Today I turn 49 and it’s been a very different sort of year.
I got to enjoy some incredible experiences with friends & family, Alex played a lot of baseball & Tyler finished his freshman year of college at Belmont University.
But we also put a lot of time and effort into helping hundreds of clients navigate the business challenges of the pandemic.
So, not only have I learned new lessons or been reminded of lessons throughout the year…but I’ve also seen many things through a different light.
Some of these I’ve shared before, as so many ‘truths’ will show themselves over and over again…while others are lessons that have recently come into focus.
1. Relationships are the biggest difference maker. The past 6 years have been successful by most every measure…vacations taken, income earned…you name it.
By most every measure, things were ‘more’ or ‘better.’
But when I look at the past several years, the things that mattered most were the people.
For the 6th consecutive year, I was able to spend more quality time with more people I really enjoy than ever before…and that’s the stuff I both remember and enjoyed the most by far.
But it’s not just that.
In challenging times, people have been there for us…and hopefully, we’ve been able to be there for others as they’ve gone through their own challenges.
It’s all a wonderful reminder that life is a team sport.
2. Finding Gratitude In Challenging Times. I think that over the past couple of years it’s become apparent to me that when we’re grateful, our problems don’t disappear – but they do occupy less space in our lives.
3. Quit Trying To Avoid Change. Everything is continually changing around us. Sometimes it’s more noticeable than others – but it’s always changing. Embrace it and keep evolving.
4. Play to Your Strengths. I talk about this one a lot, but it’s because there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t see the difference that it can make first hand.
Virtually everyone I know who achieves big things takes this approach and most everyone I see who under-achieves spends too much time on things that fall outside of their strengths.
Look around at anyone you find to be successful in any endeavor…they’re more of a specialist. Focus on being the best in a few areas and fill in the other areas of need with others (and freelancers are fine) who are strong in those spots.
5. Time is Life. Plain and simple. It’s often said that you can tell what’s important to someone by checking their bank statement and their calendar…and it’s true, but the calendar is 80% of it. Money is a renewable resource. Time is not.
That’s at the core of why I started my Ideal Business and then started teaching that concept. I didn’t want to miss my kids growing up. Their growth feels like it happens in the blink of an eye and if I missed it – I wouldn’t get a ‘do over.’
So when I’m not interested in something or someone…they just no longer get any of my time because that’s time I could be spending on people and activities that are important to me.
6. Stop Blaming Others. Sure, others play a part in everything we do, but until we take responsibility for everything we can, we are perpetuating the problem. It’s common to see a person blame someone for a hurdle along the way while simultaneously creating a dozen other hurdles themself. Don’t be that person. Control what you can control.
7. Think Bigger. Most people settle for so much less than they are capable of achieving. We place these ceilings on ourselves about what we can accomplish, how much we can earn…almost everything.
You know what is the main difference between the average entrepreneur and the one who thrives is? It’s not their talent or ability. It’s what they’ll settle for. It’s what they think they’re worth.
We often can do much, much more than we give ourselves credit for.
8. Find Mentors. In person. From afar. It doesn’t matter. Learn from those who’ve done it. I consider everyone from Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney to the people I’ve hired to mentor me this year and my best friend my mentor.
9. Who you surround yourself with makes a massive difference. Jim Rohn often talked about us being the average of the 5 people we’re around most.
I’m not sure there is any magic in the number 5, but I am sure that who you’re around is as important as any other factor when it comes to your personal and professional success.
Over the past 5 years I’ve spent more time than ever before around people that lift me up in one way or another.
It might be that they motivate me to be better because of all they’ve accomplished or it could be that they are just fun or share similar values.
For the most part, over the past 5 or so years I’ve done a good job in picking people that fit that criteria to collaborate with, work with, spend time with or learn from…be it business ventures to vacation to who has come on the podcast…and it’s been such a powerful thing.
The more value or energy ‘adders’ that are taking up the space in your life and the fewer ‘extractors’ there are…the happier and more successful you’ll be.
As an Entrepreneur, we need to have a strategic plan that factors in our life as well as our business. The strategic planning approach that big corporations use doesn’t fit for small, owner-operator businesses. At best, it just doesn’t fit and is useless. At worst, you get a full bank account and an empty life.
10. No One Succeeds Alone. I have a mom who believed in me at every turn.
Even when my dad questioned my direction, he supported me.
I’ve had the same best friend since the 4th grade and he’s offered unconditional support every step of the way.
Holly has believed in me even knowing that a failure on my part would adversely impact her too. I’ve had a number of friends and colleagues who have believed and supported me along the way too.
The truth is that we may choose our own path and our actions determine our outcomes…but without a support system in place – it’s far, far harder to stay the course.
Now I’ve been lucky in that regard…but I also have sought out friendships and masterminds to help make me better and that would inspire me to push ahead toward my goals. We can all find people who’ll support us, even if they aren’t with us today.
11. Business is about people much more than products and not processes.
You’ll never learn a more important lesson when it comes to business success than that one.
Products & services are nothing more than vehicles to help PEOPLE solve problems and achieve goals.
Processes & systems are nothing more than tools to help PEOPLE be more productive, efficient or effective.
Everything starts with people.
People who have dreams and goals and problems.
People who have dozens of things going on…and we’re just one of those things.
12. Being nice can be a competitive advantage. A while ago I shared the following thought on Facebook:
On 3 separate occasions today someone has referenced my professional success being linked to me being ‘nice’ and ‘honest’.
Pretty cool compliment but also pretty interesting that being nice and honest are a competitive advantage instead of common practice in business.
Think about that…things like ‘nice’ and ‘honest’ and all the stuff that we associate with it like integrity, authenticity and anything else associated with just being a good person…it’s actually a competitive advantage in business.
Just treating others like you want to be treated sets you apart from the competition.
But it’s true.
There’s not a week that goes by that a fitness business owner doesn’t tell me about something like a company holding them hostage in a 5 year contract for a program that they don’t even sell anymore – even though that fitness pro doesn’t use their service any longer or someone selling them coaching for 10K and being their best friend to get them on board…then ignoring them once they’ve paid.
And we see gym after gym promising coaching, accountability and success…and doing nothing more than hosting workouts.
I see business owners acting as if their clients are a nuisance and calls coming in are a hassle…instead of recognizing that those things are the lifeblood of their business.
So, if you want to win at business, let me give you one of the most important lessons I can teach you:
Use this simple approach as your competitive advantage. You may not always be the first choice…but you’ll always be the best one once they do connect with you.
13. Live In The Present. No matter how much time you spend thinking about the past, you can’t turn back the clock. And the most important thing you can do for the future is to do your best with the moment you’re in.
14. You Can’t Control It All. Some things are beyond your control…but you can control how you react to them.
15. Breaking Through Procrastination is Simple. I guess I procrastinate as much as anyone else, so when I run into a period of procrastination, the simplest way for me to get momentum is to take an action that is within my comfort zone. A first step. That step almost always is enough to get me into a rhythm.
16. You can do almost anything you want…but you can’t do everything you want…at least right now.
Any achievement of significance requires focus, so you have to dedicate the time and effort needed to make it happen.
That doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish everything that you want to…you very well may be able to…but you just may just have to do some things sequentially instead of simultaneously.
17. Take Small Actions Toward Your Big Goals Daily.
We’re either getting better or worse…every day. Small actions compounded over time will guarantee your success.
18. It doesn’t matter what you know…It matters what you do.
If you don’t apply something it’s wasted knowledge. Action is critical for success. The most successful people often aren’t any smarter or more talented. They just actually do the things everyone else just talks about doing.
19. Do the same thing you’ve always done and you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten.
The people I’ve enjoyed watching achieve tremendous growth all have stepped out of their comfort zone to get there.
20. Never compromise your integrity, for anything or anybody.
21. If you want to know who someone really is…give them money or power…or see them in the face of adversity.
For some, it will spotlight their greatness, while for others…well – it will expose their warts.
22. Deadlines are the difference between getting stuff done and just talking about it.
All of my biggest successes have come with deadlines attached to them.
23. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
24. Saying ‘no’ is the toughest challenge for an entrepreneur.
But the truth is that success comes far more often to those who are great at a few things rather than those who are jacks-of-trades.
Consider saying no to more things to do the things you say YES to better.
I fight this one all the time.
25. 9 times out of 10 your biggest limiting factor is your own mind.
26. There is almost nothing better than learning from others who’ve gone where you want to go.
Whether it’s a book, a workshop or coaching – someone is basically condensing years of their work into a day and sharing it in a way that can dramatically accelerate your progress and magnify your success.
27. When you feel overwhelmed, don’t try to do everything — just simplify things and do something.
28. Don’t let complexity overwhelm you. There is beauty and success in simplicity.
29. You’re Not Entitled To Anything. You get what you earn.
30. We are a Product of our Choices. Everything matters. It all adds up. Big choices, little choices. We’re a product of all of it.
31. 100% of the successful people that I know really embrace personal responsibility.
Find people like that to work with and to spend your time around. And when you encounter those who blame everything but themselves for failures or shortcomings…leave.
32. Invest Time, Energy and Money in Yourself.
When you invest in yourself you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your success, your leadership and your life.
33. There is far more Opportunity available to us than we need to be successful.
It’s what we do with the opportunity that determines our results.
34. We Don’t Get Clean Slates…But Our Past Serves To Teach Us. I can’t go back and start investing for my retirement 25 years ago…but I can learn from it, do better now and teach others.
You cannot hold on to the past, but you can learn from it. Don’t make the mistake of trying to stay in the past—life is about learning lessons and taking those lessons forward with you into your life.
35. Life isn’t always fair. Accept it and move on to making the most of the hand you’re dealt.
36. You can’t help people until they want to help themselves. You can’t want success for them more than they want it for themselves.
37. Reverse Engineer The Business And Life You Want. Figure out what it looks like and work backwards from it to where you are today. That’s your map.
38. You Decide. You decide what your business will be known for, how you’ll spend your time and pretty much everything else.
For me, business supports my family…not the other way around. With that in mind, I block out time for the family stuff first and then what’s left is where my business is built.
So, if you want more income, more family time, more vacation time, more clients…you begin by deciding that it will happen instead of saying you wish it would happen. Then to take the necessary actions to get there.
39. YOU Are Your Competitive Advantage. No one else can be you. You’re already different – and in some areas you’re probably already better. Plus, you can continually develop, gain knowledge and improve. All too often we relinquish this competitive advantage and settle for being a mediocre imitation of someone else.
40. We find what we look for. Opportunity. Good people. Learning experiences. Fault. Problems. Those to blame. It’s really up to you.
41. Win Today. You don’t have to win every day…but every day is an opportunity to win. An opportunity to spend time with people you love, to move toward your goals, to take care of yourself and to leave your little universe a bit better than it was the day before.
Win enough days and you’ll reach those personal and professional goals…and enjoy the journey in the process.
42. Expectations Matter…A Lot.
I’ve seen misplaced expectations create more stress than almost anything else.
Expectations of others that they are expected to live up to, usually without even knowing.
Unrealistic expectations of ourselves…like expecting ourselves to get a week’s worth of ‘to dos’ done in a day or performing in a way that we might have in the past and ignoring how circumstances have changed.
Or even moving the goal line when we do well and manufacturing stress instead of celebrating success.
I think this might be the biggest mistake we can make for our own happiness.
Don’t fall into this trap.
43. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity…and there is plenty of opportunity. The key is being ready for it and observant enough to notice it when it’s there.
Sometimes it’s not obvious.
44. Successful people implement quickly.
The faster your speed of implementation – often the more success you’ll have.
45. What Can I Do Better? I’m not oblivious to the fact that things outside of our control impact us…but until we’ve done everything we can to move toward where we want to go…why worry about those external factors?
46. I Have Little Patience For The ‘Victim’ Mentality. Most people who aren’t happy or fail to achieve their goals almost always have a ‘victim mentality’…suggesting that someone or something else is to blame for their situation.
It’s easy to blame outside circumstances. It’s harder to be self-aware and realize that you may be the problem.
47. Focus On – and Enjoy the Process, not just the Goal.
I can remember thinking it would be awesome when the franchises I co-founded hit the Entrepreneur Franchise 500. Well…it was cool for a day, then it was business as usual.
Set out to build a business that you enjoy building instead tolerating what you do and hoping that when you get to the finish line things will magically be better. In most cases…if the process was miserable, the result will be unfulfilling.
48. Quitting Is Often The Route To Happiness.
If you want to be happier:
Quit comparing today’s circumstances with the circumstances of the past.
Quit focusing on what you don’t have right now.
Quit spending time around those who don’t lift you up.
Quit comparing yourself to others.
Quit saying ‘yes’ to things you aren’t excited about.
Quit taking what you do have for granted.
49. My definition of success is doing what you value and doing it well.
Personally & professionally.
Doing good work. Being a good coach.
Being a good dad, stepdad, husband, friend, family member & teammate.
It’s a continual pursuit – and that’s part of the fun.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that this should be your definition of success…rather that you define your own version of success and pursue it daily.
So, as I say goodbye to 48 and am on to 49 I look forward to all the challenges my life will throw at me and all the new lessons I’ll learn.
Thanks for being part of it!
Dedicated to Your Success,