Archives For Productivity

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?

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.

Redeem the Time

December 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

I have found a great little device that has helped me become more efficient and effective- in and away from my office.

I’m talking about the LG Electronics HBS-700 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Bluetooth Headset.

It’s easy to pair this wireless headset with your bluetooth-enabled cell phone and begin placing and receiving phone calls while using the headset.

While I’m in my office, I use this lightweight headset to easily participate in conference calls with my iPhone.

No more sore “cell phone cradle neck” from contorting my neck and shoulders to hold my phone while I free up my hands to type or write.

It also allows more freedom than a speaker phone because I slip my iPhone in my pocket and easily walk around while on a call.

The unit has a talk time of about 10 hours which allows for extended use throughout the day. It charges back up in two to three hours and is ready to go again.

When I’m out of the office, I use the LG HBS-700 to make and receive calls when I’m in my truck. It’s easier and safer than trying to juggle my phone while on the go. It has a few simple buttons that allow me to answer calls and adjust the earbud volume.

Another way I use the LG headset is to listen to podcast recordings. I subscribe to multiple podcasts and always have several episodes queued up and ready in my phone. The headset makes it easy to catch up on those podcasts that I enjoy but have a hard time making time for. This one use of the headset helps me to redeem the time on road trips and even during short errands. A button on the headset allows me to easily start and stop the audio playback.

I also enjoy using the headset to listen to music or podcasts while I exercise. It’s the ultimate “kill two birds with one stone” scenario when you can exercise AND listen to an informational or motivational audio at the same time! Since the headset is wireless, I don’t have to contend with “cord management” issues inherent with corded earbuds.

As you plan for the new year, if increasing your efficiency is on your mind, think about trying the LG HBS-700.

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.

Showing Up

November 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bigstock Young man with a suitcase clim 12545552

All successful people have a habit of showing up.

Sometimes you show up, because you have to.

Sometimes your boss is you.

You realize that the old adage about showing up is half the battle is true.

Showing up is the important first step.

Sizing up, shoring up, boosting up, sprucing up… — all follow showing up.


I climbed on my bike this weekend and cranked out a hot, sweaty ride. About six miles out, I looked down at my Garmin bike computer, noted my average miles-per-hour and was pleasantly surprised. I’m having a great day, I thought to myself. A few pedal strokes later, I realized that my performance was not the result of the Cliff bar that I had for breakfast, rather, it was built upon the workouts from earlier in the week, and a pretty consistent month of riding.

Today’s success is always preceded by yesterday’s work.

Tomorrow’s success comes only through today’s efforts.

The principle is thousands of years old.
Line upon line…
Precept upon precept…

This is the essence of John Maxwell’s Law of Process.

Start this week knowing that the success to which you aspire will be built upon the solid foundation of today’s work.

Here’s to a great Monday!

Several months ago, I spent some time working with my oldest son, Ben. At the time, he was helping me rehab an investment property. We were tackling a task that we have never done before – installing cabinets in a kitchen. Here is a picture of the work in progress and the finished kitchen:

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On this project, we did a lot of thinking out loud – “If we rip this here, and shim this there…” We almost work as one – passing tools before asked, completing one another’s sentences. Not calling a cabinet hung until we’ve found the studs to anchor the piece securely to the wall. There is no talk of ‘good enough’. He is the son of an engineer. He is, in many ways, better than his father – and that makes me smile.

Looking back on our time together, I realize that we have both been pupils at the Rental Property University – Learning lessons of investment, of acquiring and building wealth slowly, the embrace of hard work, and the eventual fruit of persistence. Ben has developed remodeling skills that he will use on his own house someday- and quite probably his own investment properties.

We have been stretched to try things that we have only seen on HGTV or U-tube. We saw how well-done work produces best in class properties, happy tenants and culminates in a profitable business.

There are larger lessons to be learned, though. As father and son, we are bound together in so many ways, but time working together on a common task strengthens our relationship in ways that perhaps nothing else can.

Co-laboring is one of the rare activities that forges strong relationships. I have seen it in work, volunteering, and at home. The opportunity to work together with someone is the opportunity to build lasting bonds of friendship.

And so, I’ll ask: Is there person that you would like to get closer to? Perhaps a loved one, friend or co-worker? Is there someone with whom you would like to have more influence? I suggest that you look for opportunities to work with this person on tasks or projects that meet real needs. Working side-by-side is one of the best ways to grow closer to someone than you have ever imagined.

How has working with others changed and enriched your relationship with them?