Are You Prepared to Succeed?

In any endeavor preparation is a key to success. That’s not exactly a profound statement because everybody knows that. But knowing that isn’t the challenge. Doing it is.

 

Preparation is the difference between being proactive and reactive. It is the difference between a stress inducing task and an anxiety free accomplishment. Preparation saves time and energy. Preparing for your day allows you to anticipate potential problems and have at least a limited plan for dealing with them. 

 

Preparation is possibly the greatest confidence booster ever. When you invest some time in preparing, for a meeting, an interview, a sales call or a difficult conversation you speak more authoritatively. It appears as if you actually know what you’re doing and what you’re talking about. Imagine that. 

 

Most people who don’t prepare claim that they don’t have the time. Well if time is a concern for you then that’s the very reason you should be investing a bit of it in preparation. An hour of preparation will often shave two off the project or task.

 

Here’s one idea for you, it’s something I do every morning. 

 

If you were to look at my calendar you would see the same appointment every day, every single day. It’s from 5:00am to 5:30am. The appointment says “Planning and Solitude.” Every day!

 

It’s often the most important 30 minutes of my day. I invest those 30 minutes preparing to have a successful day. There are no interruptions and no distractions. It makes no difference what part of the world I’m in or what else may be happening. I and I alone control those 30 minutes. If that seems selfish then you should know that it is those 30 minutes that help me help others. 

 

Those 30 minutes chart my course for the day. Yes, unanticipated events may throw me off course temporarily but after I’ve dealt with those I have a course to get back on. Without preparation I wouldn’t. 


If all it takes is one disruption to send your day out of control then I highly recommend you steal 30 minutes for yourself early in the day. Use them to prepare yourself for success.

Excuses Steal Your Potential

I can’t think of even a single benefit of excuse making. People who make excuses make very little of anything else. Excuses, as much as anything, limit a person’s opportunity to reach their full potential.

 

Excuses are rationalizations we make to ourselves about people, events, and circumstances. They are invented reasons we create to defend our behavior, to postpone taking action or simply as a means of avoiding responsibility.

 

Excuses are a temporarily effective method of placing the blame for an internal problem on an external condition. I say temporarily because sooner or later the excuse maker realizes whatever excuse they made was really a lie they told themselves….and likely lots of other people. 

 

Fear is the biggest driver of habitual excuse making. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of responsibility, fear of making mistakes, fear of looking foolish, and for some people, fear of success. 

 

Excuse making leads directly to a lack of growth. It leads to living in a very small comfort zone and it is a leading cause of a negative attitude in the excuse maker. People who hesitate to make decisions seldom delay in making an excuse. 

 

Nothing good comes from making excuses. 

 

If you want to stop making excuses then focus on what can go right rather than what may go wrong. Don’t compare your current situation with a past situation that had a negative outcome. 

 

Don’t focus on problems. Focus on solutions and opportunities to learn and improve. 

 

If you want to put a stop to your excuse making then surround yourself with as many positive people as possible. Share with them your goal of making fewer excuses and ask them for help. Ask them to remind you of your goal whenever they hear what sounds like an excuse coming from you. 

 

Finally, make the decision to control your attitude. Every day you have the opportunity to choose either a positive attitude or a negative one. It’s likely your most important choice of the day. 

 

Successful people don’t make excuses. They take responsibility for their decisions and actions and they learn from their mistakes. 


Always remember, if you’re making excuses you almost certainly are not making much of anything else. 

 

 

Actually, Winners Do Quit

I saw one of those motivational posters the other day that said “Winners Never Quit.” I’ve heard that for years. I‘ve seen similar posters forever. The premise of the posters seems to be that if you quit you’re a loser. 

 

Funny thing is, it’s not true. Winners actually quit all the time. 

 

In fact, I’d submit that the fastest way to lose is to never quit. Not quitting is one of the biggest mistakes that less successful consistently make. They may try news things but they never completely quit the old things that hold them back.

 

The most successful people know that much of their success in the coming year will come from what they quit doing. They know that in many cases they will need to quit something old in order to try something new.

 

If you don’t believe that then invest one day, just one day, to exam your actions.  After every time you do something stop for a few seconds and ask yourself if that “thing” you just did got you closer to a goal or not. Ask yourself if that “thing” you just did was productive or whether it was just something you have always done. Ask yourself exactly why you did it. 

 

If you’re like me, and most other people, you won’t be able to say with any level of specificity why you do many of the things you do. You’ll be able to explain the big things you do but likely not many of the little things that chew up most of the minutes in your day. 

 

Not being able to explain why you do what you do is what kills your productivity. Doing things simply because you have always done them destroys the discipline you need to reach your potential. 

 

I guarantee, no matter how successful you are, that there is something you frequently do that if you quit you would be more successful. There is likely something in your life that needs to change in order for you to be more successful. If that’s the case then you should know that nothing will change in your life until you quit doing something that you do everyday. 

 

Here’s an idea…quit reading motivational posters that say winners never quit. Start looking hard at all the things you do that pay zero dividends to you. Then win by quitting those things. When you quit unproductive activities you have to opportunity to start new more productive ones. 


You see, winners do quit but only so they can begin anew! 

There is No Requirement to Plan

So much has been written about planning. Trainers, speakers, coaches, motivational types, they all write and speak about the importance of planning. Especially this time of year. 

 

They will tell you that you must have a plan for 2019. They will use all the standard cliches about failing to plan is planning to fail…you’ve heard it all before. That’s ridiculous, nobody would intentionally plan to fail. 

 

The truth is that you don’t need to plan to fail, it kind of happens all by itself. There is no special effort required. If fact, the less effort the better. Giving a half-hearted effort with no plan only delays the inevitable failure. So just sit back and watch it happen….to you. 

 

Don’t let people bully you into making a plan that you have no intention of following. I can hardly think of a bigger waste of time. Step up and be honest about it. Let them know straight away that you have no intention of putting forth the effort required to implement any plan. 

 

Most people will leave you alone after that. They leave you alone because their plan does not include helping others. Well, truth be told it’s far more likely that they don’t have a plan either. 

 

It’s actually a rather small number of people who have a real plan. Now by “real plan” I mean something written out. It includes an honest assessment of their current situation and a realistic look at their desired outcome. 

 

Within their real plan are short range, medium, and long range goals. Their plan has a budget within it. It’s a two part budget, one part details the money they are will to invest to achieve their desired outcome but more importantly it details the time they are willing to invest in order to succeed. 

 

The best plans also include things they will STOP doing so they have the time to invest in more productive activities. Of course it’s not a real plan if it doesn’t include implementation steps, start dates and completion dates. The plan does NOT include words like tomorrow or someday because people who make real plans know those “dates” can’t be found on a calendar. 

 

You can spot people with real plans because they are typically the people who people without plans complain about. People without plans are jealous of people with plans because they tend to have more of the stuff that the people without plans want. 

 

If that’s confusing to you don’t worry about it, I’ve been confused by it for years. 

 

It’s never too late to develop a real plan. If you’re one of those people who are tempted to once and for all develop a real plan for success in 2019 I have a warning for you. Once you invest the time to develop a REAL plan for 2019 it will continuously pull at your “lazy strings” until they are completely unraveled. 

 

Before you know it all the comfortable excuses you used in the past to explain away your “bad luck” or “unfortunate circumstances” will be forgotten. You won’t accept circumstances created by someone else, you’ll make your own. 

 

You will find yourself accomplishing more than you thought possible. You’ll use your old excuses as fuel to motivate you. You won’t stop until you’ve achieved the goals you built into your real plan. 

 

 Or…you could just do what you’ve always done. There is absolutely no requirement that you have a plan for success. You can just wander through life the way some people do. Like pretty much everything in life it’s a choice. 


YOUR choice!


What Are You Working On?

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.” Dale Carnegie

 

When you think of self-help authors in the last 100 years, Dale Carnegie’s name will come to most people’s minds. His influence went beyond those who read his books, and is still being felt today – over sixty years after his death.

   

This particular quote from him speaks to the importance of pushing forward when the odds against your success seem insurmountable.

 

The key part of the quote is the beginning…. “If you believe in what you are doing.” For most people pushing past obstacles is only possible when they are certain what they do matters. When you believe what you’re doing is important and makes a difference you will find a way to get the work done.

 

I think most people, well hopefully not most but too many for sure, never stop long enough to ask themselves if what they are doing is important. They never stop long enough to consider if and how their work matters. They don’t wonder if they stopped doing what they are doing if they and their work would be missed by anyone.

 

Sadly, the quality of their work and their level of success is reflected in their lack of interest in doing something exceptionally well or in doing something that makes a difference in the world.

 

I completely understand that circumstances very often dictate what a person does for a living. I get that many times people simply take a job for the money because they have families to support and bills to pay. In my younger days I too had jobs where I was more interested in putting in my time than in putting in real effort. 

 

But your job or career is not your entire life. If you’re in a place where you can’t make a difference for your organization that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. Find someplace outside of your job or career where you can do something that matters to you….and others. Something that you can believe in. Something that will leave a part of you behind when you’re gone. 

 

Here are some questions to consider as you look for that meaningful work. Hopefully you will find it right where you are. 

  • Do I believe in my work?
  • If not, what work can I believe in?
  • What work is most important for me to do today?
  • What, or who, distracts me or keeps me from doing the work that is most important to me and my future?
  • What unimportant things should I stop doing in order to invest my time on the important things that can make a difference?

When you have concrete answers to those questions take these action steps to get and keep yourself moving forward.

  • Remind yourself of the importance of your work as you begin each day, and at any time you feel distracted or feel like stopping.
  • Recognize the power of momentum, and get going.
  • Read this quote from Dale Carnegie often to help you stay focused on your key goals and to keep you focused on doing the work required.

Don’t waste time lamenting that your “day job” is less fulfilling than you would like. There are enough hours remaining in the day to “work” on something that does matter to you. 

 

Know what you want to achieve, realize it can happen IF you’re willing to work for it and then get started.  You’ll never finish what you never begin. Why not begin today?


Where to Find Success

I wrote a post a few years back that I titled “The True Secret to Success” or something close to that. It got lots of views but I suspect many people didn’t read to the end. They quickly discovered that there really is no secret to success. 

 

For as long as there have been people, people have searched for that “secret” to success. They look for shortcuts and the easy way. The reality is that if they put as much effort into working for success as they did trying to “luck” into it they would have had success long ago. 

 

The only place to find success is in hard work and honest effort. Anyone who tells you that you can succeed without thinking, without planning and without working will also try to sell you ocean front property in Montana. (They might also ask for your vote but that’s another story) 

     

If you’re thinking you don’t have what it takes to succeed then think again. If you have enough desire and discipline you can be or do almost anything you want.

     

Actual research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. Even when you are talking about people like Tiger Woods and Warren Buffett natural talent takes a back seat to hard work and practice. Not just any hard work and practice but painful and demanding practice and hard work. Hard work again and again. Practice and more practice, over and over again. 

 

Yes, talent helps but hard work always beats talent when the talented person doesn’t work. 

     

We need to understand that talent doesn’t mean intelligence, motivation or personality traits. It’s an innate ability to do some specific activity especially well. British-based researchers Michael J. Howe, Jane W. Davidson and John A. Sluboda conclude in an extensive study, “The evidence we have surveyed … does not support the notion that excelling is a consequence of possessing innate gifts.”

     

You can make yourself into almost anything you want and you can even make yourself great.

     

One thing all the “greats” have in common is that no matter how “great” they are, they never stop trying to get better. They strive to grow each day and they never substitute good enough for great.

     

If you’re like most people, including me, and you can’t readily identify your innate gifts don’t worry about it. Get to work and you’ll soon pass up those people who were resting on their “gifts” while you were busy making the effort required to succeed.

Are You Persistent Enough to Succeed?

Almost all successful people, actually let’s get rid of the “almost” and say “ALL” successful people have one trait in common…they didn’t quit. They may have stopped once or twice, they may have gone backwards a time or two and fallen down fairly often. But they starting moving again, made up lost ground and picked themselves up (often with help) and persevered

 

There are plenty of examples of famous people who overcame severe obstacles on their journey to ultimate success. Abraham Lincoln failed in business, lost numerous elections and his sweetheart, and had a nervous breakdown. But he never quit. He kept on trying and became, according to many, our greatest president. 

 

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 23 publishers.   

 

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.  

 

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he finally succeeded.  

 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was struck by polio but he never quit.   

 

Helen Keller, totally deaf and blind, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, and went on to become a famous author and lecturer.

 

There are many more stories of well known people who overcame multiple hurdles to succeed. Even more impressive are the millions of stories about ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary things through perseverance. What those millions of stories prove is that success can be achieved by anyone, literally anyone. That includes you! 

 

I love the story about the high school basketball coach who was attempting to motivate his players to persevere through a difficult season. Halfway through the season he stood before the team and said, “Did Michael Jordan ever quit?” The team responded, “No!” He yelled, “What about the Wright brothers? Did they ever give up?” “No!” hollered back the team. “Did Muhammad Ali ever quit?” Again the team yelled, “No!” “Did Elmer McAllister ever quit?” There was a long silence. Finally one player was bold enough to ask, “Who’s Elmer McAllister? We never heard of him.” The coach snapped back, “Of course you never heard of him — he quit!”

 

Quitting is easy, it’s also very habit forming. Successful people have made a habit of doing the things that less successful people simply don’t like to do. Less successful people quit, the most successful people wouldn’t even consider it. 

 

If you’re tempted to quit, or even give less than your best effort, think about the goal that motivated you to begin in the first place. Re-dream that dream and then keep going. 

 

If that doesn’t motivate you to keep pushing forward, then think about Elmer McAllister.


Now get to work!