Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Fixing Your Fundamentals

Growth and change, often times, doesn’t feel good.  It hurts.  Nothing fits into place.  All the pieces that make up the puzzle of your life are a jumbled mess.  You struggle to find your way.  But the sooner you get used to this feeling the better because that’s how life works.  When your growing and changing your life has to, in a sense, fall apart, so things can rearrange and fall back together.  And you have to be willing to lose some things so you can make room to gain others.

This happens a lot in our lives.  Most of the time they are small changes and small steps to becoming a better person and improving our lives but every so often there are times when this growth and change is life altering.  Times where it redefines and reshapes who you are and where you’re going in life.

Having experienced what I consider two such life changing times I’ve begun to realize some really important things.  Probably the most significant is that the fundamentals can make or break you.  Just like professional athletes have to master the fundamentals so they have a strong foundation to build higher level skills off of, you too, need to master the fundamentals of life so you can build a solid foundation in order to achieve more or accomplish more.

When I talk about fundamentals I’m talking about low-level basics and about developing consistency in this foundational stuff.  I think the basics all starts with having a great attitude.  Without that I think everything else is a built on a rocky foundation and is doomed to fail eventually.  So get your attitude right before trying to fix anything else in your life.  Other foundational stuff includes eating right.  Drinking enough water.  Getting enough quality sleep.  Exercising, or just being active in general, on a daily basis.  Spending quality time with friends and loved ones.  Being financially organized.  Having quality alone time.  You get the point?  It’s all simple, basic stuff but it’s the stuff we start skimping on as our careers and lives get busier and more demanding.  It’s also why we eventually hit a wall and have to take a vacation or why relationships fall apart or why our health deteriorates – because we’ve stopped doing all the little things right and eventually those little things add up.

I think it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate this stuff every so often.  Ask yourself if what you’re doing still makes sense.  And make sure that your foundation doesn’t have leaks in it.

You may define the fundamentals of your life differently than what I did above but it doesn’t matter.  Whatever your fundamentals are make sure you haven’t lost sight of them.  They are extremely important.  Scratch that, they are beyond important, they are imperative to your long-term happiness and success.

So set aside some time to think about the fundamental pieces of your life.  What are you doing great?  Where are areas for improvement?  Address it sooner than later – in some cases you may not get a second chance.  And if you can consistently do all these little things really well you will be on the right track to setting yourself up for long-term success.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

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Part One: How To Stop Worrying And Start Living

Fear and worry often limit us in our ability to make decisions and live long, healthy and happy lives.  Nobel prize winner, Dr. Alexis Carrel, once said, “Businessmen who do not know how to fight worry die young.”  I think it may be safe to say that this doesn’t just go for businessmen but for every man and woman alive.

Worry is rooted in fear.  And fear is a terrible emotion to be making decisions based off.  Not to mention all the negative health effects worry and fear can bestow upon you.  So how do you deal with this?

Glad you asked.  This is a great piece of advice from William H. Carrier, the engineer who launched the air conditioning industry and headed the Carrier Corporation, explaining the steps he took to deal with, and overcome, his own worries.  These are the steps:

Step 1: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen if I can’t solve my problem?”

Step 2: Prepare yourself mentally to accept the worst – if necessary.

Step 3: Calmly try to improve upon the worst possible case – which you have already mentally agreed to accept.

Pick one thing that you are worried about.  Anything.  Life.  Love.  Work.  Family.  Kids.  Money.  Success.  And then ask those three questions in the context of that issue.

This may seem a little hokey but it works.  It’s not going to instantly solve everything that you worry about, but if you do this enough times you begin to realize that the things you’re worrying about are not as overwhelming as you’re making them out to be.  You have the capacity to overcome any obstacles.  It really just boils down to asking yourself the right questions and putting yourself in the right frame of mind to let go of undue stress, which frees up a lot of energy to improve your disposition.

So next time you’re worried about something ask yourself these three questions so you can put yourself on track to a long, worry-free life.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

* Hat tip to Dale Carnegie and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

The $10,000 Part Of Your Day

What is the most important part of your day?

Give yourself a few seconds to honestly think about this question.

Does it depend on the day?  The week?  The month?  Or the year?  Is it the part during your big meeting?  Is it the part during your big presentation?  Is it the part during your big date?  Does the most important part of your day change?  Do you even have a most important part of your day?!

If you’re lost here’s your answer:

The most important part of your day is the first 20 minutes after you wake up.

Why?

Because how you start your day sets the tone for the rest of your day.  Starting your day off right prepares you both mentally and physically to face your challenges with a clear mind.  It also prepares you to be at your best for everything you do and everyone you interact with.  Have you ever noticed that if your day gets off to a bad start, that feeling just seems to fester the rest of the day?  You may feel like your just drifting through the day – you’re less focused and less productive.  Compare that with a day that gets off to a great start.  Big difference, right?

Most people wake up and just start running at 100 mph because that’s what you have to do to get everything done, but you never take stock in what you actually want to accomplish that day.  And you never put yourself in the right mindset to accomplish those things.  You just start going and hope that you get everything you need to get done, done.  But you never do, do you?  And why do you think that is?  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because you never prepared for the day.  You never had a purpose, a goal, or a direction for what the hell you were doing.  You just woke up and started going, but unfortunately you didn’t have a clear vision of where it is that you wanted to end up.  That is a big problem.  It is probably why you often hear people say, “life goes fast!” or “where did the last three years go?” or “I don’t know how I gained all this weight!” or “oh, what I would do to be in my twenties again!”

All of those statements tell me one thing – you never prepared for the days, weeks, months and years of your life and subsequently it all just drifted right by you.  Now you look back in bewilderment as you try to piece together a puzzle that was created in the dark.

How you start has everything to do with how you will finish.  So start your days right.  Wake up 20 minutes earlier and have time to sit in a quiet place and prepare for your day.  Here are five ways you can do this:

  1. Read a positive, thought-provoking quote and then figure out how you will apply it to your life for the day.
  2. Write out your action list for the day then go back and number each item from most important to least important.  Start with number one.
  3. Listen to music and just zone out.  Put on your favorite song that will help you relax then just space out for a little bit.  Let your mind drift and not focus on anything in particular.  It’s sort of like meditation but personal experience has taught me that listening to a good song on repeat does more than sitting in silence.
  4. Read a few pages of a book that will improve your mindset.  I created a short list HERE of recommended books to read.
  5. Write freely.  Open up a word document and just start writing.  Get everything on your mind out on digital paper.  It doesn’t matter what comes out or what it sounds like or how many grammatical errors you make.  Just write.  Done with consistency you will be amazed at how clear your mind will become and how much better you will get at finding solutions to life’s obstacles.

Pick one of those action items and start making a 20-minute, $10,000 investment in yourself today.  It’s an investment that will always have a positive return.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

Eliminate The Noise… Focus On The Signal

by Todd Durkin

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, had nearly four years to prepare for Super Bowl XLV.  In that time, he built a $1.2 billion stadium – large enough to fit the entire Statue of Liberty and its base with the roof closed… He expected to break a Super Bowl record with the largest crowd ever to watch from this mammoth venue complete with a video board measuring 72 feet tall and 160 feet wide.

And then came snow.  Snow in Dallas, Texas… lots of it, with ice and sleet.  It was still snowing 48 hours before the game.  I spent the entire pre-game week in Dallas with Gatorade and Under Armour.  One night, I slept in my coat and beanie to keep warm when the hotel furnace stopped working and my room was freezing.  On Wednesday night, our midnight taxi driver was too afraid to drive.  The pre-game media blitz that begins early in the week on Radio Row had a slow start when personnel and equipment were late arriving into town and sometimes there was no one to interview…  Not quite what was expected by the host city and Jerry Jones.  In fact, at times it was pretty chaotic.

By now, everyone knows how the story ended.  Game day arrived and for the most part, it all seemed to go as planned.  Fitness Quest 10 clients, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Wilhelm, and the Green Bay Packers took the Lombardi Trophy home for the first time since 1997.  Amidst all the chaos and confusion, the disappointment and despair, Super Bowl XLV was a great game.  Two powerhouse teams with a long history of championship play – and one goes home with the title and the trophy.

People tend to think that professional athletes live a cushy kind of life.  They’re born with talent, discovered, and with luck enjoy a long career.  It’s all about sweat and glory, right?  Let me tell you my friend, there’s a lot more to this than sweat and glory.  Very few become champions.

The Packers and Steelers were in Dallas all week just like the rest of us.  Their practice and pre-game preparation was disrupted just like everything else in Dallas.  In fact, with fifteen players on the injured reserve list at game start and two more out by halftime, the Packers could have failed before our eyes.  But they didn’t.  That’s not what champions do.  Champions don’t rely on what’s expected.  Champions plan for the unexpected.

Aaron Rodgers led his team to a Super Bowl win and was named MVP.  Could there be a higher achievement in football?  At 27, he more than measures up in key determinants for quarterback greatness: great feet, lots of core strength, and excellent shoulder and feet to fingertip strength and conditioning.  Plus, the intangibles – Aaron is a leader and a role model for his team.  He has mental toughness, love for the game, and he has fun playing football.  His fun-loving way works and helps him get the most out of his teammates on the field.

But I promise you my friend, Aaron Rodgers’ journey to Super Bowl XLV was not as you’d expect.  He was a good student in high school, but chose the community college route when no scholarship offers came his way.  Once at Butte Community College, he had a lucky break when a Cal recruiter spotted him while recruiting Aaron’s teammate.  Then, after noteworthy success at Cal, he left early expecting he’d go fourth or fifth in the 2005 draft.  Against expectations, he went twenty-fourth and was picked up by Green Bay.  He’d worked hard to earn the spot, but when he arrived in Green Bay, he sat for three years behind Brett Favre.

So when you wonder what makes a champion, or a successful executive or anyone of us who strives to be the best at what we do – the answer isn’t always what you’d expect.  Because just like in Dallas, sometimes after you’ve prepared all your life for the big day, you’re faced with chaos and confusion – bad weather and a long injured reserve list.  When this happens to you, I hope you remember something I learned from one of my mentors Robin Sharma: Eliminate the noise and focus on the signal. That’s what it takes to be the best.  That’s what champions do.  Because you can’t rely on expectations.  You can’t control the weather and you can’t control who gets injured, but you can find solutions.  You can eliminate the noise.  You can focus on the signal.

On Monday night, Aaron was on the David Letterman show.  He spoke about the difference in his game when he began to focus on his off-season preparation.  I especially liked one thing he said, “The things you can’t measure give people the most success.”  The road to becoming a champion is all about what happens when others aren’t looking. It’s all about planning for the unexpected.  It’s the patience.  The determined perseverance.  It’s the preparation that occurs outside the spotlight.  So keep striving and you’ll discover that your quest to be the best will take you places you could never expect.

Peace and love,
Todd

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

Recognizing Your Opportunity Costs

Every decision you make forces you to pass up one opportunity to pursue another opportunity.  The opportunity you pass up is the opportunity cost of choosing the other opportunity.  There will rarely be a case where you don’t have to sacrifice one thing to get another.  That’s where you have to weigh the opportunity costs and make a choice.  For instance, is a sure thing worth more than getting a shot at achieving your dreams?  Or is getting that chance, even if you don’t achieve it, worth more?  Whether you consciously recognize this decision-making process or not, you are doing it every-time you make a decision.

So how do you guarantee you make the right decisions?

Simply put, you can’t.  You cannot expect to always make the right decisions.  Sometimes, what seems like the right decision may in fact be the wrong decision, or vice versa.  Nevertheless, what you need to do first is think long and hard about what it is that you actually want out of life.  You need a vision.  You can think about this in a number of ways but I would suggest thinking as big as possible.  If you could have your perfect life what would it look like and what would you need?  Where do you want to live?  How much money do you need?  Do you want to get married?  Do you want to have kids?  Do you want to travel?  Do you want to have flexible work hours?  Do you want to be financially independent?  Be as specific as possible but realize you can always change your mind later.  This may or may not be an easy exercise but it is an extremely important step in this process.  Once you’ve figured out what you want the rest of this process becomes pretty simple, relatively speaking.

Now that you have a vision for your life, you can recognize the opportunity cost of your decisions.  Every decision from here on out must must be weighed against that vision and must also get you closer to that vision, otherwise, it’s a waste of your time, energy and resources.  For instance, if you wanted to lose weight to become healthier and more energetic, do you think going out every night drinking and partying would get you closer to, or farther away from, that vision?  Obviously, it’s getting you farther away.  That’s a pretty simple example but illustrates the concept.  The opportunity cost of going out drinking and partying every night, is not being able to lose weight in order to have more energy and live a healthier lifestyle.

So that’s all it comes down to.  To minimize your opportunity cost plug your decisions into the sentence below.  Keep in mind that “cost” does not necessarily mean money but rather the measure of what you will be giving up.  This could be measured in dollars but does not have to be.

The Opportunity Cost Decision Making Question:

If I do X will this get me closer to, or farther away from, the vision for my life, Y?

If you ask that question and the answer is “no” then don’t think any further.  It doesn’t matter how good of an opportunity it may appear to be, if it doesn’t fit into your vision then it doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t do it.  In other words, the opportunity cost is high.  On the other hand, if the answer is “yes” then you should get started right away.  The opportunity cost is low, so the sooner you get going the better.  What most people often miss is making their every day decisions based on the path to their goals.  They expect that one day they will just achieve what they’ve always dreamed of achieving as long as they work hard.  Honestly, that is foolish and stupid.  You need to have a plan and you need to have a purpose.  Nobody just wakes up one day and achieves their life’s vision without first putting in the work and effort it takes to get there.  Once you have a vision you can then create a plan.  The important thing is that the plans you create must always be made with the end in mind.

This is no guarantee that your vision will come true if you operate this way.  But I can promise you it won’t if you don’t do this.  So this is your only option.  To know your vision.  To keep that vision in the top of your mind at all times.  And to make every decision in your life based on reaching that vision.  This will keep you with laser-beam focus and will assure you the best opportunity to achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.

Happy Wednesday!

(Chad)

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