WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION?

Have you ever thought about the quote above? Most of us live our lives trying to meet the expectations of our boss, our peers, or even our family. This can often leave us trying to meet goals that do not align with our values. This cannot only make it very difficult to achieve, but leave us feeling defeated and like we failed. Not only are these feelings unpleasant to experience, they can dampen our ability to push forward. It was Winston Churchill who defined success as “Going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” I am rather found of that quote. If we can keep our enthusiasm for another day, to me, that is a success.

My favorite quote about success comes from Earl Nightingale which reads, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Meaning if we have a clearly defined goal and are working toward achieving it, we are, by definition, a success. If you googled ‘success quotes’ you would uncover a million more. What matters most is what you consider a success? Is it pleasing your boss? Is it living up to the goals of your friends? Or is it something bigger?

To me, a successful life begins with successful days. Put enough together and you have a successful life. What defines a successful day? Perhaps you did something to make your spouse feel loved and beautiful? Then the day was a success. Maybe you did something stupid that upset your spouse, but you learned from it and now you can do better in the future? Again, that day would be a success. If you are like me, you might even do both in the same day.

The point is here that you get to define what success is for you. The more you look for accomplishments, the more you can develop a mindset to chase bigger and better ones.

THE 4 LETTER WORD THAT NO LONGER OFFENDS ME

For those of you afraid to open this post at work, or to show the children have no fear. As a bartender and DJ I must confess to having uttered my fair share of four-letter words in my day. As an author and motivational speaker I try to find more intelligent and creative ways to express myself today. This post is not, however, about those kinds of four letter words. This post is about a four-letter word that used to frighten me far more growing up.

What is this scary and offensive word? GOAL. When I was growing up and I am sad to admit through a good portion of my early adulthood this word is something I not only shied away from, I ran in the opposite direction! Why? In school goals are things we were graded on. Your goal was to get an A on the test. If you scored a B- you did not meet the goal. Your goal might have been to complete your paper or project in three weeks. If you were a student like myself, the day before at three o’clock in the morning you were up driving your mother crazy as she drove you crazy with such inspiring phrases such as, “You had three weeks to complete this paper. Why didn’t you start earlier!” I actually recall trying to write a paper on ‘Bucky-balls’ or spherical fullerene molecules named after Buckminster Fuller. Working with my good friend Russ, and only after completing his paper and being wired on espresso in the wee hours of the morning I turned in a paper that opened with the question, “Bucky-balls chemistry’s next big thing or kinky sex toy?” This sounded great between Russ and I the night before. The chemistry teacher, however, did not enjoy our humor. I did not do well on that goal.

As you can see my history with the word ‘goal’ has not been the best. Introduce Earl Nightingale. Even a passing reader of this site has heard me mention his name countless times. Earl was a motivational speaker and author among countless other occupations. I encourage you to listen to his great work The Strangest Secret In it, Earl informs us the difference between successful and not successful people is that those who succeed have goals. Naturally, this made me want to assume the fetal position in the corner, but I listened on. He explained goals in a way that helped me not only not be afraid of them, but understand how they can serve us.

Here is what he said, and please understand I am paraphrasing. Imagine a ship about to start a voyage. There is a captain at the helm. He has a destination all mapped out and knows exactly where he is going. In the event he gets off course, he can make corrections and get back on course. The odds are 9999 times out of 10,000 he will get there. Now imagine a ship without a captain at the helm. It has no crew or destination. We just start the engines and let it go. If it makes it out of the harbor at all it will crash or end up on some deserted shore a derelict.

The ironic thing is most of us begin our day like the second ship. We just start our engines and away we go. Imagine if we began our day more like the second ship. With our end goal for the day, week or year mapped out in front of us. If things happened to get off course we can make adjustments and get back on course. With this analogy I could see the power and benefit of goals. I now look forward to coming up with goals and working to achieve them.

I encourage you to do the same. Write down a goal and look at it as you start your day. Notice how you are doing. If you find you have gotten off course, that is ok, just make the necessary corrections and you will be on your way again in no time. If you get completely lost, feel free to utter another four-letter word of your choosing, and start out again.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL, OR BEING CONTROLLED?

Another picture I saw, read and had to take a deep breath and appreciate. This man has mastered what Earl Nightingale referred to as the magic word. This word, more than any other thing will control not only how successful we are in life, but how much we enjoy life as well. It will determine how well people and the world treat us. It has the greatest bearing on our physical and mental health as well.

What is this magic word? The word is attitude. A positive attitude will yield a positive life. As you can see in the picture above attitude has less to do with outside circumstances and far more to do with inside circumstances. We all know people who seem to have nothing, but remain positive and upbeat. We know people facing every sort of challenge you can imagine but seem to overcome them not only with ease, but we joy in their hearts and on their faces. How on earth are they able to do this? That was the question I kept asking myself when I began to get involved in the field of self-improvement.

These people have a good attitude not always because of their situation, but quite often in spite of their situation. That’s all great, and maybe your situation sucks too, but how the heck can you still manage to be happy? First of all, I am not discounting whatever you are going through. We all have struggles that others can’t begin to comprehend. That is one of the keys, remembering we all have struggles. How can we go from feeling defeated, sad and depressed by our challenges to empowered, motivated and positive? Asking that question is the first great step. I am going to give you one very important thing to remember – Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% what we do with it.

Sounds all warm and fuzzy right? You want to know how we turn the crap life gives us into something good? What if I told you that we have the ability to have complete control over our lives? Sounds a little too good to be true? What if I also told you that you routinely give that control away to others, your emotions or just choose not to use it at all? Don’t get upset, I still do this sometimes too. How do we take complete control over our life? By using two very important super powers you have. Yes, I said super powers. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wear a cape and you can keep the underwear on the inside of your pants. Why are they super? They are super powers because these two items control both the direction and feeling of our life and we have complete control over them.

The two super powers are focus and meaning. In any situation we choose both of these. Sure it may be hard to focus on anything other than the fact the person who cut you off in traffic is a rude jerk, but that is only because instead of choosing how to act, we are used to reacting to life. Which means in short that person is going to leave us angry, frustrated, frazzled or just plain pissed off, depending on how you want to score that.

Another world for focus can be perception. Is what really happened to us that bad? It can seem so in the moment for sure. Again, not to discount anything you may be going through, but changing our focus onto what we may be grateful for in the situation can do wonders and we can choose to do that. It is here I would like to insert a quote here for you to ponder.

“I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What if we chose to decide the reason that man cut us off was to refocus our energy on our safe driving practices? Maybe it means he was rushing to a family emergency we should be grateful we don’t have? Maybe he just received some terrible news and is so upset he is having a hard time focusing on driving? Maybe the meaning of it is he really is a jerk, but if we run into someone else who is in an upset mood maybe they had the displeasure of sharing the road with him earlier? Does this sound like some pie-in-the-sky or Pollyanna? Look at the other option. We could decide this man was a jerk, be super upset and let it ruin our whole day. In other words, react to him and give him complete control over our emotions.

Is this limited to a stranger on the road? Not at all. It can happen with a boss who is in a bad mood. It can happen by watching the evening news, reading the paper or some other not so inspiring action. Those of you who work with the public have a chance to practice taking control of your emotions and not reacting to the influence of others far more than you probably would like. Just the same, if a customer treats you rudely and you let it ruin your mood, in effect this is what you are saying, “You, my totally rude and disrespectful friend, your opinion means so much to me that the fact you have treated me poorly will affect my emotional state for the rest of the afternoon, day, week…etc.”

Why give anyone else control over how you feel? It is time to stop reacting, and time to start choosing how you want to act! Will it be easy? Not at all. New habits and wrestling control of your mind after you have let it run its own course for years can be compared to beginning dog training when the dog is two years old. It will take some patience and perseverance on your part. Will it be worth it? To never let your emotions, and thus your life be controlled by anyone other than you? I can’t think of anything more deserving of your efforts.

So next time life gives you a big pile of crap to deal with, remember you have a choice. You can let it sit around and stink up the place, or you can use all of those lessons and so called failures as you can manure, as fertilizer to help grow something bigger, better and more beautiful!

THIS IS SOME BULLS*$T

Do me a favor, take out your cell phone and look up the definition of success. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Chances are it would look something like this. When it comes to the definition of success these defintions are, in a word, WRONG!!!

We live in a world that defines success in terms of the visceral if not material means. Any defintion of success, including the one by my mentor Earl Nightingale, that does not include enjoying the process or life is incomplete.

If we achieve all our goals and lose the love of family and friends we would not feel successful. If we are rich, but full of mental anguish would we be a success? I do not think so.

Remember that success is indeed “The progressive realization of a worthy ideal” as Mr. Nightingale said, but we must remember to find our happiness along the way as well.

A NEW FRIEND

This was a picture that my lady took of me on a fun day we had at the zoo. This friendly duck flew over by us and was content just hanging out. He posed for several pictures and didn’t fly away until some children tried to grab him. After which time we went to the park and were greeted by other animals that seemed to follow us.

In addition to a great inspiring story, it demonstrated something I always find to be true. That day both my lady and I were in a very happy mood. At the zoo then at the park later. The animals, and people as well I believe can sense what kind of mood we are in.

This is yet another reason why maintaining a positive attitude is so important. Is it easy? Of course it is not, but it is worth it. By falling victim to worry and petty things that upset us we run the risk of throwing into jeopardy things like friendships, relationships and even our careers. By keeping our attitude positive, or at least doing our best to do so, we begin to attract into our lives all manner of good things. New friends, opportunities and yes even friendly ducks. All these things give us even more reason to smile. It is worth noting the opposite is equally true. When we are crass, sarcastic and angry and depressed often we repel the very situations that would change or situations and disposition for the better.

Therefore, all change must begin from within. Begin to get everyone, and thr world with kindness, compassion and a smile. It may take a bit, but sure as the sun rises in the east, you fortune will begin to turn.

For those of you thinking “I’ll smile when the world gives me something to smile about!” I would like to give you an analogy Earl Nightingale used to describe that way of thinking. He said it is like sitting in front of a wood stove and saying “Give me heat and then I’ll put the wood in.” We must give that which we wish to receive.

DEFINE YOUR SUCCESS 

Success, each person’s definition of success is different. To some it is material acquisition, for some it is a sense of joy and peace of mind. This is a challenge to someone trying to come up with formulas anyone can use regardless of their definition. In an effort to discover what makes some people successful at what they do and prevent others from doing so, I have studied some of the greatest minds in the self-improvement industry.

The best definition of success I have ever come across is from Earl Nightingale. Earl is  often referred to as “The dean of personal development” as his scope of knowledge and experience is hard to rival. Earl was on the USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor. 1500 people died on that ship. Earl was one of 100 to survive. He went on to own several business and have his own radio program. He recorded a message to help his salesman called The Strangest Secret. Without much fanfare or advertising that message launched what is now known as the spoken word industry. I cannot recommend highly enough you get your hands on a copy of this valuable message.

This post is not just about Earl Nightingale, but the message he brought the world. His definition of success is “The progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Read that quote a time or two more. Let it sink in. What it means is that a person who knows who they want to become and is working towards it is automatically a success. Why is that? It is because of goals. Having a concrete definition in mind of where you want to go and putting forth effort to get there. Even if it may seem you are momentarily moving backwards, you are still learning valuable lessons allowing you to move forward.

Once you pick your goal (mine is to help individuals reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of themselves) you will be able to know if what you are doing is working or not. Even if it happens not to be you are still learning what does not work. It was Edison who said “I never failed. I just learned 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.” When you goal is clear, confusion is minimal and motivation is maximum.

I FINALLY GOT IT!!

This is me…I believe that I am lost in thought here. At least that is what I am telling myself. If you have read my book or followed this blog for any length of time you know that I am an advocate of filling your life with motivational and inspirational things daily. In addition to that I recommend listening to them over and over again. Why would we want to listen to something we have already listened to? Wouldn’t we be better served listening to something new? Actually we should do a mixture of both. As to why we should listen to the same message several times, it is to get the most out of it.

Depending on our mood at the time we can hear and look at things in an entirely different way. Another reason is that as we experience different things in life we can appreciate things differently. Getting married changes our perspective on relationships. Being in a different economical bracket can change our opinions on what places to eat at. It doesn’t have to even be such major changes. Meeting new people, learning new things can all change how we view the world. Sometimes it takes hearing something several times for it to click.

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but just the other day a concept I had understood on an intellectual level finally made sense emotionally. You could say I finally got the message in my spirit. That message is you have to give to get. The first time I heard it the message sounded like a paradox. How can you give the very thing you wish to receive? If you are looking for financial freedom how does giving away some of your money help? This was made clear through the help of many of my mentors. First, Earl Nightingale, the dean of personal development. Earl described the life some people live as sitting in front of a woodstove saying “Give me heat and then I will put in the wood.” It just doesn’t work that way. Zig Ziglar, another great speaker, put it this way, “You can’t pay anyone to do your pushups.”

Still the one that finally made it click was a video by Greg Plitt the late fitness model and motivator. I was close to hyperventilating on a treadmill while watching one of his videos. In this video he talked about people who go to the gym for the month of January and then give up because they are not seeing any results. He used a very great analogy. Imagine your body as a lump of cold clay. You place that clay on a pottery wheel and begin to try and shape it. You put some water on it as well as the friction and heat of your hands. What happens? At first not much. The clay has been sitting like that for quite some time, so even if you push very hard it will not move much. Now, keep spinning it and rubbing it with your hands and the clay begins to warm up. That is like starting to go to the gym when you are out of shape. Your body has not moved for years, now suddenly you are moving and working. It is like pushing on the cold clay, it doesn’t change very much. After the clay begins to heat up, however, it begins to get easier and easier to mold. If you stop and let the clay get cold again, you have to start all over. Most people just get to the place where they are about to see changes, or when the clay is warm if you will, and then stop. If only they had pushed on a little longer they would have seen the beginning of the results they were seeking.

Ok, great story, but what does it all mean. I realized then and there (maybe lack of oxygen had something to do with it) that everything truly worthwhile in life I had to give something to get. When I learned to bartend I studied great communicators as well as drink recipes. When I was getting in better shape I had given up some of my free time to the gym.

If you are looking at a specific goal take some time to think what you may have to give up to get that goal and start giving!