time. Second, they could offer clients a discount if they pay in full for the year. Third, they can also focus on becoming more efficient in implementing their main products so that they drive that revenue to the top and bottom line faster. Fourth, they could automate the selling of ancillary products to existing clients through email marketing, evergreen webinars, and special offers - that way the salespeople can stay focused on selling the main products that drive the revenue. Lastly, if they really want to drive more sales of products that according them, "just flip a switch and it's turned on for the client," they could offer a free 14 day trial of them to clients. (Again, this could be done through automated email marketing)
This company already has great growth rates, but they can turbocharge them by doing a few right things right. Selling...it's not that easy. But with a little ingenuity and willingness to look at things differently, it can be made easier.
This is an excerpt from The Top 10 Lessons to Thrive and Succeed - a Free Guidebook from the Misfit Entrepreneur. You can get it at http://www.misfitentrepreneur.com/lessons.html
High performing Misfit Entrepreneurs are great problem solvers. They also have figured out that the bigger the problems that they can solve, the bigger their business and success can grow. They seek out bigger challenges.
The take calculated, what I call asymmetric risks. Meaning that the risk they take have some downside, but very little compared to the massive payoff they will get in succeeding in taking the risk. Solving big problems requires taking risks and sometimes a leap of faith.
How about you? What problem or problems can you or should you be solving? Are there any problems that you have thought about and are passionate about solving? How can you go about doing so taking an asymmetric risk?
You will have to grow yourself to handle larger problems and that is why our earlier lessons on understanding how to condition yourself and live from your choice along with personal development and who you surround yourself with are so important – they help you continue to raise your game and your ability to take on larger challenges.
Think of it this way. If your mind is currently set to handle a level 4 problem and you get a level 7 problem – well, you’ve got a problem. But, if you have grown yourself to be able to handle level 10 problems and you get a level 7, it’s no big deal.
Make it part of your growth routine and goals to become a great problem solver and learn to love them. It will help you tremendously on your own journey.
Misfit 3 for this Lesson: Get Excited About Problems!
There is an incredible power in 5 minutes of time. It all comes down to how you use it.
A number of years ago, I started a daily habit that takes me about 5 minutes to do. It was a little awkward at first, but didn't take long to prove itself as one of the most important things I do in my day.
In fact, it has helped not only my focus and productivity, but also my attitude and way that I look at life.
What is the habit? It is my daily "3 to Thrive" exercise. In this exercise I do the following:
The reason 3 to Thrive works so well is the simplicity of it and the way it focuses you. First, you choose 3 things to be grateful for. This makes a big difference in your attitude and makes you think about what really matters. It also makes you feel good and start your day with good in your life. Next, you choose the 3 most important priorities for you to accomplish that day. This focuses you and puts the most important things right in front of you from the start of the day keeping them forefront. Lastly, I say a little prayer. This centers me and allows me to communicate directly with God each day. Whether you are religious or not - having a way to center yourself before you start your day is critical. What that is for you is up to you.
I have done this routine now for many years and although I'm not perfect (sometimes I miss a day), I can say it is the most important daily habit that I have. This one little 5 minute exercise has made a major difference in all areas of my life over the years and I know it will do the same for you. Try it for a week and watch the difference it makes for you. It's amazing what a little 5 minute habit can do.
Motivation comes from within. No one can keep you motivated long term, but yourself. But, that doesn't mean you don't need inspiration.
I have a lot of quotes I go to for reflection and to make me think. Here are 5 quotes that read when I need inspiration and perspective to motivate myself and keep going.
Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other. - Brian Tracy
But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Change is inevitable. Now matter what business you are in or what you do, things are going to and will have to change. If anything is for certain in today's fast-paced world, it is change.
And sometimes change happens when it is not needed, or at least when YOU don't think it is needed.
So how do you embrace change, even when you don't want to? Over the years, I've come up with a set or principles to help me do this.
1.) It's Not About You
The first challenge in embracing change is to separate yourself from it and realize that you are not the only one affected. You have to take a holistic view and look at how it affects all involved, especially in business. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean it isn't in the best interest of the business as a whole. Only once you have looked at things objectively from this level, can you logically move forward.
2.) Accept Reality
I teach investors how to trade in the markets and one of the things that I start with is the 4 Phases of the market. Disgust, Disbelief, Acceptance, Euphoria. In the markets, when there is a downturn, you get "disgust." Then usually the market rallies in "disbelief." This is the stage where the market finds some footing and people can't believe that pain they are going through in losing money is over, so they are skeptical. But, after a little while seeing the market stay at or above a certain level, they begin to "accept" it and that when things start to get back to normal again. Then, of course, the emotions of fear and greed take over and your get into the last stage of "euphoria" where you get irrational exuberance and people taking more risk fueling the market higher until it doesn't any more - then the cycle starts over.
It's the same with change. Initially when big changes happen, there is disgust. It is then followed by disbelief - "Can this really be happening?" "Are we really doing this?" But, eventually, people accept it and move forward. Now, you can either choose to thrive in the new reality that you have to live in or you can sit on the sidelines. Reality will always win - so the sooner you can get to acceptance of reality and find a way to thrive in the new change, the more successful you (and your business) will be. Beware of euphoria though, which is when people get so swept up in the new changes that they become emotionally charged and make all decisions from emotion instead of using logic. You must balance the two.
3.) Don't Go It Alone
Change can be tough, don't stick yourself on an island. You need to voice your thoughts and opinions around it and have an outlet to discuss all sides as well as get independent feedback. This is where having mentors, personal advisers, or people that you can go to outside of the group involved in your business and talk things through with them. An objective, independent voice is important when going through change. It will give you different perspective and open your eyes to things you may have not thought about before. Most importantly, it will give you an outlet to let your emotional side out and work through.
Change, especially big change, always has it challenges, but using the principles above, I have been able to navigate major changes and complete business overhauls while coming out successful on the other side. Put them to work for you and see the difference they make the next time you have a big change in your life.
After many years of studying the mind, how it works, our conditioning, and how we become who we are, I can say one thing for certain - I cannot make you a happy person.
It's simply not possible for someone else to make you a happy person. Oh, someone might be able to make you happy for a short time or in a moment, but true happiness, lasting happiness must be found within.
It is up to you to decide whether you are happy or not.
There are a number of things that affect our ability to be and remain happy. And they are all within our control. Everything from our mindset, to how we react to the things that happen to us, to what we tell ourselves is all in our control.
Let's start with what we tell ourselves. What we say to ourselves and about ourselves both internally and externally has a profound impact on us. Literally, what we think about ourselves becomes our reality.
If you believe you are not worthy of things in life like success or not worthy of being happy or say things like "I'm not good enough..." or "I suck" or "Nothing ever goes right for me..." guess what is going to happen in your life. Exactly that. This happens because our beliefs are what manifest in our lives. If you believe in your mind that "Nothing ever goes right for me," then your mind will make sure things do not go right and look for everything that happens or can happen to back that up. Always remember that what you tell yourself becomes reality. And you have control of what you believe and tell yourself. It is your choice. So, if you want to be happier or find lasting happiness, start by believing and speaking truth to power in your life.
The next thing we have control over is the way we react to the events that happen in our lives. No matter what happens, we have the ability to control how we react to it and choose to perceive it the way we want. The trick is actually stopping ourselves from just reacting and making the choice. When something does not go your way or goes against you, you can choose to allow it to make you unhappy and ruin aspects of your life, or you can choose not to let it do so. You can even choose to perceive it as a great opportunity to better yourself, learn, and grow. It is up to you, but how you deal with the challenges that come your way affects your happiness, and you have the power to choose how you respond to them.
Lastly, my personal belief is that the things that happen to us actually happen FOR us. Everything we go through gives us an opportunity to grow as an individual and become a better version of ourselves. Even the things that seem and feel absolutely terrible when we go through them help us to become stronger, give us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our capacity to endure, and bring about meaningful changes, if we look for them. Tragedies give us this opportunity as well. It is how we respond to tragedy that defines how we move on from it. Make no mistake, the hardest thing to do is find happiness and gratitude in the darkest of times, but it is there if you want to find it.
Regret is a terrible thing and waste of your mind and emotions. Everything that has had to happen to get you where you are right now had to happen exactly as it did. In fact, the chances of you even being alive at this moment in time are so infinitely small; it is almost impossible to even fathom the number. And for you to have life at this moment in time, means that trillions of people that could have been, are not. Instead, you are here in their place. Cherish it. Make the most of it. Let go of regret and embrace the incredible opportunity you have to choose to be happy - and then make it so. The world will be brighter for you having done so.
A lot of people hear the term "unfair advantage" and immediately think that someone is cheating or not playing by the rules. That would be the furthest from the truth. In fact, a common definition used for the term is Your "unfair advantage" is the skill you have that is your unique talent.
Once you understand what a true unfair advantage is, it makes it easier to create one. And there are specific elements you need to do so.
First, as the definition says, you do have to take the time to really understand yourself and the skills or knowledge that you have that is your unique talent. Once you know these things, you can use them to your advantage. Unfortunately, most go through their lives without discovering their unique talents or gifts and putting them to use. Whether it is because of fear of stepping out and taking the risk or confusion of what these things are, they end up going to waste. Your job is not to let this happen to you. The best way to find these things out is to go deep on yourself and ask who you are and what you are best at. This exercise will take some time and you need to go much deeper than your 1st level answer. But, if you are willing to go the distance, you will arrive at the right answers and have true understand of yourself and your gifts. Once you have them, ask others what they think your unique gifts and talents are and see if they confirm what you have found.
Second, once you know what sets you apart and what you are really good at, then start putting it to use. Find ways to use these gifts and talents in your life and your business. See ways to maximize them and innovate! Yes, you have permission to innovate and use them in different ways or to provide solutions differently to set yourself apart. A great example of this is my friend Daniel. Daniel has a natural, unbelievable talent for connecting people. He's better than anyone for finding ways for people to find opportunity together. So, years ago, Daniel decided to focus on and maximize this talent as a business. He started connecting people and taking 10% of any deals that were done between them. Nowadays, Daniel has a worldwide network of thousands and he travels the country setting up shop in a restaurant or venue for 1 day at a time and people come in every hour to be networked and introduced to potential partnerships by Daniel. The business is a multi-million dollar business - all because Daniel recognized his unique gift, focused on it, and innovated to create a new type of business with it. Daniel definitely has an unfair advantage because of his unique talent.
Third, never stop working on your unique gift, refining, honing it, and finding opportunities for it. It's one thing to have an unfair advantage in a situation or two, it's another to have it all the time. The key to having a consistent unfair advantage is to continue working on it and getting better. Never stop. How does Tom Brady still win at the highest level at over 40 years' old? Have you seen his health and fitness routine, his approach to understanding the game, and how he lives? Tom recognized a long time ago that his unique talent was his knowledge of the game and longevity to play at the highest level, so he has done everything possible to maximize it and squeeze every ounce from it.
When you put all 3 together - Understanding your unique gifts and talents to the core, putting them to use at the highest levels while innovating to find unique ways to maximize them, and never resting in your pursuit to refine and make them better - you can see why you can have an unfair advantage.
The question is, "Will you take action and put yours to use?"
Out of all the things you can do for your personal and professional success, choosing your mindset is by far the most important. Noticed I said "choosing" - that is right, you get to choose. Every day, you choose how you will approach the world and the mindset you get to have.
But, how do you know you are on the right track? How do you know if you are choosing the right mindset? A winning mindset?
Well, that's the real trick.
Over the years, I have worked with and been coached by top experts in mindset training as well as discover many things through my own endeavors and experiences. I recently wrote about the mental experience I went through in my last Ironman race, which a great example of how cultivating a winning mindset can power you through.
I've compiled what I think are the 5 most important elements to having a winning mindset and I trust they will help you in creating yours.
1.) You Must Have an Unwavering Faith in Yourself
Faith is different than belief. Faith is believing without seeing. It is knowing in the deepest recesses of your soul. In order to develop a winning mindset, you must have an unshakable, unwavering faith in yourself to be able to win and succeed. This doesn't mean you are blindly arrogant and ignore your weaknesses. It does mean that when everything is stripped away you have the faith, the belief without seeing, that you will make it in whatever you are setting out to do.
2.) You Must Be Relentless
Winners can go through defeat after defeat after defeat without giving up. They have an endless reservoir of will to keep going. They are relentless in this fact. The don't give in, give up, or ever stop. They push farther and harder. They learn, adapt, and go forward. They are absolutely relentless.
3.) You Must Be Committed
Commitment is needed to succeed in anything. It goes along with being relentless in that it is the commitment that has to be made for you to relentlessly pursue it. But commitment is really about your "why." What is your deep reason for what you are doing. That is your commitment. It is the thing that you will not go back on no matter what.
4.) You Must be Willing to Sacrifice
In order to have a winning mindset and to reach your highest potential, you will have to sacrifice things. If you are a top-tier athlete, that may mean no more nights out partying with your friends, or even as an entrepreneur building your business, same thing. It may even mean you need to change your friends. No matter what it is, if you choose to have a winning mindset, there are things that you will sacrifice to reach it and maintain it. Get comfortable with this now on your journey. Be prepared for it and realize that when you do make good sacrifices in pursuit of your goals, they will pay off in the future.
5.) You Must Be Willing to Take Risks
You will have to take risks to win at whatever your are going after. There is no way around it. Some risks are small. Some are big. Some have major consequences if they don't work out, others not so much - but the fact remains that risk is part of the deal. I look at risk like problems that need to be solved. The bigger the problems you can handle and solve, the more you can grow. It is the same with risk. Managing risk is a skill set like anything else. And you have to build up your abilities before taking on the major risks. What do I mean by abilities? Maybe they are more like capabilities. In order to take on a large risk, you need a few things. You need to have several back up plans in case things don't go as planned. You need to have the right resources and/or partners in place to help you. You need to have studied the risk and looked for all the areas you can mitigate it. And you need to understand the consequences and be prepared for them if it doesn't work out. Of course, there is the other side, which is succeed and you need to prepare for that as well. Develop your skills of handling risk if you want to grow your winning mindset.
There are a number of other elements, I could list. Many are probably ones you guessed might be in the 5 highlighted above. Things like discipline and consistency, etc. Those are needed, but without the 5 above, it will be tough to cultivate a daily winning mindset.
I was given a great gift last week.
As I stood in the starting corral for Ironman Maryland, I knew I was ready. Even with the impending hoard of stinging jellyfish that I was about to encounter for my 2.4 mile swim, I felt relaxed, focused, and ready. I guess it is pretty rare, but for some reason, this year had a huge jellyfish influx.
I jumped in the water and started my swim. It didn't take long for the first sting to hit my face, but it wasn't bad and I felt like I got stronger as I went on. I came out of the water with a personal best swim time. In fact, I beat it by almost 10 mins and had myself in contention with the top swimmers.
Now, it was time for the bike. 112 miles along the Chesapeake Bay region - a beautiful ride. I felt good. My legs were ready and I got into a smooth cycle stride averaging a little over 20 miles an hour. As we got into the course, the headwind picked up which made me have to work a little harder, but I kept the pace and I came off the bike with another personal record. I was pacing to beat my best Ironman time by over 1.5 hours!
I was really excited and envisioning a great finish after the marathon I had left in front of me. But something happened. In the last 20 mins of the ride, I noticed that I started to get dry mouth. The sun had come out and the temps had gone up about 10 degrees, but I was following my nutrition regiment and getting plenty of fluids, so I didn't think much of it.
About 5 miles into the run, it began. I started to feel lightheaded, almost dizzy. I was feeling "very hot," and no matter how much water I drank, I could not seem to shake it. I slowed down, started walking and as I got to about mile 12, I almost tumbled over. I stopped and sat down on the ground. My head was spinning. I could not stand up. I was cursing myself as I had set myself up for such an amazing race and victory over my personal times as well as for my rank worldwide as an Ironman racer.
I was on the ground for about 20 mins until I brought back up just about every fluid and energy gel I had had for the last two hours. I felt a little better and decided to continue on.
Do you know what is worse than running a shitty marathon? Walking a shitty marathon. I walked the 20 or so miles I had to go to cross that finish line. I doubted myself. I wondered if I should drop out. I worried about my health and if I was doing any lasting damage to my body. But, I have never not dropped out of a race in my life and I wasn't about to make this one the first - especially after the record times I had in the other areas.
I was angry, tired, and pissed off at the fact that I had a top finish in both time and rank in my grasp, and was losing it with every walking step I took. In fact, at the pace I was going, I wasn't going to come close to the time of my last Ironman - which I had been on pace to blow out of the water.
It was a gift. If I had not gone through this experience and had run a good marathon finishing where I had expected, I would never have known what it was like to feel defeated by this great race and find the mental and physical fortitude to keep going and get across the finish line. The psychological warfare I had to get through in my head to finish was the toughest I have ever encountered - and I speak on this stuff!
For the first time in one of these races, I truly understood why people give up and tap out. I truly understood how it can beat you. And it took every ounce of my being to not let it defeat me.
It took me 6.5 hours to finish that marathon. I got across the finish line several hours past the time I had been pacing for when I got off the bike. But, I made it. I finished it. I was defeated in that I did not reach my potential - but I was renewed in that I now know that I have a deeper reservoir to overcome and persevere through serious challenge. What a gift.
And now it's time to get back on the horse. I know where I need to train harder and I know how much further I can push my limits. I am now more energized and driven than I have ever been to reach my potential in this sport. And I owe it all to a bittersweet defeat.
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