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.

EVOLVE, DO NOT INVOLVE

Here is a simple question I have learned to ask myself that has reduced my stress by a great margin. In addition to the stress reduction, it has kept me focused and helped me improve almost every aspect of my life. What is this amazing question? Will this help me evolve in any way? Now this can be financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically or any other way in which you might come out a better person.

Routinely I see and hear about people concerning themselves with things that do not matter in the slightest. They argue passionately (and sometimes even hold grudges) about things such as sports or politics. They get involved in gossip. They worry about celebrity activities. The ironic thing about all of this is it seldom affects the people they get so passionate about. The political landscape will not change because you and your coworker are no longer on speaking terms. Your team will not change its approach to the game because you and your best friend end up screaming at each other. In fact, they probably will never even know or care that the discussion happened. How will it affect you? It will stress you out, put a little wear and tear on your nervous system and probably a lot of your relationships.

Then there is the matter of gossip. Margie and I go to great lengths to keep this as far away as possible. Working in bars as a DJ, however, I have the unfortunate displeasure of seeing this more often than I care too. People who have no involvement in an issue throw their opinion and quite often themselves into others business. I cannot think of a time when this has resulted in anything but more of a mess.

Begin this week to ask yourself “Will this help me evolve as a person?” Maybe the book you are about to read will help you learn something, or maybe it will give you a laugh or some heartfelt entertainment. Will voicing your disagreement as to how your football team played verses how your friends played do anything but start a disagreement?

While thinking of this, be careful to know the difference between instant gratification and evolving. Sure screaming at your spouse when they make you mad may allow you to blow off some steam, but will it do anything to help your relationship evolve? Will giving a not so friendly gesture to the person who cut you off in traffic really do anything to help the situation?

This takes a little practice and we all have moments that we do things that have us asking ourselves, “Why did I do that?” If we make a practice of asking ourselves “Will this help me evolve?” more often, we can avoid asking ourselves the first question.

THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE

My second book opens with the statement –

unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change

This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?

Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.

Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.

What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.

Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.

Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.

To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.

KNOWLEDGE IS POTENTIAL POWER

THE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO SUCCESS KEY #1

One of the things I am asked the most is “How can I quickly change my life?” Such a tricky question because your life up to this point has taken years to develop. Still, I understand we live in that nanosecond world where we expect change instantly. It is with this understanding that I have distilled my essential keys to success. These represent the pillars that most of my teachings are based on. Each one is a powerful belief that you can adapt into your life that will have a profound effect.

The first key is that of action. We have all heard the axiom that ‘knowledge is power’. That is simply not true. Anyone who knows me may find it odd that I am the one bringing you this message. I love learning, quite often for the sake of learning itself. Knowledge, however, is only worth anything if it leads to a specific action. Without action, the knowledge is completely useless. Allow me to explain.

Let us use the analogy of getting in shape. There are plenty of people who spend weeks and months finding the perfect trainer and perfect gym. The watch every video on the perfect exercise for their abs, their butt and whatever other body part they hope to transform. If they were to spend years acquiring this knowledge, yet never so much as picked up a weight or got on a treadmill, would they find themselves in any better shape? A few of you may argue that you want to find the activity that will give you the maximum effectiveness. That is all well and good, but while you are looking you are not taking any steps to getting closer to that beach worthy body.

Now let us look at the opposite side of the spectrum. Consider the person who has no idea what they are doing in the gym. They really want to get in shape so they start taking a walk every morning before work. Gradually they take longer and longer walks, maybe even jogging a little here and there. Even if they never read a book, watch a video or try any other workout they are still going to be getting in shape. Simply by taking action and learning as they go they are able to pick up a few things here and there.

The perfect mix is a blend of the two. If the person going for a walk spent a few minutes learning about nutrition or different resistance workouts as they continued to walk they would find themselves in shape in a surprisingly little amount of time.

The same holds true for those of us working to improve our lives. Millions of dollars are spent on countless self-improvement products every year. At this rate we should all be fit, happy and successful. So, how come we are not? Here is a shocking statistic, only 10% of that material is ever consumed. Most of it is purchased, maybe perused, used to gain the feeling of improving one’s life and then cast aside. Some of it, a small percentage, is even consumed and then not acted upon. Does that sound a bit extreme? Ask yourself this question, is there anything in your own life you know would improve your life, but you have yet to do it? I think we all do.

Today, take action and begin to do the little things. Continue to learn along the way. You will make mistakes, learn from them they are part of the lesson too. Before long you will gain momentum and you will begin to see progress. That will keep you motivated to continue to push forward.

LET’S START TODAY!

Here is another great secret of success that is simple, and easy to apply. Start now. Quite often we hear friends say, or even say ourselves, “Starting ____ I will ____.” Fill in the blanks with words of your choice. Starting Monday, perhaps on your next birthday, in the new year, or the worst day, ‘tomorrow’, which never quite seems to get here. Whether your goal is to get in shape, start your own business, improve your attitude or any other worthwhile ideal, the best place to start is right where you are, the best time to start is now.

When someone is able to put off beginning to work on their goal it is a sign they very well might have a weak ‘why’. Those with a burning desire to start something new often cannot wait to get started. This could possibly be your first step, increase your desire, or strengthen your why. I have written several posts on how to do this, but to recap in brief, you can look up information such as how quickly you will notice results if you take back control of your life from cigarettes, or what everyday out of shape is costing you. Recently, a few of my friends have begun lives of sobriety. Everyday is a challenge for them, but getting to a point of enough is enough have propelled them to get on track so that they are determined to succeed. Even if they slip, they have such strong whys that they will not be stopped.

How about you? What goal have you been putting off? Perhaps you believe you do not have the necessary resources to begin? I heard Tony Robbins say once, “It is not a lack of resources that is the problem, but a lack of resourcefulness.” If you are passionate enough about your goal you can find a way to get the money, people or whatever resource you need. Just watch a young child who is saving up for a trip to the toy store. They will do extra chores, start a lemonade stand and whatever else they need to do. With the internet, we can connect with people and resources around the world. With public libraries we all can have free access to the internet.

What can you begin to do? Work on coming up with a name for your new business. Start to create the perfect logo. Watch YouTube videos on healthy eating. Taking action is one of the most powerful things you can do to improve your life. By doing so, you begin to recruit and harness another power available to you – momentum. If you begin by incorporating one healthy snack into your day, or going to the gym once a week you can build on that. Once you start on the path to your goal you build excitement as well. You can begin to see it start to take shape.

What if you take an action and fail? People put way to much importance on failure. Failure itself is nothing but a learning experience. The sooner you fail, the sooner you can learn. The only way to never fail, is to never try. In which case your life will be a failure. The only way to make sure your life is not a failure is to never give up. So start today. Do what you can with what you got and soon you will find your life is so far beyond what you expected. It will never get there if you don’t begin.

1 DAY IN LIFE YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE

We are all guilty of this at one point in time. I call it the someday syndrome You know the one “Someday I will write my next book” “Someday I will get in shape” I don’t think this is as much a product of procrastination as it is language. To me the word someday is like the common cold, something you should take steps to avoid catching. Once someday invades one part of your life it spreads quickly. Once you relegate taking that vacation to someday suddenly getting in shape for that vacations falls in the same category.

Here is part of the problem. By saying that we will do something someday, in our brains it makes us feel as though we have planned and scheduled it. As if we are taking some actions towards its accomplishment. The word someday steals not only some of our dreams, it steals one of our greatest powers we can use to accomplish our goals – momentum. When we experience even little successes we can use them to build upon and keep us pushing forward to the bigger ultimate goal. By using someday syndrome we never even experience the little victories and the joy that comes with them.

The worst part about someday is that it never exists! Even when you realize you are coming to the end of your days you will realize everything you were intending to do someday will never happen. Although we will experience Mondays, Sunday fun days, good days, bad days we will never experience a someday. Imagine laying on your deathbed and realizing all of the potential dreams this one word has stole from you. If you are waiting for the perfect someday you will be waiting forever.

If you have read any of my work or even experienced one of my live seminars, you will know I am not just about identifying what is wrong, but coming up with a solution for how to fix it. How to we fix the someday syndrome? Is there a vaccination we can take not to contract this dream killing disease? Is there a medicine we can take to rid ourselves of its effects? The answer is yes. Every time we catch ourselves saying someday we are going to replace it with today I am going to begin to. Notice the phrase says begin to. This means you do not have to accomplish everything all at once. What it does mean is that we are going to take one step towards getting it done. Do you want to go skydiving someday? Maybe begin to research places around you that do skydiving. Another great option is recruit a friend and begin to make plans. Start saving for your trip by putting your change in a coffee can. Whatever you can do to bring you one step closer to your goal whether that is losing weight, starting your own business or any other worthy ideal.

From now on every time you are tempted to say someday think of an action you can do to begin, or even continue your journey towards that goal. To hear yourself say, “today I am going to start..” or “today I am going to continue..” and following those words up with even the smallest actions that will bring you closer to your goals will have an amazing effect on your life. The added bonus, when the day does come that you will find yourself looking at the end you will feel a lot better you scratched someday off of your calendar.

GET ON MY LEVEL

I really like this saying. What it reminds me of is this, that when we receive criticism from somebody we must stop and consider the source. What a person places as their priorities and their experiences in life are different than ours. If a person is a vegetarian they may very well say something about you eating meat. If their parents were alcoholics, they made give you a critical glance for enjoying that cocktail.

It is not even always this black and white. Depending on people’s goals, whether realized or not, they can be critical. Somebody who is driven and works on their passions 7 days a week may be accused of not having enough fun by the person who spends their weekends partying. The person involved with getting in touch with themselves spiritually may be looked down on by the person who is driven for taking time to meditate instead of work. (Although if you follow my work you will know that regular meditation can make you less stressed and more productive) It depends on what we value and where we want to go in life.

All of this being said, one of the first questions I recommend asking ourselves when we receive any sort of criticism is whether or not there is any truth in it. Often the way criticism is presented prevents us from gaining any real value out of it. If instead of hearing “You are a selfish jerk!” you heard “I think you could really benefit from trying harder to see situations from other people’s point of view.” We would be more likely to listen and contemplate if indeed there is truth in the statement. Sadly, often times by the time someone offers us criticism they are too emotional to word it productively. It is up to us to look past the harsh words and decide if the criticism is due to different values, or if indeed they have a valid point. Another way to learn if there is something you might need to work on is if you hear the same critique from several different people.

So, my friends, be confident enough in yourself to not let others opinions of you become your reality, but humble enough to realize they may be pointing out something you may have missed.