Archives For Personal responsibility

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.

A Goal Setting Secret

January 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Closeup of man s hand writing 41634136

Ok, after the previous post, maybe you’re convinced to form some goals for the year. Perhaps you’ll start to mull over some of your unrealized dreams on your daily commute. Maybe you even spend some quite time thinking about what you want to accomplish this year. This thinking phase is great, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that you do when it comes to forming goals.

I’ve learned a powerful secret about goal setting. There is one practice, perhaps above all others, that adds power to my goals. Without it, my goals seem to vaporize within the first few weeks of the year. The absence of this one procedure almost certainly destines our goals to fail. But with it, we are positioned and empowered to reach our goals.

What if you discovered that one particular action will propel you toward your goals? What if that action was costly, say approximately $250 per goal? Would you sign up? Would you pay good money to actually gain an edge on achieving all you want to achieve this year? It’s a good question to ask. Let’s say your goal is to lose 25 pounds this year, would you pay $250 in order to shift your odds from maybe to most-likely? That’s $10 per pound!

Well, the good news is that the one action that I’m talking about doesn’t cost $250. As a matter of fact, it won’t cost you a dime! The one action that will give you an edge on goal setting (and achieving) is, drum roll…. To actually write out your desire goals.

I know, it seems too simple. Too straight forward. Too cheap! But, I’ve learned that the simple act of writing down my goals is a huge step toward success.

There is something quite powerful about actually writing down our goals. When we put pen to paper, things start to happen! Just because it is free, don’t discount the power of writing down your goals.

Here’s six reasons to write out your goals:

1) Writing out your goals gets you focused on what you actually want to achieve. The process of composing a sentence or statement that encapsulates your thoughts on a goal helps you gain clarity on exactly what you want to accomplish.

2) The physical, kinesthetic action of writing down your goals with pen and paper creates a greater connection between you and your thoughts about your goals. It activates your sense of touch and sight to connect with the sponsoring thoughts for your goal.

3) Writing your goals establishes a sense of commitment that does not exist if you just do some focused thinking about your dreams and desires.

4) Writing  your goals enables you to be accountable for them. Studies show that when we share our goals with a trusted friend, we’re more likely to succeed. You can’t easily or accurately share your goals if they aren’t written.

5) Writing your goals creates a way for you to periodically review them to gauge your progress as you work toward your goals. Reviewing your goals on a periodic basis helps you to sustain a focused effort over the long haul. Having a physical piece of paper containing your goals helps you to keep it in a conspicuous place to help keep your goals top-of-mind.

6) Writing out your goals empowers you, the goal setter. The process actually energizes you to envision and commit to reaching the goal.

Writing out your goals is a simple activity, but this simple practice is powerful! In my next post, we’ll dig into the best way to structure your goals when you write them.

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.

Leadership Time

October 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Vintage pocket watch and hour 21896729

Leaders see farther than others see,

they see before others see,

they see more than others see.


Leadership takes clarity.

Clarity takes focus.

Focus takes thought.

Thought takes time.


Are you setting aside time to think?

Great leadership requires it.

Survive or Thrive?

June 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Weed Growing Through Crack In 43558846

I was in a conversation lately where one person made the comment that the goal of every business is to survive. That got me to thinking.

Is my goal to survive or thrive?

I think it is an important question. How we answer determines the vision that we cast as leaders.

Survival implies defense. To thrive implies offense.

Survival tends toward reaction. To thrive encourages proactive thinking.

Surviving exists in a context of rations and scarcity.

Thriving exists in a context of options and abundance.

Do you think most often think about surviving or thriving?

Your answer will almost certainly predict the impact of your life and your business.

I woke up and started into my planned activities for the morning. Lift weights, check. Shower, check. Head to my office for reading, oops! I ran into my 5th grade daughter, Anna Grace, on my way to my office. “Dad, I need that piece of wood for our catapult project at school today.” The best laid plans of mice and men….

Wood workshop Hand saw cuttin 23149682 copy

“You need it today? This morning?” She assured me that she did. We proceeded to the garage to rummage through my various stashes of wood. Sometimes being an investor and rehabber of rental homes has its perks. Not exactly pleased about my derailed morning plans, I continued to pepper my daughter with questions as we searched the garage. “Who needs it? Who are ‘they’? Why didn’t you tell me yesterday that you needed the wood this morning?”

I proceeded to back my truck out of its slot in the garage. This was necessary because of my unique ‘organizational system’ which requires space to bend and stoop, push and pull, lift and shift, etc. We found a piece, but it was too long. No problem, I can cut it down to size with the saw… — I had taken my power saws to a rental rehab project across town. “Oh, I don’t have a saw here”. Looking up at the peg board on the wall, my daughter said “you can use that saw Dad”. Sure enough, she had found the old hand saw that I had owned for about a quarter of a century.

“I’ve got to get my coat” I muttered because I was cold and because I needed the time to think about my next step. I returned to the garage with my daughter padding a half step behind me. “Ok, let’s do this.” I clamped down the wood, measured and struck a line for the cross-cut, and proceeded to hand saw the custom catapult base for my last born.

“Thank you so much Dad. – and I’m sorry that I did not tell you earlier.”
“No problem, Gracie, just give me more notice next time – I love you.”

Later in the morning, I realized that I was uniquely equipped to meet a specific need in my daughter’s life. I had the supplies, the tools, the knowledge and the skill to help her with a class project. Pretty special.

What skills, perspectives, knowledge, aptitudes and attitudes do you posses to meet the needs of others? You have them. You probably take them for granted. Are people asking for your help? Can you hear them? How are you responding to their pleas?