Generate Energy: Habit #2 of High Performers

Last week I discussed the first habit of high performers: Seeking Clarity. Today, I share with you the second habit of high performers: Generate Energy

According to Brendan Burchard, high performers learn how to generate energy which helps them perform at a lnhigh level over a long period of time. Now, to be clear Brendan in his book defines energy as the “holistic kind that includes positive and enduring mental, physical, and emotional vibrancy. “

Why is energy so important? Well, no surprise here but low energy is highly correlated with low performing success, and high performance is tied to high energy. People with high energy achieve much more success in their primary field of interest than their peers. The great thing about energy is that it is not something that you are born with. Energy comes from transforming the way you think and feel about any given situation. To help generate energy throughout your day Brendon shares with you practices in his book. I discuss below the two practices that I found to be really helpful:

Practice One – Release Tension, Set Intention

The easiest, fastest and most effective way to help increase energy is to teach yourself how to master daily transitions according to Brendon Burchard. A few examples of daily transitions are when you wake up in the morning from sleeping to waking, when you go from commuting to walking into work, and finally, the most obvious transition is when you come out of that meeting that didn’t go as planned and you have to hop into another one. We all experience many transitions throughout the day which impact our energy levels.

To start increasing your energy levels you need to recognize how you feel throughout certain situations and how you interact with others. A good way to start would be to write down all the transitions you go through on a given day. After you do that you can ask yourself these questions to help you understand how you think and feel throughout each one.

  • Do you ever carry over any negative energy from one activity to the other?
  • Do you ever feel depleted but still plow into your next activity without a break, even though you know you should take a breather?
  • What if you could change the way you think before each transition throughout the day? What would the impact be? How would you be able to do that?

Now, since you have a good understand of the daily transitions and how you feel and interact with them you can use Brandon’s technique which he calls release tension, set intention.

Here is how it works:

  1. Before walking into the next transition of your day close your eyes for a minute or two.
  2. Now, say the release in your mind over and over again. As you do command your body to release all the tension in your shoulders, in your neck, in your face and jaw.
  3. After you have felt all the tension being released, now you can set your intention for the next transition.

Practice Two: Bring the Joy

As you know one of the greatest joys of being a human is that you have a choice, and you can choose how you feel at every moment throughout the day. High performers recognize this and choose to “bring the joy” to their day by implementing habits that allow them to focus on positive thoughts and feelings. Here are six habits high performers try to implement into their day to day according to Brendan’s research:

  1. They spend time thinking about how they want to feel in advance of a key event.
  2. They strongly believe that their actions will be rewarded.
  3. They prepare themselves for moments when things go wrong. Remember their high performers are no different then you and I. They are human.
  4. They want to interject challenge into their day.
  5. They steer social interactions into positive emotions.
  6. They reflect on how grateful they are.

What better way to practice “bringing the joy” then starting your day with simple questions:

  • What can I be excited about today?
  • What or who might trip me up or cause stress, and how can I respond in a positive way, from my highest self?
  • Who can I surprise today with a thank you, a gift, or a moment of appreciation?

If you felt like these were helpful feel free to purchase the book here or check out this blog, podcast, and website here for other helpful insight on living your best life. Remember, making the choice to read through the practices is the first step. The second step is putting action towards implementing them into your day.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One.

Life Lessons From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Letters from a Self Made Merchant to his Son by George Horace Lorimer.

Brief Summary:

George Horace Lorimer shares with us a fictional story about letters written between a father John Graham, the head of the house of Graham and Company, Pork Packers in Chicago to his Pierrepont who around the age of 18 is going off to Harvard. The letters span out over years from Pierrponts college days to getting his first job. The book consists of only the responses by John, so we get to see his advice back to his son about the different situations his son is facing. I share with you the lessons I took away from the book below.

Lessons learned from the book

Improving your character is more important than improving your IQ

John writes to his son, “The first thing that any education ought to give a man is character, and the second thing is education. There are two parts of a college education – the part that you get in the schoolroom from the professors, and the part that you get outside it from the boys. That’s the really important part. For the first can only make you a scholar, while the second can make you a man.”
When you think back to college or high school where did you learn the most? Was it outside or inside the classroom? As John tells Pierrepont knowledge comes from all different sort of places and most of what we learn and who we become has nothing to do with what we learned in the classroom. School is not about where you went or what you learned it is about what you did while you were there. It made me think about how we might need to rethink the saying “knowledge is power”. I better way to say it would be knowledge + action = power.

Always be sweeping

John writes to his son that he is worried that his head is getting too big at Harvard, and he is being a foolish college kid wasting away his money. As Pierrepont is about to graduate John wants to make sure he understands what is going to take to be successful.
“The only sure way a man can get rich quick is to have it given to him or to inherit it. You are not going to get rich that way – at least, not until after you have proved your ability to hold a pretty important position within the firm. It doesn’t make any difference whether he is the son of the old man or the cellar boss – that place is the bottom. And the bottom in this office is a seat at the mailing desk.”

Always be learning is one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever received. The best part about having a mindset where you are always learning is that it is a skill that everyone has the ability to do. No matter where you went to school, your title, or how “successful” you are. The one thing that separates the good from the great’s is their ability to continue to learn. While reading this book it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we‘ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.”

If you are really smart, don’t make the same mistake twice

Johns advice to his son about learning from mistakes is a classic reminder of how powerful mistakes can be. He writes “when you make a mistake, don’t make the second one – keeping it to yourself. Own up.”
You don’t learn from what you are good at. When you are good at something you just keep being good at it. The simplicity of that is scary because it causes people to do two things: To be afraid of failure and feel ashamed to discuss them. When we shy away from mistakes or failures we stop growing and learning. No matter how good you are at something, you are not perfect. It is an important piece of advice to remember because if you truly want to reach your potential you must be ready to learn from your mistakes.

Life is about the little things

John writes to his son about how important it is to not judge a book by its cover, “Just here I want to say that while it’s all right for another fellow to be influenced by appearances, it’s all wrong for you to go on them. Backup good looks by good character yourself, and make sure the other fellow does the same. ” John teaches his son that the little things in life are the most important things and that 2/3 of success is making people think you are all right.
To me, who cares what car you drive, clothes you wear, and how big your house is. None of those things tell anyone what type of person you are. What matters it the little things. Smile and laugh with others, give to others, contribute to society, help people, and just be a good person. That is what makes people think you are all right.

How has the book impacted me

When I went to college my dad told me the exact same type of advice that John told his son Pierrepont – it doesn’t matter where you went to school, it only matters what you do when you get there. Though this is a fictional story, I will be sharing the same piece of advice to my son one day when I send him off to college.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Please feel free to buy the book here!

All We Got Is Time

As we continue on our journey to reaching our potential, we must remember, it is not about what has happened to you, where you came from, how long you have been here or where you are at today. It’s about what happens next and what you did with what happens to you and how you deal with what you are given. No matter who you are we are all given a time limit the day we were born. We can’t hide or run from it. We must embrace it. We must be ready to take action on every opportunity we get. To help me along the way I utilize these four simple principles as a guide to keep me moving forward.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint

As human we tend to be  A and Z thinkers, we obsess over how to start, and then we dream about what the end result will be. This type of thinking naturally leads us to neglect B thru Y.  From time to time, it will be important to remember “why” you started and where you want to end up, but we must not forget reaching your end goal is always is a process of many small things completed over an extended period of time. It is vital that you give B thru y some love. How do you do this? It is simple.

Instead, break up the task at hand into small pieces. Do what you need to do right now. Accomplish that thing. Then, move on to the next thing.

Never stop moving forward

The most straightforward and easy habit to form is reminding yourself constantly of what you control. Whenever you feel the emotion of anger, frustration, or thought of giving up remind yourself you are in control.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Look at the situation objectively. It is what it is.
  3. Ask yourself what do I control?
  4. How or what do I need to solve this?
  5. Now, move forward.

Embrace failure

Here is the thing, you can never create a plan that can prepare you for trying. You just have to do it. The amount of time you spend talking about your plan vs. actually taking action on your plan will end in you living a life full of regret. The best part about trying is that no matter what it will lead you to two outcomes:

  1. You fail. We learn the task or idea we thought was possible was not.

What action can we take:

Ask yourself: What went wrong here? What am I missing? What can be improved?

  1. You succeed. We learn that the task or idea we thought was possible was.

What action can we take:

Ask yourself: What went right here? How can I improve? How can I maintain it?

Guess What? Life goes on and no matter the outcome you learned. If you failed great. If you succeeded great. At least you know you tried. Remember, nobody ever regrets trying.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions

One of the ancient stoics practices is to remind yourself of this question: how important is this moment or issue hundreds of year from now? The answer is… probably not very important. Sadly, what you do today may or may not have any impact in the future. The fact is time will continue to march forward with or without you.

Depending on how you look at it you might feel the exact opposite of taking action. However,  the stoics posed this question to themselves to make them truly understand who they really were and allow themselves to fully believe in what they were supposed to do. It forced them to ask even more profound questions which can answer the most underlying reasons for why we choose to do anything in our lives: Why are you here? What is the point? What is the purpose? Why wake up today?

These questions are simple, but yet so difficult for people to answer. Why? Most of us are afraid to find the answer.

Good thing it’s day one.

 

How to Manage Your Ego

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.

Brief Summary:

Ryan Holiday is an accomplished author, entrepreneur, and marketer. He is most recognized for his work as the head of marketing for American apparel and is very popular for his blog: ryanholiday.net.

Ryan shares with us stories from people who reached the highest level of success and how their egos either made them or destroyed them. He claims that there is three stages of your career: Aspire, Success, Failure. No matter whether you are early in your career, a super successful professional, or finding yourself failing at the moment, your ego will be there. Ryan shares with us how you can combat it at each stage of your life and turn it into one of your biggest assets.

Things I learned from this book:

Aspire – How to manage your ego while you aspire to be great

Talk Less:

How many people do you know who regularly talk about these big ideas or big goals they have? Or say I am going to do this? Or this is such a great idea? Where are those people today? Are they are actually following through on what they said? The answer for most is no. In the early stages of a career, or idea our ego makes us think that talking is more powerful, then silence and action. The issue is while you are talking up a storm telling everyone how great your idea is, the other person is working, learning, and taking action.

To be or To do:

This is a straightforward and compelling question. Do you want to BE something or do you want to DO something? Yes, there is a difference. And it’s a big one. When it is said and done, you will be remembered for what you did NOT what you said you were going to do. Pretty easy to guess which answer your ego will tell you to go with.

Become a Student:

A great way to keep your ego in check is to always be learning. I will leave you with a quote from Epictetus (Ancient Stoic) and additional thoughts from Ryan Holiday:

“It is impossible to learn what one thinks they already know” – Epictetus

“You cant learn if you think you already know. You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions. You can not get better if you are convinced you are the best.” – Ryan Holiday

Have a purpose

“Passion is about. I am so passionate about X.”

“Purpose is to and for. I must do X. I was put here to accomplish X. I am willing to endure for the sake of X.”

If you believe you are truly an ambitious person, then ask yourself: Do you feel excited about what you do or do you feel like that this is what you are supposed to do?

Early Pride

Every night before he went to bed John D. Rockefeller wrote to himself in his diary. Here is one of the many entries:

“Because you have a got a start. You think you are quite a merchant, look out, or you will lose your head – go steady.”

Success – How to manage your ego when you made it

Keep learning

Success is a double edge sword. Our ego loves to feast on success whenever it gets the chance. It is so easy to fall into this trap of forgetting what made you successful. All that hard work, hours spent, and constant learning helped you reach your success, not pure talent.

When we reach success, we can go one of two ways. We will either strive to continue to learn and improve, accept harsh feedback. Or we will always assume “We know the way.”

“No matter what you have done to this point. You better be a student. If you are still not learning, you are already dying.”

What is important to you?

“According to Seneca (Ancient Stoic), the Greek word euthymia is one we should think of often: it is the sense of our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it. In other words, it’s not about beating the other guy. It’s not about having more than others. It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it. It’s about going where you set out to go.” – Ryan Holiday

Failure – How to manage your ego when shit hits the fan

Effort is good enough

In our society winning is everything. We only remember and celebrate the champions. This is what can make failing so difficult for so many. When we fail we feel as if it was not worth it to even try. Next time, remind your ego that if you gave your full effort that is good enough.

Maintain your own scorecard

The best part about failure is that no matter how much you succeed you will always learn the most from failing. The most celebrated minds to ever walk this planet have one secret weapon that most humans fail to utilize. Their internal scorecard. We all have one. It is simply how we perceive success through our own eyes. When you face failure, your ego will try to take over, but you always can fight back. Just turn to your internal scorecard.

Always love

You failed a test. You failed to hit your quota. Your business idea failed. You lost your job. The best response is to the find the positive in everything. I know its hard, but at least try to laugh at it all. Anger never solves anything. Life is short, don’t take everything so seriously.

Alive or Dead Time

Robert Greene who mentored Ryan Holiday taught him there are two different types of time. Alive or Dead. Dead time is when you are sitting passive, accomplishing nothing. Alive time is when you are learning, and growing. Every time we are faced with failure or self-doubt we are presented with a choice on how we spend our time. Alive or Dead. You might not control the situation, but you do control your choice on how you spend your time.

How this book has impacted me:

This book made me realize two things: We all have an ego, and your ego is a very powerful tool that can help you achieve success in life. The term ego has a negative connotation, but honestly, ego is neither good or bad. To me, your ego is simply knowing who you are, but it should never define you. There is nothing wrong with believing in yourself or feeling special. I believe that is important. You are unique, so you might as well show off your talents. Just make sure you keep it all in check.
To ensure you do remember this:

“Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we ‘ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.”

Now Wake Up! It’s Day One. I believe that this book is one of the most important books of our generation. Please read it.

How to Go From Good to Great to Unstoppable – Lessons from Tim Grover

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s Book is Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover with Shari Lesser Wenk.

Brief Summary:

Tim Grover is a personal athletic trainer and founder of Attack Athletics. He is most recognized for his personal training for Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, and Kobe Bryant among other world-class athletes. 

In his book, Tim shares with us his stories training and working with some of the greatest athletes in the world. The book centers around his most well-known clients Jordan, Kobe, and Dwade three of the most fierce and competitive athletes we have ever witnessed. He starts by explaining the fact that there are three types of people in the world: Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners. To become a cleaner, you must develop specific traits which he lays out in the book he calls them the Relentless 13.  Today, I will share with you the six I found most impactful: 

Things I learned from this book:

Three types of people Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners:

  • Coolers:
    • This type of person will do the job that they are given. They will never go above and beyond. Their desired result will be satisfactory, and they find no reason to push themselves any harder to achieve the next level.  
  • Closers:
    • Closers are a step above coolers. You can count on them to get the job done, but only in specific situations. They are really good at specific things, and will always perform well in situations they feel comfortable in.
  • Cleaners:
    • This type of person is in relentless pursuit of their end result. They know exactly where they want to go, and spend very little time thinking. Countless hours are spent preparing and training to be the best at their specific skill sets. No matter the situation, or issues that arise you can always count on them achieving their desired result. 

Traits of a Cleaner:

You keep pushing yourself harder when everyone has had enough

When it comes to exercising you most likely spend your time in the gym trying to increase your physical strength. Tim has spent most of his career training with MJ. He is very clear that the difference between MJ and everyone else was not his pure physical talents. What separates MJ was his non-stop training working his mind. Being physically gifted can make you great, but being more mentally fit then your peers is what makes you ultimately unstoppable.

Every day, you have to do something you don’t want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear. Otherwise, the next day you’re going to have two things you don’t want to do, then three, four, and five and pretty soon, you can’t even get back to the first thing. And then all you can do is beat yourself up for the mess you’ve created, and now you’ve got a mental barrier to go along with the physical barriers. 

– Tim Grover

You know exactly who you are

This trait is all about the practice of thinking less and just doing. It is so easy for us to get distracted by others, and worry about what they are doing. Like I mentioned in my last post, most of us live in this world of measurement constantly competing with others and measuring our abilities to see how we compare. 

Even if you practiced for hours trying to make sure you are prepared for every outcome you still ask yourself: I am doing something wrong? Was this how it is supposed to go? Did I do better than the other person? These questions race through your mind while the other person is running past you trusting that all the hard work and practice will guide them. 

You’re not intimidated by pressure, you thrive on it

When you feel pressure or stress, it makes you know that you are alive. When you are alive, you feel. And at the end of the day how you feel is everything.

Directly quoted from Tim because I could not say it any better:

Pressure can bust pipes, but it can also make diamonds. If you take the negative view, it will crush you, now you’re in an “I can’t do this” frame of mind. But the positive view is that pressure is a challenge that will define you; it gives you the opportunity to see how much you can take, how hard you can go. Everyone wants to cut back on stress because stress kills. I say bullshit. Stress is what brings you to life. Let it motivate you, make you work harder. Use it, don’t run from it. When it makes you uncomfortable, so what? The payoff is worth it. Work through the discomfort, you’ll survive. And then go back for more.

– Tim Grover

When everyone is hitting “In Case of Emergency Button” they are looking for you

The most ultimate competitor have absolutely no fear of failure. Cleaners don’t waste time thinking positively. They just keep moving forward knowing they have trust in themselves to do the right thing. All the hard work and preparation you put into your craft allows you to let go of any insecurities or fears to go full speed ahead.

You don’t compete with anyone you find your opponents weakness, and you attack

The mindset here is simple: Get on my level or get out of the way. We will win with or without you. These are the words that were said by MJ to Rodman when he joined the Bulls in the 90’s. So my advice, if you want to be like Mike, then start thinking like him.

You don’t celebrate your achievements because you always want more

Done. Next. A cleaners favorite words. I am still working every day to become a cleaner, but I share a similar thought process. If you are one of my reps, you know when you close a deal my first question is “What’s Next.” 

For some, they might believe this is what leads to burnout. To me, this means that you are always trying to learn and grow. Just because you excelled at one thing doesn’t mean you can’t stop learning how to do it better. Until you reach your end result, you should never be satisfied.

How this book has impacted me:

This book taught me that I am on the right path. I felt good about my mindset, but this book takes it to the next level. And it is a constant reminder of what I already know to be true: mental fitness is more critical than physical fitness.  I have studied Jordan’s coach, read his bio, and now studied his personal trainer. Each of them tells me the same thing: The difference between MJ and his competition was his mindset. 

That tells me everything I need to know and do. 

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day one. What’s your choice? If your choice is to be great today, then I would highly recommend reading this book: Buy it here.

 

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself. In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.
Today’s book is Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. If you are a 90’s bulls fan. READ THIS BOOK.

Brief Summary:

This book is a memoir of Phil Jackson’s time playing and coaching in the NBA. He shares his stories of playing with the Knicks, leading the 90’s Bulls to 6 rings and reviving his coaching career with the 2000’s Lakers to win 5 rings. Throughout the book, he ties into each story his 11 principles of leadership that he believes guided him to coaching his teams to 11 championships.

Things I learned from this book:

Lead from the inside out:

This is Phil’s first leadership principle. He believes that most leaders try to do whatever everyone else is doing, or the latest management technique. Instead, he says just lead from the heart and be authentic.
I found this as the single most important and most natural principle to master to become a great leader. Though I like to read and learn about leadership, nothing will stop me from just being me and leading with my heart. One of the things I have learned over time is that trust is an essential factor in leadership. Nobody wants to work for someone who is fake or acting like they are someone that they are not. When you lead from the heart people will trust you. It’s that simple.
When I think about the people I lead at work, I don’t view them as employees or co-workers; I see them as humans that have given me the opportunity to help them reach their potential not only in work but in life. I care about their success and work as hard as I can to make them feel that we are in this together. I hope that every rep I lead feels that we shared unique experiences and moments that will create a life-long bond.

The road to freedom is a beautiful system:

As we all know, Phil Jackson was a big believer in the triangle offense. What he loved most about it was that it gave players a system in which to operate, but also let them use their own instincts and knowledge to decide what pass or shot to take in the heat of the moment.
What I took away from Phil was that you must train the entire team to use one effective framework/system that can help them do their job in the way you believe is best. How they operate within the framework or system is up to them. As a leader, I can quickly identify each rep’s strengths and weaknesses within the system to help them be better. For example, I have a framework on how to run an effective demo. It is not a script or a word for word guide. It is a simple framework that helps guide the rep from beginning to end of a call. The rep has their own talk track that they can insert into the framework, and I believe that if they follow the process, they will be successful in the role.

Focus on the spirit, not the scoreboard:

Teams are at their strongest when they give up self-interest for the greater good of the team. Here is a story Phil shares in the book about the importance of working as a team:
“The Samurai wanted to teach his sons the power of teamwork. So he gave each of them an arrow and asked them to break it. No problem. Each son did it easily. Then the samurai gave them a bundle of three arrows bound together and asked them to repeat the process. But none of them could. “That’s your lesson,” the samurai said. If you three stick together you will never be defeated.”
This taught me that if the team wins or lose, we win or lose together. From the first day I led a group of people, I made it clear that there was no individual person (including me as the leader) who was greater than the team. It seems like a simple concept to some, but Phil made me realize that it was one of the important things I had to make clear to my team as the leader.
I also learned the best way to hold an employee accountable is to have their teammates hold them accountable. Although I am technically the leader, my title has no meaning. In my mind, we are all teammates, and I am not the only one responsible for holding each employee accountable. The entire team is.

Tribal Leadership and becoming a stage 5 team:

In the book, Phil discusses the concept of “tribal leadership” and the 5 stages that every team must achieve to eventually reach their potential. After reading it, I made stage 5 as my team’s vision statement (our end result). Below is my team’s vision statement:
We are dedicated to team pride and the overriding conviction that “we are great, not they are great, or I am great.” This team requires common beliefs and shared visions, and the bigger the challenge, the more powerful the team. Our long-term vision is to achieve a rare stage characterized in teams with a sense of innocent wonder and the strong belief that “we no longer are just great, BUT life is great.”

How has this book impacted me?

Phil made me realize that individuals can have all the talent in the world, but they will never achieve the level of success a fully cohesive team can accomplish. As a leader, your responsibility is to get a group of individuals to act as a team and believe in one common goal. If you can do that, your team will achieve success.
This was one of the first books I read when I became a sales leader, and to this day I incorporate the principles mentioned above into my day to day leadership (I only discussed 3 out of the 11 principles because they resonated with me most). I still have a lot to learn, but thanks to Phil I have the foundation of my leadership philosophy.

Now Wake up! It’s Day One. Buy Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success here

Playbook for Success – From One Millennial to Another – Guest Post by Kyle Maynard

Before I begin, I just want to thank Jeff for asking me to guest write for his blog. I’ve met a lot of people and worked with several individuals in my relatively short time on this Earth. If there is ANYONE who can motivate you to WAKE UP with a DAY ONE mentality…it’s Jeff Brandwein.

The point I want to make in this post can be summarized in two key themes. First, never trick yourself into thinking that where you come from determines where you’re going. And second, we are all capable of success, it’s your willingness to get serious and your ability to take the necessary steps that will ultimately get you there. Nothing in this post is groundbreaking by any stretch of the word; simply a set of principles and guidelines that I have applied to my life to get ahead.

Who am I?

My name is Kyle Maynard. I am a 25-year-old sales representative at a SaaS startup in Chicago. I come from a very small town called Cicero, Indiana with a population size of just under 6,000 people. Everybody knows everybody and not many people make it out of that bubble. Even though it was a very safe and comfortable place to grow up, I always knew I wanted something more. At 18, confused and eager, I graduated high school and started my collegiate career at Purdue University. Fast forward to 2015, and here I am; a young professional with not a clue what I was doing.

Since I can remember, I was told the same thing from all my elders: “do well in school, go to college, get a job, support your family, and you will be successful.” I also remember thinking to myself, “easier said than done.” These things can most definitely lead you to success, but how in the hell are you supposed to accomplish those things? And more importantly, is this even the path I want to take? This is an age-old tale and will always be a part of life we must go through.

I recently had a conversation with my brother, who is an extremely intelligent and talented 17-year-old. He has started to explore what he wants to do with his life and is struggling with finding what best suits his interests and strengths. It is a concerning time for him because he feels that the world hasn’t yet prepared him properly for what lies ahead and how to choose his path. What I tried to stress is that the world will never prepare you fully; unfortunately, you must struggle and make mistakes to figure it out. I had to figure this out the hard way, just as many of you had to. When I entered Purdue as a freshman, I learned very quickly that I was not prepared for what lied ahead. High school came so easy to me that I didn’t realize the amount of grit, preparation, and time-management that was demanded of me to succeed. Furthermore, it took me at least a year and a half to figure out what I was actually interested in pursuing as a major. This was a huge setback, as I switched majors twice. However, I finally recognized the importance of taking it seriously and laying out a game plan and took the necessary steps to get on the right path.

Here are the 5 things I have learned so far:

Find your “Somewhere”

We all have heard the phrase, “everyone’s gotta start somewhere.” This has been engraved on our brains since birth. The problem that most of us struggle with is, “where is my somewhere”? To start, you must first understand what you are chasing. Whether that is to own a three-story house, to be CEO of your own company, to become a famous athlete or musician, or to just be happy in life; you HAVE to determine what makes you get up in the morning in order to chase it.

Now sit down, take 20 minutes, and make a list of your top three goals. Don’t think intensively – just close your eyes and think of the first three things that come to mind. Write them down.

Goals vs. Commitments

Now that you have defined a few key goals or aspirations you would like to reach, it’s time to build on that. The first thing to recognize is that your goals CAN and WILL change. That is okay. However, it’s very effective to set annual goals to keep yourself on track. I prefer 3 personal and 3 professional goals. What’s crucial before laying these out is that you understand the difference between a “goal” and a “commitment.” One thing our team does at work is set a goal and/or commitment for the week. A “goal” is something that you wish to accomplish but isn’t fully under your control. A “commitment” is something that has a deadline, and you commit to accomplishing: no excuses. A great way to work towards your ultimate goal is to set 2-3 commitments that will help you reach that goal.

For example, one of my goals in 2018 is to learn to code on a basic level (HTML, CSS, JQUERY). 2 commitments I have set to accomplish this are:

1.) to schedule a half-hour block two days a week with my girlfriend (who codes and designs for a living) to work through a crash course

2.) to code and launch my own website for my music (I’m also a musician/producer in my spare time) by no later than December 31, 2018.

These two “commitments” I’ve made to myself are actionable and trackable, therefore enabling me to accomplish my “goal” of learning to code on a basic level. This principle can apply to your personal goals and is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Small Victories are Vital

Now that you’ve laid out your goals and set your corresponding commitments, it is equally as important to celebrate those commitments as victories. Being in sales, small victories are vital. Dealing with rejection is a daily routine. To maintain a positive outlook and continue on your path to success, you must celebrate the small wins that ultimately lead you towards your goal. For example, every time we set a meeting at our company, we ring a bell. If we close a deal, we hit the gong. These things not only help with our company culture but on a personal level, allow you to celebrate the steps you’ve accomplished on the path to your ultimate goal. This can apply to anything: closing a deal, passing a test, reaching a certain body weight, finishing a painting, etc. The focus is to take time to celebrate those wins and know that you’re that much closer to your goal. Even further, instead of a gong, find a productive way to celebrate each small victory. It could be as simple as a “fist-pump” or as rewarding as a purchase you make to celebrate that victory. Regardless of the act, the outcome should provide you the confidence you need and inspire you to push on towards your goal.

Being Coachable

This may be one of the most important things I’ve learned in my life so far and one of the most valuable strengths I possess. Whether we admit it or not, we all have some sort of egotism in our DNA. We subconsciously shy away from advice or constructive feedback; whether it’s due to our fear of change, or our inability to accept when we are wrong. This is a cancerous and fixed mindset because it hinders our capability to grow as an individual. If you can swallow your pride and learn to implement advice from others who inspire you, it will change your world. For example, as a salesperson, my close percentage of meetings I conducted to deals I closed from January-March of 2017 was low. I wasn’t implementing advise I was given and therefore my performance suffered. I spoke with Jeff, who was my boss at the time, and recognized I needed to make some changes to my sales approach. After implementing these changes, my close percentage more than DOUBLED the next quarter and led to my now two promotions at my current company. If you take the advice given to you from people who have succeeded in your field, it will drastically improve your future.

Effort is Everything

Last, but definitely not least, it all comes down to EFFORT. You don’t have to be the smartest or most talented person in the room (believe me I’m not). All you must do is consistently put in the ‘incremental effort’ every single day or don’t bother getting up. If you apply these simple guidelines and make a conscious effort to use them, it WILL make a huge difference in the outcome of your future.

So the moral of the story here is: I’m not special, I came from a very small town and lived a very “normal” life. I had the same opportunities as my peers and am in no way someone who is a role model by any means. I have not cured diseases, and I am definitely not the most decorated salesperson at my company. However, instead of staying in a fixed mindset and wondering why the world hasn’t given me everything, I worked hard, accepted that I had to make some changes, and am striving every day to consistently use these principles to reach my goals in life. You don’t have to be the next Jeff Bezos or the next Elon Musk to be successful. We all have our own path, and hopefully, this helps you on your mission to find it.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One.

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Grit

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. What you will read below will not do this book justice. You must read it yourself. This is one of the most important books ever written, and it will change the way you think.

Brief Summary of Grit:

The author, Angela Duckworth, is a psychologist who has dedicated her career to studying the idea of grit. In her book, she discusses why grit is essential to achieving your potential and uses her research and interviews with people who she says are grit paragons (athletes, business leaders, etc.) to help solidify her findings.

She starts her psychology career while doing a study on West Point. She tries to understand why only 1,200 out of 14,000 are asked to enroll and how out of those 1,200 only 1 of 5 cadets make it to graduation. What she learned was that the scoring system that West Point uses does not accurately predict who the best candidates are. She finds that what predicts the best candidates is who is truly passionate and willing to persevere through the grueling task to become a cadet. Her research tells her that our potential is one thing, but what we do with it is another. She goes on to explain that what makes you successful is not about how “smart” you are, but how gritty. 

Things I learned from this book:

Effort Counts Twice

Duckworth shares an equation that is “Talent x Effort = Skill, and Skill x Effort = achievement which means effort counts twice. She shares a countless number of interviews and research studies of “Grit Paragons” who prove her equation. This equation tells you that while you can be the most skilled and talented person in the world at your craft, you can still fail because you did not put in the effort. A pretty simple concept right? How many people do you know who have all the talent, but fail? 

What is Grit and how is it measured?

Grit is not just as simple as working really hard. It is something you develop over time and actually grows with age. There are two parts to grit: Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth explains that grit is about working on something you care about so much that you are willing to stay loyal to it and strive for the same top level goal for a long period of time. 

How do you become Gritty?

You work to improve and develop the 4 physiological assets below:

Interest

The foundation for achieving your potential is rooted in what interests you. Duckworth explains that it takes time to find out what you are interested in, and most of us give up too quickly on things. She discusses the motto “Follow your passion,” and believes that we should rephrase it to “Foster your passion” because it takes time to find out what you are genuinely interested in. 

Practice

Most of us practice our craft and spend time working on our own personal or professional development, but why do we fail to achieve the highest standards in our fields? Well, Duckworth explains that the grit paragons she interviews didn’t just practice they deliberately practiced. To them, every day was a new day to improve from yesterday, and they were relentless with being better than yesterday.

Purpose

Duckworth describes purpose as a critical aspect of grittiness. To have a real passion for something you have to first be interested in what you are doing, but to deepen your passion you have to feel your work is important not to just you, but others.

Hope

To Grit paragons, hope means that if I give today all the effort I have, then I will be better off in the future. Duckworth shares a compelling statement that when I read it made me think differently:

Instead of “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better” you must say “I resolve to make tomorrow better.”

How to create a culture of Grit at work and for your kids?

1. Create your own life philosophy

This revolves around building out your core values, your vision, your purpose, your end result. Once you do you should talk about them, and live them every single day.  Every conversation you have with your kids or employees is centered around these items. 

2.  Duckworth developed a concept that she uses in her family called the “Hard Thing Rule”

  1. Everyone in the family has to do something hard
  2. You have to finish what you start
  3. No one gets to pick the hard rule for anyone else

How has this book impacted me?

This book changes the way I think about success and how I achieve it. If I make a career out of doing something I genuinely love, practice really hard every day, believe that this is my calling, and know that if I put in a full effort that I will be better off in the long run… I will achieve my own definition of success. Duckworth shared with me how simple achieving success in life can be and it has nothing to do with how smart you are.

As a parent, I have no greater responsibility than to teach and guide my son to his potential in life. I am going to use the ideas, stories, and concepts I learned in this book to be a better parent and that impact is extraordinary. As my son enters school, he will be taught that his effort is more important than getting an A, B or C on his test. Twenty to thirty years from now I believe this book will make the world a better place.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Are you ready to become a Grit Paragon? May the choice be with you. If you have decided YES, Buy the book here and also check out her non-profit Character Lab to find out how she is changing the way we educate kids.

Time to Reinvent Success

As I discussed in my previous post life is all about perception. You must change the way you view the world and view yourself which can ultimately allow you to start believing in yourself.

This might be difficult for some, so an easy way to start is by thinking differently. If you told me the sky is purple, ok… then the sky is purple. If you think 2 + 2 = 5, awesome! If you truly believed that I would say, ‘GREAT! Tell me more!’

The majority of people would tell you those statements are not possible and you are wrong. The sky is blue and 2 + 2 = 4. And yes, they are correct, but only because they followed the rules. Here is what the rules say: You go to school. You learn. You get a job. You work for 30+ years. At the end of the day, you either succeed or fail. That’s how life works. Since the day we were born, we were taught that life has rules. Follow them and you will be on a path to success. Why does it work this way?

Think about school: you pass or fail a class, and you have to pass a grade to get to the next grade. It is just a continuing upward climb to “success”. It doesn’t end though. As you go to work, you are constantly trying to move up “the ladder”.  If you do not get that promotion or you don’t close that deal, you fail. That is how we were told to believe and perceive how life works: succeed or fail. What people don’t realize and are often never taught is that the concept of succeeding or failing was invented. Even crazier and one of the cold hard facts of life is that everything in life is invented.

Humans created this idea of success and failure and rules of how life works. We all just fall into our place in this world, and there is not much you can do about it. And this has led us to believe that there are such things as “superhumans” and other people we can never hope to be like. People such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk (just to name a few).

Do they think the sky is purple? Or 2 + 2 = 5? Maybe. Maybe not. But they sure as hell woke up one day and said “I am going to create my own rules”, and asked themselves something like this: Why do we measure and perceive success based off what someone hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago decided were the rules of life? So they went outside the box. They believed in their own rules and their own path. And guess what? They are just humans and they simply thought differently. And once they did that, no one could stop them. They didn’t just reach their potential, they changed the world.

To reiterate, we are letting someone who invented this idea of success to tell us what makes us successful. What this idea and everyone else failed to tell you is that you are the one in control and you will always be the one in control. If you truly believe something, then nothing can stop you. You must start with reinventing yourself and your idea of success to achieve your potential. What stops you from achieving your potential is that that you have let others control the idea of it and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do to be considered successful. And that is the most bullshit thing I have ever heard.

“The world is made up of crazy ideas. History is one long procession of crazy ideas. Let everyone else call your idea crazy. Just Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where there is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.” – Phil Knight, Founder – NIKE

This has led us to worry about two things: the past (our failures) and the future (our success).  We constantly measure our past and future selves against this idea of what success should look like. Why do we do this? It is rooted in how we were taught as kids. Every story we hear is always about the trials of failure or success by someone who seems like a mythical character, or god, or superhuman. Trust me, I am guilty of believing in it. We all are.  But if we don’t stop and invent our own way, it becomes difficult to actually accomplish anything.

This persistent worrying about the past and the future means your mind will be on a treadmill your entire life. It will never stop. You will feel like you worked so hard and it will just be running and running, but the problem is that it will be going nowhere. And the amount of time and energy wasted thinking about how you once were and how you have to be a certain way in the future is time you are wasting to improve yourself in the actual moment.

If you can’t focus on the step that is in front of you, then how are you going to take the next steps to reach your potential? If you do not actually stop and complete step 1, being fully present in that moment, then you can’t take steps 2 and 3.  Just taking that first step is so hard and then to actually decide and act on anything is another challenge. Since we follow the rules that have been pounded into our heads, we do nothing. We sit and worry. And our obsession with the rules that someone else created holds us back and ultimately destroys our hopes and dreams.

Well today, I am declaring this as your day to reinvent success and your beliefs of success. Remember, it is day one. Every day is day one. If you are living in this moment right now, then you just learned something. Though I am declaring today as your day, guess what every day is your day to reinvent yourself. Some person at some point decided what success and failure should look like, but that does not mean that you don’t have every right to redefine it for yourself. And if you want to achieve your potential, then you need to believe that life is not as black and white as success versus failure. It is about giving maximum effort and making up your own rules.

If you need some guidelines on where and how to start, here are my rules I invented for achieving success in my life:

  • Attempt, find, or at least think about what your purpose is.
  • Discover and write out your core values and beliefs.
  • Know your end result, know where you want to go, and what the outcome is going to be.
  • Write down and track three things:
    • How many times did you fall and get back up (literally and figuratively)? It should be a long list.
    • Learn 1 thing each day. Go home and write it down.
    • Every day is day one. Keep track of how many times you reinvent yourself or your beliefs.
  • At the end of the day, if the first four points don’t happen, simply contribute every day. Here are a few ways to do that:
    • Hold the door for someone.
    • Tell someone that you are thankful or grateful for them and what they do for you.
    • If you are having a bad day, help someone else have a good day.
    • Smile at someone today. Tell a joke.
  • Remember every day is day one. There is no time limit or amount of time you need to achieve success in life.

Now Wakeup! It’s Day One. Be thankful every single day (not just the week of Thanksgiving) for the opportunity to wake up and have the chance to reinvent success and reach your potential.

Step 1: Believe in Yourself

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Here is the thing: Life is all about perception. Plain and simple. From the instant you were born, you opened your eyes and everything you saw, heard, and experienced from then until now has shaped your view of the world. This directly correlates to how you see yourself fitting in.  You likely form these types of thoughts in your head: ‘I am not smart enough to do this’, ‘I don’t have the skill’, or ‘other people are just naturally better at it than me’.

And unfortunately, that is precisely what stops you from achieving your potential. YOU. Before we talk about making choices and taking action, we need to start with the actual stem of the problem – the way you view yourself.

The reason you might have these negative views is because of thoughts Carol Dweck says we have:

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary” – Carol Dweck Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

In my post on Monday, I shared with you Carol Dweck’s idea that humans have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth. People with a fixed mindset think they can’t change and they were born that way. The growth mindset believes that you can improve your skill and intelligence with hard work and effort every day.

Pretty simple concept. Right?

Well, sadly, that’s typically not the case. It is shocking how many people I hear and see not believing in themselves or saying “I was just born that way.”

Let’s look at one person who most people should know and view as superhuman: Michael Jordan.

MJ is one of the many athletes that have a mindset that put them in a class of their own. When I think about it, it’s hard for me to honestly believe he is actually human… but he is.

After reading several biographies on Jordan and his coach Phil Jackson, I learned MJ didn’t start dribbling a basketball in the delivery room on the day he was born or dunk at his first birthday party. What I read is that he outworked everyone and nobody believes more in himself than Michael Jordan. That was the difference between him and everyone else. He knew what he wanted his end result to be, and he gave all the effort he could towards it.

Now, yes he grew to 6’6 and could jump through a roof. But let’s not talk about physical attributes because there are plenty of others out there who are 6’6 and have not come even close to Jordan’s success.

The moments that make him human and that we can all relate to are these:

As a sophomore in high school, he was cut from the varsity team. He was 5’10, could not dunk and 15 other kids made varsity over him. MICHAEL JORDAN. MICHAEL F-ING JORDAN. The supposed greatest basketball player to walk this planet failed to make varsity on his first try.

In another relatable moment, in 1993, his father passed away at a young age. Michael Jordan, the most competitive athlete, the best of all time, walked away from the sport of basketball. You know why? Because as great as he was, as mentally tough as he was; he broke down. The loss of his father broke him. Your first thought: MJ can’t be broken, not possible. Look at Game 7. Highest stage in his respected field. One shot. MJ is the guy who takes it and makes it. But nope, he gave up on basketball (and then decided to play major league baseball. We all know the story.)

How many times have you doubted yourself after you failed? Or how many times have you just not even tried because you figured, ‘I don’t have what it takes’? How many times have you faced a tough moment, and just given up? The answer for me personally would be A LOT. And unless you are not human, I would assume it has happened to all of us. Even people like Michael Jordan, who we view as superhuman.

The difference between MJ and you are not his physical attributes, it’s his mindset. He failed. He gave up, but yet he bounced back every time. What he did is something that is actually extremely simple. He did what most of us are afraid to do. And until we do it, we can’t achieve our potential.

He took the first step: He believed in himself and altered his perception of his abilities

If you are rolling your eyes or thinking, “Jeff, you are crazy. MJ is a legend. He worked hard, but he was born that way. It does not matter what he thought of himself. He is Michael Jordan.”

My response is that you are the crazy one. You keep waking up viewing the world in the same way and expecting a different result. That is called INSANITY. So, you keep living your life that way. While you do that, I am going to do the opposite, and try to think differently and expect a different result. That is what I call the beginning of a Day One mindset.

If you think that is harsh, great! It’s time to wake up. Do you think MJ started on his journey to become the greatest of all time by leaning on others to tell him that they believed in him? No. He began with changing his belief in himself. It starts with you. You are in control. First, you need to believe in yourself.

Do you think that when I launched this blog I felt that I was the only blogger or motivational voice on this planet talking about mindsets? No, I am one of a million. But if I believe in myself, my purpose, my values, and my end result; and I honestly give all the effort I have into this, nothing can stop me. Before I made a choice and took action to create this site, I started with changing my view of myself and what I can accomplish in this world.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Anything is possible. It’s time to start believing in yourself.