The Best School in the World

Almost every successful person in the world attended this school. I should probably remove that “almost” qualifier and say every successful person. It is a tough school with lessons so difficult they often seem insurmountable. Some people, the less successful types, don’t even have the courage to walk through the virtual doors of this school. 

 

It’s the school known as “The School of Hard Knocks.” Some people call it the school of life.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with this school it isn’t found in a building. It’s not located in any particular place. The school never closes, not even when you want it to. When you’re trying something new or working your butt off to succeed you can find yourself in this “school” with no notice. All of the sudden it just happens!

 

The “classes” taught there can be very challenging but once learned they tend to stay with you forever. They are frequently life changing. They are most often self-taught. The “tests” associated with these classes can leave scars that last a long time. Some of the scars can be seen but many of them are only felt. But the feeling can be incredibly painful. 

 

These lessons cannot be bought, they must be earned. As difficult as they can be I’d encourage anyone to attend “The School of Hard Knocks” because some of life’s best lessons are taught there. It seems as if that Hard Knocks place is the one that shows you how to use all those fancy degrees and formal education you received from the other schools.


Don’t shy away from life’s tough lessons. The stuff you learn in a school with four walls can help you make a living but the stuff you learn outside those walls can help you make a life.


Why Are You Hesitating?

There are many things that can limit a person’s ability to lead. Hesitating when action is required is one of the more common characteristics of weak leadership. 

 

There is rarely a perfect time to act. If you wait for that perfect time when all the stars are aligned and every conceivable obstacle has been removed then it’s likely you’ll never act at all. Sitting still makes it impossible to go anywhere so unless you’re already exactly where you want to be you better do something.

 

Some leaders hesitate because they are afraid of risk. Well here’s the deal…risk is mandatory if success and growth are your goals. The legendary Randy Gage (if he’s not a legend he should be) wrote a book in 2013 called “Risky is the New Safe.” The title pretty much says it all. I highly recommend this book if you’re struggling to take the leap of trying something new. It’s available on Amazon for under 10 bucks but it’s value remains priceless. 

 

The fact is the riskiest thing you can do in almost any situation is nothing. Yet nothing is what way too many people in leadership positions do when action is called for. That’s a direct path to failure.

 

Limited leaders also hesitate because they know that they need help yet they refuse to ask for it. They see acknowledging that they need help as a sign of weakness. Even the biggest most powerful trains sometimes need an extra engine to get going. Perhaps you need a boost too. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it is in fact a sign of strength. If you need help ask anyone and everyone until you have the help you need to succeed.

 

Many failed leaders procrastinated past their window of opportunity. They may have convinced themselves that they were being patient. They were really hiding in their comfort zones waiting for the opportunity to pass. Their belief is that if you didn’t try then you cannot fail. They didn’t realize that their failure to try was their biggest failure of all. 

 

Patience is the acceptance that things can happen in a different order than you had in mind. When you don’t know what to do next just do the next right thing. The “order” of things will work themselves out if you keep doing the next right thing. 

 

Joseph Addison said “He who hesitates is lost.” He said that in 1713. I’m thinking life moved a little slower back then. Today that phrase might be updated to say, “if you even think about thinking about hesitating you have zero chance to succeed.”


Business and life in general move so fast these days that not only do you lose if you hesitate, you’re not even in the game. 

882 Hours to Succeed

I remember several years ago a player on the Minnesota Timberwolves was quoted as saying that “you can’t really expect someone to give a 100% effort for 48 minutes of each game for all 82 regular season games.” 

 

Well…I kind of expected it. Especially considering he was making around $20 million dollars a year. But I did get his point, it’s hard to go full out all the time. No one can be at peak performance all the time. Too much “stuff” gets in the way. 

 

But here’s the thing, very successful people find a way to keep that “stuff” to a minimum. 

 

If you’re a professional salesperson as of May 28, 2019 you have only 882 selling hours, or what I call “money hours”  remaining this year. 882 hours to make or break your year. Here’s how I got to the 882 number. Depending on your industry, depending on how many vacation days you take, depending on what you consider holidays and depending how many money hours you have in a day your number may vary but not by much. 

 

By my calculations there are approximately 147 selling days left in 2019 as of May 28th. 

 

Money hours are the hours that you can be face-to-face selling to customers and prospects. You can work 12 hour days but if you’re in a business to business selling role then it is unlikely you have more then 6 hours a day to actually be face-to-face with the people who make the purchase decisions for your product or service. Which of the 24 hours you have in a day are your money hours will vary by industry but 6 hours is the limit if you are a highly productive professional. 

 

That gets you to the 882 number. 

 

If you’re reading this during your money hours then you have less!

 

How you use your 882 hours will determine your level of success. A trip to the post office during money hours is incredibly expensive. It matters little who picks up the check for that lunch with your old friend, if that lunch is during your 882 hours it could cost you a small fortune. 

 

I get that dropping the kids off at school and getting that last hug before you start your day is a priceless gift. I just want you to understand it’s cost in terms of money hours if you’re doing it during your 882 hours. It’s a choice I hope you’re blessed enough to be able to make, I also hope it’s a well informed choice for you.

 

If you’re knocking off for the day at noon for an afternoon of golf that’s a choice too. If you happen to win 20 bucks from your golfing buddies you may want to hold off on celebrating. If that round of golf was happening during your 882 money hours it might be the most expensive round of golf you’ll ever play. 

 

As of May 28th there are 5208 hours left in the year but only 882 of them are money hours. That’s less than 20% of your remaining 2019 hours. How will you invest those hours? Will you let “stuff” get in the way of your success? Will you accept the false “fact” that you can’t be at the top of your game for every one of those 882 hours? 


Or will you do what top performing professionals do and develop a plan to maximize your use of those 882 hours? I strongly encourage you to develop your plan as soon as possible and here’s one final suggestion, don’t use money hours to do it.


Are You Chasing a Dream?

The answer to that question is yes, you are most certainly chasing a dream. The bigger question is whether it’s your dream or somebody else’s. 

 

There is nothing wrong with helping someone else chase their dream so long as it doesn’t prevent you from chasing yours as well. Sadly, most people never realize the difference. 

 

If you’re working for someone else then you’re helping that person or that organization chase their dream. There is NOTHING wrong with that, many, in fact most, very successful people are employed by an individual or a company.

 

But they ALSO chase their own dream at the same time. 

 

I find it impossible to describe anyone as successful if they are merely chasing someone else’s dream. I can confidently say that I’ve never met a truly happy person who was chasing someone else’s dream at the expense of their own. 

 

But, and this is a big but…you must have a dream in order to chase it. Many people who work for other people helping them chase their dream don’t have definable dreams of their own to pursue. They seem to “settle.” 

 

They kind of float through life not even realizing they are chasing someone else’s dream. They get a paycheck that they divide up between their creditors and they think they are happy if there is something left for them at the end of the month. 

 

But there’s so much more to life when you’re chasing a dream of your own. The fullness of life comes from understanding your purpose in life. Your dreams come from your purpose.

 

I am fortunate that I figured out long ago that helping others chase their dream IS part of my dream. I succeed when those I help get closer to their dreams.

 

If you don’t know what your dreams are then some serious self-reflection is required. Have you ever considered what true happiness looks like to you? Have you ever defined success for yourself? Do you know why you’re doing the things you’re doing this very day? 

 

If you can answer those questions with a high degree of specificity then you have a path to success. If not then you have some work to do. 


The most successful people do not follow their dreams, they chase them. Find some running shoes and get a move on today!

Just Today

Everybody “knows” that nothing is perfect. Stuff happens, things go wrong, even the best plans don’t always work the way they were intended to. If you ever do start to think that everything is perfect then BOOM something goes wrong. You’re suddenly reminded why everyone “knows” that nothing is perfect. At least not for very long. 

 

And therein lies a tremendous opportunity. 

 

To have perfection in your life everyday you don’t need everyday to be perfect. You need only to be great today. If you decide to put in the effort required to make today perfect then you can have perfection everyday. 

 

Let’s make no mistake about this, the effort required is substantial. But having perfection everyday only requires that you make that effort today. The thought of maintaining a positive attitude every single day is daunting. The idea of giving your 100% best effort every minute of each and every day is overwhelming. The concept of pushing past whatever limits you think you have day after day after day gets tiring just thinking about it. 

 

So don’t worry about day after day. Don’t stress about every minute of each and every day. Don’t focus on every single day.

 

Maintain control of your attitude today. Give a 100% best effort only for today. Push past every limit you’ve ever imagined today. 

 

Don’t concern yourself with how you did yesterday or how you might tomorrow. Today is THE day! 

 

Every date on the calendar is a today. Each of those “todays” is different and unique. You must have plans to succeed but even a 10 year plan is made up of those individual days. Execute one day at a time. Make every day a best day. Control one day according to your plan without regard for the days gone by or the days to come. You cannot change the outcome of yesterday and tomorrow isn’t here yet.


You only have today to focus on your plans. Don’t worry about being great all the time, be great today. You’re the only one who knows you’re only great today, other people may very well think you’re great all the time. 

Which Table are You Sitting At?

Playing it safe is comfortable. Playing it safe is easy. Doing what you’ve always done is both comfortable and easy. 

 

Being comfortable and doing what’s easy are also the fastest way to have less of everything in your life than you deserve.

 

Almost every person on earth wants to be “better” tomorrow than they are today. Everyone defines “better” a little differently but for everyone tomorrow’s “better” means different than today. So for anything to be better tomorrow something must change today. 

 

Change often comes with risk and most people don’t particularly like either one. So they hope for something different while lamenting the sameness of their every day life. 

 

I’m okay with hoping but change doesn’t come from hope. “Better” doesn’t come from hope. Change for the better only comes from action. If you’re not willing to act then hope all you want but don’t expect to have anything better tomorrow than you have today. 

 

You must be willing to accept the risk that comes with trying something new if you’re going to do more than just hope for something better. You must be willing to accept some risk in your life if you want something or someone new in your life. 

 

Don’t stop hoping but add action to your hope. Having better requires doing better. Having more requires doing more. Your dreams won’t come true unless YOU make them come true. 

 

Hope by itself is not the answer to any shortcomings you may have in your life or business. If you’re not eating your meals at the table of risk then you’re dreams are almost certainly on the menu. 

 

Someone else’s menu.

 

Either accept some risks and take action to achieve your goals or you will find yourself being hired by someone else to help them take risks to achieve theirs. It will be one or the other…it is always one or the other. 

 

Which one do you think is more rewarding? 

 

Don’t sit in the comfortable chair at the table of safe. Move to the table of risk and give yourself a real chance at “better.” Pick the small table at first if that helps you make progress just make sure it is not too small to lead to success. 


Remember, it’s by risking nothing that you actually risk everything!


Success Can Only be Defined by You

Many years ago I was helping with a Dale Carnegie Course in Effective Speaking and Human Relations. Those classes are often made up of a very diverse group of people at varying stages of their lives and careers. They come from all walks of life and all income levels.

 

Even though I have not been in a Dale Carnegie class in many years I can vividly recall many of the participants. But one participant stands out above all others. He stands out because he caused me to redefine the meaning of success in my life. 

 

He was a senior level executive at one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies. He was a rarity. Some people were “sent” to a Dale Carnegie class by their organizations as a last ditch effort to “fix” them. But I’d never seen someone as his level required by their company to attend. 

 

This guy was one of the older people in the class and in every way I measured success at the time he was a huge success. Multiple houses, fast and fancy cars, a big title and a lofty position. He made tons of money. The guy pretty much looked and acted like the epitome of success.

 

As someone “required” to attend he didn’t have much to say in the first couple of weeks. He obviously didn’t want to be there but as is common in a Dale Carnegie course he was drawn out of his defensive posture in short order. 

 

As he began to open up during his presentations the tone and topics of his 2 minute talks (every Dale Carnegie Graduate is VERY familiar with 2 minute talks) changed dramatically. His focus moved from being all about himself to being about his family, especially one of his daughters. 

 

In his rush to succeed he had left his family behind and among his resentful family his adult daughter was most resentful of all. They rarely spoke. 

 

In week eight of that twelve week course he made a commitment to repair his relationship with his family and especially his daughter. At the final session the “graduates” are allowed to bring a guest along. This guy was so very proud to be accompanied by his daughter. 

 

As he delivered his final two-minute talk about what he got out of the course he said he learned a lot about himself and people in general. He said his relationships at work were much better and far more productive. 

 

But through his tears what he said he “got” from the class was his daughter back in his life. He said that for the first time in his life he felt like a success. He had a completely different outlook on what it meant to be a success. He said that for him success was no longer about what he had in his life but about who he had in his life. 

 

Dale Carnegie Instructors are supposed to help people change their lives, not the other way around. But lots of things changed for me that night, my definition of success was changed almost entirely. 

 

That was the last night I worked for any company. Since that night I’ve worked at a company but I’ve only worked for my family. By the way, I believe that makes me a much more effective asset for my employer, my customers and my colleagues. I get to go to work everyday and do something for the people who matter most in my life. There’s no better motivation than that.

 

That change in mindset has changed almost everything else too. I certainly could have had “more” but I couldn’t have had “better.” Some people would say I could have achieved more or made more or been more but those people are trying to apply their definition of success to me. 

 

My participant in that Dale Carnegie Course was 30 years into his career before he considered himself a success. Thanks to him I learned I could never succeed by chasing someone else’s definition of success. 

 

Neither can you!

 

Don’t allow anyone to tell you what success is “supposed” to look like in your life. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and smile back, if you are comfortable with your decisions and your actions, if you have even a handful of people in your life that matter to you and you matter to them, well then you are one of the most successful people ever to live. 


At least according to me.