Dumb Quotes

Today I’m starting a new series on the blog called Dumb Quotes. I have plenty of quotes, mostly pulled from my book, What Next, and some might just be dumb. Someone will read a quote of mine and think it’s brilliant (I hope) and someone else will think it’s ridiculous. Of course I’ll be using other people’s quotes in this series because I’m confident that mine are just fine the way they are.

This series will point out quotes I think are ridiculous. The sentiment might be worthy but the quote itself is just plain silly. Today I’m starting with one that you would probably think I like a lot because it references a topic I’m fond of, hiking. I talk a lot about paths and obstacles, about the importance of creating your own path and understanding that obstacles are not to be feared but are a natural part of every path.

BlockedPathMy dumb quote of the day (or week, or month, depending on how often I write these) is “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” by Frank A. Clark. First of all I have no idea who Frank A. Clark is and I have nothing against him personally but I have seen this quote a few times on Twitter so why not start here?

What’s wrong with this quote? Well if it’s a path then by definition it leads somewhere. I’ve hiked many a trail without any obstacles and I’ve gotten somewhere.

I get it though, I do. If the journey isn’t difficult the destination probably wasn’t really worth it. Struggle is a part of life and we need to recognize that those struggles make the goal so much sweeter. The other thing about this quote is that obstacles aren’t the only thing that build character. The trail itself could be wide, flat, and straight – in other words easy, or it can be narrow, steep, and full of switchbacks – a real struggle. There might not be any obstacles whatsoever but it can be the most difficult path you’ve ever been on.

Do you have some dumb quotes that you find more annoying than helpful? Post comments below to add yours or tweet me @askwhatnext and use hashtag #dumbquotes.



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Adversity on Purpose

Overcome adversityOnce again my inspiration comes from a tweetchat and once again that chat is #BeALeader (Thursdays @7pm ET). The topic last night was adversity and the conversation was focused on overcoming adversity and getting through tough times. We also recognized that adversity develops character and strengthens us.

This post is not about overcoming adversity but seeking it out, on purpose. The most successful among us do it all the time. Anyone who is fed up with their job and begins looking for a new one is choosing adversity, the interview process and the chance they won’t get the job. Yes, it’s true they might be replacing one adverse situation with a more promising adverse situation but make no mistake, they are seeking adversity.

Those who embrace the mantra, go big or go home, may fail big but they may also succeed big. Choosing adversity comes down to your risk tolerance. Is risk something to be feared or embraced? When I speak of risk I’m talking about educated, calculated, researched risk, the kind successful people take as opposed to the kind unsuccessful people take, foolish risk.

I have chosen adversity every time I’ve made an investment or started a business. I choose adversity when I attempt to overcome my phobias. We choose adversity every day we get out of bed even though we do all we can to minimize it. I’m all for minimizing and even avoiding adversity when possible, but I’m also ready to confront it when needed, are you?

When I began my latest What Next, opening a Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, I knew I was choosing a difficult path. If it was easy everyone would do it but I, and the many others before me, believed we could triumph over whatever complication got in our way. I’ve had my doubts at times, but I did what anyone else who succeeds does, I found solutions rather than complaining about the problem.

Obstacles, adversity, and disappointment are a part of life and yes we grow stronger when we overcome these setbacks. Sometimes we even seek out adversity because we know what lies on the other side. Do you look at adversity this way? Why or why not? Please share.

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When You Can’t Go Left Go Right

No this is not a political Left Vs. Right post. It’s about overcoming obstacles and setting yourself up for success.

Brick WallIn What Next A Proactive Approach to Success I write “When you cannot go right, go left. When you cannot go left, go right. When both left and right are not available, keep going straight. Whatever you do, keep going.”

There have been many times in my life when I’ve put this into practice. As I write this I can think of three examples that are just perfect for the concept of maintaining momentum in spite of obstacles. Each one is related to the other in that the decisions I made in one instance provided the option for other decsions.

A Big Life Change

Tired of my career in 2006, I began exploring the option of starting over in a field I not only enjoyed but was very good at, financial planning. Though I was a broadcasting major in college, I wanted to also major in economics but I simply wasn’t that ambitious at that time. In September of 2006 a much older and wiser me made the decision to pursue a change, spending a total of $7,000 over the next two years to study, take the CFP exam, and travel to two Financial Planning Association conferences. The first obstacle was starting a new career from scratch. I knew that this would be a big change so I dramatically altered my spending habits in order to save as much money as possible to make starting at the bottom less of a financial burden.

If there is anything I’m good it, it’s saving money, and I exceeded my goal, saving enough that even a 60-70% pay cut would not derail my lifestyle. One obstacle was overcome. When I began job hunting in my new career, I found nothing to fit the narrow, principled criteria I set for myself. Once I decided not to make the change the question of what to do with the money I’d saved came up. If I hadn’t planned well and saved for the possibility of a smaller income, I would not have had this next option. I decided to completely remodel and convert my three family rental property at the Jersey Shore to a two family home maintaining one rental unit.

A Personal Choice

Welcome to my second obstacle. My plans and the town’s zoning laws didn’t agree and with the prospect of spending thousands of dollars just to find out that I would be prohibited from making the alterations to the property, I dropped my plan. Another change of direction. The question of what to do with the money remained. That’s when a simple conversation with a friend in California led me to consider and then decide to buy a second rental property in California.

Becomes A Decision For The Future

The goals changed as I was able to navigate the barriers I encountered but my options expanded and that is the goal of any action, to increase your options for success. Like a game of chess you have to think several moves ahead and recognize how the actions of others will affect your path to victory. If you can do that while increasing your choices then you are on your way to success.

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Are you willing to take action for success?

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Patience and what next do not play well together. When I interviewed Scott Loughmiller, an entrepreneur, he said “I have a lot of hobbies that don’t seem to go anywhere.” In the book I used that statement as a sign of curiosity, as a good trait to have, but there is a dark side to that as well.

As my plans are delayed, as obstacles arise, I tend to, well, give up. If things aren’t moving at my speed then I get frustrated and move on to the next project. That is the downside to what next but it’s not as bad as it seems.

Sure, you can think negatively saying “you never finish anything you start.” That might be true in some cases but the other way of looking at it is to understand that’s how entrepreneurs, creative people, sort through the ideas and concepts that won’t work to find the ones that do.

The important distinction to note is that once I find an idea or project I believe in, even though I may have given up on many others, I am willing to continue with that one no matter what. That is the exact point I’m at with What Next, the book.

I believe in honesty, in sharing how I feel and why I feel that way. I am being completely up front and honest about the fact that I’m not happy with my progress getting the book noticed, in the sales numbers. It’s not that I’m upset that I spent X dollars but only got Y dollars back. The money isn’t the problem. 

My frustration comes from the fact that when I talk to people about the book they become excited, they share their dreams, their desire for more success, for a better future, with me personally and yet those same people won’t share those thoughts on the website or on Facebook. Lots of people tell me they want more but I don’t see that they are willing to work for it. That is the source of my frustration.

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

I felt like I was the only one talking about “what next”! My dreams, my hopes for the future were clear to me and anyone who listened to me, but I knew very little of the dreams and desires of my friends and family. Was it because they didn’t have any, that they were afraid to articulate their dreams, or that they were too busy playing catch-up that they had no time for progress? There is another option, however. They simply could have been content, happy to continue on the trail they had chosen. To one degree or another all of these answers are true. Though I may not have known their dreams, I did know that many of them were not happy about where they were and where they thought they were going.

Are you one of those people who aren’t happy with where you are and where you’re going? If so then say it, announce it to me, to your friends and family, to the world, only then can you begin to work toward your goal, only then will you have the incentive to get moving.

I have shared something others might hide, announced my frustration, told you what I want to change, and now I feel better. Now I will redouble my efforts to share concepts and ideas that I believe in with all my heart.  Are you willing to do the same? Well are you?

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