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Is It A Wonderful World?

Is it a wonderful world? What do you think? My answer is yes and no.

It’s hard not to notice that while we live on a beautiful blue island in space, we don’t spend enough time appreciating what we have.

While there have always been conflicts and disagreements on space ship earth, the way we humans seem to be taking opposing sides these days is perhaps more dangerous than ever before, especially given the fact that we have the power to destroy all life on earth in a matter of minutes. Luckily, we also have the power to take care of ourselves and the planet if we can learn to live together.

Thinking about this recently, I remembered something one of my mentors said to me a long time ago. I came across it when I was reading one of my journals the other day, and the idea really came to life again. While having a spirited conversation on all things philosophical, my mentor stopped me dead in my tracks and said: “Robert, you can’t choose sides on a round planet.” It got my attention and got me to shut up and listen. As I think now about what he said, it almost sounds like a Zen koan, don’t you think? If I reframe it as a question that goes like this, “How do you choose sides on a round planet?,  then that’s got to qualify as a Zen koan!

But unfortunately, we are choosing sides more and more. Rather than reach for agreements and partnerships, we tend to want to hold fast to old lines in the sand while we continue to work on drawing new ones. We’ve been playing this no-win game for centuries now and, if you read a bit of history, you can study the results. It’s not a pretty picture.

I confess that I’m an internal optimist and perhaps I’m so naïve as to believe that we are going to figure it all out … but I certainly don’t claim to have the answers. Nevertheless, one thing always seems to ring true for me. We tend to take care of those things that we treasure which brings me to a new addition to my family. My son recently bought a dog from an incredible dog breeder who named the puppy Schatze shortly after she was born. The name literally means “treasure.” While people often like to name their pets themselves, my son loved the name so much that he kept it. I have no doubt that Schatze will be “treasured” by our entire family for many years to come.

As I was playing with Schatze the other day, I had this thought:  What if each of us treated each other with the same respect and playfulness we typically show our pets? That’s an interesting idea, don’t you think? Having a thought like that might help to nudge us all in the right direction.

So why not start treating other people and our planet like the “treasures” that they are? That’s what I did while I played with Schatze and she returned the feelings in kind. We do tend to get back what we put out.

Perhaps this is all getting a bit too philosophical and overly simplistic given the nature our problems; however, I tend to find simple answers to be the most effective. We humans tend to overcomplicate our lives. So let me end this month’s blog by sharing a recording. The song is called “What A Wonderful World” and I know you’ve heard it many times, but have you ever really stopped to listen to it? It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong, in 1967. The words to the song will bring tears to your eyes if you really listen and think about their true meaning.

Here’s the original recording. Listen to Louis Armstrong at his best and see what you think. Does it change the way you feel about the world?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21LGv8Cf0us

It certainly affects me in a very deep way. I love the song so much that I enjoy playing it on my saxophone just for fun. I’ve provided an mp3 recording that I did a number of years ago that you might enjoy. It’s not even in the same ballpark as the master Louis Armstrong, and it’s obviously missing those important lyrics that really make it come alive. But it always makes me feel better when I play it. See what you think.

What A Wonderful World.mp3

The good news is that I’m working on another version based on the three things I focus on in life: (1) Studying, (2) Practicing, and (3) Teaching.  I’m committed to getting better, and I know you are as well or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Just make sure you are studying, practicing, and teaching whatever fascinates you the most in life while surrounding yourself with people who want to grow and improve and build a better life and a better world just like you do.

For me, the bottom-line is this: Our best is yet to come. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Now make it a great day because IT CAN BE A WONDERFUL WORLD. The choice is up to each of us.

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Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor?

In my experience, there is a huge difference between working with a coach and working with a mentor. While some people may use these terms interchangeably, I think this can be a big mistake because while there are similarities, there are also some subtle but important distinctions that are worth knowing about.

In terms of answering the question as to whether you need a coach or a mentor, my answer is YES! I would also add that in addition to working with the best coach and the best mentor you can find, I would also recommend joining or forming a Mastermind Group. Let’s start with some definitions to drill down on this idea.

Here’s what Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary has to say about these terms:

Coach – one who instructs or trains, especially one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy.

Mentor – a trusted counselor or guide.

Mastermind Group – a team of people working toward shared goals.

Originally, coaching was thought of as training and encouraging people in a given area such as sports or fitness. However, the Personal Development Industry now uses the term heavily, usually by adding the word “Life” as in “Life Coaching.” During my career, I’ve seen amazing growth in this new Life Coaching field. It has become a big business, indeed!

As you may know, Life Coaching is not a very well-regulated industry so it’s a lot like the days of the wild, wild west. It’s definitely fraught with serious problems because literally anyone can hang out a shingle and call himself or herself a “Life Coach.”  But like everything in life, there are “degrees” of quality. Anyone who raises their hand might be able to be your kid’s soccer coach. However, a high school soccer coach is going to have to provide more competitive credentials and yet, a professional team coach is going to need to show much more experience and success in winning.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great coaches and working with a great coach will give you great results if you do the work. But it’s also easy to be tricked with gimmicks, cons, and flashy sales pitches that are long on promises but short on results. It brings to mind the old term Latin term Caveat Emptor, meaning Buyer Beware. As has always been the case, there are con artists around every corner making empty promises and promoting scams of all kinds. Don’t part with your hard-earned money until you know you’ve found someone with high standards, quality, and integrity.

One of the things I decided during a recent sabbatical was to spend more time developing the next generation of Life Coaches while also providing more Mentoring Programs for advanced clients. I hope you’ll take the time to check out the various new products and services we are in the process of launching to see if they might fit your needs.

Let me end with this thought. The main thing to keep in mind when working on your personal develop is three words that have become the focus of my entire life: Study, Practice, Teach.

I’ve devoted my life to studying the best ideas I can find to improve the quality of my life in every area. Once I uncover an idea that has been proven to work, I practice it on a regular basis. And, of course, what my life has really been about is teaching what I’ve learned—i.e., coaching, mentoring, and leading others to make their life the best it can be.

So are you studying, practicing, and teaching every day?

Do you have a coach? Someone who helps keep you encouraged and motivated?

Do you have a mentor? Someone who has achieved what you want to achieve and knows how to guide you along the right path?

Lastly, do you have a group of like-minded people that are heading in the same direction that you are heading?

If the answer is YES to all three questions, you are on the fast track to what you want most in life. My final advice is to remember to enjoy the journey. As  Cervantes said, “The road is better than the inn.” It’s not about arriving once and for all, it’s about traveling in style every day as your life unfolds on a path of constant and never-ending improvement.

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Life’s Biggest Question

I love to encourage people. In fact, I believe that when I do it well, it’s the most powerful thing I can do to serve others.  For me, there’s simply nothing like the feeling of offering an idea that has the potential to improve someone’s life and then watching to see the reaction. Here’s the reaction that I’m always working to achieve when I talk with a client. I want the client to ask: “I wonder if what Robert just said would really work? It sounds like the idea worked for him but would it work for me? I wonder if I should try to implement this idea in my own life and see what happens?” That’s the bulls-eye for me which leads me to LIFE’S BIGGEST QUESTION!

When I give seminars or workshops, I love to end a presentation with something that I learned from one of my most important mentors. His name is Jim Rohn, and he inspired a whole generation of personal development authors and speakers. His most famous student is probably Tony Robbins. If you take a minute to Google “Jim Rohn” and learn about his life’s work, you’ll find a long list of people who give him credit for changing their lives. Although I’ve had more mentors than I can count, Jim Rohn, along with the legendary Earl Nightingale, are always at the top of my list.

The reason I’m mentioning Jim Rohn is that I want to share an idea with you that was a part of many of Jim Rohn’s speeches. He would often end his speeches with this idea. In fact, I can still remember the first time I heard him share this idea, and I remember my reaction of excitement, wonder, and endless possibilities.

After humbly sharing his remarkable life story and the many lessons that he learned and practiced during his life, Jim Rohn would ask a series of 4 questions. He would begin with the simple question of “Why?” (I now call this LIFE’S BIGGEST QUESTION!) Jim would basically challenge the audience by saying: Why do all of the things I’ve talked about to improve your life? Why set goals and work to achieve them? Why develop the skills you need to succeed in the world? Why work as hard as possible to become as successful as possible? Why keep pushing forward despite the many obstacles? Why bother to go through all of the work required when you can instead just choose to drift along in life? Clearly the question of “Why?” is the major question indeed.

The answer to his question of “Why?” was always the same. He would say: The best answer to the question of “Why?” is the question “Why not?” Why not work to become all that you are capable of becoming? Why not stretch yourself to see what you can become? Why not set some big goals and see if it’s possible for you to achieve them? After a series of these kinds of “Why not?” questions, he would then say: What else are you going to do with your life? You have to stay here until you go so why not become all that you are capable of becoming?

Just the questions “Why?” and “Why not?” would have been enough. Even the first question of “Why?” had my complete attention. I was ready to take action after I heard the way in which he delivered that question followed by the life challenge posed in the question “Why Not?” But wait, there was more, much more. He would then say: “Why not you?” Other people have done incredible things with their lives, why not you? He would challenge you to think about all of the people you admire who have achieved the goals that you want to achieve and by doing so challenge the false belief that others are capable of great things but not you. Instead, he would say that if they found a way to achieve their goals, then why not you?

The final piece de resistance was the question: “Why not now?” He would expand this simple question by saying in essence: Why postpone your better future any longer? Why not get started today on the things that can change your life for the better?

I can still remember my reaction. I realized in that moment that while indeed there were real obstacles on my list of the things holding me back from achieving what I wanted in life, there was hope. I just had to admit to myself that I was front and center in holding myself back in life. I needed to change myself if I wanted to change my results. I still remember writing this quote from Jim Rohn in my journal the day I heard this special seminar:

“For things to change for you, you’ve got to change. Otherwise, it isn’t going to change.”

I offer you that same advice. Have I been able to achieve everything that I’ve wanted to achieve in my life? No. Of course not. However, the game isn’t over. I’m still working on the goals that are important to me. How about you? Are you drifting along or are you purposely working to make daily progress? And are you enjoying the journey?

I can tell you that I’ve achieved things that I never thought were possible for me because of incredible mentors like Jim Rohn, and the many ideas that they shared. They inspired and encouraged me. My goal is to try to be useful in life by working to inspire and encourage you.

Take a minute to write down these 4 questions based on “WHY” and then review them at least once a day. After say, thirty days, see if you don’t notice a difference. Keep doing this for a year, and then check your progress. I’m willing to bet that these simple questions will help you accomplish your goals while at the same time helping you to become the person you most want to be.

Why? Why not? Why not you? Why not now? Ask those questions to yourself every day and notice how your life changes.

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This Masquerade

I find myself fascinated with what’s happened since I wrote my last blog post entitled “Sabbatical” on February 1, 2020. My personal intention was to take some time off from work so I could re-evaluate my life and what I’ve been able to accomplish in my first 6 decades on the planet. The plan was to step back from the day-to-day momentum of my personal and professional life and examine who and what I have become during my short ride on this spinning blue island in space.

Who would have guessed what would happen next? Just days after my decision to take an extended sabbatical, the whole world (in one way, shape, or form) would also go on a sabbatical of sorts.

I’m sure it’s fair to say that Covid-19 surprised you as much as it did me and the rest of the world. It’s become a once in a generation event that has literally reshaped life on earth as we know it.

I’ve been stunned by what’s happened with the Covid-19 situation, not to mention everything else that’s taken place. For example, I find myself thinking about the many plagues of the past and what our ancestors must have gone through to survive. Surely we have many additional resources these days, but this pandemic has been challenging for each and every one of us. It’s certainly not anything I ever wanted to experience but, like with all challenges, there are definitely things that can be learned from it.

During this time of lockdown and isolation, I’ve probably learned more about myself, my family, my neighbors, and the world around me than I ever thought possible, both good things and bad. However, my primary focus on sabbatical has been learning more about the best ways to gather up what I’ve learned in life so I can invest it into my future. I’ve been placing a special emphasis on music which was once a primary focus of my life.

As a teenager I dreamed of being a jazz musician and a College Music Professor. For a number of reasons, my life didn’t go in that direction. But this sabbatical taught me that I have some unfinished business with music. What’s interesting is that my sabbatical has allowed me the freedom to reawaken passions that I left behind to make a living. For me, a sabbatical is not about making a living, it’s about designing a life or focusing on a project, like doing research or writing a new program or book. So the first thing I did was find some new mentors, including some new music mentors, since one of my goals involved getting back into playing music again.

Over the years, I studied with many wonderful mentors in music as well as many other disciplines. During the pandemic, I started studying again with some music mentors. And it was during a mentoring session that I thought how interesting it would be to include a song to go along with one of my future Blog Posts. And as I thought about it a bit more, I decided that the perfect song to start with was “This Masquerade.” (I’ve attached a recording of me playing the song on tenor saxophone. It’s a work in progress!)

One reason I chose the song “This Masquerade” was because of the obvious connection with the masks we are having to wear during the pandemic to stay safe. Another reason I chose it is because of the song’s lyrics that speak to the topic of hiding who we are by wearing masks and pretending to be different than we are.

While I was recording the tracks for this song in my home studio, I thought a lot about the kinds of masks I wear as well as the ones I need to get rid of. Perhaps you’ll get some insight into your masks by listening to my recording. (If you’d like to hear the lyrics, I’d suggest listening to George Benson’s original version of the song. It’s outstanding!)

Here’s my version: THIS MASQUERADE!

 

If you listen to my recording, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind while listening:

  1. Notice how the song starts very softly and quietly, almost whispering. It makes me think about how everything seemed completely fine in early 2020 but then, in a matter of a day or two, everything changed. In music we say “the tone changed!”
  2. Notice the many areas of struggle represented in the song. Notes are bending, high notes are sometimes almost screaming for attention, and yet the song keeps moving forward much like life.
  3. Listen for the place in the song near the end where I start reaching for higher and higher notes as if trying to escape. I finally go way above the normal register of the instrument in an effort to rise above what’s happening.
  4. Lastly, pay attention to the very end of the song. What’s the last thing you hear? Do you hear a piano, a guitar, a saxophone, or just a breath of air? And if you hear a whisper of air, what does that mean to you? What reason might I have had to end that way? Is a single breath the essence of life and music?

Finally, ask yourself these questions: What masks am I wearing that it’s time to throw off? More importantly, when would NOW be the best time to show the world who I really am? Also, ask yourself what passions do you have that may have been neglected and need more time and attention to grow and evolve?

Perhaps the bottomline is this: Depending on when you read this, you may not be able to take off your physical mask just yet, but you can always remove mental masks or blocks that are holding you back from being the best version of yourself.

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What Does Life Want from You?

I once heard someone ask and answer a very interesting question: What does life want from you? While it may not be possible to come to an overarching answer to a philosophical question such as this, I find these two answers to that question very empowering:

  1. Do what you can.
  2. Do the best that you can.

Now that may not sound revolutionary, but I’m willing to bet that this approach to that question leads to successful living.

Think about it. Most people struggle with what to do with their life, often choosing things that are not within their circle of competence let alone their Unique Talent™. This almost always ends in frustration. We need to figure out what makes us unique and special and build from there. The starting point is simply finding things that you can do. It’s all about doing what you can in the service others while constantly keeping an eye out for higher leverage things you can do to serve. Just as critical is noticing what you enjoy and determining what gives you a sense of meaning and satisfaction along the way.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life teaching others how to focus on what they do best as well as what they enjoy. I love to ask the question: What kinds of things do you like to do? I also ask:  What kinds of things do you do where you lose all track of time when you’re doing them? That’s what’s called getting into the flow state. My study of high achievers who are also happy with a sense of fulfillment shows that they spend more time in the flow state than most people. While you may not be able to start out hitting a bullseye, the goal is to keep moving in that direction.

Start by doing what you can. Make sure it’s in the service of others and make sure you are constantly on the lookout for what gives you that sense of flow where time seems to stand still.

The challenge is that it often takes time to discover your special set of talents. However, if you keep looking, you will find more talents, abilities, and passions that move you with each passing year. The secret is to get as close as you can to what you enjoy from the start, and then continue moving in that direction. That’s how to keep growing your entire life.

Here’s what it also means. You need to do the best you can with where you find yourself right now. It’s easy to say “I’ve got a lousy job so I just do the minimum to keep from getting fired.” I’ve observed firsthand that this idea doesn’t lead to advancement in life.

I knew that I wanted to work in the field of personal development since I was a teenager. However, I had no idea how to make that happen. I had a clear goal but didn’t know how to achieve it. Luckily, I learned that the secret to advancement is doing the best you can with whatever you are currently doing. Luckily, I read books like “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill which taught me a very simple concept. Here’s the exact quote that changed my life: “The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does.”

I worked in my share of low level, low paying jobs but I always focused on doing more than I was paid to do. I was a dishwasher, cook, waiter, door-to-door salesman, telemarketer, sales manager, credit and collections manager, product/advertising manager, operations director, and finally Executive Vice President before retiring to become a full-time entrepreneur in the field of personal development. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

Remember these two steps:

  1. Do what you can.
  2. Do the best that you can.

If you are already doing this, I feel confident in predicting an exciting future for you. You’re creating an exciting life one day at a time which is the only way it can be done. Have a goal in mind and constantly move in that direction. As you move forward, just remember what life wants of you. Do what you can, and do the best that you can. And keep your goal in sight. You don’t have to know exactly how to achieve it right now. Just keep moving toward it every day, and you will be moving in the right direction. You’ll also wake up one day with the realization that you’ve become one of the competent people of your generation!

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The Joys of Turning 60!

Are you looking forward to growing older? Based on my recent Internet search on the topic, I think many people are trying to talk themselves into feeling good about growing older. Here are 5 articles that came up on page one of my latest search:

  • 6 Reasons to Look Forward to Growing Old
  • 25 Things to Look Forward to About Growing Older
  • Age Gracefully: 12 Reasons to Look Forward to Growing Older
  • 19 Reasons Getting Older is the Best Thing that will Ever Happen to You
  • 7 Things to Look Forward to as You Get Older, Because Life Only Gets Better

Of course, there were 446 million hits for my search so maybe these 5 articles don’t do justice to the topic as a whole. But these articles made it to the top of a vast Internet search. Doesn’t it seem as if a lot of effort is being made trying to convince people that getting older is a great thing?

What I found particularly fascinating were the young ages of some of the writers of those articles. I’m turning 60 this month so thoughts from someone decades younger than I am don’t necessarily carry as much weight as thoughts from someone who’s been in the game as long as I have. Not only that, I want a few more decades of experience to get to the bottom of what people really think about growing older, especially from people that have lived into their 60’s and can tell me about their experiences.

Personally, I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to growing older with the emphasis on the word “growing” — as in getting better. Having said that, I have come to some conclusions that I believe reflect an intelligent way to play the aging game. I recently had a thorough health screening analysis including delving deep into my DNA. I now have a better idea of the some situations that could arise and require special attention. But I feel good having this knowledge because what you don’t know, can hurt you. On the other hand, what you do know, can often be altered, especially in the world in which we live today. We are making amazing advances in medicine and technology which stagger the imagination.

One of my underlying reasons for looking forward to the years ahead stems from something that one of my mentors, Earl Nightingale, frequently pondered. As he reached age 60 and years beyond, he was fond of saying that “the years after 60 can be the best years of your life.” That was certainly true in his life so I’ve decided to hold myself accountable, to the best of my ability, to making it true in my life.

I challenge you to do the same.

On July 22, 1981, when I was 21 years old, I started keeping a journal. It began with the idea that if life is worth living, then it’s worth recording. Keeping a journal shows that you are a serious student of life, and you want to learn from your experiences to get better in the future. Let’s face it, making the same mistakes over and over and not learning from them can be one of the greatest tragedies in life.

I still have that first journal along with a file cabinet full of journals that followed. All are filled up with ideas and experiences that have been organized and indexed. Eventually, I switched over to a digital format on computer, then iPad, and now I even use my iPhone, which includes a complete index of all of my journals with complete access to all of the digital entries. When I reread my journals at the end of every year to see what kind of progress I’m making, I find it fascinating to see where I’ve made progress and where I need to make changes for the coming year. Again, life is about growth!

No matter what your age, I can’t recommend this process strongly enough. Reading these journals helps me make sense of my life and reminds me of all that I’ve experienced and learned over these first 5 decades.

I’ve learned that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but greatly underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade. I’m looking forward to the accomplishment of some of my biggest and most important goals in the next decade. These are goals that would not have been possible at the beginning of my journey, but now they are in sight. It’s like climbing a mountain, the higher you climb, the farther you can see!

Let me end this post with some advice I collected from William James, also known as “The Father of American Psychology.” This quote is one of my first journal entries from July 24, 1981. It is as true for me today as it was when I first read it and immediately wrote it down.

“Often our faith (belief) in advance of a doubtful undertaking is the only thing that can assure its successful completion.” – William James

That quote serves to remind me of the importance of believing in what I am working toward and keeping that faith strong through the challenges that inevitably show up. Join me in the belief that the next decade is going to be extraordinary, and then let’s make it that way!

One of my goals is to check back with you with another blog post in 10 years titled, “The Joys of Turning 70!” I hope you’ll join me for that. Let’s be ready to compare notes!

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Are You Winning or Losing?

Do you give yourself a score at the end of each day? I’m willing to bet that you probably don’t. If you do, it might not be a very good grade if you didn’t accomplish everything you wanted to that day. I think that’s a major mistake. I believe that it’s critical to know whether you are winning or losing in life, and you need a way to keep score that works. You need a way to win every day.

Here’s a strategy you can use to win on a daily basis:

  1. Before you go to bed at night, decide on the 5 most important action steps you can take the next day to move toward accomplishing your goals. Then, put the list of action steps in the order of their importance.
  2. The next day, start working on the first item and stay with it until it’s completed. If something blocks you from making progress on that item, move on to the next item. Continue in this manner with the list until the day is over.
  3. At the end of the day, review your list. If you’ve checked off at least one item, then you’re winning because you are making progress. Life is about the process not perfection. It’s a journey, not a destination. It’s a way of traveling.

My guess is that you will discover yourself checking off more than one item, but as long as you’ve made progress, why not declare that you’re winning and choose to feel great about that fact? The more items that are checked off of your list, the better you can choose to feel about your progress. In so many ways, you get to choose the rules of how to play the game of life, so why not set up the rules so you can win every single day? It will definitely make you feel better, and if you feel better, you’ll perform better. Besides, I’m betting that you’ll find that you are completing 3 or more items every day.

Another great idea is to keep track of the items that you check off your list every day so you can have a running list to review from time to time. Using this system, you’ll be able to look back on your days and weeks and months and see what you’ve actually accomplished. You’ll find that this process and progress, and the way it makes you feel, will then drive you to accomplish even more.

Let’s face it, most people don’t know at the end of the day if they are winning or losing. Don’t let that be you. Develop a simple scorecard and then make sure you enjoy the feeling of winning every day. It will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine right now. Give this system a try. You don’t need to buy a new time management program. Simply use an app that’s already on your smart phone.

Remember, a successful life is built one day at a time. If you start stringing together successful days, those days will turn into successful months, then years, and ultimately an amazing life that will fill you with a sense of gratitude and excitement.

If you implement this system into your life and make it a habit, you’ll wake up one day to discover that you’ve become one of the truly competent people of your generation. It’s a wonderful feeling, and you can have it by doing just one thing at a time in the order its importance.

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The Entrepreneur’s Biggest Problem

Even if you may not consider yourself an entrepreneur, I’m willing to bet you will relate to what I’m writing about here. After decades of coaching entrepreneurs in a wide variety of industries, I think I’ve learned the single biggest problem that entrepreneurs face. I call it “Gas Pedal Mentality.” Let me explain.

If you wanted to win the Indianapolis 500, here’s what you would NOT want to do: Get in the car, wait for the flag to drop, and then just floor it. You would NOT place both feet firmly on the gas pedal and hope for the best. While this scenario may sound ridiculous, I can assure you that entrepreneurs, along with many others, use this strategy more often than you might think. Obviously, if you use a “Gas Pedal Mentality,” you’ll most certainly end up in a wreck or with a burned out engine, but that’s exactly what many entrepreneurs do. Since most entrepreneurs typically start out with an abundance of enthusiasm, drive, and energy, they just pour it on. Unfortunately, that’s not the best strategy for the long term.

Have you ever met an entrepreneur that did damage to their personal or professional life and relationships with this pedal-to-the-medal approach? Have you ever met an entrepreneur who was once successful and making progress only to completely burn out a short time later? If you’re an entrepreneur, has this happened to you?

Winning a race requires not just knowing when to hit the gas, it’s also critical to learn when to utilize the clutch as well as the brakes. In fact, it’s learning to balance accelerating with shifting and braking throughout the race to avoid both crashes and burnout that wins the race. The same holds true in life and business.

I’ve been surprised to learn that most entrepreneurs actually work too many hours. They often sacrifice other important areas of life outside of work in an effort to get ahead. Not only does this result in burnout, it can also wreck relationships with family and friends not to mention create serious health issues.

If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have a fun, stimulating, interesting life outside of work, you’re probably pushing on the gas pedal too hard. What you may need to do is slow down to develop some focus and balance. Undoubtedly, there are things in your business that must be done but are you doing too much? Have you learned to delegate things that you should not be doing, such as activities that are not a part of what I call your Unique Talent™? Do you know what your Unique Talent™ is and how to make the most if it?

My challenge to you is to find a professional coach who works with and understands entrepreneurs. Then focus on finding your Unique Talent™ as the first priority. Next, learn how to delegate all those things that are outside of your Unique Talent™ zone. If you think this isn’t possible, examine the world’s greatest entrepreneurs who also have happy family lives with lots of interesting and engaging friends.

Trust me, the secret is focus and balance. It’s not about going faster. It’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter. It’s about being more strategic with each action that you take which includes knowing not only what to focus on but also what to delegate and what to stop doing completely.

Remember that success is never enough. What you want is success with fulfillment, and that requires a different strategy.

Get in touch with a coach today if you don’t have one. Here’s a tip: A great coach should ultimately not cost you a dime. A great coach should be helping you to earn more money and gain more free time. Remember, focus and balance are what lead to success with fulfillment. Replace the urge to go faster with the strategy of balancing your life and your work. This is the secret to a life’s journey that’s both more profitable and more fulfilling.

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Aikido

I often talk with clients about Aikido, especially if they are having a bad day. Are you familiar with Aikido? It’s a martial art developed by a man named Morihei Ueshiba in the 1920s. It’s by far my most favorite martial art but it’s really much more than a martial art, it’s a philosophy of life. The essence of the martial art Aikido is to defend yourself while also protecting anyone who may be attacking you. Seriously, the goal is to defend yourself while also protecting anyone who may be attacking you. That’s not the traditional approach, right?

What’s fascinating about Aikido is that it seeks to diffuse a problem or bad situation without hurting anyone, which should always be the primary objective. In this regard, I sometimes think of a child who is having a temper tantrum while a calm parent just hugs the child or does whatever is best to protect the child all the while knowing that everything will be okay when the child stops thrashing about and regains a bit of sanity.

We often run into people in life who are like children thrashing about and throwing their weight around. They aren’t having a good day so they want you to join them in their misery. But alas, this is a game you don’t have to play. As a mentor of mine once said to me: “Robert, never let someone else’s lack of balance affect your balance.” Doesn’t that bring to mind the old “Karate Kid” movie with Mr. Miyagi dishing out wise albeit often perplexing advice?

The truth is that it’s great advice. “Never let someone else’s lack of balance affect your balance.” That’s the kind of advice we need in difficult interactions of any kind. The natural thing to do when problems present themselves is to allow the problem to overtake you, sometimes letting the situation take control of your consciousness and stir you into one negative emotion or action after another. However, how much better would it be if you could remain calm and focused with the belief that you can handle anything that comes your way? What if you could smile, relax, and stay calm through the next storm?

Remember, it’s not if there will be a next storm, it’s simply a matter of when. Doesn’t that mean that now is an excellent time to get ready?

The common reaction of most people is to push back if pushed. But what if you were so wise that you knew when to just step out of the way?

Look up “Aikido” on Wikipedia and see if you find it as interesting and useful as I do. It’s both a martial art and a philosophy of life that allows you to protect yourself while helping others from hurting you or themselves. Trust me, it’s not easy. But with practice, you might just transform your life and the life of someone else in the process.

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Be Useful

Would you say that you are useful? I can assure you the answer is yes but what you do think? This is an important question to consider, especially if you don’t feel like your life is on the right track. To help you think about your answer, I want to share something from Robert Fulghum, the author of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Here’s what Mr. Fulghum wrote on his website about being useful:

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“Often, without realizing it, we fill important places in each other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, coworkers, and neighbors. Good people who are always “there,” who can be relied upon in small, ordinary ways. People who, by example, teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the daily-ness of life.

“I want to be one of those.

“You may be one of those, yourself. There are those who depend on you, watch you, learn from you, are inspired by you, and count on you being in their world. You may never have proof of your importance to them, but you are more important than you may think. There are those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who. We seldom make this mutual influence clear to each other. But being aware of the possibility that you are useful in this world is the doorway into assuring that will come to be true.

“My way is to keep writing and sharing that. What’s yours?”

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I think it’s hard to improve on that. If fact, I think it’s not only a good idea to review Mr. Fulghum’s ideas about being useful from time-to-time, but also to review what he learned in kindergarten that became the guiding principles of his life, and the basis for many best-selling books.

Here they are in summary form:

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ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN
by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten. ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

© Robert Fulghum, 1990.
Found in Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.