All Posts in Category: Personal Development


businessIs it your mother or father? Husband or wife? Brother or sister? Your boss? Politicians? Of course the answer is: YOU are in charge of YOUR future.

What do you want your future to look like? Do you want it to be better than the past? We cannot change the past, but we can change the future – starting today. In order for your future to be better, you need to be better.

Our belief about what is possible for us in the future is as important, if not more important, than our actual abilities. Each of us is capable of infinitely greater accomplishments than we allow ourselves to believe. It’s not our situation that determines what our future will be, it’s our reaction to our situation (today, tomorrow, and the next day) that will determine our results and our future.

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The eight P’s of personal achievement are: Plan Purposely, Prepare Properly, Proceed Positively, and Pursue Persistently. Let’s look at these one at a time:

Plan Purposely Another way of saying this is, “Prior planning promotes professional performance.” Most people spend more time planning a vacation than they do planning what they want to accomplish in other areas of their life, including their career. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Prepare Properly The Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” is something everyone should heed. It’s been said that luck is “preparation meeting opportunity.” People who outperform their peers, excel in their career, achieve acclaim, and appear “lucky” have been better prepared.

Proceed Positively You can plan purposely and prepare properly, but unless you take positive action, you will not enjoy the success you are capable of achieving.

Pursue Persistently For small goals and easy accomplishments, planning purposely, preparing properly, and proceeding positively might be enough. However, for larger goals, more difficult tasks, and when obstacles and roadblocks get in your way, it is time for stronger measures. Persistence, or dogged determination, will help you break through hindering circumstances, past conditioning, obstacles, and roadblocks. Persistence will also help you get past the negative influence of what other people say, think, or do.

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Whether you are selling a product or service or want to sell people on your ideas or want to get people to follow your lead, being enthusiastic will help you be more successful. Enthusiasm is an outer expression of your inner passion. When a sales manager overheard a sales person say they were enthusiastic about their product, the sales manager said, “Why don’t you let your face know it.”

Enthusiasm is a zest for or an extreme interest in a subject, cause, or life itself. It is more than excitement or inspiration although excitement and inspiration are usually a part of a person’s enthusiasm. Enthusiasm usually starts by being curious about something. When you are curious about something you naturally take an interest in it. Then you gain knowledge about it. And, finally, when you develop belief in what you became curious about, your enthusiasm will blossom.

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Increasing Your Confidence

All other things being equal, self-confidence is usually the single ingredient that determines whether a person is successful or unsuccessful.

Self-confidence is not something you are born with; it is acquired. Having self-confidence means you know what your talents are and believe that these talents will help you achieve your goals. It is having faith in your own abilities. It is how you feel about yourself.

To build a successful life, self-confidence is even more important than talent, knowledge, and hard work. When you are confident, you are more likely to take action on your goals. The success of any undertaking starts when you believe in your ability at the start.

How you see yourself has an enormous impact on how others perceive you. When you are self-confident, you are more determined, better equipped to establish positive relationships, and more likely to achieve your goals. Self-confident people are usually more positive, and as a result, more fun to be around.

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They may break into words at any time. Earl Nightingale, in his classic “Strangest Secret,” said, “We become what we think about.”

W. Clement Stone, in “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude,” said, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.”

I worked with Paul J. Meyer for 28 years and have repeated his famous saying hundreds of times. He said, “Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.”

Paul Meyer also said, “You are where you are and what you are because of the dominating thoughts that occupy your mind.”

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones influenced me early in my career when I heard him say, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Zig Ziglar offers a corollary to “second-hand smoke” when he talks about SNIOP, i.e. Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Other People. These “other people” could include family, friends, business associates, strangers, and 24/7 negative news. This “second-hand negativity” is even more dangerous than second-hand smoke.

In addition to SNIOP, I offer a shorter and even more dangerous version – SNIO: Susceptible to the Negative Influence of Ourselves.

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“Every Day, in Every Way, I’m Getting Better and Better”

The above quote, and the title of this Coaching Tip, is attributed to Emile Coué a French psychotherapist (1857 – 1926). Mr. Coué developed a method of autosuggestion which relied on the principle that any idea exclusively occupying the mind turns into reality, although only to the extent that the idea is within the realm of possibility.

W. Clement Stone (1902 – 2002) used the Coué methodology to build a very successful company. Mr. Stone was founder of the Combined Insurance Company, was one of the great philanthropists of the 20th century, and co-author of “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” and “The Success System That Never Fails.” He started the Combined Insurance Company with $100 borrowed from his grandmother and turned it into a billion dollar enterprise by 1979. It is reported that he had his sales force recite aloud the following affirmations, among others, at the beginning of each day:

“I feel happy; I feel healthy; I feel terrific!”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”

Since the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between fact and fantasy and since our thoughts determine our actions, is it any wonder that his sales force was successful in building a huge business? Is it any wonder that Mr. Stone lived to be 100 after reciting the above statements thousands of times in his life?

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, would tell people, “You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.”

Both of these successful entrepreneurs knew that continuous improvement was the key to personal and business success. There is no improvement without change. For performance and results to improve, people have to improve. It is common for people to want results to improve without having to change or improve themselves. Doing the same things and expecting different results is futile.

In 1972 I heard Charlie “Tremendous” Jones say, “We will be no better five years from now than we are today except for the books we read, the positive messages we listen to, and the people we associate with. What books are you reading; what personal or professional development messages are you listening to; what seminars or workshops are you attending; in what ways are you getting better every day?

If you were to get .003 better every day, you wouldn’t notice, nor would anyone who knows you. And, if you did that every day, at the end of the year you would be twice as good as you are now – with compounding, almost three times better. You, and everyone else, will notice.

  1. Look at all the things you do on a regular basis and pick one you’d like to improve.
  2. Determine an action you can take to improve it and take that action.
  3. Repeat this process every day with the same area as long as needed to make it a habit;  then pick a new area to work on.
  4. Say, “Thank you” when people start noticing your improvement (be patient).

By devoting 10 minutes every day to continuous improvement, you will enjoy over 60 hours of improvement in a year. If you choose to only improve on week days, you will still enjoy over 40 hours of personal improvement. I’m confident you won’t miss what you displace in those minutes.

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Our greatest power, according to author J. Martin Kohe in his book Your Greatest Power, is the power to choose. This book was written in 1953 and, in my opinion, is one of the all time personal development classics. Your Greatest Power sold 250,000 copies and Mr. Kohe conducted hundreds of seminars on the powers of choice during the 1950’s. I believe his ideas are even more valuable today than they were in the fifties.
In this first decade of the 21st century, we face hundreds, nay thousands, more choices than previous generations did. Nevertheless, most of the main choices – the choices that determine our success – are the same. For example, we can choose to:

  1. Be positive or negative;
  2. Be happy or sad;
  3. Be caring or mean;
  4. Be enthusiastic or dull;
  5. Be ambitious or lazy;
  6. Be goal-directed or adrift;
  7. Be green and growing or ripe and rotting;
  8. Focus on what we can do or what we can’t do;
  9. Help or hurt;
  10. Build up or tear down;
  11. Keep the main thing the main thing or do the wrong things;
  12. Act our way to a new set of feelings or be frozen with procrastination or fear;
  13. Take responsibility for our actions or make excuses;
  14. Look for ways to learn and improve or be satisfied with the status quo;
  15. Have fun or be glum;
  16. Unleash someone’s potential or squash it;
  17. Do our best or settle for good enough;
  18. Encourage or discourage;
  19. Help people be right or point out how and why they are wrong;
  20. Expect, encourage & embrace change or resist change.

J. Martin Kohe quotes:
“The greatest power a person possesses is the power to choose.”
“Let us choose to believe something good can happen.”
“You possess a potent force that you either use, or misuse, hundreds of times every day.”
“Yes, we are all different: different customs, different foods, different mannerisms, different languages, but not so different that we cannot get along with one another; if we disagree without being disagreeable.”

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Sometimes it can seem daunting to exchange one attitude or behavior for a better one. However, if you focus on what you can do one day at a time, after enough days the new attitude or behavior will be firmly entrenched. Here are 30 suggestions to get you started. Feel free to adopt any or all of these and some of your own:

  1. Encourage someone.
  2. Treat everyone you meet with dignity and respect.
  3. Complete an action step for one of your goals.
  4. Listen more than you talk.
  5. Ask better questions.
  6. Focus on your strengths.
  7. Look for the good in people.
  8. Help people be right.
  9. Keep people informed.
  10. Avoid email “gun battles.”
  11. Avoid getting angry.
  12. Help someone feel important or special.
  13. Send someone a hand-written note or letter.
  14. Read 10 pages of a personal improvement book.
  15. Spend quality time with a family member and/or colleague.
  16. Start a new project.
  17. Complete an unfinished project.
  18. Catch people doing things right (or almost right).
  19. Avoid using personal attacks, sarcasm, or innuendos when disciplining someone.
  20. Delegate something that the other person can do better, faster, at less cost, or to provide a training opportunity.
  21. Avoid interrupting people or finishing their sentences.
  22. Perform an act of kindness for a customer or colleague.
  23. Ask the magic question, “What do you think?”
  24. Try to learn something from everyone you meet.
  25. Learn something new about one of your team members.
  26. Make the magic statement, “Tell me about it” when someone is upset or is presenting a problem.
  27. Look at how things can be done instead of why they can’t be done.
  28. Not say anything about anyone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face.
  29. Show appreciation to someone.
  30. Communicate more than you think is necessary and, in most cases, it will probably be just right.

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One thing that high achievers have in common is a high-energy level. They are able to persist until they reach their desired objective. They can overcome obstacles, hindering circumstances, setbacks, defeats, and other people’s negativity. Famous football coach Vince Lombardi said, “Fatigue will make cowards of us all.” The converse would be, “Energy begets energy.”

One of the most important benefits of a high energy level is a positive mental attitude. Your attitude affects everything you do and that’s good, because your attitude is one of the few things you have complete control over. What happens to you isn’t nearly as important as your reaction to what happens to you. Likewise, your circumstances aren’t nearly as important as your reaction to your circumstances. Your attitude today determines your success tomorrow. Your attitude is the primary force that determines whether you succeed or fail.

W. Clement Stone, in his book Success through a Positive Mental Attitude, wrote “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” The most valuable asset you have is a positive mental attitude.

Some things you can do to maintain a high-energy level include:

  1. Get the appropriate amount of sleep.
  2. Eat healthy; make sure you get a good balance of nutrients.
  3. Maintain a regular exercise program.
  4. Enjoy a hobby and/or other recreational pursuits.
  5. Do stretching and deep breathing exercises to keep a good flow of oxygen in your muscles.
  6. Set aside personal time with family and close friends.
  7. Help someone who is less fortunate than you.
  8. Reflect on your past accomplishments and victories.
  9. Maintain a regular program of reading or listening to positive books and CDs.

At any given time we all have a certain amount of energy available to us. How well we direct that energy will determine how productive we are. You can choose to direct your available energy in a positive, productive direction or diffuse it in a variety of directions, some of which could be counter productive. The same amount of energy is there; it’s how we choose to direct it that determines our results. How you use your energy can and needs to be a conscious choice.

Choose to have a positive attitude by focusing on what you can accomplish, not what you can’t. Choose to have an attitude that generates energy in yourself and others, not one that drains energy from yourself and others. Follow the nine tips above and anything else that will help you maintain a high energy level.

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by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
  2. Work at something you enjoy and that’s worthy of your time and talent.
  3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  6. Be generous.
  7. Have a grateful heart.
  8. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
  9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
  10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
  11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
  12. Commit yourself to quality.
  13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  14. Be loyal.
  15. Be honest.
  16. Be a self-starter.
  17. Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
  18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
  20. Take good care of those you love.
  21. Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud.

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