Dumb Quotes 2

 
I admit that I’m probably the most inconsistent blogger out there. When the mood strikes (or when I have time which is even more difficult) I’ll write something.

The mood struck when I saw this article: Study Finds People Who Fall For Nonsense Inspirational Quotes Are Less Intelligent. It reminded me of my “series” on dumb motivational quotes of which I’ve only written one post. Well today is post number two!

TallTreeToday’s dumb motivational quote is: “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.” I have no idea who said that which is good because I won’t feel bad saying that quote is really really stupid.

First of all how well does this person really know trees? I mean, are they on a first name basis? Is there a tree this person would want to have a beer with? But beyond really “knowing” a tree what exactly do trees teach about patience?

I get that they wait, they stand still, that trees aren’t in a hurry, but that’s mainly because they’re inanimate. Patience is one thing but I don’t think there’s anyone out there whose goal is to be inanimate. Trees live a long time and that too takes patience but a tree isn’t going to teach anyone to live hundreds and even thousands of years. At the end of patience is an outcome but for a tree there is no outcome just more of being a tree.

Patience is a good thing and not enough people practice it (I know I struggle with it). We get angry first and ask questions later, we listen just long enough to jump in and add our thoughts or comments, we want things now rather than later. Instead we should seek to understand first and give the benefit of the doubt before anger begins to form, we should listen, really listen, and try to understand. It’s ok to wait because not everything happens on your schedule.

Patience however shouldn’t lead to inaction. Sometimes you have to push things along. A healthy balance between patience and agitation keeps momentum going.

What dumb motivational quotes do you recommend I feature in future articles? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.


Posted in General, Outdoors, Success and tagged , , , , by with no comments yet.

Entrepreneur Cheerleaders

 
EasyReally this is about entrepreneur cheerleaders and success cheerleaders, people who sell hope and, this is the important part, make it sound easy. I’m a realist and nothing worth getting is easy. It might be enjoyable but it’s not easy. These cheerleaders remind me of the Geico commercial with Pinocchio as a motivational speaker, as he points to people he says have potential, his nose grows. Not everyone is going to be a wild success, not everyone can run a successful business. If a cheerleader like Anthony Robbins was Pinocchio his nose could hurt someone.

I’m not saying that having confidence is a bad thing or that being positive is a waste of time, I’m not telling you success isn’t worth working toward. I’m an advocate for curiosity, for adventure, for pushing yourself to your limits in order to discover what you’re good at, to find what excites you. Do all of those things but understand what you’re getting into, what you’ll likely face. I saw a tweet yesterday that is appropriate here:

DefyOdds

Successful people are very good at managing risk, at understanding the odds and finding ways to tilt the odds in their favor.

You might think you’re good at that too and that’s where self-awareness comes into play. The cheerleaders out there will tell you you’re great, that everything will work out if you just believe but that’s not necessarily true. Belief only gets you so far.

This is why I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, he puts a lot of value on self awareness, he’s not a cheerleader in the sense that he’s honest with himself and has no problem being honest with his advice.

Listen to the cheerleaders for inspiration, get fired up, but then get real. Look at your What Next from every angle and anticipate as many problems from the start. Be an optimist in the dream phase and a pessimist in the implementation phase.


Posted in Business, Curiosity, General, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

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?


Posted in General, Leadership, Outdoors, Success and tagged , , , , , , by with 1 comment.

The Right Answers

 
We all have the right answers but do we have the right actions to use those answers?

I spoke at a Youth Leadership Summit last week and in my presentation I held up very successful people as examples and asked the attendees what traits led to these people’s wild success at various stages of their career.

The answers were all correct with terms like perseverance, creativity, passion, and motivation. I added a few such as curiosity, flexibility and a sense of adventure.

GarfieldLazyThe point is that we all know what it takes for others to achieve big things but we’re often afraid to do those things ourselves. Worse than being afraid we’re often lazy.

I don’t mean lazy like we sit on a couch watching TV, eating chips rather than working (everyone at the summit had a career and took the additional step of attending the summit). I mean lazy in comparison to the examples I held out, people like Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Gary Vaynerchuk and many more who have enough energy and drive to keep them moving toward success.

I don’t have nearly as much energy as the previous examples and yet I work a full time job (which I have progressed in over the years), own rental properties, own and operate a retail service business, write books, and blog. I want to do more but I have to work my way up to it. Just as running a marathon takes conditioning, so too does the marathon of success take conditioning. How many of us are willing to do the work to build that base of conditioning?


Posted in Curiosity, General, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

Embrace the Complexity of Options

 
Anthony RobbinsIn a post a long time ago (one of my first) titled “Oh No” I lamented the fact that I was just another motivational author or speaker and I was not happy about it.

I think the reason I don’t want to consider myself a motivational author or speaker is that they are too simplistic in their approach. I, however, want to embrace the complexity of options. Take a simple concept like fear. I just read an article about Anthony Robbins saying how fear holds you back from success and while I’ve written about that very topic, I’ve also written about the benefits of fear. It’s too simplistic to say fear=bad and courage=good but that’s really all Anthony Robbins is saying, and most motivational speakers say.

I keep coming back to something Scott Loughmiller said in What Next, “I don’t take risks I manage risks.” And that concept can be applied to everything: I’m neither afraid nor fearless, I manage my fear; I’m neither under confident nor over confident, I mange my expectations. The fear is there, the lack of confidence is there but we push through it and yes the lack of fear can be dangerous and over confidence can get us in trouble. We constantly fluctuate between emotions and that’s ok as long as we manage to make progress.

This also ties in well with what Gary Vaynerchuk told me when I interviewed him in 2013, that self-awareness was the most important trait for success. If you are honest with yourself about what’s holding you back, you can begin to manage it.

Anthony Robbins and his ilk are the sugar rush of success, it’s a nice rush but it won’t last. Simple sells very well for them, but life is complex and requires complex solutions together with lots of work. Go to a motivational speech or read a motivational book and you’ll feel good for a while. Become self-aware and manage your issues and you’ll be well on your way to sustainable success – but like anything it takes work.


Posted in General, Leadership, Success and tagged , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

Confidence Matters

 
Harvard Business Review BlogWho am I to disagree with a writer for the Harvard Business Review? I’m nothing compared to him, nowhere near as smart. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says that “Less Confident People are More Successful” so my first two sentences must mean I’m a wild success because my lack of confidence is on full display.

Tomas may indeed be smarter than me but that doesn’t make him right. Confidence does matter and his article makes clear Confidence Mattersthat he does not understand the difference between confidence and arrogance. He makes three points in the article and all are easily refuted.

Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to negative feedback and be self-critical

While that may be true, what about that statement says that high self-confidence makes you ignore negative feedback and makes you less self-critical? I’m a very confident person (some may even say over confident) but I put a huge value on feedback and negative feedback is much more important to me than positive feedback. Anyone can tell me an idea is great but I want to find the holes in my logic, the problems I’m too close to see. My confidence has nothing to do with my critical thinking abilities. There isn’t a decision I’ve made that I haven’t gone back and evaluated how I could improve upon it, it’s called learning and it’s something I believe in and confidence doesn’t diminish that.

Lower self-confidence can motivate you to work harder and prepare more

Again the statement itself is true but motivation comes in many forms and my confidence doesn’t diminish the various motivating factors that make up my ambition. As I write in What Next: “motivation is the tinder for the spark of inspiration; it is the thing that catches fire.” Once the fire is burning confidence will help you to carry it like a torch to light the way for others.

Lower self-confidence reduces the chances of coming across as arrogant or being deluded

And here it is. Tomas is equating confidence with arrogance and they are two very different things. Confidence may look like arrogance when someone’s opinion doesn’t agree with your own but who’s really being arrogant in that situation?

The points raised in the article are good ones but here’s how I’d present them. Be confident but value other’s opinions. Be confident and stoke the flames of motivation. Be confident but not arrogant. Done.

 


Posted in General, Success and tagged , , by with no comments yet.

You Can Swim

Once again I find myself writing about a Tweetchat. Through these weekly chats I’ve met new people and gained friends. In the post I wrote about Twitter called The Fun of Discovery I mentioned my favorite chats but noted I was new to this and would probably find more. My latest favorite chat is called #inspirechat and it takes place every Thursday at 11am eastern time. Joanne (@JoanneCipressi) is the organizer and facilitator of these wonderful discussions. There is also a Facebook page for InspireChat.Inspirechat

Because there are a lot of people on these chats things can move quickly and you often don’t have time to think about your answers – that’s a good thing. It’s like a stream of consciousness, your unfiltered thoughts are allowed to flow and I’m often surprised by what I write. That’s exactly what happened in this week’s chat.

The topic of the chat was renewing yourself and a subtopic was letting go so you can move on. This is also a common theme in my book What Next. Someone who asks What Next is constantly moving on from one project, one business, one idea to another. They are also adept at letting go. When one idea doesn’t work they move on to the next one. This is often confused with being indecisive or flighty but I think it’s just the opposite. Once a decision is made that something isn’t working you have to let go and move on.

The eighth question asked by Joanne was “Why is it scary to let go sometimes and how can we find the courage to let go?” This is a great question because we all cling to things that we’d be better off without, things like falling stock, relationships, jobs, even businesses that aren’t doing well. I immediately thought of the image of a life preserver. Life PreserverIt’s very scary to admit failure or acknowledge that something isn’t working out as planned. Taking a What Next approach, an optimistic approach, will help you to realize that what some call failure is really a lesson, and the person who learns the lesson is stronger than the person who never tried.

My answer to question eight surprised me and was re-tweeted by several people (an honor among Twitter users). Here’s my response:

My tweet

It’s hard and scary to let go of something you think you need, something that has given you comfort in the past, but you are stronger than you know. You can succeed in spite of what other people tell you, in spite of your insecurities. Let go and take the first stroke and you’ll see that you can stay afloat without any help at all.

What are you holding onto that you think is helping but in reality isn’t allowing you to swim?

 


Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , , , , by with 2 comments.

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 crowds I knew would gather at 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 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?


Posted in General, Money, Taking Action and tagged , , , , , , by with no comments yet.

It’s Easier to Admire than Aspire

Biographies of successful people sell very well. People eat that stuff up. Add in a difficult childhood, poverty, or some other against the odds situation, and even more people will read the book. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs sold 379,000 copies in its first week according to Nielson Bookscan and even though it was released in October, the tenth month of the year, it was Amazon’s 2011 best selling book.

What’s the purpose of reading the book however? I don’t think it’s only curiosity regarding Steve Jobs the man. I think there’s a bit of, or a lot of, “if he can do it maybe I can as well” thinking. Everyone loves the rags to riches story but how many are willing to work at it? Did Steve Jobs or any of the other millionaires and billionaires just get lucky?

Luck does play some part, but focus, desire, and drive have much larger roles in success. Clear goals give you the desire to focus and the drive to persevere. In my post The Unbearable Lightness of Goals I make clear that goals are changeable, that they can evolve over time. For people who ask What Next, goals are a starting point that will expand as they complete each task.

After reading a book such as the biography of Steve Jobs what do you do with the information, with the motivation you may have? For most people the answer is absolutely nothing. It is easier to admire someone like Jobs than it is to aspire to be as successful as him. There is no shortage of admiration for successful people but there is a real dearth of aspiration.

To be a billionaire isn’t really all that realistic and isn’t a goal unto itself. If you have a real goal, however, the only judge of whether you accomplish it is you. As time passes, as accomplishments are met, the measure of success changes. If the only people I compare myself to are wildly more successful than me, then I always feel like a failure. Likewise if I only compare myself to those less successful than me then I’m probably not working up to my potential, not pushing myself as hard as I could.

Quit admiring people and start to aspire to the best you can.


Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , by with no comments yet.

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.


Posted in General, Success, Taking Action and tagged , , , , , by with no comments yet.