Jul 162014
 

Stephen Covey will be remembered most for his book — The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — which was a runaway best seller. If you have read this book 20 years ago, when it was most popular, I suggest reading it again. While some of Covey’s ideas can be traced to the work of many before him, his succinct and well architected compilation is very valuable.

As we grow older, our interpretation of books and ideas is getting better. Re-reading a good book after putting it aside for a decade makes sense, because it results in new ideas and newfound appreciation.

stephen-r-covey

Here are a dozen great quotes from Covey that are well worth thinking about while in your own fortress of solitude:

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

Life is not about accumulation, it is about contribution.

The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things.

Live out of your imagination, not your history.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.

Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.

We become what we repeatedly do.

Leadership is a choice, not a position.

I have an abundance mentality: When people are genuinely happy at the successes of others, the pie gets larger.

— Stephen Covey

Now, here’s the kicker — after thinking deeply about these core ideas, will you decide to adopt just one of them, make it a habit, and change yourself for the better?

Everything good starts will making a good decision.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jul 072014
 

It is a crowded world, full of distractions, and it is getting louder all the time. People seem to have less time and less interest in listening to anyone. Instant messaging and checking one’s Facebook and Instagram take more and more available attention. It seems like more than half of everyone under thirty is wearing ear buds. Without a doubt, it is getting hard to be heard and understood, yet few skills matter more to your success and effectiveness than your ability to communicate effectively. 

Color-headphones

Do you find that others sometimes miss your message or don’t listen as attentively as you would like them to? There’s a reason, and it is well worth figuring out the root cause. There are ways to rise above, but many people fall into poor communication habits. The result is that less people listen.

Julian Treasure studies sound and advises businesses on how best to use it. He is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses — offices, retailers, hotels — on how to use sound. Here is one of his three short talks at TED. We all have habits that can be improved. I think his thoughts are well worth considering:

2014-06-27_1018-julian

As with many things that lead to personal success, improving yourself is a matter of eliminating or at least greatly limiting bad habits while enhancing good habits. In the case of speaking, Julian suggests eliminating your —

  • gossiping,
  • judging,
  • negativity,
  • complaining,
  • excuses,
  • lying / exaggeration, and
  • dogmatism.

These seven absolutely turn people off to your message. Those who think a that a bit of gossip every week, or little white lie here and a little exaggeration there are no big deal, don’t realize the damage they do to themselves and their longer-term believability.

Focus on four good habits —

  • speaking honestly and from the heart,
  • being authentic (be yourself),
  • do what you say (have integrity), and
  • have love (wish them well) for your fellow man.

Improving oneself is mission-critical but we often lose months, even years, because we are too busy. Jim Rohn’s consistent message was that everyone should “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” One of Stephen Covey’s seven habits was “Sharpen the Saw“, a likely adaptation from Abraham Lincoln’s “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe.” In my opinion, improving your ability to communicate — clearly, concisely, and with impact — must be at the top of your skills improvement quest. There is always room to get better.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jul 012014
 

Many foolishly believe that having the brilliant idea is what makes a person succeed or fail. I believe the truth is found in the value of discipline in our lives. Hundreds of good ideas come and go during any given year. If a person is not disciplined, none of them will pay off. Discipline is the ingredient that makes all the difference.

Here are ten great quotes about discipline to consider over a cup of coffee:

langkawi_sky_bridge

It doesn’t matter whether you are pursuing success in business, sports, the arts, or life in general: The bridge between wishing and accomplishing is discipline.
— Harvey Mackay

Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.
— Stephen Covey

It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.
— Zig Ziglar

Discipline strengthens the mind so that it becomes impervious to the corroding influence of fear.
— Bernard Law Montgomery

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.
— Roy L. Smith

Discipline is just doing the same thing the right way whether anyone’s watching or not.
— Michael J. Fox

The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.
— Bum Phillips

It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner.
— Vince Lombardi

Most people want to avoid pain, and discipline is usually painful.
— John C. Maxwell

The world conspires to steal and waste your time. It takes true discipline to stay on track while television, social media, and friends of leisure beckon.
— Bob Sakalas

Bruce-Lee-Enter-the-Dragon

If you embrace self-discipline, you will go far in life. Discipline matters. Discipline is what you must be made of.

It — no matter what “it” we are talking about — will not be easy if it is a worthy pursuit. One of the disciplines that I believe matters most is the discipline of optimism and enthusiasm. Rare the success that isn’t fueled by true belief and an excited mind.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jun 242014
 

Regret is often the product of not taking a chance, not embracing an opportunity, when we had it. While people offer a lot of excuses for why they missed out as they express regrets, the underlying truth is most often a failure of courage. If you are not making mistakes, it is a clear indicator that you are not trying enough new things. But it takes courage to try anything new, to embark on any new exciting journey, to try a road less traveled by the rest of the human herd.

The hardest step is always the first — getting started comes before getting motivated — and getting started takes courage.

Nothing gets in people’s way more often than fears, and fears are usually quite silly once one looks back on them and sees them for what they really are. It is often more than just the fear of failure that prevents people from trying the new. Others have fear of success, for with success comes far greater responsibility. Others yet fear change or the unknown, simply because they assume the the unknown is worse than where they are today. Small minded people fear people that are not like them, or people that think differently than them. In every case, those who decide to risk in the face of small fears or large fears, expand their lives and their horizons. This is courage and like every key to success, courage can be learned, courage can be practiced, courage can be expanded through experiences.

skydiving

This is not to say that all fear is bad. Fear is what drives prudent decision-making, in other words balancing the chance of success versus the chance of failure. But those without courage allow themselves to become paralyzed. Fear prevents so many things that are good. A person with a fear of rejection doesn’t stick their hand out and introduce themselves to new people. Similar fears convince people to not try out for the team, to not run for class president, to not put in for that promotion, to not decide to have kids, to not be all they can be. In each of these cases, the upside potential usually outweighs the downside risk but those who have not developed the courage to take risks, shrink away from opportunities.

All the great leaders of the last century have observed the extraordinary importance of courage. Winston Churchill, perhaps the greatest leader during world war two, proclaimed “Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.” He is right. I have often written about the crucial importance of integrity. Is it possible to be a person of integrity if you do not have the courage to stand up for what you believe is right? Is it possible to have extraordinary character if you don’t have the courage to stand up to peer pressure? Your faith will be tested, as will your sense of duty. Even your purpose will be questioned and you will have to have to courage to swim against the ever-changing winds of “popular” thinking.

Courage takes practice. One doesn’t typically have the courage to speak in front of an audience of thousands if they have never spoken in front of an audience of five, then ten, then thirty. One doesn’t step onto a basketball court and hit two game winning free-throws unless they have played thousands of games first. The trick is to take every small opportunity you can, at least every one that makes prudent sense along the road of life, so that when the time comes, you have the experience and the courage to give it your best shot.

speaking-well

Fear is often driven by perceived risk, not necessarily actual risk. Irrational fear is driven by an irrational perception of risk and it leads to paralysis or irrational failure. Healthy fear — lets call it apprehension — is healthy, because it is driven by an accurate assessment of risk. It does not immobilize us, but helps us make good decisions when it is critical that we must. A great example is a person trapped atop a burning building. While most of us have a fear of heights, the prudent and courageous person can evaluate the situation, and decide that sliding down a wire over the yawning abyss is less risky than staying put on top of the inferno.

Courage therefore is not lack of fear but rather mastery of fear and risk. Mastery of fear and risk starts with doing your research, your homework, evaluating your situation. Preparation helps an extraordinary amount, yet many people are lazy and do not prepare. Using my example of speaking in front of a large crowd, it is far easier to master your fear and succeed if you have developed great material, written down a crisp opening, made some backup notes to keep in your pockets, and practiced your speech once or twice. Courage is bolstered through preparation.

Preparation may not put you completely over the top, but it makes that last bit of courage far easier to muster. Courage allows a person to become decisive, to grab opportunities that others do not, to take chances when the odds are good.

Take every prudent risk, face the world with courage, and your world will be a far bigger place, with far more expansive horizons, with plentiful opportunities. Don’t listen to your peers for you must realize that smart, courageous people are rare – most everyone you will know will have far more limited horizons than you.

The world can be your oyster if you embrace it. Envision yourself courageous. Take smart risks. Embrace opportunities with little hesitation. Most importantly, realize that courage requires practice.

Here is a quote I love:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Embrace opportunities. Life is better when you have the courage to live life large, with few regrets.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Watch Jim Carrey in Yes Man once a year.

yes_man

Jun 112014
 

dancing-in-the-rainSometimes I see something so concise, so brilliant, so crisp, so true, that I truly wish that I had written it.

Life will never go quite as planned. You can be meticulous in your ideas, your goals, and your execution, and Murphy’s Law will remain a potent force. Being flexible and enjoying what you get is important. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to plan a number of large, outdoor events, so perhaps the ever changing weather really taught me some valuable lessons.

Consider this little magnet, found in a small boutique at the Seattle airport. It really hit home for me:

storm-to-pass

Do you agree?

I.M. Optimism Man

Jan 022014
 

John Wooden is perhaps the greatest basketball coach that ever lived. He saw himself, first and foremost, as a teacher. Many of Coach’s lessons had much more to do with life than just with basketball. John’s wisdom is captured in several books that are well worth reading, including one of my favorites, Wooden on Leadership.

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Coach Wooden, March 24, 1969

Here are my top 10 John Wooden quotes to consider and apply in your life:

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.
I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.

Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you.
It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Success is never final, failure is never fatal.
It’s courage that counts.

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Young people need models, not critics.

Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.

Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Thank you Coach, for inspiring me and thousands of others. Rest in peace.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

 

Dec 282013
 

Christmas Day 2013 has come and gone. New Year’s Day is just around the corner. People are starting to think about the bright promise a new year brings. The new year seems to give all of us the courage to make a few changes, to adjust the course of our life. I think all of us should draw a new card annually at the poker table of life.

Unfortunately, people often make a feeble attempt at new resolutions, all the while doubting that they will see their goal through. They recall how they failed last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Many give up and wave the white flag.

As all my friends know, I am a fervent believer in the power of goals. Goals keep you young. Goals keep you learning. Goals give you courage. But I’ve come to realize that what many people need are not new goals, but rather a new found discipline to see them through.

My suggestion is to only pick the one goal you really want to nail in 2014. Just one (for now). Pick a goal that you can accomplish by July 4th. Write it down in, followed by the words “whatever it takes” and then post the message everywhere — on your fridge, in your car, in your wallet, on your screensaver — everywhere. Then commit wholeheartedly to do “whatever it takes.

Tenacity at its best.

Kerri Strug in 1996 – Unforgettable Moment

Whatever it takes is a magical phrase. You can do it — it is only one goal. Chase this goal with all your heart and all your might. Go all in. Aim for June. It will be the best July 4th you ever had, because you will have conquered, you will have proven that you have the right stuff, you have what it takes.

Knowing that you can do “whatever it takes” is empowering. Positive changes, big or small, add up. Don’t waste this opportunity. Make your resolution proving that you have greater tenacity than the average guy or gal. You can, if you believe you can. Commit wholeheartedly to the pursuit.

Tenacity matters. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. A few quotes to consider:

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.”
― Amelia Earhart

 

Dec 092013
 

I listen to so many talking heads, all talking incessantly on talk shows on talk channels, news channels, satellite radios, and streaming internet feeds. Everybody sounds smart.

stern

Here is a point to ponder:

All of us are smart enough to know there are problems. Most of us are smart enough to point out specific problems in an eloquent way. Some of us are smart enough to ask the right questions to understand the true, underlying causes of a problem better. Few — very few — of us are smart enough to ask the right questions, at the right time, in the right way, so that the people who are in the position to act come to the right, logical conclusion, fueled with the motivation to move forward and solve the true problem.

McKinsey & Co is well regarded as the smartest guys in the room when it comes to business strategy consulting. McKinsey teams often propose “brilliant” solutions that can’t be, or are not, implemented, given a company’s situation, personnel, and organizational culture.

It is only brilliant when the smart solution makes it to the finish line and helps as designed.

Smart guys, like the bright stars at McKinsey hired from the best Ivy League schools, often don’t get the essence of the lesson. Solutions that get implemented are worth much more than solutions proposed but abandoned. It often comes down to asking the right questions, not telling people the solution to their problem.

Think for just a minute about the federal government in DC. Is anyone asking the right questions or is everyone, on both sides, simply trumpeting their “we should do this and we should do that” messages?

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 252013
 

Jim Rohn is one of my favorites. His philosophies and mine are most often in harmony.

In my opinion, Jim is the perfect guy to listen to when you decide a three day retreat to some lonely, beautiful mountain top cabin would do you a lot of good. Mr. Rohn was not the most succinct, but his message was absolutely outstanding. Here are my choices for a Jim Rohn Top Ten Quotes of all time.

jim-rohn

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

I would argue that discipline and execution are where most of us fail. We all have ideas. Few ideas are ever converted into written goals, a failure of discipline right out of the gate. Those written goals then need to be distilled into written missions with due dates, missions are distilled into projects (with due dates), and projects into readily achievable tasks (with due dates). Tasks need to be managed on the calendar, and discipline is needed every step of the way.  That is execution.

We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.

I would rather suffer the pain of discipline. Let’s take staying in shape as one small example. Staying in shape takes a discipline of eating well and keeping a fitness routine. Yes, there is pain to get up a bit early and fight the bitter wind to get to the gym. But would you rather lose your mobility at 70, and spend your golden years stuck in a senior center? I’d bet the pain of regret is worse than the pain of fitness.

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.

Never stop learning. Too many folks stop learning after school. Yet, all the people that knock it out of the park have three things in common:

  • they have the discipline to set written goals and plans while driving toward accomplishment,
  • they prefer to suffer the pain of discipline over the pain of regret, and
  • they embrace learning new things, seeking out knowledge at every life’s turn.

If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Prudent risks must be taken. This one element stops 99% of people on this planet. Choose to be one of the one percent.

Failure is not a single, cataclysmic event. You don’t fail overnight. Instead, failure is a few errors in judgement, repeated every day.

If you are not making mistakes, you are not taking risks. All progress involves failing forward, never giving up while taking chances. The US Marines teach the idea of adapt and overcome, and they are dead-on right. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.

People think they can’t change. Change involves a decision made in a millisecond. If you don’t believe you are shackled, you are not.

Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.

Becoming a remarkable person is your responsibility and your duty. Read my previous article here.

You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.

Few people understand this simple economic truth. I would add that supply and demand of your value-added abilities matters too, because the marketplace is quite efficient. But, in the end, find a way to offer more value than most others, improve yourself in valuable ways, and you will make a lot more income in the end. Financial success is not a mystery.

Make measurable progress in reasonable time.

Too often a week goes by, and I don’t make a first down that matters. Sometimes a month goes by. Sometimes a year… Keep a log, keep a diary. Measurement requires pale ink to stay honest with yourself. Make sure that you are making meaningful, measurable progress. No one will worry too much about your lack of progress except for you.

And my all time favorite Jim Rohn quote:

Let others lead small lives, but not you.
Let others argue over small things, but not you.
Let others cry over small hurts, but not you.
Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rohn. Job well done.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Taking a three day contemplation weekend — without T.V., without radio, without noise, without crowds —  is something we should all do, at least once every three years, but it is easier said than done.

mountain-cabin-in-winter

Nov 052013
 

I get many great ideas by reading quotes distilled by others. The beauty of quotes (and the people that search for them and give them to us for free) is that they often are the true essence of a big idea.

Jack is no saint, but he is a heck of a businessman. He is a top ten guy in the big business Hall of Fame. Here are ten great quotes from one of the most passionate and successful corporate leaders America has ever had:

  1. An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
  2. Control your own destiny or someone else will.
  3. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
  4. Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
  5. Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
  6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.
  7. You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.
  8. You measure your people and you take action on those that don’t measure up.
  9. The biggest cowards are managers who don’t let people know where they stand.
  10. The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.

This brings me to another question – why does America never manage to elect a president with serious experience at running an complex enterprise with hundreds of thousands of employees? It seems that we should — someday soon — give it a try. Experience matters. But, that’s a topic for another day.

I.M. Optimism Man

 

Nov 032013
 

Fall back. Standard Time is here. My favorite month or two of the year.

Why? Because it is now far easier to get up early and get great things done while others still sleep.

One of the most common excuses we often hear is “I wish I had more time each day… I would write a book… I would start a company… I would, I would, I would…

There is more time. Through a side-effect of an idea that many credit to Benjamin Franklin to save energy (although others claim it was invented by George Vernon Hudson or William Willett), we get a great gift each fall. Clocks are adjusted one hour backwards. All you have to do is continue to get up at the same time you have been getting up. You gain a pristine, quiet, free-of-interruptions hour each morning. Ben’s “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” still applies in the age of the internet.

One of the formulas for success often cited is to burn the midnight oil, to work while others are in bed. I agree. If you want to get more done, you ultimately need to spend more time working on your ideas than the average guy. But instead of late nights (that I should say do work well for some individuals), my theory is to get up early, because you are fresh and the worries of the day haven’t yet overwhelmed your mind.

Too often, people say that they are not morning people. Being a morning person is a choice, a decision, not a genetic excuse.

You have been getting up at 6 am. Starting today, get up at 5 am. It is the same time your body is used to. You can do it because you have been doing it. I have been getting up at 4:55. Now, I will go for 4:00 straight up. Ben has given me 55 great minutes if I use them wisely. Start working out if you have not been. Starting writing that book, or that software, if you have one or both of those goals. Start planning your day before checking your e-mail — you will be amazed at how this simple concept changes everything. Use the quiet, magic hours of the morning to make something great happen. You do have the time to change your trajectory. Do you have the will power?

Never miss a sunrise.

I.M. Optimism Man 

Jun 292013
 

Greatness requires optimism.

A lot of self-appointed “smart” people spend a lot of our time discussing the terribly difficult issues of the day. Every time you turn on the television, some pundit is explaining how it will never work, or how a company will certainty fail, or how the market will crash. Pessimism is everywhere, often disguised under the banner of realism. Whenever a sentence starts with “It is not realistic to…” it is wise to listen with a cautious ear.

Why do people position themselves as realists? Because fear, uncertainty, and doubt “sell” — as the saying goes, good news doesn’t sell newspapers.

Few — if any — great achievements have come from pessimists. You have to be optimistic, you have to be an action-oriented believer, willing to take risks, to create anything truly great.

Need proof? Consider this example case:

 Could a pessimist / realist have created Disney World?

Case closed.

Will it be easy? Of course not. Here is what Walt Disney observed:

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Decide to be an optimist and don’t think small. Optimism + decisive action + tenacity can lead to greatness if you are willing to set your sights high enough.

I.M. Optimism Man

Dec 102012
 

Few people understand the magic of persistence. Most people will take one shot, maybe two, at something at some point in their lives, and then quickly retreat back to the safety of their everyday rut. Why is the everyday rut such a draw? I think it’s because it is mental-state-of-mind safe… when you are in your daily rut, you don’t have to evaluate whether you are succeeding or struggling, winning or losing. You don’t have to make any truly difficult decisions where there are no clear-cut answers. You can do the same’ole things without ever thinking about your personal scorecard.

The truth is that there is no failure, if you get up each morning and try again, giving it your best effort. There is only success in your future, with the only unknown being “when” the breakthrough will happen. Those independent souls who decide to believe, to go for it, to remain positive, to adapt and overcome, do win in the end.

Here is a fantastic truth that all of us should remember and take to heart:

 

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

— Winston Churchill

 

 

 

Becoming unstoppable — and remaining enthusiastic during the ever-present struggles — are choices each of us can make.

I.M. Optimism Man

Nov 302012
 

Be kind.

How often do we give this advice to our kids as we send them off to school or to win the big game? Not often I’ll bet. Do we, as a society, admire the kind CEO, the kind football coach, the kind Hollywood superstar? Do we, as parents, insist that our kid help the other kid up after a foul in sport? Do we let the person in a hurry cut in front of us in traffic or do we block his path, enjoying the moment of silly triumph? Are there any reality T.V. shows following the lives of kind stars, or just Kardasians and tyrannical Abby Lee Millers of the world?

Should we then be surprised that kindness and respect for others seems to be disappearing in our society?

I believe kindness, to be kind and considerate, is very important to becoming a well developed member of a family, a community, and society as a whole. At the root of it all, I think there is a misguided perception that kindness and respect somehow leads to weakness and failure. This is not true. I wish to be kind this year, and kinder the next. Ultimately, I will be a very kind old man, not a cranky one yelling about the kids cutting across my grass.

Consider these five observations about kindness:

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency.
Caroline Kennedy

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
Confucius

And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things.
Martin Scorcese

There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.
Nathaniel Branden

A great idea would be to decide to have a personal quota of just one kind act each day, and record what you did in your journal. Great habits start with small daily steps.

I.M. Optimism Man

Jun 172012
 

Ideas are perishable. They quickly expire and go limp, like lettuce in the fridge. It is inevitable that you will lose enthusiasm and momentum, if you wait until a better time to start.

If you waited until all the lights turned green, you would never make it across town. Don’t wait. Start now.

Persistent, unstoppable, determined action is far more important than brilliant forethought.

Don’t let your fantastic idea wilt!

Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.
— Victor Kiam

The rewards in business go to the man who does something with an idea.
— William Benton

The way to get ahead is to start now.
— William Feather

If you don’t place your foot on the rope, you will never cross the chasm.
— Anonymous

Optimism, unaccompanied by personal effort, is merely a state of mind, and not fruitful.
— Edward L. Curtis

I.M. Optimism Man

May 252012
 

I believe that choosing to embrace optimism leads to success and happiness. What many people do not realize is that, scientifically speaking, we are born optimists, with a clear and measurable bias toward optimism.

Optimism can cure your life, but, as with medicine, optimism has some potentially negative side-effects. There is no doubt that the benefits are huge. There is also no doubt that we must accurately consider the risk/reward of any endeavor if we are to succeed. A wise person must become aware for his or her “optimism bias” and factor this bias into their analysis to make wise bets and take prudent risks.

Please watch this video to gain better perspective on the neuroscience of optimism:

The key, in the end, is to take lots of calculated risks and decisive actions. Reward must be likely and risk must be minimized. One’s bias for optimism must be factored into the equation.

Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.
— Maxwell Maltz

In all thy getting, get understanding,

I.M. Optimism Man

PS. Want more from Tali? Here is her book: The Optimism Bias

Apr 302012
 

We all lose momentum on our endeavors. It is intoxicatingly easy to get excited with a sparkling new idea. It is often easy enough to plunge in headfirst and get started. But most — if not all — of our important projects will hit a wall, where part of our beautiful vision transforms into hard work and drudgery right before our eyes.

There is no magic pill to take to overcome that moment where you don’t want to continue. It simply takes persistence and will power. Don’t forget that. Believe that you can persist, and you can. Don’t give yourself an option of stopping until you get to that first finish line. Don’t forget that no project’s first finish line really turns out to be the final one. There will be an unanticipated phase two, and phase three, and phase four.

Here are a few quotes to consider and remember:

Success is almost totally dependent upon drive and persistence. The extra energy required to make another effort or try another approach is the secret of winning.
— Denis Waitley

The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.
— Napoleon Hill

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
— Calvin Coolidge

Zero to overnight success in seven short years.
— Optimism Man

All of us sometimes lose momentum on a worthy endeavor. Regaining the excitement and gaining momentum from a dead stop is very hard. I think the trick to get started again is to go to your personal fortress of solitude (mine is Starbucks because I just don’t have a nearby mountain peak to climb) and create a very detailed action task list to make a couple of first downs. Then pick a day to focus only on this one project and knock the tasks out in order, as though the deadline was just 24 hours away. Although I’m a big believer in the tortoise-wins-the-race formula, a big burst of action in one superhuman day is like a defibrillator that restarts the heartbeat of your project and establishes new momentum.

Stay Optimistic and Persistent, My Friends!

I.M. Optimism Man

Mar 272012
 

The world is full of wishful dreamers. They dream of their first book, their first product, their first business, their first million, their tenth million.

Within this vast multitude of dreamers are a minority of people who are both optimistic and action-oriented. These two qualities, more than any others, ignite the engine of achievement. Starting something is far easier to do than finishing a project with gusto. I’ve personally have plenty of experience at starting without finishing. I have outlined nearly a dozen great book ideas but only finished two. I’ve wasted dozens of business ideas without getting nearly all of them to first base, watching others create successful enterprises that I had imagined years earlier. We tend to regret what we did not do, what we did not finish. Finishing is priceless.

Our society rewards those select few who create something real, not just dream about it on a bar napkin. This one of the most  famous bar napkins of all time because it became real.

If you want to succeed more, start less projects — a lot less — but finish everything that you start. Nike made “Just Do It” famous, but I personally like “Just Finish It” better.

“We rate ability in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt”

Before you turn over a new leaf, forgive yourself and forget the past. All of us have started a lot of things that we did not finish in our past. Don’t regret. Learn and move on. Yesterday doesn’t matter. You must believe that you can and will become a finisher. Decide that you are a finisher. When you look in the mirror, you must see a finisher. If you can forgive yourself, you have seen the light.

You must become highly selective. Evaluate every idea and decide against nearly all of them. There are always many more worthy projects than a person can tackle. Opportunities are everywhere.

Less is truly more. The trick is not to start more projects. Don’t multi-task when you are chasing your dream — multi-tasking is over-rated while focusing is under-appreciated.  Refuse to procrastinate — procrastination makes simple tasks much more difficult.  Choose where you will invest your best time carefully — there are only a few hours of high-quality, sharp-mental-state time in each of our days. Get obsessed about finishing whatever you started like your life depends on it.

Plan to overcome. Count on every project requiring more time and effort than you imagined. Then there is pesky Murphy and his unescapable law: whatever can go wrong usually does, in fact, go wrong. You have to plan for things to be difficult. You have to decide to adapt, persist, and overcome. You have to anticipate that you will lose momentum but you must not stop until you finish. Become relentless.

If you have not been finishing in recent years, the trick is to start small. Pick small baby step milestones. Write them down and review them daily. Keep your promises to yourself. Be flexible. Setbacks are not failures but lessons along the road to final success. Your momentum will grow. Pretty soon, your bar napkin might turn one of the most profitable airlines in the world.

Don’t be one of the dreamers… the many who spend their life starting without finishing. Successful people get the job done after the excitement and the novelty have worn off. They get the job done when it is no longer fun. They get the job done when they run into roadblocks. They don’t use excuses. They don’t give up.

A few posts back, I mentioned that the gates of opportunity are often overlooked because three fierce guard dogs scare people away. Those guard dogs are risk, sacrifice, and faith. Perseverance is not easy. You will have to sacrifice to finish projects. You will have to put off things that you want. You will miss events that you will wish to attend. You will have to choose to work long hours and burn the midnight oil to finish what you start. Success only comes before work in the dictionary.

Optimism is the secret ingredient. It is optimism that sparks the successful, the extra energy that helps people get over the hump, even when it looks too difficult to see it through.

Believe in yourself, believe in your ideas, start less, always err to the side of action, always finish what you start, follow the commandments of financial success, and you will be rewarded with an awesome life.

I.M. Optimism Man

PS> Here is a great quote from one of the authors of the bar napkin above. Herb is one of the most optimistic, action-first, business leaders that I have ever met:

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Mar 112012
 

Here is a fact of life that is obvious, but it seems that few remember it: No one gets rich following the herd.

Don’t let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you’re crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you’re lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you’re greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn’t understand.

Robert G. Allen