No Success Without External Focus

Success can be a very elusive thing.  It’s daunting, frustrating, it seems to quite often be just out of reach.
We desire success and pursue it, yet somehow success keeps getting away just before we catch it.
mouse seeks a cookie video - success focus

Elusive Success

There is a video on YouTube that was popular for a while and went viral.  It shows a mouse attempting to steal a cookie that is twice the size of the mouse and take it back to his hiding place.  We can begin to feel like this mouse must have felt as attempt after attempt resulted in failure.  This grand prize and yet we can’t bring it home.

Is Success the Focus?

Success can elusive, especially when we focus on success alone.
And that’s the problem.
When we focus simply on being a success, it’s very hard to be a success.  Because that’s all it becomes about.  Our dreams can make us focus on the inside sometimes, but that’s not what dreams are meant to do.
Our dreams aren’t meant to add value to us, our dreams are meant to add value to other people.
So if you learn to point your dreams and your actions outwardly –  if you get an external focus – and learn how to care about other people, learn to focus on other people with your dreams, then you are going to see significantly more success than what you have seen in the past – all by creating an external focus.
When we place our focus on others, we learn to love others.  We learn to care for others.  We get to know their stories.  We get to know their hopes and dreams.  We begin to see value in them.
When we see value in people, we are then in a position to add value to them.
By adding value to others, we create value in ourselves.  Once that happens, success will follow AS LONG AS WE REMAIN OPEN TO RECEIVING THE VALUE OTHERS WANT TO GIVE US.
But if we focus only on success, it remains out of reach.
Success, you see, is not a goal or a direct result of organized actions.  Success is a by-product of our behaviors, attitudes, and actions on behalf of those we have chosen to serve.  When we combine the power of our unique gifts and apply them to add value to other people – to create significance in their lives – success is a natural result.

Action Steps

Here’s a few thing to get you started in that direction:

  1. CARE FOR THE PEOPLE YOU ENCOUNTER.  Whether you encounter them once in a lifetime or whether you encounter them on a daily basis, learn to care for those people.  Learn to connect with them.  To find out more about them.  To be naturally curious about other people.  And from that, you are going to be able to seek to add value to other people to make a difference in their lives.
  2. LISTEN TO PEOPLE.  Listen to their concerns, listen to what their dreams are.
  3. SHARE YOUR DREAM WITH THEM. You may be able to build relationships out of that which may seem to be a one-time thing but become lifelong, mutually beneficial relationships.  People can’t add value to you unless you open up to them and make yourself vulnerable by sharing your passions and dreams.

If you need help getting started or even continuing your journey, I would love the opportunity to walk along side you.  Call me at 321-355-2442 and let’s see how I can help.

Vision and Crisis

It’s a natural thing.

As you go through your daily life, you sometimes lose track of where it is you wanted to go.  I do it; highly likely you do too.  Also likely that the most successful person you can think of does it as well.

Dreams get lost in the shuffle of daily living. Crises appear, fires need to be put out.  People are demanding our immediate attention.  Things crowd in and as they say you have trouble seeing the forest through the trees and we just lose track of where it is we wanted to go.

When you are up to your ass in alligators, its hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.There’s the old joke about the engineers that when you are up to your ears in alligators its hard to remember your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

And so we sometimes let our daily activities get in the way of our goals during the crisis of the moment.

Lead Through Crisis

As I said, it’s only natural and like the saying above, certainly not original.  We can easily excuse our lack of focus on our vision away using daily goings-on as a crutch.  After all, nobody would blame us, right?  You gotta survive, right?

But this is the opportunity for you to step up! The opportunity to come forward and be the leader you were meant to be by bringing that vision back to the forefront!

This is the time to shine!

So here’s a couple of steps you can take to move positively in the direction of keeping your vision in front and getting yourself in place to accomplish those goals.

  1. USE THE UP-DOWN METHOD. Write it down and post it up! Write that vision down on a piece of paper and post it up where you are going to see it on a daily basis. That serves as a daily reminder of what it is you are trying to accomplish.
  2. ASK FOR HELP – FORM A TEAM. Take your strengths and your weaknesses, find people whose strengths compliment your weaknesses. And team together to help accomplish that goal.
  3. SHARE THE VISION OFTEN. If you continually share the vision in words and actions to your team, that helps keep them focused on where it is you want to go.
  4. ADJUST THE PATH AS YOU GO, BUT NOT THE VISION! Things will get in the way and won’t always go the way we want them to go, but we need to keep that vision at the forefront; the final destination of where we want to go.
  5. HELP THE DREAMS OF OTHERS. As you bring team members on, they are going to have dreams of their own. See where your dreams mesh, where there are opportunities to work together for a win-win where everyone accomplishes their dream. You may find it is going on to greater things then you ever imagined possible.

Keeping that vision before you AND your team is critical.

Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision.

Where will you go with your life or career? Anywhere a strong vision takes you.

Stepping Out in Faith

One of my favorite parts in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is towards the end where Indiana is trying to get into the room where the Holy Grail is.  He knows he has to reach it in order to help his father, who lies bleeding from a gun shot wound in a cave in the mountain.  As he gets closer to the cave where the grail is supposed to be, he reaches a large chasm that he must cross to reach it.  The chasm is wide and there is no jumping across it and it seems to drop down with no bottom.  His only hint is clue he got from ancient scrolls that says, “Only with a leap from the lion’s den will he prove his worth.”  Indiana has doubts and hesitates and then his father, almost telepathically, murmurs, “you must believe, boy, you must believe!”  Indiana steadies his heart and then takes a step.  He has to simply step out in faith that there is something out there that will support him.  It was a leap of faith for him!  And it worked!  He found that there was a camouflaged bridge to convey him to the other side.   You can see the scene here:  Leap of Faith Scene
When crisis hits is when our faith is put to the test.  Anyone can believe what they see or when the evidence supports it; although there are certainly cynical people that don’t even do that much.  It’s the moments when everything we see and all of the evidence seems to be against us that we must believe completely that we can accomplish our goals.  We have to engage in a leap of faith that things are going to work out as long as we continue to work towards them.  There are going to be moments where we are growing, moments that are going to test our faith.  We have to step out in that leap of faith and trust that things will work out.
In the Bible it tells the story of Jesus walking on the water.  Peter asks to join him and Jesus simply says, “come”.  Peter steps out of the boat onto the swelling waves and takes a few steps and then….falls into the water.  Peter took a leap of faith that he too could walk on water like Jesus.  Once he realized what he was doing, his mind started putting in limiting beliefs and into the drink he went.
Like Peter, we need to be reminded to keep the faith and step out of the boat; confident that we will reach our goal.
Here are some things to help you keep going and keep working towards those goals:
  • Keep Moving!  Don’t Stop!
  • Don’t buy into what others say about you.  There will be doubters but don’t let that stop you.
  • Use Daily Positive Self-Talk greatly helps you maintain the right attitude.
  • Focus on your strengths.  Know what it is that you are good at doing and find people to come and work with you whose strengths overcome your weaknesses.
  • Commit to daily growth.  Become a 1%er!  If you commit yourself to grow daily then you can overcome the obstacles that get in your way.

Over the Bar

You ever watch the High Jump during the Olympics or on television during one of the rare occasions they show track and field events?   I think the competition is somewhat cool, probably at least partly because I can’t do it very well. I have never been a very good jumper either horizontally or vertically.  The idea is that the athlete approaches a horizontal bar and attempts to leap over it without knocking the bar down.  Each time they raise the bar a little higher.  Naturally, whoever jumps the highest wins.

The first recorded High Jump event was in the 19th century in Scotland.  They would basically just scissors-kick over the bar.  That advanced to running up to the bar and then throwing the one leg over and then the other.  Shortly after people innovated with “roll” techniques where they would almost literally roll their body over the bar.  For protection, there would be a sawdust pit on the other side of the bar for a landing area.

Changing the Landscape

dick fosbury taking a leap of faithThe real innovation happened in 1968 when Dick Fosbury of Oregon State University employed a totally different technique.  By this time, the saw dust pit gave way to a cushioned landing area.  Fosbury would run up on the bar at an angle and the thrust himself backwards over the bar, head first, and complete the jump by “flopping” his legs over and landing on his back.  Fosbury used this technique to win the Gold Medal in the 1968 Olympics.  Today, almost every high jumper uses the “Fosbury Flop” technique.  The current record, according to, is 8 feet and one-half inch set by Javier Sotomayor from Cuba.

Leap of Faith

The reason I mention this is an observation made about the flop technique.  If you were to do that and land on hard ground or even in the old saw dust pits, you would likely break your neck.  In other words, if the cushion wasn’t there and you landed, you would be in a whole lot of trouble.  Broken bones, skull and brain damage would be highly probable.  But the flopper, because of the technique, doesn’t get to see the landing area as they are jumping; they simply have faith that it is there and that they will land in the right spot.  It is a LEAP OF FAITH in their ability to complete the jump.

The high jumper makes this leap of faith because they believe in their skills, their training, their visualization, and their execution to make the jump without getting injured.  He TRUSTS himself to do what he has prepared and trained to do.  He doesn’t wonder if any kind of outside force is going to get in the way, he trusts his body and his training to get the job done.  He doesn’t create excuses for why he can’t jump today, he just goes and gets the job done.

taking a leap of faithEven though he BELIEVES he will be successful every time he jumps, he actually doesn’t KNOW until it is over whether he has been successful or not.  So, the high jumper has FAITH in his ability to perform every time; even when he is unsuccessful or bettered by others.  At no point does he give up because the weather got in his way, or the bar was mounted incorrectly, or there are others competing that are more athletic or talented.  He ignores all outside factors and simply has FAITH in his skills and training and performs the best he can.

Flopping Our Way to Success

You and I may not be jumping over a bar 8 foot of the ground, (I already mentioned I am a terrible jumper), but we face hurdles and walls as we pursue our goals and dreams.  To overcome those hurdles and complete our mission successfully, we have to have FAITH in our abilities, prepare ourselves for success, expect success, and then success will come.  We won’t really be able to see the landing area until we are up and over the bar, and sometimes not until we land.  But the landing area is there and we have believe we will clear the hurdles and land successfully.  That is our LEAP OF FAITH.

What’s keeping you from making that LEAP OF FAITH?  What is argument you give yourself?  Is it true?  It is always true?  How can you prepare yourself more effectively to take a Leap of Faith?  How can you reinforce your beliefs everyday to keep that faith alive?

Action Plan

  •  Target an area where you feel like you are not where you want to be. Where do you want to be?  What do you think is holding you back from reaching that goal?
  • Apply a little realism.  Are the things you THINK are holding you back real or imagined?  Are they simply excuses?  It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself.  Yeah, you know the real answer!
  • Read or listen to a daily affirmation to keep a positive mindset.  Reading it out loud is best because the most important words you hear are the ones you say to yourself.  This is not (necessarily) New Age stuff; it is real and valid. Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, and others have promoted positive affirmations as a way of changing your mindset and your life.  Here’s a good one from Hal Elrod or you can get one from Zig.  I prefer the Ziglar version, although it is a little longer.
  • Engage in your daily personal growth to prepare yourself for success.  Remember, be a 1%er.

“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Zig Ziglar


Having It All Together … Right!

superkid has it all togetherYou can probably think back and remember someone who seemed to always have it together.  They were involved in everything and always seemed to excel at everything they did.  They never slowed down; they served on committees, organized events, raised 55 children and spent quality time with each of them, worked two full-time jobs, volunteered at the local shelter, raised money to fight some disease, wrote 100 books, and has the happiest spouse in the world.   They seem to have it all and have it all together.

In reality, there are parts of their lives that are neglected.  I exaggerated the description above intentionally because that’s what we often do when we think about those high achieving types.  We draw a picture of what we think someone is like and we enhance it.  We make them bigger than they are.  Then we compare ourselves to them, imaging that they have everything in life and it’s perfect while our lives are hollow shells full of meaningless events and a cesspool of problems.  It’s unfair!

Reality is Not Perfection

It’s also unreal.  The truth is that people who seem to have it together are not living perfect lives.  They may be accomplishing more than we are right now, but that’s not because they have it all together.  It’s not because they are necessarily more talented than we are; in fact, often they may be less talented.  And they have problems too, they just don’t share them around as much as some others do.

But what they really have that helps them succeed is an good understanding and effective application of the Law of Sacrifice.  You must give up to go up.  You have to let go of some things in order to have other better things.

That’s a scary prospect for many of us and perhaps even a little depressing.  When we think about sacrifice or giving up, we picture big things.  We can become a CEO but our family life is non-existent.  Again, it’s that penchant for exaggeration.  And it’s also good old resistance finding other reasons to keep us from making any changes.

Simplicity in Sacrifice

Sacrifice is actually pretty simple.  You actually look at giving up lesser things in order to get greater things.  You sacrifice a couple hours of television time every day in order to read a personal growth book.  You sacrifice a few free evenings each week to work on a master’s degree.  When you learn to sacrifice, what you are really doing is simply learning to

Say No to the Good So You Can Say Yes to the Best

My father excelled in the credit union business during his career.  He was President and CEO of several credit unions over the span of many years and also was a high demand consultant to credit unions nationwide for many years after that.  To get there, he had to spend long hours working, gave up evenings to earn a GED and then a degree.  Yet, he was never an absentee husband or father.  He coached Drum Corps and Little League.  He took us on trips.  He went to dance recitals for my sister.  He had to sacrifice to reach the level he achieved, but the sacrifices were to give up lesser things to get those greater things.  He did not give up one great thing to achieve another.

Yes, you have to sacrifice to get where you want to go.  But the good news is that the choice is yours.

Action Plan

  • What little things are you willing to give up to reach your goals?
  • What systems can you put into place to make sure you don’t give up the wrong things?