Archives For Personal Growth

The Key to Learning

January 26, 2015 — 2 Comments
Image credit: Brady Beshear

Image credit: Brady Beshear

I recently attended an intense four days of learning – and I must say, it was some of the most focused (and fun) instruction that I’ve ever experienced!

The setting was the majestic rocky mountains, and the topic was snow skiing.

The format

The instructors were the best of the best. The lead instructor was an orthopedic surgeon whose main focus was to teach us the correct biomechanics required for great skiing.

Our group would meet for a couple of hours of classroom instruction, and then hit the slopes to apply what we’d learned. Then we’d repeat the classroom/skiing cycle in the afternoon.

The class had skiers of all levels, and we broke into different groups based on our abilities. Everyone was focused on getting to the next level, no matter their current capabilities.

Slope-side wisdom

On the first day, one of the instructors said something that still hangs in my consciousness. She said, “To learn something new, we must un-learn, or let go of some of our current thinking.”

As our time of learning and skiing progressed, it became evident that those who most readily shed their preconceived notions of skiing were the ones who improved the most!

The concept of un-learning to learn something new has a wider application than skiing. What got us to where we are now, most likely won’t take us where we want to go. That goes for sports, relationships, business, and life.

We must release what we know, to learn what we don’t.


What if I held tightly to all of the relationship “knowledge” that I brought into my marriage 28 years ago? I’ll admit, it’s kind of scary to consider the consequences, had I had refused to learn and mature in my quest to love Karen and grow our relationship.


Also, as I reflect on various business experiences through the years, I can see how much I learned from each company, each deal, each relationship. Curiously, most of my learning and growth happened during the most difficult periods.

The key to learning

Perhaps the key to our tomorrows is found in letting go of what we learned yesterday.

Maybe the step to the next level can only be taken when we shake off the weight of our current assumptions.

I believe that we can tap this “ski-slope wisdom” to develop any area of life.

What do you need to “un-learn” today?


January 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

How did you fail today?

It may be one of the best dinner-time questions we can ask our children.

It may be one of the best questions we can ask ourselves.

Edison had a different view of setbacks:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

-Thomas A. Edison

Perhaps we need to shift our thinking about setbacks. Perhaps we need to celebrate them, learn from them, and recognize them as the signposts on the way to success.

I’ve learned that the blessings of wonder, growth and fulfillment most often lie just outside my comfort zone.

Our journey beyond the known, beyond the comfortable, will come with some setbacks.  In fact, our setbacks will confirm that we’re doing something right!

Let’s begin this week, this year, with a new perspective on failure.



What if?

December 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

What if-

It’s that time of year, when we look back at this year and wonder “What happened?” and we look forward to next year and ask “What if…?”

What if.
Did ever a more hopeful word pair exist?

As children, we use those two words a lot.
What if I could fly?
What if we could go to the circus?
What if we could go back in time?
What if we could go into the future?
What if I could be the President?
What if my costume could transform me into a super hero?
What if we could go there?
What if we could do that?
What if we could be …?

This adult is asking that question again.
What if I could get and stay in great shape?
What if I could achieve more?
What if I could be more present?
What if I could spend more time with my family?
What if I could deepen my spiritual walk?
What if I could make better food choices?
What if I could learn more?
What if I could write more?
What if I could give more?
What if I could listen better?
What if I could be a better friend?

Asking “What if…?” is the first step toward identifying the dreams that will become reality.

What are your “What ifs” for the coming year?


Image credit: Creative Commons

Have you ever had a faucet start dripping, even when turned off? I’ve heard that some people even wait months before finally getting such faucets repaired! (ouch)  In the mean time, countless gallons of water slipped past their intended use.

Life can be a lot like a dripping faucet. We have such potential, such a capacity for success, but we let life’s little drips siphon away our effectiveness.

Every person can become more effective by addressing three common ‘drips’ in their life.

What we see

Taking a minute to check our messages on our phone, or Facebook, or twitter, is not, in and of itself, bad. But often minutes grow into hours, and this casual activity becomes all-consuming.

Even checking email, presumably to stay on top of work, can become a habitual interruption of otherwise effective times of work, or necessary times of rest.

What we eat

Snacking is a “drip” that keeps popping up in my life. A nibble here, a nibble there. A fist of snacks, just one more cookie, and a second portion at meals all add up to some substantial “waist”.

What we do

I’m always more productive when I exercise. It’s one of those things that seems to be a no-brainer. Just do it, right?

But many of us have to fight the magnetic pull of a sedentary life. Every day we don’t get moving physically is like a drip, a drip that will eventually limit our options and dampen our effectiveness.

Stop the drip

Most of the challenges in our lives are the daily ones. The choices we make as we check our phones, stand in front of the refrigerator, and plan our days.

Here’s a tip on how to start making better choices.   Envision the choices you make today being replicated each and every day for an entire year. The importance of each choice becomes clearer when we multiply that choice by 365 days in a year.

One drop of water is not our problem, it’s the cumulative effect of our daily choices that needs our attention.

What drips need your attention today?

A Secret to Success

January 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

I was talking to a gentleman recently and mentioned the topic of habits. When I asked him about his daily habits, he responded with “I don’t guess I have any habits”. Now, to be fair, if he thought about it a while longer, and asked himself “What do I regularly do that is so routine that I do it without thinking?”, I bet he would come up with a list of habits.

Webster defines habit as:

Definition of Habit on brown background

I’ve started to get intentional about observing the successful people in my life. One conclusion that I’ve reached is that their success is, in large part, the result of their habits. If you think about it, the things that we do daily actually form the building blocks to the greater goals and aspirations that we have.

Athens bound

The olympic athlete doesn’t just pop up on our television screens and accept the gold medal. Every olympian has a story of daily routine where they sacrifice the normal on the altar of commitment. The trail of every successful person (whether athlete, artist or businessperson) is strewn with the breadcrumbs of intentional, daily pursuits that progress them toward their ultimate goal.

Notice that I said trail of breadcrumbs. I did not say pile of breadcrumbs. Because the windfalls in our lives — say winning the lottery, or a big inheritance – do not prepare us to stand on the medalist platform. It is the power of consistent preparation that ultimately elevates us to success.

Hmm, there could be something here…

A friend of mine has logged roughly 100,000 miles on his bicycle. He has ridden consistently for decades. When I first learned of this fact, I thought, “Wow – that’s a lot of miles – how unusual!” It dawned on me later, though, that the impressive statistic was possible because of his commitment to regular exercise. Could it be that part of my friend’s significantly successful life as a business owner and innovator is somehow linked to his faithful commitment to exercise? I think so.

You see, regular exercise kept his body healthy and his mind sharp. Being in shape no doubt boosted his confidence in life and business. His consistent aerobic conditioning boosted his energy and alertness at the office. He probably slept more deeply that his non-active friends. Early in his life, fitness became a habit. And the habit helped him achieve record-setting growth and success.


The power to change us, to move us in the direction of our goals, is packed into these mindless routines that we call habits. I believe that the habits that we choose to build into our lives are the biggest predictors of our future achievement.

Think about the results that you want in your life. Then back-track and ask yourself what habits will help you attain the results that you desire. There are no over-night successes. We must put in the purposeful work of today and repeat it over and over again.

Successful people are characterized by daily habits that other people avoid.

What habits have helped you? Do you need to build some new habits into your life?

The Law of Excellence

January 17, 2014 — Leave a comment
Bigstock carving 40018369 craftsman displaying excellence

Like the masterpiece of a fine craftsman, our excellent work creates lasting impressions. This is the law of excellence at work.

“If you give the world your best, the world gives its best in return.” Good words: for the aspiring middle school flute player, the studying college student, the busy housewife, the first time employee, the struggling writer, and the executive looking for the next rung on the ladder.

There are principles in work and life that are so consistent that you could call them laws. One of them is the Law of Excellence. Our best work invites the best results, the best opportunities, the best careers, the best relationships, the best experiences, etc.

Sometimes when we are discouraged about our situation, it is easy to blame outside circumstances or others for our condition. Most likely, though, the solution to our problems is staring at us in the mirror.

What good news! This means that we are not at the mercy of the whims of others. Rather, we can improve our current situation by acknowledge and applying this simple law.

We can progress toward the people we want to be by tapping into this Law of Excellence. Don’t settle for good enough, don’t compare your work to your neighbors.

Simply ask yourself, “Is this my best?” When we take the time to produce our best work, we are actually defining the type of opportunities that we’ll have tomorrow.  Doing your best work is a pretty cool way to chart your future!

My Best always trumps Good Enough.

SMART Goal Setting

January 14, 2014 — Leave a comment
Bigstock Smart Goal Or Objective Settin 38456290 SMART Goals

Acronym for SMART Goal Setting – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely

In previous posts, we have talked about looking at our goals in a different way and, the powerful impact of actually writing down our goals.
Today I want to explain some basic principles of how to structure a goal.

I think that you’d all agree that there is a big difference between a wish and a goal. When I think of a wish, I think of big ideas and dreams, but I also think of words like vague, and unrealistic. A wish seems to keep us locked in the castle, waiting for someone to rescue us. A well written goal on the other hand, is challenging, motivating and empowering.

How do you take your dreams and desires for the new year and transform them into goals that inspire and motivate? The answer lies in how we structure of our written goals.

There is a simple acronym that represents a roadmap for how to structure our goals. The acronym is S.M.A.R.T. Each letter represents an important aspect of our effectively structured goals:






Now let’s break down each component of a SMART goal:
Specific – This refers to how detailed and focused we are about our goal. When we get specific about our goal, we gain clarity about what we really want. If you want to lose weight, it’s much better to say, “I want to lose 20 pounds”.

Measurable – If you merely say that you want to work out more this year, it’s going to be difficult to measure your success toward this goal. Alternatively, if you declare that your goal is to work out at least four times per week, then you’ve got a measurable goal – and something against which to gauge your progress.

Achievable – This aspect of a well written goal keeps you from setting some goal that is totally unreasonable to attain. It is good to set a goal that stretches you to the next level of achievement, but unrealistic goals tend to discourage and dishearten the haphazard goal setter.

Realistic – It’s wise to ask yourself if a goal is realistic. Is it within your financial means to set such a goal. Does it require the unhealthy neglect of an important relationship? If so, then you need to rethink the goal.

Timely – This refers to incorporating a “by when” element into your goal. If you want to lose 20 pounds, then a better way to specify the goal is to express “I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1st”. Setting a due date is an important part of any goal; without it, we are never sure that we are on track for success.

There you have it. A simple acronym to help you formulate your specific goals. When you sit down to consider your goals for the year. Take one at a time and sift them through the sieve of the SMART acronym. This simple strategy will help you create goals that propel you to greater achievement in the new year.

Bigstock popular new year goals or reso 55694729

January brings with it a sense of newness. The old has gone. The new is come. We have a clean slate. It seems like anything is possible.

One way that I tap the powerful sense of expectancy at the birth of another year is by setting goals. I’ll have to admit, over the years, I have been a yo-yo goal setter. Some years I do, some years I don’t.

This year I dug into it with intention and great focus. Here are a couple of things that I’ve observed that have helped me renew my commitment to have goals.

Firstly, I’ve noticed that the people who accomplish the most in business and life set goals. One of my best friends gets very intentional about setting goals each year. His faithful practice in the area has resulted in notable growth in his personal life and business. For him, it has become an annual process that serves to clarify his focus and direct his energy throughout the coming year.

Author Tom Corely has done some extensive research to determine the differences in behaviors between the wealthy and the poor. For five years, Tom studied the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. His findings are noteworthy, and one of the key differences that he discovered was in the area of goal setting. He found that 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

I have come to realize that part of my hesitance in goal setting is the way that I view success and failure. If I set a goal, then I either successfully accomplish it, or I don’t, and if I don’t, then I’m a failure, right? At times I have felt this way. The logical conclusion to this way of thinking is – Why set goals, they just serve to set me up for failure. If I don’t set goals, then I won’t fall short – because there is no standard for measurement.

Here is the change in thinking that I’ve had about goals. Instead of setting me up for failure, goals actually determine the direction and motivation for my future success. If I set a goal that stretches me, that challenges me to become and do more in an important area of my life, then I’m well on my way to success. If we don’t set our sights on what we truly want to accomplish – the odds of failing to achieve our desires are REALLY high. On the other hand, if we set our sights on what we truly want and articulate that through a written goal, our odds of significant progress go WAY up!

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” What if we get to the end of this year and look back at our goals and find the we did not fully reach our stated goals? I can almost guarantee that even in this case, you will have accomplished much more than if you had not set your goals at all.

Could it be that when we review our goals we should look at how far we’ve come instead of only where we want to end up? Let’s give ourselves permission to change the way we think about goal setting.  Consider setting some big goals this year – and anticipate celebrating your progress at the end of the year.

In my next post, we’ll continue our focus on powerful goal setting.

Unlikely Gifts

December 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Fireplace With Birch Firewood 53842777

What we tend to avoid, may indeed be a gift.

The bitter cold creates our love of the crackling fire.

The physical ailment sets the stage for our grateful steps of recovery.

The full schedule leads up to the rejuvenating vacation.

Pronounced thirst precedes the sweetest swigs of water.

The drapes of the darkest night pull back to unveil the brightest dawn.

The very existence of the unpleasant enables the recognition and enjoyment of the good.

If today, in your work or life, you are facing a bitter north wind,

hold on, keep going, your efforts are the kindling for the fire that will warm your tomorrow.

Your Next Step

November 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Your Next Step 10010999 2

The power of the next step.

The next step we take, takes us closer to our goal.

It takes us farther from our last setback,

…closer to our next success.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Where do you want to go?

Do you know?

Answer that question, and your next action will most likely be to take the first step.