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Unlocking potential

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I have a friend who has more money than he knows what to do with. He recently bought a new iMac—the $5,000 one. The one that was made for programmers, videographers, and designers. And he uses it solely to watch Netflix and answer emails! He has no idea what kind of power lies inside that machine. And, frankly, he doesn’t care. He got it because it looks nice on his desk and it keeps up the appearance that he’s on the forefront of innovation.

It’s kind of like someone—who doesn’t know how (or like) to fly—buying a private jet, parking it in their backyard and using it as a showpiece and maybe a guest house. That would be a shame! What a waste!

But how many of us do the same with our own potential? How many of us have heard those voices inside our heads and ignored them because we’re scared?

You were designed to do so much more than to ‘sit in someone’s backyard as a showpiece.’ You were made to ‘fly.’ And you’re lying to yourself if you think you don’t have what it takes.

Learn more today about the world than you knew yesterday. Create something meaningful. Unlock the potential inside you.

Chopping down the last tree

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Did the folks on the once-great Easter Island know what they were doing to their lush, beautiful island when they started taking down all the trees? Or were they too concerned with short-term results? At which point did they realize what they had done? What were they thinking as they chopped down the last tree?

Our society loves short-term successes. We are impressed with those who 'burst onto the scene' or 'become great overnight.' So we fall for it. We focus on how quickly we can get there rather than on how well we are doing it. But in doing so, are we (metaphorically, of course) chopping down our own forest?

Any way you slice it, it's going to take effort. Whether it's doing it fast or doing it right, the amount of energy spent will be the same. In fact, I think most would agree (especially those who have gone through the painful experience of chopping down their last tree) that it will take less time and less effort to do things the difficult way—the 'long' way—than it will to cut corners, take shortcuts, 'chop down trees at an unsustainable rate,' all in the name of looking good today, instead of building for tomorrow. 

When you're near the end...

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Our greatest threat lies at the finish line. It’s when victory seems inevitable and there’s nothing that can stop you now. It’s when you are the most vulnerable. It’s when you have let your guard down. It’s when your ego steps in and takes over. 

Like a football player dropping the ball right before the goal line to celebrate. Like the Trojans allowing a giant horse into their walls as a token of surrender from the Greeks. Like Odysseus taking a nap when Ithaca was in sight only to have his men open a bag of wind and blow his ship back across the very oceans, they had already sailed. 

There are two forces in the universe: one that wants you to succeed and one that doesn’t. They both know WHEN you’re about to strike gold, to cross the finish line, to be victorious, and they both are telling you two very different things. The first is pleading for you to push a little harder, focus a little more, and be extra cautious near the end. The second is puffing up your ego, turning up the dance music for the celebration party, and telling you to relax; “look! The finish line is in sight!”

You’ve made it this far. Which force are you listening to? Now is not the time to nap, celebrate, or prematurely drop the ball. Those can all come later, but not yet. Not until you have crossed the finish line. 

Why?

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If you look back at your life, there is a pattern. Seemingly random, interconnected dots that have created a portrait of you who are today. There are things you have really enjoyed doing and things you have not. You have been “drawn” to learn important things, acquire certain skills, and meet specific people. Through experience and time, you have developed into a person influenced by the things you have done, seen, heard, and thought. The accumulation of these thoughts and experiences have translated into your “why.” 

Why do you get up in the morning? What causes you to do what you do? Why do you like or dislike certain things? What motivates you to push harder, improve, or stand up for something? 

Taking some time to reflect on your “why” is one of the most important things you can do. Sunday’s are great days to do this. If you know your “why” you can lead, teach, inspire, mentor, innovate, disrupt, learn, create, save.

You may already know your “why” but what does that look like in terms of your goals? Articulating your “why” can help guide you to set proper goals and design your life. Try going to some quiet place today instead of turning on Netflix to write down why you do what you do. Take even more time to set some goals for yourself. Then put those goals somewhere you can see them every day. You will be rewarded for your efforts. 

The difference of a day

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Sometimes, that's all it takes.

Having a bad attitude about things? Give it a day. 

Not seeing the kind of success you'd like to see? Recalibrate. Set some goals. See how you feel about it tomorrow. 

Unsure on a particular decision you have to make? Do some writing. Call a mentor. Read or listen to something that moves you. You'll know what to do tomorrow. 

What a difference a day makes. 

Getting nowhere, fast

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Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
— Lao Tzu

As opposed to most of society and industry which keeps going faster and faster without getting anything done. 

Good things happen in their own time. Don't try to force it. And, most of the time, the things that matter most are usually right in front of us. 

In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
— Albert Schweitzer

So slow things down. Take a look around. If it seems like people are going faster than you, doing more, or are further ahead, consider how much they are missing along the way. It's not just about patience. It's about determining the difference between the things that can be accelerated and the things that shouldn't, then acting accordingly. 

Your gift

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Because we were all born with one. Were you born to inspire, teach, lead, write, paint, invent things, research things, discover things? 

The only way to find out is through action.  

If you fail to yield to the silent whisperings - the subtle hints, promptings, or perceptions, to do a certain thing, to live a certain way, to change direction, to begin a different journey - then you are not only doing yourself a disservice, but also the world. 

You don’t know unless you try. Try. Try something. That is all that is asked of you. 

Mindset

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Because that is more than half the battle. A majority of the work you will do will be predicated on your ability to master your mindset. It will either take you to new heights or drag you down. 

It’s the mindset of noticing things, learning, observing. It’s the mindset of believing in yourself and others. It’s the mindset of understanding you limits then pushing them. It’s the mindset of living up to your potential.  

Trust in the process. Visualize often. Be accountable. Love.  

What it takes

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In any hero's journey, the hero—be it you, me, Luke Skywalker, Moana, Dorothy, or Rocky—first receives a call. A call to be someone better or do something bigger. Although the journey will surely include more challenges along the way, the most difficult obstacle any hero or heroine will face is making the decision to answer the call. 

Deciding that you have what it takes. 

Because after that, nothing remains the same. You leave the world you have grown accustomed to and enter a new reality. One in which you have eliminated distractions.

But you can only embark on your hero's journey one you have stopped welcoming the bright shiny objects into your life. The things that distract you from doing work that matters.

Priorities: the hardest decision is the first one. Choosing the useful things over the things that demand more attention than necessary. 

 

Is it worth it?

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The answer is yes, if you want it to be. Or rather, if you let it. 

But, then again, that would depend on the destination. And, in that regard, sometimes it's not so much about the destination as it is the journey. The effort itself can be the reward, not just worth the reward. 

Some simple career advice

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Find what wakes you up in the morning—your passion. 

Brainstorm ideas around that passion.

Give it a try. Who knows where it will take you. But, chances are, it's further than you would be if you didn't follow this simple yet effective career advice. That's why it's called 'simple' career advice and not 'easy' career advice. 

Because simple is not easy. 

The journey

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If you are to enjoy the journey, you'll first need to understand what that means.

Then, realize what it looks like. 

There will be stress, you'll get tired, you'll feel like giving up. 

If it weren't so, it wouldn't be worth it. 

How work works

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And by ‘work’ I mean both where you work and the work you do. 

Here's how it works:

You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want
— Zig Ziglar

Here's what it means: 

The next time you're on a call or talking to someone in person, listen to them, but take it one step further and focus on their needs rather than your own. 

Here's what it looks like:

For the larger part of your professional career, your job is to make the life of your boss easier. 'Boss' is a broad term and everyone (even entrepreneurs) has a boss. Sometimes your boss is your manager, sometimes it's your customers, sometimes it's your co-workers. The point is, everyone serves someone. If you can make whom you serve successful, you will become successful. Like it or not, that’s how work works and that's how work gets noticed. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to be a brown-noser (okay, maybe a little bit), it means that in order to achieve whatever level of greatness you want to achieve, you're going to have to help others attain the level of success they're aiming for.

Make others more successful and you will be successful. 

Some words that get a bad rap

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The English language has a lot of them:

  • Curiosity
  • Yes
  • Relax (chill)
  • Obsessive

Yes, let’s talk about ‘obsessive.’

If someone calls you obsessed, you might be tempted to take it as an insult. But, chances are, you’re probably doing something right. You’re, most likely, doing a lot right.

In the words of a certain sports journalist (and a number of other people): “obsessive is the difference between great and legendary.

Most people who call themselves “professional” do the bare minimum. But the reality is, if you’re doing the bare minimum, you’re still performing like an amateur.

Not everyone can become legendary. There are only a select few who have done it in their respective industries. But, if you’re interested, it takes a level of commitment others aren’t willing to strive for. It takes being obsessive.

The 10X Rule: Grant Cardone

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While reading The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone, I found myself raising an eyebrow out of skepticism about 10% of the time. However, I also realized that much of this book had me nodding my head the other 90%. 

As you can imagine, the book is all about taking massive action in order to achieve massive success. It's that same message over and over again. Granted, there is much criticism with this book. It does, at times, seem like Mr. Cardone's answer to everything in life is to just take more action. But there are still some valuable takeaway's that can help anyone change their mindset about how they look at reaching their goals. And, in the end, that's what this kind of book is about. It's less about concrete lessons and more about just trying to change how you look at things. Grant takes things to the extreme. It's difficult to believe him, at times, but you can't help but feel motivated to do more and work harder. Which, I think, was his ultimate goal in writing this. 

Here are a few of my takeaways:

1) Take massive action. In other words, look for ways you can create and make rather than wasting your time trying to find ways to save. Expand your efforts, don't contract. Contracting is a losers' mentality. Here's the thing, you're probably not doing enough. Your goals are too small, commitments too weak, and amount of action too little. The world has taught you to be conservative. That setting 'realistic goals' is the way to go. But setting these kinds of goals is a form of retreating. What might seem like an obstacle, is actually the way. Eat your fears. Set massive goals. Overcommit, even. When something seems undoable, start taking action right away before you can start overthinking things. Take massive action quickly and it will seem like you are fearless. 

2) Being obsessed is good. Look up the definition of 'obsessed.' Children are obsessed. It's what helps them learn at a rapid rate. It's what keeps them curious. Quit thinking in terms of either/or and start thinking in terms of all and everything. Successful people think in terms of “all,” whereas unsuccessful people tend to place limits on themselves. They may believe that “If I am rich, I can't be happy” or “If I thrive in my career, then I won't have time to be a good father, husband, or spiritual individual.” In fact, it's interesting to notice that the people who put limits on what is available to them are also most inclined to talk about “balance.” However, this is a flawed manner of thinking that neither time management nor balance will resolve. Most people only work enough so that it feels like work, whereas successful people work at a pace that gets such satisfying results that work is a reward. Truly successful people don't even call it work; for them, it's a passion. Why? Because they do enough to win! An easy way to achieve balance is to simply work harder while you are at the office. This won't just leave you with more time; it will allow you to experience the rewards of your job and make it feel less like work and more like success. Try to take this approach: Be grateful to go to work, and see how much you can get done in the time you have. Make it a race, a challenge—make it fun.

Here's to saying yes

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Saying 'yes' gets a bad rap. It's the popular thing for entrepreneurs to counsel people to learn to say 'no.' But the thing is, saying 'yes' leads to way more opportunities than saying 'no' ever will. 

Saying 'no' doesn't get you out of your comfort zone, saying 'yes' will. 

Saying 'no' is valuable when it comes to personal principles and specific commitments, but for everything else, saying 'yes' will only open doors and push you to exceed your own limitations. 

If you have a lot on your plate, that's a good problem to have. So say 'yes' to your clients, your boss, your spouse, your kids, your friends. Say 'yes' to things that will push you in the direction you want to go. 

'No' is a powerful word. Save it for those rare occasions when you need to stand by your values. But saying 'no' should never be your default answer. Try saying 'yes' to everything. See where it elevates you. 

 

 

Feeling unprepared

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It's easy to spot the tourists in New York City, just notice the people constantly looking around, either in awe or pure confusion. They also usually have maps and are trying their best to navigate where they are going. 

You can study a map, read articles, talk to the 'locals,' watch videos, etc. but to a certain extent, when you are visiting a new place you will still feel (at times) a little lost and unprepared. Something always comes up that causes a moment of panic. 

This happens when we are trying something new or doing something for the first time. We will always feel unprepared. 

We've been trained to not be okay with this. We, unfortunately, compare this feeling of unpreparedness to how we felt when we took a quiz in school and forgot everything we had previously memorized. 

This feeling of being unprepared is not a happy feeling. So we might be tempted to take certain measures to ensure we limit the number of times we feel unprepared. But therein lies the paradox. The things we feel most unprepared for are the very things we should embrace and pursue. For they are things that bring the most satisfaction. They will be the sources of our growth and development. 

Another thing about the 'feeling' of being unprepared. There comes a point when this feeling is a choice. You may still be leaping into the unknown, but you've seen it play out enough times that you have an idea of how it possibly ends. I'm convinced that this ability to remain confident in ambiguity is one of the most important skills someone can develop—especially when it comes to navigating one's career and, of course, life. 

If it is to be,

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it's up to me. (By 'me' I mean 'you,' not me).

This is the kind of attitude it takes to be successful. 

You need to believe that, no matter the problem, you can figure it out. Even if you don't know how to do something, be confident that you possess the ability to figure it out. There will always be reasons to come up with excuses, but those who persist and take extreme ownership of the situation always come out on top. 

It's okay to be unfamiliar with something, as long as you remain determined with a promise that you will either learn it, solve it, discover its cause, or find someone who can. 

If it is to be, it's up to me. When something looks like a problem, approach it like an opportunity. Think of it as a challenge. Something to conquer. Then, no longer is it a 'grind' or a drag' but something that stretches you, inspires you, something that can (and should) excite you. 

Success is overcoming a challenge.

If it is to be, it's up to me.