The Two-day Challenge

Are you up for a challenge? I hope so because I have a challenge for everyone who reads this blog and even for the guy who writes it. (that would be me) This is really a simple but not easy challenge where everyone wins (you and those around you). No real risk exists (except for the risk of failing but truly this is the type of challenge where just the attempt makes you a success) and it requires no additional time.

 

Within the next two weeks, set a two-day period to inspire others with your positive attitude – two days where you’ll put on blinders to anything negative and be the one in your organization and family who everyone else can count on for words and actions that inspire and encourage. Two days where you’re the light for other people – your colleagues, your family, your friends and even your customers.

     

Allow nothing negative to enter your head and focus only on lifting up those around you.


Once you set your two days, fully commit to the effort regardless of the inevitable challenges, regardless of the news, the sports scores or any other negative people around you. Fall off the positive wagon at 1:11 on the first day? Get back on at 1:12 – no excuses. No matter how many times you come up short start again until your two days are complete. Two days. Be strong! Stay strong!

     

Remember, you wake with an option for your daily attitude. Challenges will come up regardless. Choose to have a positive attitude at all times and commit to spreading it for two days.
     

Not only will your positive attitude be contagious, it might become a personal habit – a personal habit that motivates you. A habit that motivates others as well. Go for it!


If you accept the challenge let us know in the comments section and then come back when you’ve completed the challenge and let us know how it went. You might be surprised in the difference the choice of a positive attitude can make but I won’t be. 

How to Know Yourself

Who you are determines how you view other people. It also determines how you respond to life’s typical ups and downs. When you know yourself you’ll have a much better understanding of why you react the way you do to the people in your life and the circumstances those people create for you.

 

So the question becomes how exactly do we truly know ourselves? There are a number of factors that make you who are but here are the two with the biggest impact: 

 

Your experiences in life. Every person you’ve ever met, everything you’ve ever done, both good and bad, everything you’ve learned and everything you believe has helped shape who you are. 

 

The people and events of your life have a huge impact on your self-image. That’s why it is critical that you make good choices about the people you allow into your life. No matter how strong you believe yourself to be, no matter how principled a life you think you live, no matter your level of self-discipline, you WILL be influenced by the people around you. Those people will determine, at least to some extent, what, when and how you experience the events that make up your life. 

 

Choose your friends & associates well because they help make you who you are. If you really want to know yourself then watch the people who are closest to you. You are basically a compilation of the four to six people that you spend the most time with.  Watch and listen to them and you will know yourself.

 

The second major factor that determines who you are is your attitude about those life experiences

 

Most people don’t think about this often enough but the fact is that your attitude is your choice. It’s ALWAYS your choice. ALWAYS! 

 

Bad things can happen to good people. The most successful and happy people CHOOSE to look for the good in nearly every life experience. Even the bad ones. 

 

For those of you who sometimes doubt whether your attitude is really your choice I fully understand. It can be really challenging to maintain a positive attitude and easy to forget that it’s a choice. It’s even harder when the people you spend the most time with aren’t helping you. 

 

If you’re hanging around with people who refuse to choose a positive attitude then you are very unlikely to have or be able to maintain a positive attitude yourself. And that’s a big deal! 

 

It’s a big deal because the attitude you keep has perhaps more impact on your success than any other single factor. If people, like your boss maybe, are telling you that you need an attitude adjustment what that really means is you probably need to change the people you consider friends and associates. 

 

The hard truth is that most people find it nearly impossible to make the choice of a positive attitude when fed constant doses of negativity. It’s possible but highly unlikely. 

 

No one wants to be thought of as negative but if you’re too often expressing negative viewpoints then people may begin to see you as negative…and they may just be right. Hang around with positive people and they will let you know when you’ve forgotten to make the choice of a positive attitude.


You may not like to hear it but it is a vital part of truly knowing yourself.

What You Actually Own

So, let’s begin with my personal definition of “own.” For me “own” means it’s mine and it can’t be taken from me. I don’t owe a dime on my house but there are a bunch of ways I could lose it. I have in my possession lots of cool stuff that could be stolen, lost, destroyed or otherwise taken from me. Even if you say l “own” that stuff it’s at best temporary.

 

No matter how much “stuff” you may claim to own you’re not going to leave this world with very much and there is nothing you can do to change that. 

 

But there are two things in this world I absolutely own and so do you.

 

The first is my self-respect. 

 

Eleanor Roosevelt, the diplomat and former First Lady said,  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

 

What an incredibly insightful statement. I first heard that in High School and boy did it come in handy. I went to a Military High School and the military staff worked overtime to try and make us feel inferior. That was back in the day when the concept of “you have to tear them down before you can build them up” was very much in vogue. They had the tearing down part totally mastered. 

 

But very few people really know me well enough for their opinion of me to matter. I’d bet that’s very much the case with you as well. So don’t let people who have not lived your life “help” you to determine your self-worth. They have no idea what you have overcome or are living with right now. Their opinion is just that, an opinion. It’s an opinion formed without many of the facts required to be accurate so put no more value in it than it deserves.

 

Always put a ton more value on the SELF part of self-respect and then be honest with yourself.  Never cut yourself more “slack” than you would someone else. You darn well know the difference between right and wrong and if it’s wrong for someone else it’s highly likely that it’s wrong for you too. 

 

The second thing that I absolutely, positively own, as do you, is the right to choose my own attitude. No one, regardless of their position, title, or importance in my life can take that from me…or you.

 

There are no circumstances, no problems, and no situations in life that can steal that right from you. 

 

In his amazing book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl describes the ability to choose one’s own attitude as the last of the human freedoms and the only one that can never be taken from us. 

 

By the way, Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust and in those horrible days he held on to the ability to choose his attitude so be careful when saying that your own circumstances make it impossible. You truly can choose your attitude no matter what!

 

Living an honest life while trying to make a difference in this world will make it easier to keep your self-respect when some around you would like to destroy it. Maintaining a healthy self-respect will make it far easier to choose a positive attitude. The two go hand-in-hand.


Healthy self-respect and a positive attitude are choices, they are choices you own and always will. Never forget that, not even for a second!


What Did You Learn Today?

I was in Boston earlier this year to give a Leadership Presentation. At some point during the talk I said that “every person on earth knows something that you don’t.” My point was that if we keep an open mind we can learn something from everyone we meet.

The next day I hopped in a cab for the short ride from Back Bay to Logan Airport. We were just a couple of blocks from my hotel when a car cut in front of us and my cab driver was forced to hit the brakes a little hard. 

He laughed a bit as he apologized and said that in his city there were many important people who were always in a hurry. He didn’t seem the least bit angry or frustrated by an occurrence that must happen frequently. 

I couldn’t place his accent but I could tell for sure that he wasn’t a native Bostonian; he probably wasn’t born in the U.S. either. But he had a wonderful sense about him; you could just tell he loved driving a cab and he loved the City of Boston.  

I asked him how long he had been driving a cab and he said “a very long time.” He had “completed” school and held several jobs before this one but he really loved this one because he learned more driving a cab than “in all his years of school.” 

He said his cab was like a classroom where he could study people. Over the years he had seen wealthy people who were never happy, happy people who would never be wealthy and poor people who were just happy to be alive.

He said “when you put them all in a pot together you learn that real happiness ain’t nothing more than a choice.” He says a prayer each day before he gets in his cab; he asks for wisdom to remember “his lessons” and for patience when the people around him don’t remember theirs.

He was an absolutely fascinating person to talk with. I had no idea when I got into that cab that a life lesson was waiting for me. It really is true, when you keep an open mind you can learn something from virtually anyone.

That also means you can learn something new almost every single day. With that in mind, what have you learned today? 

The Importance of Decision Making

Successful people make good decisions. “Lucky” people make good decisions. The people you admire make good decisions. Good results are the product of good decisions.

I could make a strong case that everything “good” comes about as a result of good decisions. Perhaps some people could argue that not “everything” good comes from decisions but this much is certain; the quality of a person’s life is directed affected by the quality of their decisions.

Way too many people are virtually unaware of just how many decisions they make each day. You decide, yes YOU decide, who you hang around with, what you watch and listen to, who you believe, where your information comes from, when to go to bed, how much alcohol to drink, what to eat….all of those things are decisions. 

You even decide whether or not you will have a positive attitude. Yes, even your attitude is ultimately your decision and it is likely the biggest decision you make each day.

Perhaps you think you don’t need to make decisions in those areas, maybe you’re a “go with the flow” kinda person and you just let the people and circumstances around you “decide” for you. If that’s the case you should know that letting “others” decide for you often has the impact of making you less successful than you could be.

It’s great to ask others for advice and I strongly encourage people to have a mentor for that very reason but for decisions affecting you personally YOU should be making the final decision. 

You need to make your own decisions because ultimately it’s the decisions you make that make you who you are. There are outcomes, results, and consequences, both positive and negative, to every decision. Everything you say, do, and even think plays a role in determining who you really are. It’s worth investing a moment or two in deciding what’s best for you.

Some decisions will be harder than others. Some may be excruciatingly difficult. When you don’t know what to do just do the next right thing… the next right thing doesn’t have to be a big thing, baby steps are okay, just keep moving towards being the person you want to be. 

Your life is collectively made from all the decisions you make and don’t make. Work hard to make the decisions that give you the life you want. You’ll find that those decisions work just as hard for you!

Understanding Success – Part Three

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the third post of a who knows how long series of those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. This series is getting longer by the minute and it could turn out to be as many as six or eight posts.

Just because successful people think they can do “it” that doesn’t mean they think they have to do it alone. Successful people are not afraid to ask for help when help is required.

That said, it should also be noted that successful people understand the difference between a hand up and a handout. They may ask for help in order to succeed but they don’t expect anyone else to make them a success. 

They have their support network lined up before they need it and they know that a great place to find that help is with their mentor, coach or anyone who cares about them. It may also be with an already successful person or maybe they just have to do research themselves to find the answers they need to succeed. 

Whatever the case, they don’t just wait around hoping someone gives them what successful people earn. They expect to have to work to get what they want and work is what they do. They control their destiny by controlling their thoughts, words, behavior and actions. 

If you are truly seeking success then feel free to raise your hand to ask for help, just don’t put your hand out and hope success will magically land in it.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the legendary comedian Bob Hope, he said “I’ve always been in the right place and time. Of course, I steered myself there.” Of course he steered himself into a position to succeed, that’s what successful people do.

All truly successful people will accept a good break now and then but more often than not, their “break” came as a result of hard work over a substantial period of time. They put themselves in a position where success was possible. 

Focus on what YOU need to do to put yourself in a position to succeed… and then do it.

Understanding Success – Part Two

Successful people get it. They simply understand some things that less successful people seem to have a hard time grasping. The things they understand are the “it’s” of success. 

This is the second post of a who knows how long series of those “it’s.” They will be short posts, each just long enough to give you time to focus on one “it” of success until the next post arrives. The series will be at least a few posts, maybe as many as six. 

Once successful people have made the choice of a positive attitude it makes it much easier to understand the difference between “I can’t” and “I won’t.” Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Mr. Ford obviously knew something about what it takes to succeed. 

He also knew about the unbelievably destructive nature of thinking that you can’t. It’s really not possible to simply talk your way to success but it’s pretty common for people to talk their way out of it.

Do you talk to yourself? You just proved that you do when you asked yourself that question. Talking to yourself isn’t bad but negative self-talk kills dreams so be VERY careful about what you say to yourself. 

Every time you say “I can’t” you willingly give up a measure of control by telling yourself and others that you are willing to surrender your success. They more often that you say “I can’t” the more likely it becomes that you won’t. 

It’s perfectly fine if you willingly choose not to do something, just be certain that “I won’t” is a conscious choice and that you’re not unconsciously forcing it upon yourself by repeating “I can’t” over and over. 

Successful people find a way to say, and think, “I can.”

Remember, pretty much everything that’s ever been done was at one time thought impossible yet it was eventually done by someone who said “I can” and they quickly followed it up with a big “I WILL.” 

Nothing is truly impossible until every person on the planet agrees that it’s impossible. Never agree that anything is impossible…. be the one who proves it isn’t.

One more thing….be certain that your “won’t” isn’t simply coming from the fact that you don’t like doing something because here is one thing that nearly all successful people have in common: successful people have developed the habits of doing things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. 

Focus on the fact that YOU CAN!