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.

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! ;)

Give yourself permission to achieve


Imagine for a moment that you’ve achieved your wildest dreams of success. You’ve the big house, the cars, the airplane, the family, friends, business, etc. You’re influential in every way you’ve ever dreamed of being.

At that point in your life, how wise would you be? How confident, capable, and discerning would you be? How would you choose your friends? What would you allow to waste your time? How COOL would you be?

Now, I want you to consider that this person you just imagined already exists inside your mind. You just haven’t given yourself permission to behave like him (or her).

I challenge you today to begin to behave like the most awesome version of you that you can conceive, and drop us a line with the results. Let the best you come out and play!

-Sam

 

 

Intentions and Decisions

It’s been a while since my last post, as I recently developed a pretty bad infection, and then was given an anti-inflammatory that kept the antibiotics from working. Was the doctor trying to kill me?

Probably not. His intention was to get me better, but his decision regarding anti-inflammatory medication turned out to be bad, considering that a major study had show that particular drug to block the bioavailability of penicillin-based antibiotics. Because he hadn’t known this, he didn’t make the best decision for my situation. Likewise, many times in our pursuit of success we have good, great or wonderful intentions but fail to match our intention with an appropriate decision. As I’m fond of saying to my coaching clients, an intention without a decision is just a wish, and an intention with the wrong decision is practically a sure recipe for frustration.

If you’re struggling in bringing your intentions into the world, take some time to review the decisions you’ve made, then ask yourself these questions:

What actions have you been taking in the direction of that intention?

  • Have these actions been productive?
  • Have you been consistent in your actions?
  • Do you have a system in place for reviewing your decisions ad making ‘course corrections?’
  • Do you measure your progress, and if so, how?
  • How do you come about your decisions? Are they hard and fast, or slow and sloppy?

Plenty of business consultants and coaches will say, “if it gets measured, it gets done,” but measurement alone doesn’t guarantee accomplishment. How you measure is just as important, and perhaps more important than when and how you measure your activity and achievement is how you decide. Decisions determine the direction of activity, and activity determines results. Some books I recommend on decision making include:

  • Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions, by Zachary Shore
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
  • How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer

Next week: Be the Part – The Art of Becoming the Successful You

The power of a smile

Long ago, someone asked the late Charles Schwabb what the secret to his tremendous success was. His answer? His smile. Those who wrote about him often said that he had a brilliant, engaging smile. We can safely say that there was more to him than a great smile, but that he and many other highly successful people acknowledge the vital importance of a smile is a fact we who pursue continuing success ought not to ignore. Continue reading