My 9-year old daughter is almost a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Hard to believe, but she is within a couple months of earning it. And one of the things students have to do as they get down the final stretch is really up their training and practice of their forms and other aspects of the martial art. For a 9-year old, this is an additional 4-5 hours a week of training.
The other day my daughter came to me and asked if she could skip a day of training. She promised, promised, promised she would make it up at some other point in the week. I explained to her that with our family schedule, that was not possible and she would need to go. She persisted.
After a little more back and forth, I knew it was time to teach her an important lesson about success and one I want to share with you.
I asked if she knew how the people that are great at something, became great. She gave me a few answers along the lines of they work hard, etc. I told her that yes, they work hard, but like her and many others, they have times when they just don't want to do it. They don't want to put in the work or do what needs to be done that day. And the lesson that I shared is that, it is in those moments that the greats separate themselves, because they push through and do the work. As much as they don't want to, they find the will to do it. And it is in those times that they gain the most and become better.
That is the lesson. To find the will or fortitude to push forward and do what needs to be done to get better when everything in you doesn't want to do it. You not only grow in your skill at the work you are doing, but you grow your mind's capacity for what you are capable of.
I can speak to this from personal experience with my own entrepreneur journey and racing Ironman. Entrepreneurship brings challenges every day that you need to push through and if you do, your business grows and becomes more successful. If you shrink from things, then it doesn't.
When it comes to Ironman racing, I am competing at high levels and have gotten myself to within the Top 10-15% in the world in the sport. I have a long way to go to compete with the best, but each race I get better. I have to train a lot. Most days at least 2 hours and on weekends I may have 4-6 or more hours of training at one time. And of course, I have my businesses to run. I cannot count how many times, I get up at 4:30 or 5am in the morning to knock out my training before the day starts and just don't want to do it. But, when I push through and do the work I know it is making me better and after I am done, I am actually more productive and successful in my day.
Develop the habit of pushing through and doing the things you know you need to do when you don't want to do them and you will separate yourself in success.
This past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th, 2001. As I reflected back on the event and all the years since, I was reminded of all the heroic efforts from so many on that day and the days since. I've compiled several examples to inspire you.
7 Incredible Stories of Heroism on September 11th
Your whole life, you've been told to be confident in yourself and develop self-confidence. I've been guilty of promoting this and sharing thoughts on how to develop yourself and your mind to create more success through believe in yourself and abilities. But, one thing I've never really mentioned is where this comes from. Maybe I've taken it for granted that people just know and understand that the underpinning of success and confidence in your ability to reach it comes from faith - not in yourself, but in God, the higher power to guide you.
One of my favorite passages from the bible is from Philippians 4:13 which says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." For me, I can be confident in myself because I believe I have the backing of Christ to strengthen me and I just assume that others know this. But, many don't and it is their confidence only in themselves without understanding that it comes from a higher power that is their downfall.
I was reminded of this in a good way last week from a daily devotional I get. Here is the message:
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
— Psalm 20:7
Self-confidence is not the virtue that modern man has made it into. In fact, there have been no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of books written on self-confidence and how to obtain it. Do you have self-confidence? The Bible has little to say about it other than the fact that it is a curse, not a virtue.
The word “confidence” is a combination of two Latin words: con (with), and fides (faith), so “Self-confidence” means “with faith in yourself,” and that is misplaced faith. Our faith should be in Christ. What we need is not self-confidence, but Christ-confidence. If you have self-confidence, you are always going to run into somebody bigger than you are, stronger than you are. You are going to run into a problem that is bigger than you can handle; your self is going to give way and the result of that is often despair and despondency.
But if you succeed, that’s even worse. What do you get then? You get pride. The Bible tells us “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). It can be deadly for the spiritual life. Sadly, in America today, we have hundreds of books teaching people how to have self-confidence, and thousands of parents are teaching their children to “Be proud.” (James Kennedy Ministries)
Be careful that you don't have blind self-confidence that leads to pride and destruction.
There are a lot of people out there that I would consider "Lost." They don't know what they want and therefore, don't get what they want. The tend to go through life like a rudderless ship, drifting listlessly.
In many ways, they are just "there." And they know it. They know they are not reaching their true potential. They know there is more to life than what it is currently is for them. In short, they are "lost." But, they don't know what to do about it - or more importantly, lack the will to do what needs to be done to pull themselves out of this zombie-like state.
I have felt this before and had times in my life like this. You question yourself. You question almost every aspect of life. And if you are not careful, this can become your normal state and how you live if you do not break out from it. It sucks. No one wants this for themselves. But they don't know what to do and they desperately, even if they don't show it, are looking for the answer.
Here is my answer based on my experience and it is a challenge to anyone who is stuck lost in this way: Get a mission and get it now. It doesn't have to be anything huge - just something that you will not stop until accomplished. This mission, whatever it may be, is your everything for now. It will be very hard to do this. First, starting will be extremely tough as you will have to break out from the malaise of your life and it may require starting a new habit or doing things differently. People hate change, but change is the only way. Once you start, then you have to commit and force yourself to keep going until the mission is completed. No excuses. Every day that you get closer to your mission's goal, you get further away from being lost. If you stop and go backward, you will default to the state you were in. The secret is that the act of accomplishing your mission is the key to breaking out from being "lost."
This happens because when you accomplish something, it fuels you. When you see that can reach a goal or do something you previously thought was too hard or maybe not possible, it activates you and activates your soul in new way. From there, you will find purpose and more missions and begin to become who you are possible of being.
Don't believe me? Try it. Create a mission that you can accomplish in one week. Don't make it super easy. Make it one that will stretch you to accomplish and that is just outside your comfort zone. Then pursue it with everything you have. Don't give in even a little. If you commit and go all in on this, you will see the power of this process and in one week, you begin to change for the better. And once you've done it, don't stop. Set your next mission and your next and so on. Tom Ziglar once told me that the fastest way to success is to replace a bad habit with a good habit. Imagine all of the good habits you will have created and all the bad habits you will leave behind if you continue to set missions for an entire year. You will be in a completely different stratosphere. This your challenge. Get your mission and get going, NOW.
What are you feeding yourself? Really, what are you feeding yourself? Our future self stems from what we feed ourselves today. And by feeding ourselves, I don't mean food and bodily nourishment - although what you feed your body absolutely impacts its future was well - No, what I mean is "What are you feeding your mind?"
What are you putting into your mind right now? Today? This week?
Is it good, bad, positive, negative? Is it worthwhile? Is it wasteful? What are you reading? Who are you listening to? Why?
What you put into your mind will directly impact your future. If you are putting negativity into your mind, it will keep you down and hold you back. If you are not growing, learning, and stretching your mind, you will be passed up by those that are. If you are listening to those that hold you back or are not what you aspire to be, it will be detrimental to your growth.
Conversely, if you are filing your mind with positive, truthful wisdom and striving to learn from those that have succeeded and have done what you want to do; you will grow and reach those levels. If you are listening to those that are pushing you forward and themselves forward, it will be positive for your growth. If you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, who are those people? What are they thinking about, discussing and focused on? Does it align with where you want to go?
It may be one of the greatest breakthroughs in human development that what we feed our minds directly impacts our future, our success, happiness, and all areas of our lives.
So, I will ask you again, "What are you feeding yourself?"
As we go through life, we will have a lot of conversations. Many of them meaningful and many of them meaningless in the grand scheme of things. And there will be times we must have hard conversations whether in business or our personal lives. A hard conversation is the one you don't want to have because you know it may challenge you or the other person(s). It may also be unpleasant or in some ways confrontational. No matter what, these conversations will happen one way or another and it is best to be ready for them. Here are 3 pieces of advice for when you must have a hard conversation.
1.) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Do not have a hard conversation on a whim. Take the time to prepare and make sure you understand both yours and the other person's point of view. Make sure to understand that emotions drive people and you must understand the potential emotional toll on both you and the other person the conversation can have. You must come from a place of solid ground and truth/fact and build from there. The only way to do this is to prepare.
2.) Check Your Emotions
Even with preparation, a hard conversation can give way to emotional responses, opinions, and perceptions that are not rooted in truth or fact. Feelings are not facts or truth, but they do matter and drive people's responses. You must make sure to control your emotions and stay grounded in the truth and fact, not getting into a battle over opinions or emotions because this leads to poor outcomes for both parties.
3.) Give a Little
No one is ever 100% right or wrong and no one is perfect. Resist the urge to have to win absolutely on your side and be mature enough cede own up to things you are responsible for in the relationship that you can do or be better at. Be willing to give a little to the other person as neither of you are 100% perfect. Admit it and own your side and ask them to own theirs. Then go to work together to make things better.
Hard conversations are am opportunity to learn and get better in the end - as long as you are willing to do so. And you should be willing to do so. Use them as such and don't be afraid of them, but don't take them lightly. Prepare, check your emotions, and be willing to give in and admit where you fall short. Then get better.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to do more with less. Whether you are a seasoned veteran with a successful business or a new startup, you are always going to be looking for ways to grow. Some ways of growing are worth the expense. For example, hiring a great sales person. But, there are other ways to grow that can help you succeed in big ways that don't cost anything. Here are 3 of them.
1.) Partnerships/Joint Ventures
One of the easiest ways to grow is to create a partnership or joint venture with another company or entity that has complimentary products or services. You can then bundle your services with theirs an they with yours to create an even more compelling offer. Additionally, you can do a revenue share together when you bring them opportunities and they can do the same with you. You also get access to now sell to their customers and they get access to yours. It costs nothing to do this other than a little time and ingenuity.
If you have a product that people people can buy online or without interacting with a sales team on your side, an affiliate program may be a good way to go. You can pay commission to those that bring sales to your door. This works great with influencers, brand ambassadors, and those with big networks looking to monetize them. All this takes is creating an affiliate page for people to sign up and coming up with a commission structure. You can use Paypal to start as a way to pay commissions and then go seek out influencers and those that would be a good fit with a good audience for your product or service and invite them to be an affiliate.
3.) Current Customers
This last should come as no surprise. One of the best places to get new business and grow is by getting referrals from your current clients. If you take good care of your clients, all you really have to do is ask them. But, you may consider putting in place referral program where they receive an incentive of some kind for referring you if it makes sense for your business. Again, this costs nothing except taking good care of your clients and some sweat equity.
So, there you go. 3 ways to grow your business whether you are seasoned or start up that cost nothing other than time, a little work, and ingenuity.
Everyone has their own hacks and ways to help the to focus and concentrate. One of my favorites is to listen to ambient music. But, over the years, I've found there are certain types that really work for me and have found a number of great long (1 hour+) compilations on Youtube that I can throw on and just let go as I work. Most of them involve movie scores or soundtracks. You'll probably be surprised at what works best for me, but it works and that is all that matters. Here are my Top 5 Youtube compilations for concentrating while I work.
1.) My Go to Favorite: Harry Potter Ambient
2.) My Second Favorite: Fantastic Beasts Ambient, Raining in New York
3.) My More "Upbeat, Yet Serious) Favorite: Bat Cave Ambience, Dark Knight Trilogy
This one doesn't allow it to be embedded in other websites, so here is the link. It's a killer compilation.
4.) My Fun Favorite: Both Sherlock Holmes Soundtracks
5.) My Favorite for Deeper Concentration: Interstellar Main Theme Extended
This won't be a long post. In fact, it is more like a gut check - one that we all need from time to time.
Are you being truthful to yourself? Are you?
Before you answer, stop and really think on this. Are you living the way you want and know you should be? Are you living by the principles you believe in? Are you compromising them in any way? Or more importantly, are you settling in any area of your life where you know you should not be?
Most people are living a lie in some area of their lives. It may be in a relationship, their work, or internally within themselves. Most of the time, they are complacent and settling in an area they know they should not be. They know what they should be doing or the choices that need to be made, but they avoid them and keep the lie going because it's easier to do that than face the truth and potential consequences - even when they know by doing so, they will be better off in the end.
Don't be one of these people. Face your lie(s) and breakthrough. Act. Do what you know you need to do and push forward.
Free yourself by telling yourself the truth and living in it.
Structure. Equals. Freedom.
What? How does that make any sense?
When most people hear, "Structure equals freedom," it confuses them as the word structure conjures up thoughts of limitations or making people follow certain terms or rules, etc. But that is not the structure I am talking about. I am talking about the structure you implement into your life that allows you to regain control and freedom on your terms.
Most people don't take the time to plan and decide what they will or won't do on a weekly basis and thus are at the mercy of everyone's needs and whims. From work to family and other actors, our time is constantly getting taken away from us by outside influences. Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the day to do all the things you know you need to do? You're not alone. And this happens because we haven't implemented the structure in our lives to take back control.
It starts with taking your time back. You can do this by setting parameters for those around you for your time and availability. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set specific times when you are available and when you aren't. For example, my teams have specific days and times that I am available for their needs and they can schedule a time with me during those blocks to work through them. I also block times in my calendar for Ironman training every day as well as family time and fun/personal time, etc.. These times are non-negotiable and if someone tries to book time during one of these blocks, it gets denied and then can go grab time in one of the open slots.
In the end, this simple tactic allows me to dictate what times I am available for others and the focus for those times, instead of them just taking any opening in my time they wish. In doing this, I have trained others when I am available and am able to focus much better and be more productive with them during those times. By implementing this simple structure, I have given myself more freedom in my life to be able to do everything I want/need to do and meet all of my obligations in my businesses.
How about you, what areas can you implement structure in your life to give yourself more freedom?
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