Category: Success

18 Sep 2017

Stretch Yourself To Success

I developed a love/hate relationship with the nurses at the Eskenazi Burn Unit during my recovery and physical therapy after my fire accident.  Twice a week I would make the journey up to Indianapolis and meet with my burn team that oversaw my care and welfare.  They would greet me with a smile and then proceed to remove my bandages, exposing my injuries, and aggressively clean my wounds, not seeming to care or notice that it hurt me.

My wounds continued to heal and new skin begin to replace the old skin that was damaged or lost due to the fire.  The new skin on my right foot looked and felt like thin paper.  It seemed fragile as one of the nurses poked and prodded the skin to assess its condition.

“I need you to point your toes.” The nurse politely commanded.  I responded by pointing my right foot away from my body.  However, the new skin resisted and so I stopped.

“Keep going.” She stated without looking up at me.  I refused her command, my new skin was tight and I was afraid to stretch it.

“I know.” She looked up at me with an empathic smile, “It feels like your skin is going to rip or tear, but it won’t, trust me.”

“Are you sure?” I ask.

“Positive, everyone feels the same as you, but this exercise is necessary for healing and growth.  We need to stretch your skin so we can make it pliable and allow it to expand across your wound. Now, point your toes further.” She commanded and looked down at my foot.

I wince as I point my toes as far as I can, hoping that my rigid new skin could handle it.  My skin resisted and it was painful as I stretched it through the exercise.  Sweat found its way to my forehead and trickled down my face and dripped off my chin as I pushed my skin to stretch out beyond comfort.  I was relieved when the nurse told me I could stop.

“I know it’s uncomfortable.” She smiles and stands up.  “You need to do this twice a day so you can train your new skin, ok?” She waits for my response.  I nod and look away from her.  I’m annoyed by the request and not overly pleased by her insistence that I continue to push my skin with this exercise.

I reluctantly follow the prescribed exercise regime, and over time, my skin no longer resists but becomes fully pliable and functional.  Now, I don’t notice it as it’s fully healed.  I can run and exercise, just like new, and I regained full range of motion.  My skin resisted at first, but over time it stretched and adapted to its role on my foot.

Stretching out of our comfort zones in any part of life is uncomfortable, if not painful.  My skin was new and felt fragile.  Everything in my mind told me not to push it, but my veteran nurse knew better.  She knew my skin would stretch and pushing it with my physical therapy was necessary for growth and to ultimately get it where it needed to be so I could lead a healthy life.  How often have you resisted growth and failed to push yourself in some area of your life?

I was convinced my skin would tear if I stretched it too far.  I would’ve let fear hold me back, if my nurse didn’t encourage me.  I had no experience that verified my fears but just assumed my skin wasn’t ready.  We give too much power to our fears.  Many fears are unfounded and not logical and based on emotion.  Our lives, like my skin, are more resilient than we realize, yet we fall short of stretching ourselves to new heights.

Today, my new skin is discolored and it’s evident that I was involved in an accident.  Life is a lot like that.  When we stretch ourselves, it changes us and alters our personality, our character, and our behavior.  Change is uncomfortable but necessary for growth and success.  What area of your life are you resisting change?  Is it time to stretch beyond your comfort?

14 Aug 2017

Success Is Not Hard, When You Check Your Emotions

I help coach my daughter’s travel softball team.  I wouldn’t consider myself a softball savant.  In fact, if you put me in a room with bunch of softball dads, I would bet that almost all of them know the game more than me.  I don’t know every rule of the game, I don’t know the “right call” to make in every situation, I don’t care.  Instead, I study success and human dynamics and try to discern what it takes to place an organization or person in a position to succeed.

I got involved in softball because I wanted to strengthen my relationship with my daughter and spend time with her as she navigated her way through the sport.  Eventually, I found myself in the dugout and able to influence the decisions of the team and the game.  I observed other coaches, parents, and the players.  I reflected on the nuances of the game and pondered the keys of softball and why our team would win or lose.  I concluded that logic wins and emotions lose.

It’s my belief that success comes when you focus on a few key measures, and when applied on a consistent basis, will lead to winning.  I observed overzealous coaches and parents arguing with umpires over obscure calls or stressing over odd plays that were outliers and not the norm.  When emotions ruled the game, teams lost.  Instead, I began to approach the game logically and searched for key measures that helped us win.  I discovered one measure that made sense to me.  On offense, we won when ten girls could get on base over the course the game.  When I checked the numbers, we never lost when we hit that mark.

It made sense to me that we should set a goal to get ten girls on base, because historical statistics showed we always won.  In softball, a player can get on base in many ways.  She can get walked, she can hit the ball, or she can get hit by the pitch.  From a logical standpoint, it doesn’t matter how a player gets on base, just that she gets on base.  From an emotional standpoint, it makes a huge difference.

It’s much more satisfying for a player to hit a beautiful long shot over the head of the outfield defense and hit the ball to the fence or over the fence, then to lay down a meager bunt that plops two feet in front of home plate.  Emotionally, a parent wants to see his or her daughter swing the bat and knock the cover off the ball.  This may validate all the batting practices and money spent on hitting coaches, but it may not win the game.

For me, as a parent, I would much rather see my daughter make a hard hit to the outfield to get on base then to get four pitched balls that walks her to first base.  That’s anticlimactic and not nearly as fun or exciting, but it still achieves the same goal of getting on base.

So, after a few years experiencing softball, I’ve learned that most teams lose because they allow emotions to run the organization and forget to pursue what truly leads to success, which in most cases is mundane, boring, and less satisfying.

Success is simple, but most often, it’s a grind and not glorifying.  If I reflect on my life and when I achieved great success, it often came because of a few things that I did on a consistent basis that received no fanfare.  Softball, like life, comes down to base hits.  Home runs are cool and that’s what we remember and celebrate, but base hits win games.

When it comes to success, emotion must be stripped from the equation, because our emotions will cloud our judgement and lead to failure.  It’s not fun to get walked to a base, or hit by a pitch, or hit a soft ground ball to third base that allows the player to sprint successfully to first base, but it’s the essences of success.  Those that are willing to grind and to do what it takes to “get on base” will ultimately win, as long as they do it ethically.  It takes discipline, perspective, and a willingness to approach life in a logical way that will take you to the next level.

So, what does this mean for you?  It’s simple really, what are two or three things, that if you pursued them consistently, would increase your chances of success?  For me, as a public speaker, it means getting in front of people and speaking.  I may speak to two people, which I have, or hundreds of people.  Most of the time, I’m only in front of 75-100 people and it’s not with a lot of fanfare, but I do it often and I’m experiencing success that’s led to bigger speaking gigs and book deals.  I spend hours preparing for a talk, traveling, and on the phone with event planners so that I may talk for 45 minutes on stage.  Most of the time, my life is a grind, but I continue to “get on base” so that I may ultimately win the game.  What about you? Do you continue to swing for the fences so that you may get the glory, but continue to strike out? Or, are you willing to lay down a bunt and get on base?

31 Jul 2017

Only Teams Win

I’m humbled to write this post for I don’t feel I truly deserve the blessings I’ve received the past few weeks.  I write this blog while cruising over 30,000 feet on a return flight home.  Today I spoke to a wonderful group of utility professionals in San Antonio, Texas.  I pursued my passion and purpose today, because of dozens of unbelievable people that continue to support and uplift me every day.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I laid incapacitated by a gasoline fire that left me burned and in pain.  Today, I fly home after a successful business trip and completely pain free, because dozens of people in my life cared enough to come to my aid and helped me recover so that I could continue to work and support my family.  Yes, I’m truly humbled.

I often speak from stage that no one can achieve significance without the help of others.  There is no such thing as a self-made man or self-made woman.  Individuals may achieve short term success, but in the end, only teams ultimately win.  I’m proud to say that I have an unbelievable team and I’m grateful for all the wonderful men and women in my life that care enough to support my efforts.  I feel underserving of their support and worry that I will fall short and disappoint my friends, family, colleagues, and team members.  I strive every day to meet the expectations of those that sacrifice their time, energy, money, and ego to support me.  I hope I make them proud.

I’m convinced now more than ever that there is power in “we” and no room in life for a “me” attitude.  Strength truly comes with numbers, and the more quality people you have on your team, the greater chance of success.  That’s why I encourage you to recruit as many good people to join your cause.  Attract good people, flush the ones that drag you down, and continue to encourage and uplift those that are in your inner circle, because when you need support, a strong team is your only hope for survival.

Be grateful for those that are willing to stand by you and honor them.  Be a good team player and be willing to submit your ego for the greater good of the team and be ready to support a team member in times of need.

When conflict and pain enters your life, your team will uplift and encourage you.  When you strive to reach a new level, your team will support you.  When you fail, your team will pick you back up.  Teams, not individuals, truly win, so it’s paramount that you develop a strong and viable team that will help you grow and will challenge you to greater success and significance.  Do you have a winning team?

28 Jun 2017

Don’t Allow Anger to Steal Your Freedom

Have you ever been so angry with someone that they dominate your thoughts?  You argue with them in your head.  You think negative thoughts about them and you feel stressed about the very image of that person.  Have you experienced this?  My guess is that most of us are experiencing it now.

Human interaction is less than perfect and people let us down, constantly.  Relationships are based on expectations and most expectations that we have for one another is unrealistic.  We expect everyone we relate with to be rational, reasonable, and view the world as we see it.  This is impossible.

People bring baggage to a relationship and most are hurting, to some degree.  They experience marital problems, family problems, work problems, and health problems.  People are also predictable in that when they’re hurting, they tend to hurt others.  A miserable person, for instance, will not share in another’s joy.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  A miserable person wants us to be miserable with them, so they will say and do irrational things to bring us into their misery.

I’ve witnessed anger a lot lately.  Maybe I’m more sensitive to it or just more aware lately, but I’ve watched and experienced people relate with one another in anger.  It’s never pretty and often it’s uncomfortable.  People will say and do awful things to one another out of anger and it makes me sad, because I know when anger wins, freedom loses.

There is no freedom in anger.  Anger, when allowed to seep into our hearts and dominate our thoughts, becomes an inescapable straight jacket that binds our souls from experiencing joy and happiness.  We become shortsighted and allow hate to obscure our view of the world and thus to steal our joy and the appreciation for humanity.

I recently had the pleasure to experience a beautiful weekend on the softball fields where young teenage girls gathered to compete and to enjoy the game of softball.  Everything was perfect, until the games started and teams began to lose and parents began to lose their minds.  I watched in disappointment as adults started to yell at the umpires, at the coaches, at each other, but even worse, at their own daughters.

I was no better; however, as I slowly allowed anger to creep into my world.  I lost my perspective on life and found myself meditating on the little, insignificant things, like what people thought of me and how they perceived my decision making as a softball coach.  I snapped at my kids, I was short with my wife and I wasn’t enjoying the weekend.  I lost my way.  In short, I became miserable.

Luckily, I snapped out of it when I forced myself to pause and fully appreciate the beauty around me.  I noticed the blue sky, the lovely foliage scattered in the distance.  I could sense the light breeze hitting my face and allowed myself to soak in the sights and sounds of the game.  Instead of focusing on my anger, I escaped its chains and allowed myself to experience the joy in the moment and the freedom that comes with it.

Yesterday, I went on an early morning run with my son, Ryan.  When we finished our workout, and were cooling down with a light stretch and enjoying each other’s company he smiled at me and said, “You know, Dad, there’s a lot of good people in this world.”  A simple statement from the eyes of a child that is totally free from the burdens of anger.

I thought about the anger I allowed into my heart and how I let it control me over the weekend and for the precious moments I lost because anger enslaved me and took my freedom.  My son Ryan sees the good in people, because he looks for it.  I chose to experience anger, because I looked for it.

Whatever we seek, we will find it.  Life happens and it hurts, but only we choose how to react.  With anger, comes slavery, but with joy, comes freedom.  The freedom to truly see the beauty that God made for us.  Don’t allow anger to steal your moments and take your joy.  What anger do you have in your heart today?  Do you have the courage to let it go and claim your freedom?

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?