Take a look at the people featured here. Do you know what they all have in common? The all excelled in a field that they were specifically told they were a failure in. Not ok, not average, but terrible. Can you imagine television without Oprah Winfrey? How about the music history without The Beatles? Einstein not only became a great scientist, but changed the entire way we view the world. Walt Disney not only did have an imagination, but filled the imaginations of countless children when he was alive and his companies continue to do so to this day. You may be saying “Neil that is all well and good for these people, but what does that have to do with my life?” The simple answer is everything! How many times have you been told you were no good at something? How many times have you tried something a couple of times or maybe even once and failed miserably at it? I know I have countless times. What do you do? Do you stick with it? Perhaps you just say to yourself “Well that was nice, but I guess it’s just not for me” or do you believe the words of the so-called “experts” when they tell you that you will not succeed? Sometimes these sources can be well-meaning friends and family members speaking out of their own fears. I have a hard time imagining myself pursuing a career in professional sports if I was cut from high school team like Michael Jordan was, but he did and went on to become one of the greatest of all times. How many dreams have we given up on because we have been told that our dreams are too unrealistic? Or that we lack the certain talent needed to achieve success in that field? How many times have we tried something and failed at it only to move on to something else. Take another look at the list above and imagine how the world would be different if these people had given up on their dreams? That is of course unless you are like poor Mr. Disney and completely lack any imagination.
This month Christians around the world have been celebrating Christmas. This holiday represents the birth of Jesus Christ, their savior. Hopefully all have had an enjoyable and healthy holiday season. Different spiritual beliefs all have their own saviors. A figure that will bring them to salvation. What is salvation? Well with slight variations on the term it means deliverance from a life lived on a lower plane to one lived on a higher plan. It involves forgiveness of the things we have said and done wrong to ourselves and to others. No matter what spiritual belief you follow, or if you follow none at all there is a savior we all have in common. This person can lead us from a life of despair and depression to one filled with passion and joy. They can fill our hearts with love and forgiveness. They know our pains and our hurts and have the best information to heal us and deliver us to a new and amazing life. So who is this person and how can they know all of our deepest feelings? Don’t worry it is not some secret operative or a government conspiracy. No this savior, this person who can reveal to us a whole new life can be found in the same place whether we are Muslim, Hindu, Christian or have no spiritual yearnings what so ever. Are they in a secret temple? Are they found deep in a mysterious forest? No. This great leader can be found in rather humble place…the bathroom; the mirror to be specific. That’s right you are your own savior. The anger and pain in our hearts is kept alive by one person, ourselves. Sure, you can blame the person who broke your heart, but that was their action. We can not control others words or actions. We can, however, control what they mean to us. Are there some feelings of hurt or pain in your heart preventing more joy and love from entering? Have you been carrying a grudge that poisons your emotions and outlook on life? It is time to let it go! Do not know how? Think of the savior you follow. If it is Jesus, what do you think he would say and do to save a soul like you? Would Mohammad let you settle for a life that is less than your worth? It is time to view yourself as someone who both needs to be saved and can do some saving. Do not view yourself in a condescending manner, but one filled with concern and compassion. What could you to live a life of love and forgiveness and well as one with passion and meaning? If you do not know, study, find out, do whatever it takes. Your life is one that is worth saving and you are one powerful savior!
“If you continuously compete with others you become bitter but if you continuously compete with yourself you become better”
A good quote that reminds us the only person we should try to be better than is the person we were yesterday. As the new year approaches it may be a good time to take stock of who we were this last year and who we would like to be in the coming year. Establishing a point A and a point B is a great starting point! The more honest we are with ourselves the easier it will be to decide what we need to do to become that kind of person we wish to be. My good is to make the major share of my income by the end of 2014 from writing. Obviously some of the things I have to do is search out new writing opportunities, practice my writing and marketing and work on improving both of them. I have also learned something else. What happens if I reached the end of 2014 and only 50% of my income is from writing? Have I failed? No. It is more than my current state. Earl Nightingale defined success as “The progressive realization of a worthy ideal” That means whenever we have decided on a worthy ideal or goal for our lives and are working toward it, we are a success. We are farther than 95% of everyone else. If you ask your neighbor what they want most answers are vague at best. “I want more money” or “I want a better job” So the better we clearly define the person we wish to become and begin to take determined action towards that end, the more likely we are to become a success. so take the time to do this very important step. Tonight get clear as to who you wish to become, then be honest with yourself as to where you are. It may be a touch painful, but you should be excited because the steps you must take to close the distance between Point A and Point B should be abundantly clear and a map of what you must do will be set before you.
“On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good”
I saw this quote on one of the many inspirational pages I subscribe to online. It sounds cute and rather tongue in cheek, but if you are reading this it happens to be true. It is very hard when you are in the emotional whirlwind of whatever situation seems to be giving you a hard time at the moment. Just last Saturday I faced some pretty tough life challenges and a new path was laid out before me. I found myself focusing on lack and negativity which for anyone who knows me is rather out of character. Still it is further proof even a man who writes a blog dedicated to living an amazing life and who has just released a book titled A Happy Life for Busy People still struggles. That is why I tell you it is so important to find new, fun and practical ways to add joy to your life and to approach life’s challenges with gusto and confidence. None of us are perfect. If I told you I am happy 100% of the time and nothing ever gets the best of me I would be lying to you and would not encourage you to follow a blog or read a book by anyone who is anything less than honest. What is important is a dedication to learn from our mistakes. To take something away from situations that get the best of us. In the moment it can often be hard and we can fail to find the diamond among the coal. This was me Thursday. So how do you make it easier to do? How can you be able to make a mistake and honestly ask yourself “What can I learn from this that will make me better in the future?” The quick answer is this – Practice. The more you get into this habit the easier it becomes. Now be warned, you will be greeted with the occasional “Nothing! Nothing is to be gained by this it sucks!” Even this is something you can learn from. To me it gave me something else new to work on within myself. Of course that list is wide and growing every day. I find the more I know, the more I have to learn. Still, I need to remember that I have made it through everything I have faced! Am I still sad for relationships that have ended? People who have passed away? Sure, but I made it through. So have you or you would not be reading this blog. Whether you are homeless in Brazil, or a rich business leader of an African nation, you have made it. You are here today. You are undefeated. The only way we lose is if we allow ourselves to stay defeated. So when you are tempted to give up, especially when it looks the worse remember so far nothing has stopped you! Oh sure things may have slowed you down, but you are still here and use that to prove to yourself you will still be here tomorrow!
I heard an interesting story about a philosophy Pat Riley the NBA coach and front office person shared about winning. The same thought can be applied to the even more challenging game of life. He discussed the difference between and excellent game, and game excellence. Which one are you striving for? In order to answer that question I guess we should begin by defining those two terms. Let’s tackle an excellent game. An excellent game means you train for a particular game and give it your all for that one game. Rivalry games come to mind in this example. How does this pertain to life? Think of a first date? You spend so much energy picking out the perfect place to go, or the perfect outfit. You make sure you have your best jokes at the ready, breath fresh and every possible emergency covered. What happens if you happen to have the good fortune of dating that person several years later? “What do you want to do? Order a pizza and stay home and watch television?” How about a job interview or first day on the job? You try to do your best on every little detail. Pay close attention to how you present yourself, the words and things you say at the office. A couple of years down the road? “Damn I don’t want to go to work, one more time with the snooze button” This happens to each and every one of us. Once we accomplish that goal such as having the affections of that attractive person we have been chasing, or finally getting that dream job. Once we have them we kind of let ourselves go. Not always intentionally. Perhaps we take things for granted. The funny thing is if you ask yourself honestly do you still deserve your partner as much as you did during that time you were trying to convince them that you were the one? Are you still the employee for of promise and hard work that company hired that day? If you are, congratulations to be sure! Chances are you mind find yourself lacking in a few areas. We all do. So what is game excellence and how does it differ? an excellent game focuses on massive action to accomplish a certain end and having a great game, which has its place. Game excellence is the constant daily focus on the small details daily to improve the player. How does this relate to life? At home, are you constantly listening to your partner to gather new information and compare it with what you already know about them in an effort to find new ways to make them happy and strengthen the relationship? At work, are you constantly looking for ways you can do your job better and save the company time and money? For my sports fan followers I compare that to watching film. Looking for ways to increase your value as a player or in real world terms as a person. So this weekend ask yourself “Am I shooting to have an excellent game, or to have game excellence? Am I looking to have a great night or to become a great person?” I certainly learned a lot from that interview I hope you did too.
On December 13th a dream of mine became reality. My first book “A Happy Life for Busy People” was officially released. There was lots of things I learned along this long journey to bring this book to life. One, is that you must never lose focus on your goal and dreams. This was given a dramatic boost by a friend of mine who created a great pendant with the word ‘focus’ and a compass on it which I keep by my computer and it reminds me daily that I must keep my mind, thoughts and efforts on what is going to push me forward. Speaking of that person I have also learned how valuable the people around you are. Friends whose words planted the seeds of that would eventually grow into this blog and then to the book. There have been numerous people to give me feedback and encouragement when I was filled with doubt. As the book came out the support and well wishes filled me with gratitude almost to the point of being overwhelming. So I stress again, pay attention who you include in your life. When important and trying times arise they may be the lifeline you need. When you are about to give up on your dreams these people can push you to believe in yourself even when you may not.
What became apparent in my reflection of this whole journey is how important those words are. That brings two important points to light here. One, thank you cannot fully describe my feelings towards all of those people, and two, how important my encouragement may be for others. I have lots of friends chasing dreams of their own. My friend Cari has written a book that I am sure will change lots of people’s lives. My sister is about to graduate from school and begin a whole new career. How much we may underestimate the power of some simple encouragement from someone around us. So I encourage you to do two very important things as this year draws to a close. One, take a close look at those people who you surround yourself with the most in your life. Are they motivating? To they give you energy or drain your energy? Whom should you spend more time with? Remember it is easier to increase positive than to subtract negative. By adding more positive people to your life, the negative ones will begin to drift away. The second thing I think we could all benefit by doing is searching for places where we can add support to someone else’s dreams. Is there words of encouragement you could offer someone? Maybe something we could do to help their dreams along? The people who have helped me to get my book in the hands of as many people as possible thus changing their lives for the better have been amazing. Therefore as the year ends and a new one begins, part of my new years resolutions will be to help and to serve in whatever capacity I can to bring the dreams of others to light. Look at your own life, do you have friends or family members, maybe even coworkers or strangers who are pushing toward achieving a goal? Lend them a hand or at least an encouraging word. It could not only help them, but in doing so could help them change the world for the better!
If you love this blog please feel free to check out my brand new book now available A Happy Life for Busy People is now available online at Amazon.com. It is a great way to bring the power of positivity and a lot of the tools we explore here to those you care about this holiday season. It may also be a great gift for those you do not enjoy being around so much as it could help them change their attitudes around as well. So pick a copy up today it is as simple as clicking on the following link A Happy Life for Busy People
I am going to share a story with you that I heard listening to one of my favorite motivational speakers, Tony Robbins. This is a story about his former father in law that he heard at the man’s funeral. The man was asked what he was going to do about the rodent population in the area. He was asked if he had found a way to kill all of the rodents so they wouldn’t eat all of his crops. After a moment of contemplation the man answered “I’ll just plant twice as much” This struck a chord with me because it is often the choice a lot of us face in life. When there is something that bothers us we are focused on how to ‘get rid of the problem’. I hear this a lot in political circles no matter the party. “We need to get that guy out of office” I usually ask who they would like to see in office. After some look of confusion I usually receive answers to the like of “Anybody would be better” or even the occasional “Having nobody in office would be better” These people are so focused on the problem they have spent little or any time on the solution. I have been just as guilty of this. Before I began this blog I was focused on eliminating as much negativity from the world as I could. Sounds noble enough at first blush, but if you notice I am still focused on the problem, the negativity. I am focused on getting rid of something and thus, giving it all my time and energy. What did I really want? I wanted a more positive world. I heard a Mother Theresa used to say she would never attend an anti-war rally, but would be one of the first at a pro-peace rally. There is a woman who understood how the world worked. So instead of trying to eliminate the negative I decided to increase the positive! I started this blog. I began to be more positive in every aspect of my life and began work on my first book “A Happy Life for Busy People” which should be out in the next few days. The ironic thing about this, once I began increasing the positive the negative began to go away on its own! So next time you face a problem, instead of focusing all your energy on solving the problem, work more on creating a solution. A subtle difference, but a powerful one to be sure! Remember to plant twice as much!
Life is like a puzzle work on understanding each piece and as you figure each piece out the bigger picture becomes clearer
This great piece of wisdom came out of a very late night discussion with a friend of mine. One of the most amusing things about us as humans is our inclination to decide what something means before we have all the information we need. I liken this to putting a jigsaw puzzle together. Further more there are two ways to look at this. First, let us assume we have no idea what the picture we are trying to create looks like. this is a pretty accurate metaphor for how most of us approach situations in life. We begin a job, a friendship, a relationship or any new endeavor with a passive, wait and see attitude. Something to the effect of “let’s see how this job goes” or “is this relationship any good” Then often with only a few pieces of the puzzle put together we decide what the picture will be. Can you imagine putting the first ten pieces of a puzzle together and saying “this is a picture of a dolphin” just because you saw a little blue in the picture? That dolphin could turn into a shark, or a blue sports car. We must be sure we have enough pieces of the puzzle together before we can accurately decide what picture we are looking at. Even then a few pieces can change the pictures meaning greatly.
There is a second, and I feel even more constructive way to go about putting the puzzle of any situation together. That is doing it exactly as most of us put a puzzle together. First we dump all the pieces on a table or wherever we happen to be putting this puzzle together. Next, we look at the picture on the box. We decide this is the end result we are going to come up with. A picture of an abandoned church in a thunderstorm or whatever it may be. Then we begin to rearrange and assemble all of the pieces of the puzzle until the picture becomes clear. Often referring back to the picture on the box and looking at the piece and how it fits into the puzzle. Sometimes it may take us hours, or even days to fully be able to assemble the puzzle but we keep trying different pieces in different places and do not give up until the puzzle is complete. Unless of course you are like me who starts enjoying a couple of glasses of wine and soon the rainstorm is inside the church. Seriously though, what would happen if we applied these same principles to our lives? We hold a picture of how we want a certain aspect of our lives to turn out. Say we desire for a relationship that has went sour to become filled with joy again. Well treat it like a puzzle. The relationship happy and healthy is the picture on the box. Begin by trying to put one or two pieces (efforts that seem to bring joy to the relationship) together. Notice if they fit (seem to be working) The more pieces (happy aspects of this relationship) we put together the closer we are to having the picture come into focus (the relationship healed and full of joy) I wouldn’t suggest my wine drinking tactic when it comes to this, however the results could be a disaster. This should work whether the picture you are putting together is a new job, a new partner or crafting a best-selling book. Just keep putting pieces together and pay attention if they fit and adjusting accordingly. I know I am excited to apply this idea to my own life!
Ok, this is not a blog about being self-employed, but I do suggest to everyone they start their own business either full-time or on the side. That being said we are not discussing that today. Yesterday we discussed how developing your own mission statement can be a quick tool to assist you in maintaining focus and direction in your life amidst a sometimes chaotic world. Companies and organizations do this everyday. It helps them decide if the actions they are taking and the words they are saying fit who they want to be. That’s great but you are not a corporation. You do not have shareholders, a research and development team, a budget and bottom line to adjust right? Not so fast. Looking at our lives as a business has some real, logical advantages. First we must decide we are the president and CEO of our own lives. The control and ultimately the decisions fall to us and we should not leave them to the mercy of other interested parties. Think of one of the most successful companies you can come up with. How long do you think that company would last if it tried to cater to every outside interest? That being said, companies have to coexist with others in the business world and the same is true between individuals. Each person, whether they choose to view it like this is in charge of their own company. A negative interaction with another company (a spouse perhaps) could negatively affect our bottom line. Therefore although the decisions are made by us, we must be careful to make them while taking into account the considerations of others. Now what about those shareholders? Family, friends, and coworkers are shareholders in our companies. Obviously the closer we are to people and the more frequent our interaction with them the more shares they hold. For example if you choose to spend a night on the town it may compromise your ability to attend the fun festivities at your place of employment the following morning. That affects your boss who has a fair amount a shares invested in your life. Anger that shareholder to often and he may give up his investment in your company. That could cause some major problems. Therefore we must consider major shareholders when making our decisions. Companies, wisely or not, place a great deal of focus on the bottom line. This does seem to make sense as a company who is putting out more than it is taking in can find itself on the short track to ruin. This applies to our lives in more ways than just the family budget although that may be a good place to begin. The bottom line can incorporate a lot of other things. Time with family, joy, charity, free time and countless other things we place value on. Now each company will define their bottom line in their own way. The integrity of a company can also do a lot to determine its success. View your mission statement. Is one of the items in your mission statement to bring joy to others, but you find yourself speaking negatively about people behind their backs? In this case your company, and your life could be in some serious trouble. If the press, we will call them the people in your life, get wind of this you may develop a reputation that you do desire and is hard to shake. This model can be expanded on and could fill a book with ideas, but for today we will end it with this. Grab your mission statement, decide who the main shareholders in your life are. How much are you doing to keep them invested in your corporation? How is your bottom line looking? When we view things this way we can often be a little more honest with ourselves and make decisions that may be hard to do when we are to emotionally attached to the situation.