The REAL reason, and one that sounds good.

JP Morgan used to say that people usually have two reasons for what they do: the REAL reason, and one that sounds good. Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, tells us to appeal to the one that sounds good in order to get people on our side. As effective as that is, I’l have to admit that Carnegie’s suggestion always seemed like manipulation to me rather than genuine engagement. Does it work? Sure, but it’s a philosophy based on the Western tendency to believe it’s okay for people to use each other.

That being said, when you want to pursue a business or personal vision, having a real reason that is different from the one that sounds good may not interfere with its success if we measure by profit, but it can affect the legacy of that vision. Ulterior motive also tend to lead us toward manipulation, deceit, and under-handed tactics which in time may very well poison our relationships. I’m all for success and profitability, but in the end there is no substitute for authenticity and integrity.

As you build your vision, a great way to protect that vision’s integrity is to periodically as yourself if there’s a ‘real reason’ behind your decisions that differs from the ones that sound good. As I discuss i my book, The Million Dollar Hustle, your real intention will influence your decisions, and your decisions will determine your results… and their consequences.

What can you do today to refine the integrity of your vision?

Dealing with dream killers

Okay, so you have a dream. Maybe you’ve started planning for it, and it’s become a vision. You’re taking decisive action toward it’s fulfillment. Naturally, you’re excited about it, because you believe in it, so you go ahead and share it with those near and dear to you… or maybe you’re already telling anyone who will listen.

However, they don’t believe in it… and they’re not that nice about it. They point out its downsides, find fault with it, ridicule it, try to convince you that you’re not ‘qualified’ to achieve it, or maybe they even point how others are already doing something similar, or how others have tried and failed. Very often, many of us who get this kind of reaction get discouraged and let our dreams die, allowing others to rob us of our potential for success and greatness. We’ve been assassinated by dream killers.

First, we have to understand WHY so many people are dream killers. Not all of them are petty and vicious. Some of them just don’t want to see you fail miserably. In other cases, they’re just projecting their own fear of failure onto you, or because they fear they might ‘lose’ you if you do happen to succeed. In some cases, dream killers are people who secretly resent your ambition, because you’re willing to take chances that they aren’t willing to take. If you succeed, you underscore how they might have succeeded if they had just had the nerve to try.

When I went to Wall Street, I had lots of dream killers around me. I quickly learned how to handle them. Now, you can go hard core and just completely cut them all out of your life, but sometimes that just isn’t practical. In my case, I couldn’t cut off my family members, because at the time I was broke and lived with them. So I limited their access to me, especially whenever I was feeling discouraged or vulnerable.

Keep your discouragements, setbacks, and vulnerabilities private, at least with regard to the dream killers. You may even want to play things close to the chest in the early stages of a business or product launch so that the dream killers around you don’t get a chance to discourage you.

Now, we don’t get to choose our families, but we do have control over who our friends are, and how much time we spend with both. With this in mind, be purposeful in how you use your time with them. Make a habit of reserving more of your times for those who would encourage and help you. Don’t allow those who don’t value your dream to use much of your time!

Another thing I learned was to do my homework with regard to whatever I happened to be working on, so if anyone suddenly took on the role of a dream killer they weren’t going to win a debate with me about my dream. I also started using the ‘feedback’ I got from them to help me determine weaknesses in my plans. Even then, I took what they said with a bag of salt, not just a grain, because I knew that some of what they had to say was based on their own flawed thinking and incomplete knowledge.

I also had to recognize that people who are deeply entrenched in mediocrity will naturally criticize, ridicule or condemn those seeking to rise ‘above’ them. History does not kindly remember the critic. Would you put what the dream killers have to say on your tombstone? Then why listen to them?

Feed your dream. Find ways to encourage and motivate yourself. Many successful people create ‘vision boards,’ where they post pictures of the lifestyle they’re aiming for, or reminders of why they’re pursuing their dream. With every project I’ve ever worked on, I’ve always tried to come up with more reasons why it will work than why it won’t, and I remind myself continually of those reasons. Chances are, if I’m working on something, you won’t win an argument with me about it. Be more thorough in nurturing your dream than anyone else could be in trying to discourage it.

Stay focused. No matter what the dream killers have to say, keep working at your dream, one decision at a time. It’s your dream, not theirs, your life, not theirs.

Life is short. Don’t chase your dreams, hunt them down.

The power of your words

“Death and Life are in the power of the tongue. They that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” – Proverbs 18:21

This ancient proverbs reveals a great truth about our words. Words have tremendous power, and in this particular proverb, death is mentioned first. I suspect this was intended as a warning, since for most of us its so easy to slip into negativity, both in our conversations and our self-talk.  There’s good reason that ‘Bad news travels fast’ is an old saying. For some reason, we all have a bit of the naughty little kid in us who just can’t wait to share the latest bit of bad news, especially when it’s particularly ‘juicy.’

To make matters worse, we tend to do this to ourselves. I teach my clients to break this habit, because even when we don’t mean what we say, our subconscious mind receives the negative signal and, unfortunately begins to work against us. Now, experts from scientists to internet marketers have tried to understand how it works. It remains mysterious, but there are some things we do understand about the subconscious mind that can help us, especially with regard to our words and thoughts.

We know that he subconscious mind is not rational or logical. It doesn’t necessarily think in linear terms. It seems to behave more like a parallel processor, and therefore can process much more information than the conscious mind. It’s believed that that the subconscious mind can process as much as 40 billion bits of information per second, versus the 70-20 bits that the conscious mind can process. So it seems possible that the subconscious mind can process and assimilate most, or maybe even all, of what we see, hear, smell, taste, and so on… including what we say.

When we are negative in our words, we can actually influence our subconscious mind to work against us, while our conscious mind begins to believe what we’re saying. There was once a skinny little teenager who wanted to become really strong despite his small size, many people told him in many ways that he’d never be able to bench press whatever number of pounds seemed like a good number to them. He, however, was undaunted. and continued to tell himself that he would reach his goal on the bench press. Soon enough, He began to believe that he could do it, and that belief caused him to research how muscles worked, and what actually made people get stronger. In the end, he bench pressed 270 pounds at a body weight of 117, and years later could bench press more than 300 pounds at a body weight of just 143 pounds!

Had he been negative, sooner or later he would have convinced himself that it was impossible, and his level of effort and dedication would have dropped to match those words. This happens to most of us. Some might even say this is how we talk ourselves out of pursuing our dreams. Do whatever you have to do to stop this habit. Now, I’m not saying you should be positive about things that don’t make any sense. You won’t see me trying out for the Toronto Raptors anytime soon.

Words can hurt feelings, offend sensibilities, start bar fights, end marriages and make enemies. At the same time, they can restore relationships, inspire people to strive for excellence, resolve conflict and make friends. Choose your words wisely, and use them kindly as often as you can.

What I am  saying that you should speak good things over your own life. Encourage yourself if you have to! What I typically have my clients do is a simple exercise in which they write down goals, or things they’d like to change, and then write down two or three encouraging statements about those things. They then read these aloud to themselves as often as they need to until they begin to believe it, and while they’re doing this, they’re already taking action toward achieving those goals.

Try this out for a week and see what happens. You’ll be glad you did.

What is YOUR dominant focus?

One of the greatest problem visionaries and would-be visionaries have is focus. It’s not just that they can’t or won’t focus on the one thing, or the right things. They also don’t understand their own inner focus and how to make use of it to unleash their truest, boldest, and best vision on the world.

The truth is there are really only two kinds of focus, at least when it comes to our own personal way of dealing with the world around us: promotion focus and prevention focus. Now, we might have some aspects of both, but most of us have a dominant focus that tends to direct us. Heidi Grant Halvorson writes of this in her book Focus: Using Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence, and I’d have to agree with her. I took her Focus Assessment some time ago, and, not surprisingly, found that I’m promotion focused. This might explain why people don’t get far with me by threatening me ;)

Now, whether you’re promotion focused or prevention focused, once you understand which type dominates your thinking, you can tailor your decisions to maximize your motivation, sharpen your focus on your vision, and gain a whole new level of clarity for your purpose. I encourage you to visit the link below and try Heidi’s Focus assessment.

http://www.focusdiagnostic.com/

Excuses, excuses…

One of the things that most often prevents us from achieving our dreams is making excuses. It often seems harmless, but excuses can become quite insidious if you let them. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of excuses is that they’re often based on some form of truth, and so it’s very easy to give in to them.

For example, last week I was in a car accident. Some guy rear-ended me and took off. He was caught, but I’ve got some injuries. It’s painfully obvious that something’s very wrong with my left knee, lower back, and left shoulder, since I’m having trouble walking, and the back and shoulder pain are making everyday life really difficult. Even simple things like turning a corner in my car cause considerable pain and discomfort.

However, the icing on the cake is that I’m having violent headaches, getting very dizzy, and have passed out several times. Now, all this could be a great excuse to sleep later, and put off things that need doing. No one would blame me if I told all my clients I’m taking a few weeks off. Admittedly, I’ve slowed down quite a bit. Nevertheless, I continue to write, to plan, and to work with my clients. Why? Because while I’m nowhere near 100%, I can still do something. I can’t run or do cardio. Even laughing makes me dizzy right now, but I can write, even if only for 10-15 minutes at a time, and I can think. This means I can at least keep working a little.

If you research the lives of very successful people, one thing most of them have in common is that they are willing to do what other people won’t do. They persevere when others give up or slack off. They get up early when others sleep in. They go and do the pro-bono presentation they’d promised to do, even though they’d been awake for 22 hours because of circumstances they couldn’t control. This doesn’t mean you have to work yourself to death. It does mean that you should take a look at your excuses and see just how valid they really are. Are they really worth what they’ll cost you in lost opportunities? Are they worth what they will cost you in your relationships?

The truth is that most of the excuses we give ourselves are pure BS, even some of the valid ones. It’s human nature to get a little lazy, and sometimes an excuse shows up in place of an idea that can overcome whatever challenge, difficulty, or inconvenience we’re experiencing. My challenge to you today is to sift through any excuses you might be entertaining and make an honest assessment of whether they’re worth it.

A simple way to overcome an excuse is to work on an idea that will negate it. Years ago, after some business losses, I found myself without clients and close to broke. I decided to pick up an old idea I had for a webcomic, but didn’t have money to set up an art studio. So I bought a $5 plastic storage container, a $15 lamp, and a $40 tilting table on wheels, and some art supplies I already had. For less than $100 I had a humble, but functional studio that took up a corner of the kitchen. Within a few months I’d produced over 90 pages, and thanks to a really bad review, I began to acquire Twitter followers. In about a year, Jake the Evil Hare had become one of the most popular webcomics, and shortly after that I had thousands of Twitter followers and Jake was putting some money in my pocket. In the end, that ornery two foot tall talking jackabbit got me to over 70,000 followers and created the platform that got me back into public speaking and writing, which led to my first two best-selling books. I’m so glad I didn’t use being broke as an excuse!

When faced with a difficulty, distraction, or inconvenience or circumstance that threatens to become an excuse, try to think of an idea that would work around it. If you’re stumped, don’t worry. One of the odd things about human nature is we can’t resist the urge to answer a question. If I say, “What’s 2+2?” pretty much everyone reading this will think “4.” So, present the challenge to yourself as a question, and you might just get a good answer. If that fails you somehow, then ask someone who’s got good sense. As the old proverb goes, there’s safety in the multitude of counsellors.  Do some research, find out what someone else who experienced a similar challenge did, and do it!

I believe the best version of you is yet to come. I believe you’re worth more than any excuse. I believe you were born with a purpose greater than any circumstance, situation or struggle. I believe in you.

So get cracking! ;)