Category Archives: Resilience

Authentically Positive Attitude: Creating the Foundation

Think positively. The power of positive thinking. Seek out positive influences.

Motivational speakers and life coaches all agree that positivity in our lives is a, perhaps the key to success. And there is no doubt that this is true. Equally important is that we rid our lives of negativity, a process that is different from and cannot necessarily be accomplished by adopting a positive outlook and focus.

Authentically Positive Attitude: Creating the Foundation

For the first several years I was in business I was convinced that most, if not all, wealthy people had money because they inherited it or had gotten it dishonestly. Needless to say, this was not an empowering belief for someone in the real estate business whose clients would be these very people. But even as I worked on my positive outlook, this negative belief persisted. Not until I developed a plan to read about how people had become successful and met and got to know many wealthy people was I able to rid myself of this debilitating negativity.

Like anything in life, if we want to conquer negativity we must have a plan. Here are some steps for creating it:

  1. Make a list of the negative beliefs, events, and people in your life
  2. Prioritize them since you will be more productive resolving them one at a time
  3. Develop a plan for: Proving to yourself the negative belief is false, for coming to terms with a negative event, or for changing the nature of a negative relationship
  4. Obtain the commitment of your spouse and/or other close family members and friends to help you work your plan
  5. As you rid yourself of one source of negativity, create a plan to work on the next one on your list.

In some cases, you may need professional help, such as to deal with something particularly awful that happened to you. If we do not rid ourselves of negativity, a future occurrence can trigger a much more profound earthquake, that crumbles the weak foundation on which we have built our positive edifice.

Question: What ideas or processes have you used to rid yourself of negativity?


Exercising Your Faith

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” So said Thomas Edison, and he would know. Until 2003 he held the most patents of any individual in the world.

“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” Working his entire life on social reforms, brewer and abolitionist Sir Thomas Buxton did not attain them all. But he became an expert on determination.

“Practice makes perfect.” So goes the saying that many of us learned as children. Want to hit home runs? PRACTICE!

You may already be convinced that persistence leads to success in athletics or business (the physical realm) and academics (the mental realm). Have you considered applying it to the spiritual realm?

Exercising Your Faith

Ever wondered why most religions recommend or require daily prayer? The best answer I have heard to this question is if we attempt to connect with G-d often, we stand a better chance of doing so sometimes. When I started becoming more committed to my faith, I was challenged to pray three times a day. At first, the effort seemed wasted. But over time, as my “prayer muscle” grew, so did my spiritual resiliency.

Perhaps the most important metaphysical skill we can work on is faith. Given how important conviction is to our success, you would think we would have long since adopted a daily regimen to cultivate it. Yet it seems most people have the attitude that when they need it their faith will be present. Can you imagine Kobe Bryant saying to his coach, “I don’t have to practice my free throw shot, it’ll be there when I need it.” Ridiculous, no?

We must exercise our faith if we want it to be available on demand. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Decide in whom you wish to develop faith: perhaps G-d, yourself, your spouse, or your children.
  2. Determine what aspect of faith you want to grow: G-d gives you everything you need, your ability to effectively direct your life. The choices are virtually limitless.
  3. Choose an exercise that challenges the area of faith in which you are working: Daily prayer to G-d for insight, strength, or another quality; working toward a goal that has many steps to attain it.
  4. Work out what you will do when your scheme goes awry: You did not realize something about a situation at the beginning that with better insight would have helped you avoid a problem. What will you tell yourself about G-d answering your prayers? Could He have said no, for now, necessitating harder work on your part?

Martha Graham, arguably the Picasso or Frank Lloyd Wright of dance, said, "Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired."

Question: Do you think deeper faith can be developed through practice?

Want Success? Fail More!

Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, though in truth he improved an invention that had been around for 50 years. Perhaps he gets the glory because he failed almost 10,000 times before he found a way that worked. When asked if he felt like a failure, supposedly Edison responded that he had never failed, rather he found 9,000 ways that did not work. True or not, this story has a vital message for anyone striving to succeed.

Want Success? Fail More!

When I started my real estate company in 1986 I thought success would be a breeze. Two years later, I had found lots of ways not to make money. In one case, I negotiated an agreement so poorly that I lost out on over $20,000 of income I badly needed. So I came up with a philosophy for any time I lost a significant deal: I figured I had bought myself a class or semester at the Wharton School of Business. By learning from my failures I never had to spend what a degree from Wharton would have cost.

Fear of failure means we are losing out on:

  • Discovering ways to be more successful in the future
  • Knowing when and how to be flexible
  • More chances to expand our businesses

If someone tells you he never loses a sale he has found the fountain of youth (very unlikely), he makes few or no sales (you cannot lose something you never try to have), or he never takes a chance on a less than perfect, pre-sold prospect. Which would you rather have: 10% of 1000 prospects buying from you or 100% of 50? Is not the first option twice as good?

Here are five steps to turn failure into success:

  1. Find out why the person said no
  2. If the no is valid, move on
  3. If there is a credible response to the objection, give it
  4. Use the information on the lost sale to improve your skills
  5. Ask for referrals from the prospects who turned you down

We do not need to be a genius like Edison to know transforming failure into success is in our hands

How have you used a failure to move you forward?

Please comment below ↓


Sensible Goal Setting

Goal setting is as much an art as a science. Whether in the realm of spiritual, mental, or physical, our goals should be challenging yet achievable.

If we are setting goals in an area where we have a lot of experience, meeting these two criteria is not too difficult. For example, I have been a runner for most of my life. I know my limits on speed and distance. So I can readily set physical fitness goals that stretch my ability but not to the point where I have little or no chance of meeting them.

More difficult is setting goals in a field in which we are inexperienced. I would be hard pressed to set reasonable goals as a painter since I know very little about either its artistic or business sides. For some goals it is not necessary to benchmark them. I have a goal to travel to all 50 states. The only criterion I used to set it is the belief that the only way to really know our country is to visit every state.

For other goals, having points of reference or a basis of measurement is more important. Fortunately the Internet provides us with a medium through which we can fairly quickly gather information we need to make adequate goals that can be refined as we gain experience.

Since our topic is entrepreneurship many of us will want to set a goal for our income. If you have been in the military for most or all of your working life, it may be difficult to set a realistic goal in civilian life. Is an income of $500,000 a year after five years in business realistic? Let’s look at some statistics from the IRS (all data is from 2009, the most recent year it was compiled):

Total individual tax returns filed: 140,494,127

Top 25% of earners (35,123,531 taxpayers) made at least: $66,193

Top 10% of earners (14,049,412 taxpayers) made at least: $112,124

Top 5% of earners (7,024,706 taxpayers) made at least: $154,643

Top 1% of earners (1,404,941 taxpayers) made at least: $343,927

Put another way, to get an A in income earning we have to make $112,124 in adjusted gross income.

Do these facts put into perspective earning a $500,000 annual income? Only 0.35% of taxpayers do so, which is not to say that you should not make it your goal, but to understand how difficult it will be to achieve it.

There are metrics for just about any goal we want to make. The key is to find them and figure out our capacity to meet or beat the standard they appear to set.

While we are on the subject of IRS statistics, recently I read on article titled “How the Rich Got Rich.” Author Jeff Haden’s concludes the way to get wealthy is to own a business. I could not agree more.

Bringing Order to Chaos

Fitness. Lifestyle. Bringing your dog to the office. Finding a great business idea. A disparate list, no?

While I will plead guilty to writing about that which interests me, it was by design that the topics appear disconnected. That is often how business works. You plan a series of meetings for advancing your next marketing initiative and instead spend the whole day handling a personnel crisis. Entrepreneurs must cultivate agility in their thinking.

This week I am going to focus on synthesizing a couple of issues. It may seem contradictory to promote fitness while also noting that the entrepreneur’s lifestyle does not afford us more free time. Indeed, striking a balance between work, family, and fitness is probably the biggest challenge we face. How do we do it?

Robert Burns may be right when he wrote in To A Mouse:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still planning and time management are crucial to fulfilling all of our responsibilities. Some tips:

1. Plan your day the night before

By doing this you will not waste time in the morning deciding what you need to do. Whatever you did not complete that day has to be completed during the coming day along with whatever else has to get done that day. By planning the evening before you will set your mind to work on the challenges ahead rather than focusing on what went wrong in the past. I'm not suggesting that there's nothing to learn from our mistakes, only that we view them in terms of how they can propel us forward.

2. Do not do it unless it will move you closer to success

Reflect back on today and the day before. What things did you do that were a waste of time either because someone else should have done them or you were avoiding an unpleasant task? Schedule only those activities that will advance you toward your goals.

3. Commit to completing the tasks you have planned

Tasked yourself to call on ten potential clients or cold call for two hours? DO IT. It does not count if you stop after the eighth rejection or take two fifteen-minute breaks as part of the time. By the way, it also does not count if you have a particularly productive marketing session and decide to quit early. Keep in mind that the extraordinary success that day compensates for a fruitless day. Geoffrey James has 14 ideas for getting “insanely motivated,” and some may help you stay committed.

4. Do the things you dislike most first

Hate admin work? Get it done when you are fresh and motivated. Cannot stand cold calling? It should be the first task on your list. If you are easily demotivated, bookend the disagreeable task with a couple of short ones that you know will go well in order to launch you in a positive direction and give you something pleasant to look forward to so you will persevere.

5. Kill two birds with one stone

Simon Wood-Fleming, the CEO of Pandora Media Inc., has some great thoughts on this topic and time management in general in a article (the online version of The Wall Street Journal). One of the topics recently addressed in a number of business publications and blogs I read is setting aside quiet or contemplative time. Steve Jobs conducted meetings while walking. Especially after an important conference call or meeting, I run for 45 minutes to ruminate on what happened and/or to stimulate creative thoughts. Many times our mental or spiritual fitness plans can be combined with a family or business commitment.

6. Be on the lookout for time-saving ideas

My nickname when I was a navy chaplain in Okinawa, Japan was OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) because I was constantly looking for ways to improve the Base Chaplain Office’s efficiency. But even this old dog learns new tricks. About a month ago I read a blog post by Michael Hyatt on how to handle email more efficiently and it has saved me at least 30 minutes a day, not to mention eliminated the nagging concern about unresolved emails.

The key when adopting a new process, as well as better managing your time, is to commit to using it for a specific length of time, say two weeks. If it does not work after that time, perhaps you can modify it in a way that better fits the way you operate. If not, discard it and move on to the next one. In general, I recommend you work on one time management skill at a time, make it a part of the way you operate, then add the next layer on top of it. Rather than trying to take on too many new methods and having the whole plan explode, build slowly but surely and you are more likely to make progress.

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