Category: Action

06 Jun 2017

What Separates Excellence from Mediocrity

We all have 8,766 hours in a year. No individual or organization gets more hours. The playing field of time is even, no exceptions. So, if everyone and everything is given the same amount of time to accomplish goals and make an impact, then what separates the great from the mediocre? Why does one person achieve excellence, while another never seems to get ahead? Why does one organization beat the odds, while another may file for bankruptcy? The answer, execution.

Ideas are plenty, execution is rare. Everyone’s got an idea, but very few have the courage and persistence to execute. I’m reminded of this while I watch my 74-year-old father struggle with technology as he helps me monitor and adjust my finances with my speaking business. I approached my dad last year and asked for his help to manage my finances. My idea was simple, I needed to figure out my finances and my dad was a successful businessman. He understands numbers and he understands success. Why not have him help me with my finances as my cash flow and expenses increase? I bought my dad a computer, gave him access to my checking and credit card accounts and asked him to monitor the cash flow and help me with budgeting.

Dad struggled. He didn’t struggle with my finances, he struggled with the technology. He didn’t know how to use the wireless mouse, how to operate a Mac laptop, how to navigate the software, websites, and digital spreadsheets. He didn’t even have WiFi at home, so he had to go to the local McDonalds to access WiFi to login and manage my finances. The technology was a barrier and so my dad spent hours trying to figure it out and constantly texted and called for advice and guidance on how to utilize the technology. He asked tons of questions, apologized for his learning curve, but never complained and never quit, he just executed. He didn’t have to help me, he didn’t have to sit in that McDonalds for hours struggling to work through the technology, but he did it, because he knew I needed help to execute my business. He understood the value in execution. He understood his role and what it meant to me, so he just figured it out, which is why he’s a success.

My dad, like many people and organizations of success, have a history of success and failure. My dad made plenty of mistakes, but he also made his share of great decisions. The key is he executed daily and persevered through the difficulties life presented him.

We all have the same time; however, our time is not always equal. I understand some struggle more than others. I recently made a new friend, Tom, a paraplegic athlete training for the 2020 Paralympic Games in hand cycling. He suffered a tragic crash on his bicycle a few years ago that left him paralyzed from his chest down. It took him three hours to take his first shower on his own. How long does it take you? He struggled with simple tasks, like getting out of bed, putting his clothes on, and a myriad of basic tasks we all take for granted. He endured his struggles, because he sought independence. He wanted to learn to live his life not dependent on others to care for him. His idea was independence, the hard part was the execution. His first shower took him three hours, but over time, he figured out ways to drastically cut the time it took to clean himself, and the other life tasks required just to get ready for work.

Tom is fit, he’s married, gainfully employed, publicly speaking and sharing his story, raising money for charities, and has a real shot to represent the U.S. in the next Paralympics. He’s doing it all without the use of his legs and with countless obstacles that you and I could never fully appreciate. He does this with the same amount of time we all have and a myriad of valid excuses that could hold him back, but he still succeeds despite the constraints of his body and the constraints of time, because he’s learned to execute.

My dad struggles with technology, yet he succeeds. Tom struggles without the use of his legs and limited use of his hands, yet he succeeds, why? Because both my dad and Tom went beyond ideas and executed on those ideas with the same amount of time that you and I have as well. If you’re failing and you feel you just don’t have the time, then rethink your approach. Why are you failing to execute? Are you afraid? Are you unorganized? Do you need assistance? Execution is not pretty and is often painful, ask my new friend, Tom! You can succeed if you go beyond your ideas and begin the process of executing on your ideas. What can you do today to move your life forward?

28 Mar 2017

The Vital Behavior of Success

When I was in the United States Army, I was accustomed to conducting, what is known as the “After Action Review (AAR)”, immediately after concluding a military exercise or operation.  It’s a system of evaluating what was done right and wrong and how to fix things that were done incorrectly during the exercise.  

The primary take away of most AARs is to identify vital behaviors that lead to success.  Today, I conduct a mental AAR in every aspect of my life.  I attempt to discern and deconstruct success in my life and in the lives of others.  When I think about success, I’ve discovered that most successful people have several vital behaviors in common.  One of those behaviors is that successful people take ownership of their lives and careers.  They own their mistakes and they accept responsibility for their lives.

Losers have excuses, in fact, I’ve found that people who are losing in life are expert excuse makers.  There’s a myriad of reasons why success eludes them and most of the time, it involves someone else or variables that are out of their control.  Excuses wear me out and the older I get, the less time I have for people with excuses.

I value accountability and I respect people that take ownership of their lives.  They succeed, despite their circumstances.  They worry less about what they cannot control and more about what’s within their sphere of influence.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t lead an excuse free life.  I’ve just learned that I succeed more when I take ownership of my life and achieve with the resources I possess.

I watched my dad succeed with little resources.  I witnessed my mom overcome obstacles and win at life.  I’ve had a front row seat watching my parents struggle and succeed when others may have retreated into a pit of excuses to explain away failure and loss.  My parents failed a lot, but they simply kept grinding and never allowed excuses to ruin our family.  Instead, they took ownership and achieved success.

I own my life.  Every facet of my life is due to my actions leveraged with the blessings of my Lord.  For better or worse, this is my life, and I’m going to own it until I take my last breath.  I won’t allow excuses to drive my life, will you?  Are you owning your life?  Think about your most recent failure.  Why did you fail?  Is there anything you can do better next time?  Take ownership of your life and live it to the best of your ability.  Don’t blame others, be quick to apologize, and quick to forgive.  Give God the glory in all aspects of your life and just own your baggage and move on.  It’s not easy, but a principle of success that will never let you down if you just make it a habit to take ownership of your life.  What parts of your life are you not owning, why not?

14 Feb 2017

It’s Time for Action!

I recently heard a motivational video where the actor stated, “Airplanes deteriorate faster while sitting at rest on the ground compared to soaring in the air, why?  Because airplanes were meant to fly!  If they simply sit on the ground, the critical parts that were made to lift the plane into the air will rust and become useless.”

Just as airplanes are meant to soar, humans are meant to engage in life.  Are you engaging in life?  Better yet, are you engaging in the right things?  My assessment on human dynamics is that most are busy doing nothing.  We fill our days with meaningless tasks, chores, hobbies, and activities that never truly allows the opportunity to elevate our lives, why?

I believe you’re afraid to act on what’s truly important in life.  Yes, you, the person reading this blog, you’re afraid.  I too, am afraid to act, but must force myself to engage in the things that will allow me to ultimately pursue my calling.  In my last blog post, I said many our lost and are simply drifting in life.  Can I be honest?  There is comfort in the drift.  It can seem easier to simply allow life to happen around you and never face the fear of stepping out on the path that God has planned for you.

The greatest deception in life is to wait until tomorrow.  There’s always tomorrow or someday.  Focus on your kids, pay off your debt, just get through this year and maybe tackle what truly matters next year or the year after that.  You’ve got time, right?  Just as a plane will rust sitting on the ground, you too will slowly lose your will to pursue your calling if you allow life to bog you down with meaningless pursuits.

Are you lost or frightened to step into your calling and pursue the passion that burns deep within your soul?  I know, it’s hard to step into the unknown, not fully understanding where it may take you.  There is danger and risk around every corner, but that surely beats regret.  The reality is that there is no definitive list of steps to your goal, there is simply the next action you can take right now to get started.  The path will reveal itself as you move towards it, but you must start moving first!

I can’t guarantee a life free of failure, in fact, I will guarantee that you will fail, many times, on your way towards the next level, but that is how life works.  You must fail along the way to learn and appreciate success once you arrive.  So, what frightens you?  Is it failure?  Is it leaving your comfort zone?  Is it the unknown?  Who cares!  Fear will be your companion on this journey, it never goes away, so stop waiting until it leaves or waiting until life is perfect before you act, just act.  Take the leap and start moving towards your passion.  Engage in life, and I encourage you to embrace the journey.  Peace comes with movement, but it must be the right movement.  Stop being busy and start acting on what truly matters.  You know what matters, it’s ingrained in your heart, so stop avoiding it and start acting on it.  What will you do right now that will move you forward in your life?  Act now, life will submit to you as you begin the journey towards the rest of your life.

10 Jan 2017

Shutting It Off Is Key for a Healthy Life

Health, we all take it for granted until we lose it.  Ask anyone who is sick right now.  Our health is something we all know is important, yet we neglect it.  I’m one of those people.  I can be healthier, which is why I’m focusing more on my health this year.

When our vehicles wear out, we replace them.  We toss a pair of old shoes when they lose their value and think nothing of it; however, we cannot replace our bodies.  What we have is what we get until we take our last breath.  I will turn 44 this year and I know my health will become of greater concern with each passing year.  I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and wish I took better care of myself, which is why I’m dedicating the first few blogs this year on health, for I know it’s something we all must manage to lead long and fulfilled lives.

I mentioned in a previous post that I cut soda out of my life.  It’s been over a month since I sipped my last carbonated, sugary drink.  Honestly, I don’t miss it and I feel great!  I thought it would be hard, but it truly wasn’t, because my long-term health is more important than my short-term satisfaction.  I don’t know about you, but I plan to stick around for a very long time.  I want to see my kids grow and enjoy my grand kids, which is why I’m not stopping at just cutting out soda.

The next step, for me, is to address my eating habits at night.  I tend to snack and consume food up until my head hits the pillow.  I’m stopping that habit now.  I will no longer fill my belly with empty calories that sit unused in my body and then get stored into fat.  There’s no reason for me to eat a bowl of cereal late at night or munch on crackers or pretzels a few minutes before I go to bed.  It’s a habit that I allowed myself to slip into over the years, and I recognize the importance of eliminating it from my lifestyle.

Studies show that food consumption should cease about two hours before bed, which is why I decided to use 8:00 pm as my threshold.  I will enjoy food up until that point and then begin to develop a new habit of only consuming water after 8:00 pm and allowing my food to properly digest.  I’ve also read some studies that indicate that we sleep better if we don’t stuff ourselves before bed as well, which is a bonus.

I don’t beat myself up if life requires me to eat after 8:00 pm.  I have a busy family and there are some nights that we don’t even sit down for dinner until 8:30 pm, but that’s not the point.  The point is to not mindlessly stuff my mouth with food well into the night with no purpose or intent other than I like the taste of food and I’m bored.

So, what will I do if I’m truly hungry later in the night?  The answer is protein shakes.  Yes, there are times I experience a very physical day and burned more calories so that my body craves more food for energy later in the evening.  In the past, I would just feed on snack foods filled with carbohydrates, like popcorn, chips, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Now, I plan to consume protein instead, why?  Protein is burned immediately and not stored into fat, and it tends to be “filling” and a satisfying snack.  The bottom line is that I plan to be smarter with my choices as I develop a new, healthy habit, this year.

How about you?  What can you change in your life that will lead to better long-term health?  It doesn’t have to be big or drastic, just something that will be better for you and protect your body so that it may serve you well for many years to come.  Here’s to a healthier year, now go out make healthy choices!

03 Jan 2017

Are You Discouraged Going Into 2017?

Was 2016 a disappointing year for you?  Maybe you lost a loved one or separated from your spouse.  Perhaps you lost your job or your finances took a big hit.  Maybe it was an uneventful year and you just feel like you’ve fallen into a rut and are merely existing and have lost a zest for life.

Whatever the reason, you are stalled going into 2017 and even feel anxious about your future.  There were times in my life when I experienced great frustration.  I felt like I was putting in the hard work with no results.  I questioned my path and even lashed out at my loved ones as anger boiled in my gut, because life was not unfolding the way I hoped.  You may be feeling something similar right now and are not sure what to do next.  So, what do you do, when life has stalled and you become frustrated or depressed?

The remedy is to serve others.  I can’t explain what changes in your heart when you take your eyes off your own life and begin to focus on others, but you gain a new perspective on life when you shift your paradigm onto other people and look for ways to help them.

Clarity comes with service.  Experiencing the beauty of service cleanses your soul and allows you to look at life differently.  You forget your own problems as you focus on others, and you even gain a new-found appreciation for your own life as your eyes open to the greater pain others experience.  You even count your blessings as you realize that there is so much to be thankful for if you only took the time to notice.  Best-selling author, Dr. John C. Maxwell, calls this phenomenon, “the elevator principle”, which means that you cannot help to be uplifted as you lift others up in service.

Serving humanity distracts your mind from your problems and allows it to untangle your own obstacles, subconsciously, as you help others.  You become more creative and find hope again as you assist folks that may be hopeless in the moment.  It’s a beautiful thing, really, that to help yourself, you must help others first.

My start as a speaker began with the desire to inspire others to pursue their own dreams.  I communicated through this blog and at conferences and events across the country so that I may motivate and inspire others to not give up on life, and during that time, I discovered my own dream.  Now I get paid to serve people through my talks and presentations as a professional speaker.

If you’re stuck with little to look forward to in 2017, then why not start with one simple goal, help others.  Look for ways to serve someone this week and then the next.  Continue in that service and you will find that a healthy perspective will develop in your life.  Serve others and inspiration will find its way back into your own life.  I guarantee it!  Whom can you serve today?  Are you looking?