The Usual Risk

We sure do talk about mindset a lot around here. It’s probably because it’s more critical to our success in all areas of life than anything else. Letting our mindset get too settled into unquestioned patterns runs the risk of getting us stuck in the wrong ones, ultimately grinding us down into a rut until we have a hard time seeing over the edge and how to escape.

For the sake of this conversation let’s call this pattern the usual, and if we want out of that pattern, we’re going to have to change up our thinking. It’s going to require we be willing to question pretty much everything we know and believe in our efforts to find something greater.

It might seem scary at times, yet we’ve done it so many times already. Think about the first time we switched jobs, or dated somebody totally new. Heck, go back to our early childhood and look at how risky it was to learn how to walk or say our first few words.

Should we decide to remain in our current patterns then we are always going to get what we’ve always got. It’s pretty much that simple.

If you want something different, then it’s time to look around and see what else is out there. You might be surprised.

Work vs Luck

Work ethic trumps most anything else when it comes to business. Of course we want to work smart and that’s the goal we should be continuously driving toward. However, skills can and need to be developed and when we’re not entirely up to speed with our skills we pretty much have to do whatever it takes until we’re running more smoothly. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we will find there are always ways we can improve and expand upon our skill set, which will still require we put in the work to see our plans come together.

We’ll find plenty of people along the way that want to count all our successes as luck or good timing. They tend to call it luck or good fortune. What they don’t are all the days and nights we’ve invested, the struggles along the way, the planning and strategizing, overcoming failures and trying again until we finally figure out what ultimately makes our businesses tick.

The fact that Jefferson spoke of these things several hundred years ago demonstrates there are some fundamental principles at work that we are wise to adopt should we also wish to achieve our success. Most importantly, get to work and you’ll sort the rest out along the way.

Get Yourself Focused

It’s way too easy to get distracted these days. There have always been the demands upon us for our time with family, friends, and work needs. Past that there were commercials on the radio and TV, billboards, and various forms of print advertising. To shut those off we pretty much just shut of the TV and radio and skipped the newspaper and magazines.

Nowadays we throw in a constant stream of cell phones, text messages, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube… And it all comes to us on a handheld device you can literally put in your pocket. In fact if you’re not reading this on your phone, it’s a safe bet to say it’s within reach of wherever you’re reading these exact words.

All of these things can be handy and even enjoyable, but overdone they can take away from what it is we should really be focusing on. It can take some extra discipline at times to keep focused on what most needs to be done. Try turning off the phone, all the additional distractions, the social media notifications when you most need to concentrate and see what happens. Getting your primary tasks out of the way first will make you far more productive and you can add those other things back in later on as you have the time.

You Gotta Be Bold!

Smart and bold aren’t always measured correctly in this world.

Too often we think we have to wait until we have all the answers before we take any action. We can get ourselves stuck, looking for one more answer, one more fix, trying to get “smarter” until we get ourselves so confused and stuck in an endless circle that we forget we need to at least take the first step.

That’s where boldness comes in: having faith that we know at least enough to get ourselves in motion and adjust along the way as we learn. Growth never comes from inside the comfort zone. In fact that’s not even a proper name for it; we’re better off thinking of it as the “familiar zone” because let’s be honest, are we ever really comfortable when we’re having a hard time paying the bills or wondering how we’re going to get off the plateau we’re currently stuck on?

Go ahead and get a little wild and do something today that stretches you outside that familiar zone. That’s both bold and you’ll be amazed and how much smarter you get along the way.

Do it Now!

It’s pretty straightforward.

The past is gone, the future isn’t here yet, which leaves us only the present. Time is the only resource we can never renew and the clock is ticking. Why would we waste another minute once we know who we are what we’re aiming for? And when is there ever going to be a better time?

Is there anything else to say?

Daily Motivation

The secret to our success can be found within the pattern of our daily habits. Whatever we repeat on a daily basis reflects what is going on in our minds and that in turn is reflected in our results.

And of course we like the idea of the bigger successes, the toys and rewards. They’re rather exciting! But what do we do to maintain that excitement?

Taking on the bigger goals requires additional work, stretching outside our comfort zones, and creating a new routine. We’re creatures of habit and don’t readily adapt to change. To keep progressing toward our goals we are wise to continuously renew our motivations. Preferably daily! Otherwise it becomes too easy to push off the things we need to do for another day, slide backwards into old patterns, and can even start convincing ourselves that the new goals we set don’t matter.

Consider posting your goals in a place where you can review them frequently. At your desk, your computer, next to your bed so you see them first thing in the morning, on the mirror in the bathroom… Anywhere you’ll see them often to maintain your motivation. It might sound ridiculous, but there’s incredible power in such a simple practice.

…And Then You Win

As entrepreneurs we are regularly outspoken. We see the world differently than most and that can create a fair bit of confusion and chaos for others at times. Speaking generally, we’re not interested in disturbing the lives of other so much as we’re interested in serving others through problem solving even when the masses don’t see there’s a better way.

It can be lonely at times as we begin to assemble our businesses. There is much to do and the path forward may not always be clear yet, except we know that there is a problem to solve and there’s no one else who can do it the way we can. So forward we move, sorting out the issues along the way until we have a better defined way to go.

Then come the critics; the ones that think they know all there is about what we’re doing. Rarely have the critics attempted something so bold and even if they have, how could they possibly know what exactly is on our minds, in our plans, and all the other details that form your routine? We too often mistake the opinion of the critics with the counsel of our mentors and get bogged down. Remember this much: the critics are enjoying the only glory the will ever found. We have bigger destinations in store.

It’s going to take some work to get this all done. While the saying about it being better to work smart than hard makes sense, the work still must get done whether it’s hard or easy. You will be met with resistance along the way, sometimes from your own mistakes and sometimes from others trying to slow you down. It’s how you’re tested to prove you’re really going to see this all the way through to the goals you’ve set.

And the final phase of all your work? Your success. Stick with anything long enough and it WILL pay off. Go ahead and enjoy the rewards for your, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re done. The smart thing after you’ve enjoyed the moment is to sit down with a sharpened pencil and scratch out what comes next.

Riding a Bicycle

The world is going to keep moving forward whether you want to jump on or not. It’s just the way it is. There isn’t even an option to sit still! Inflation, technology in the form of communications and medical advancements… We’re living longer for cheaper and there’s no slowing down.

Think on it. When is the last time you listened to Def Leppard on your 8-track player? How many people reading this even know what an 8-track is? Or called your neighbor on a rotary dial telephone? (Which were a huge advancement over party lines, by the way…) Or took your horse to the blacksmith to have his shoes redone? Or washed your clothes on a washboard in a river?

This might be reaching back in the vault a ways, but the point is each of these things were once state-of-the-art and are now things we find in museums. Well, maybe not the Def Leppard 8-tracks, but the point remains…

In order to keep balance in life we need to continuously improve on our situations. We don’t have to be seeking for mansions and Ferraris (although those are fun!), but if we’re not working on expanding ourselves, we are literally sliding backwards. It can be as simple as learning new tools to enhance our work situations, taking classes on whatever might strike our fancy, or maybe finally starting that business we’ve been thinking about for years.

Whatever it is, take action. Get to work. Do what it takes to move forward and enjoy the bike ride!

Don’t Compromise

Ah, the sweet temptation of quick rewards. We’re not overly patient as a species and tend to like getting things as soon as we can. For example, answer the following question honestly: how many times have you stopped the microwave a few seconds before it’s done just so you can have your plate of food that much faster? Sure, there’s the excuse of not wanting to hear the beeps, but you promised to answer honestly…

It’s a similar reason so many of us end up in the workforce in jobs we don’t like. The illusion of a safe and steady paycheck can be a mighty lure when money is tight and the prospects are bleak. Of course we need to generate income and sometimes a job is what we need to do as we work on other things, just as some find great fulfillment on account of what they do for work.

Yet there are countless more that settle; just clinging to the job they hate while they complain about the bosses they also hate, thinking that this is as good as it’s going to get and give up ever trying for other things that truly call to them.

How many of us decide that that last slice of cake isn’t a big deal and we’ll start working out over the weekend? Or maybe we skip out on the date of a lifetime because why would a person like that be interested in someone like us?

These might be some odd examples, but they still point to a common theme of giving up what we most want in exchange for something we can have right now. It’s quite natural, but if we want to have bigger and better things in our lives it means sometimes we’re going to have to give up a short term gain in exchange for a larger reward down the line. The long game might not always be as fun, but the rewards are so much greater.

On Character

January 15, 2009 is certainly not the greatest day in all of history. There are no national holidays, no special sporting events on television, or anything that could be counted as a big change in the annals of human history.

Well… that might actually depend on who you are. For 155 people, their lives were forever changed on account of a flock of geese. More specifically, US Airways Flight 1549 struck the flock of birds right after take-off, disabling both engines and rendering the airliner a giant glider. In an act of extraordinary professionalism, Capt. Chesley Sullenberger guided the damaged aircraft to a smooth landing in the Hudson river, saving the lives of all 155 souls on board.

In this single act, “Sully” became a household name even though he claimed he was just doing his job that day. In reality that really is all he was doing and that day just happened to be the day the job got a whole lot tougher.

Yet it also highlights today’s point: this one single act is what he is now best known for. Of course he deserves the accolades for his actions when the stakes were so high and for the lives he saved, but they pay little attention to the decades of experience he gained leading up to that moment. They don’t count how many times he got a plane off the ground, the other landings he performed, the number of times he went through his checklist and walkarounds before even turning on the engines…

His character was indeed revealed in such a great moment, but it was all that time leading up to it that truly defined how well he would perform when the moment finally came. Even Sully’s own comments from on particularly interview  suggest this: “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I’ve been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”

Don’t ever get sucked into the mistaken thinking that it’s the great things that define your ultimate success. Those moments certainly come, but instead focus your energy and thoughts on your daily routine as you build your character over time. Hopefully you won’t ever have to ditch an airplane in the Hudson river, but it’s in your daily routine you will find your true character, and that is what will carry you through when the big tests do come your way.