Can You Build Fires?

 
Making FireI was a horrible Boy Scout. My troop was the Keystone Cops of the scouting world, the ones who came in last in our survival and wilderness skills competitions, the ones who didn’t capture the flag, build a fire, or navigate with a compass. In the navigation competition you had to follow a course using only a compass and to make things more difficult, you wore a paper bag over your head so you couldn’t see where you were going. Using only a map and a compass most teams made their way to the finish line, our team walked in circles.

But this post is not about navigation, it’s about fire. Another competition had us build a fire using only a few select items (none were matches unfortunately). The first item was flint to make a spark and that reminds me of this quote from What Next: “Inspiration on its own is like a flint without fuel, the spark is there but nothing catches fire.”

Of course we were given fuel in the form of tinder but it was a very limited supply. Now there was something to catch the spark but it wasn’t that easy. If the spark wasn’t strong enough or had to travel too far to reach the tinder, it wouldn’t catch. It’s the same with inspiration. If there is no one around to share your inspiration it might just remain an idea, a thought rather than action. If you can’t motivate yourself then the spark of inspiration will be exstinguished. Again from What Next this is summed up with this quote: “Motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.”

If the tinder did indeed catch the spark it would die without coaxing and that came in the form of oxygen. You would stoke the flame by gently blowing on the tinder; blow too hard and you put out the fire, too softly and it won’t spread. As we build the fire of our lives this last ingredient is drive. “Drive is the wind that spreads the fire of motivation sparked by inspiration,” I write at the end of What Next. Drive is the oxygen that sustains us as time, money, nay-sayers, or any other obstacle tries to exstinguish our fires.

As a Boy Scout I was horrible at building my fire but with practice and the right combination of inspiration, motivation, and drive, I’ve built plenty of fires that sustain me both mentally and financially. A leader will help others build their fires or give them one of the necessary ingredients. I hope I’ve given fuel to others so that they can build a fire of their own. What are you doing to build, sustain, or spread your fire, your passion?


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Failure is Neither Bad Nor Good

 
I’m failing, floundering, becoming discouraged and I’m ready to give up. But I don’t.

What makes a person continue in spite of the odds, through setback after setback? Is it stupidity, passion, drive? Yup.

So many things that have become wildly successful have been called stupid. Everyone loves to make fun of the Snuggie The Snuggiebut I’d love to have that kind of revenue. Ted Turner was laughed at when he started CNN or as his detractors called it, The Chicken Noodle Network, but it was the first of its kind and pioneered an industry.

Passion can carry you far because passion is the fuel that keeps us going in spite of the obstacles. I believe in What Next, that the concept will inspire others to pursue their dreams. I’m willing to expend the effort to spread the word and share my message, even if I think no one is listening.

Drive is the product of inspiration and motivation. To succeed one must be driven to push past the failure. Achievement is the net value of all your successes and failures, if it’s positive you’ve won, and if it’s negative you’ve grown, learned from the experience. Failure is neither good nor bad, it’s what you get out of it that matters. Which is why you should never be afraid to fail; unwilling to fail, averse to failure, yes, but not afraid to fail.

My curiosity, and the massive amount of time I spend online, led to the discovery of The Failure Club. That doesn’t sound like a club I’d like to join but the fact is that I’m already a member and will earn my membership many more times. The concept of the failure club is to push yourself even though you know that the chances of success are slim, that you will probably fail. Failure Club is the expression “It is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried” put into practice.

I don’t watch much television but this is a web program I’m going to watch from beginning to end.

Are you willing to step out on the stage of life and declare that you believe in something so much that you are willing to fail? Then do it! Share your what next with us. Say it out loud and take action. Do not be afraid to fail because if you let your fear win, you’ve already failed.


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How Big is Your Yacht

I wanted to get to the boat show in Atlantic City as early as possible on Sunday to avoid the long lines I knew would form to board the largest yachts there. Everyone wants to see what it’s like on these yachts, to imagine what it would be like to own a million dollar plus yacht.

Standing at the helm

I’m standing on the top deck of a 48ft. yacht.

Shortly after the show opened there was a long line of people waiting to get on board two yachts. The line continued to grow throughout the day.

How many people in line could actually afford the 1 million dollar plus price tag? Not many, I’m sure. If they could afford it, if they were serious about making a purchase, they wouldn’t be waiting in line. I’m sure of that.

So why bother, why stand in line just to look at something that is so far out of reach that it is an impossibility? Because we all dream! It’s why people buy lottery tickets.

The yacht I’m standing on in motion. No I’m not on it in this picture.

In What Next I start a chapter called “Inspiration, Motivation, and Drive” with one possibility for why people who can’t afford a yacht go and look at it anyway. Seeing what could be if we were rich inspires us to work toward that goal, motivates us to work harder, and, maybe, provides the drive to keep going no matter what. At least that’s the theory.

In practice what I hear (and have often said) is, “It must be nice.”

Yes it must be, but that statement is defeatist. Why not say “This will be nice.” Why not, rather than lament that you’ll never have the yacht, devise a plan that will lead to a future with the yacht?

Not everyone is going to be as shallow as I’m sounding right now. It’s not always about the money. I’m using a yacht as a metaphor for anything you want, anything you desire. Rather than say “it would be nice” – work for it. Figure out a way to get there and start moving.

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say, “It sure would be nice if someone started a website where people could share updates throughout the day, post pictures, and connect with friends old and new.” He created Facebook.

What are you going to do to reach your goal and not just talk about the what ifs in life? What is your first step toward your future? How big will your yacht be?


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People Want Answers

While sales of What Next have not been stellar (see how honest I am), people seem to have a very positive reaction to the book when I tell them about it. I even wrote a post about that back in October. The trend continues and I’m encouraged by it. When I relate examples of the people in the book who have asked what next, the person I’m speaking with usually tells me their what next, the thing they would like to do but haven’t for whatever reason.

A related phenomenon is that people will also ask me for advice in achieving their what next. They want answers, they need, and want a push in the right direction. That is why self-help or motivational books do so well, why motivational speakers are booked at various events. The idea that a person can get answers that will lead to success is why life coaching is more popular every year.

I know my book is now part of this group (I wrote about the irony of this here). But looking to someone else for answers is the easy way out, dare I say the lazy way to success. No one has the answer to your success other than you!

It’s fine to read my book (I encourage it), or to listen to a motivational speech, but unless you add action to that feeling, on your own, the motivation is lost. In the book I say “Inspiration on its own is like a flint without fuel, the spark is there but nothing catches fire.” I go on to say “Motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.” The last ingredient is drive, “Drive is the wind that spreads the fire of motivation sparked by inspiration.”

No one, not a very skilled motivational speaker, not a best selling book, not even my book, can provide you with the drive to succeed. I hope I give you that spark and that there is some fuel to start the fire but you have to provide the wind to spread the fire yourself, and become successful on your own.

As 2011 ends resolve to motivate yourself , resolve to be driven, resolve to be curious enough to ask What Next, and resolve to find the answer on your own.


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