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TODAY'S THE DAY
Winner's wisdom to succeed in every situation
By Jim Stovall
David C. CookCopyright © 2007 Jim Stovall
All rights reserved.
The Wisdom of the Snapping Turtle
When I was eight years old, during one of my journeys into the woods, I successfully captured a rather large snapping turtle. I immediately brought him back to my grandparents' house, selected an appropriate box, and made him my official pet. Because I was being particularly quiet, my grandfather came onto the back porch to determine what mischief I might be pursuing. I showed him my prize turtle and explained that it was now my pet.
My grandfather took a pencil out of his shirt pocket and poked the turtle under his shell until he extended his head and promptly bit the end of the pencil completely off. Then my grandfather turned to me and asked me a question that remains with me even today. He asked, "Now that you know what your turtle can do, if you stick your finger in there and he bites it off, is it your fault or his?"
As an eight-year-old, this was very simple. I knew that if I allowed my turtle to bite off my finger, it would be my fault. I am very pleased to inform you that as of this writing, I am still in possession of all ten fingers.
Many of us as adults forget the wisdom of the turtle, and we get bitten time after time. We don't fail because we don't know what to do. We fail because we don't do what we know. Sigmund Freud said that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over but continually expecting a different result. If you keep sticking your fingers in the turtle's mouth, you will continue to lose fingers. If you want a different result in your life, take a different action. Starting now.
Today's the day!
Activity Versus Productivity
Most of us work very hard. We get up each day and spend eight hours or more doing something we call work. If you talk to the most successful and the least successful persons you can find, they will probably tell you they are working extremely hard. If this is true, why are so few people actually getting the results they want from their hard work?
Quite simply, they confuse activity with productivity. Just because you're doing something doesn't mean you're really getting anywhere. We have all seen hamsters running around on the little wheel in their cage. They create a tremendous amount of activity but no productivity.
Recently, I did some consulting for a sales organization. These sales people work solely on commission, so the only productive thing they really do is talk to new people about their products and services. Before our training session, the average salesperson told me they were working very hard for eight to ten hours every day. Once they learned that their only productive task was talking to new people about their products or services, we conducted a simple experiment. Each salesperson was given a stopwatch and instructed to keep it in their pocket and click it on only when they were talking to a new prospect, either on the telephone or in person. We discovered that the top wage earners were actually productive only three hours per day. The average and below-average producers were far less productive.
If you want to be more successful, earn more, or reach your goals faster, simply separate activity from productivity and commit at least half of your workday to productivity. The difference will amaze you. Your destiny awaits.
Today's the day!
All of us had wonderful dreams, goals, and plans when we were teenagers or young adults. But at some point reality sets in, and we let our dreams and goals slip further and further back into our minds. We actually ship all of our dreams and goals to a mythical place I call "Someday Isle."
"Someday Isle" is a picture-postcard kind of place where the weather is always perfect, and everything is always wonderful—except nothing ever happens. And now, every time we think of those long-forgotten dreams and goals, we say to ourselves, "Someday, I'll do this; someday, I'll do that." But someday never comes.
General George Patton said that a good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week. This applies to each of us as we go through our lives. Please remember that the biggest dream you ever had in your life is still alive and well. It will return to you from "Someday Isle" as soon as you make it a priority in your present-day life.
Your destiny is too wonderful to delay any longer. Make the commitment. Take the steps. Pay the price.
Today's the day!
Being the B.E.S.T.
In our society, we revere those who are the best at what they do. Chants of "We're number one!" are heard frequently. You will never hear, "We're number two," or "We're not great, but we're better than we were last year." If we want to be the best at whatever we do, we have to break it down into its individual components.
"B" is for Balance. It is the element that keeps our lives stable. We've all heard about superstar athletes, multimillionaires, and movie stars who wreck their health or family relationships in their quest for greatness. No matter how much we achieve in one area of our life, if we lose the overall perspective that we are multifaceted beings, we can never be successful.
"E" is for Enthusiasm. This is the first thing we receive when we enter this world as the doctor slaps us on the backside, and it is the last thing we give up before they close the coffin lid. I have had the privilege of interviewing superstars from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and politics, and the one thing that each of these individuals has in common is a tremendous passion and enthusiasm for what he or she does. If you don't feel that kind of daily passion as you pursue your life goals, you need to get either a new career or a new attitude about the career you are currently pursuing.
"S" is for Single-mindedness. This is the ability to focus on one thing at a time. This does not mean we are one-dimensional in our lives. It simply means, when we are working, we work; when we are playing, we play. And any other task we choose to undertake receives our total attention and focus.
"T" is for Tenacity. This is the one element that will always result in eventual success. As a blind person, I could hit a baseball thrown by the best pitcher in the major league if you would let me keep trying until I succeed. The immortal message from Winston Churchill echoes down through the years: "never give in, never give in, never, never, never...."
Go out and be the B.E.S.T.
Today's the day!
Today's the Day
By now, you may have noticed that each column ends with the phrase "Today's the day!" This is not an accident. A sense of urgency is the most vital element in your success. There are many great ideas that never amount to anything more than a great idea because we fail to take that all-important first step.
Recently, I have been dealing with the imminent death of a close family member. This creates a new and very valuable perspective. I have been experiencing a sense of immediacy in that I want to say and do important things before it's too late. In reality, we should all live our lives this way.
In business terms, yesterday is a canceled check that is of no value, and tomorrow is a promissory note that may or may not be any good. The only real currency that we can spend is today. If you have a dream, a goal, or an objective that is worthy of your attention and consideration, I believe that it is a gift that has been given to you. With that gift, there is a responsibility to act upon it—not someday or tomorrow but today.
I believe that for every goal in our lives, there is a step that can be taken today. Maybe it is simply studying and learning, preparation, or meeting new people who can help us along the way. It's important to have lifelong objectives and long-term goals, but remember they don't mean anything unless we embrace the eternal truth that when you boil life down to its essence, now is the only thing that really matters.
Today's the day!
A Disease Called More
Years of success and prosperity in our economy have created a consumer-based society. We are no longer worried about our physical or financial survival; therefore, we have undertaken a new challenge. As a people, we have embraced the illusive challenge of accumulating more. Please understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying material possessions. It is important, however, to draw a distinction between the possessions we have and those possessions that have us.
If your goal is to acquire a certain standard of living or lifestyle for you and your family or for your future security, that ambition is admirable. However, if it is your burning desire to keep up with the image portrayed by the commercials on television or in the glamour magazines, you have been afflicted with the dreaded disease called "more."
More is a disease that feeds upon itself like a thirst that can never be quenched. As we rush about aimlessly trying to accumulate more, we become aware of an even greater number of things we don't have and must obtain. Instead of seeking the impossible goal of reaching more, we should seek the internal goal that is called "enough."
Ironically, we can find people who literally are billionaires and who have long ago lost count of all of their possessions. However, these people are still driven on that eternal quest for more. On the other hand, there are people of seemingly modest means who have attained the admirable state of enough. They no longer judge themselves based on what they have, but instead, on who they are. They have come to the conclusion that it is more important to be someone special than to have a vast accumulation of possessions. They have reached a state of being where they understand that it is not important to be a "human having." It is only important to arrive as a "human being."
In the final analysis, many times reaching the state of enough will give you the confidence and peace of mind to be an even better person who will attract more success, resulting in the tangible possessions that have become such an addiction in our society. Focus on who you are, and allow what you have to become a result of your personal success.
Today's the day!
Starting Over Every Day
Success in life, both personally and professionally, is dependent upon our ability to successfully interact with the people around us. There is no success without positive relationships in our lives. A successful relationship is not a relationship without conflict. There is no such thing as a relationship without conflict; therefore, a successful relationship is one in which conflict is resolved.
Too many people make the mistake in their personal or professional lives of avoiding conflicts and simply not dealing with them. While in the short term, this tactic may result in a brief period of peace, the reality is that the conflict continues to build to an unmanageable point until it explodes, often making a resolution at that point impossible.
The solution to this is quite simple: Deal with all conflicts the day they arise.
My wife and I have had a policy for many years that has served us well. We deal with any potential conflict immediately. If a problem is not dealt with the day it arises, it is considered out-of-bounds at the end of the day. This forces you to either let the situation go or deal with the conflict immediately before it multiplies into something unmanageable.
We have all been in situations where someone irrationally explodes over the most minor situation. In their mind, it is not a minor situation because they are dealing with a massive pile of issues that they have let accumulate over weeks, months, or even years. Then the proverbial straw breaks the camel's back and irreparable damage is done to that relationship.
Ancient wisdom teaches us, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger." Either release it or deal with it while it's a minor issue, and every day you will start out with a clean slate in dealing with people in your personal and professional life.
Today's the day!
Focus is the key to turning energy into productivity. It turns our dreams into goals into reality.
On an extremely hot day, the sun will beat down with enough intensity to give you a very severe sunburn. But that's about it. That same energy when captured and concentrated in a magnifying glass can create an intense white-hot flame that can be put to any use or task you would choose.
In business today, there exists a trendy school of thought called "line extension." This theory tells us that if you have a successful company that has made a name for itself manufacturing snow tires, you should be able to take your name and attach it to other products and experience the same degree of success, thereby extending your line. While this occasionally works, it is more often a well-thought-out expansion plan, not just relabeling another product with an expectation of re-creating former success.
Companies or individuals who achieve world-class success in any area focus intensely on that area. Too often, the line extension mentality is simply a cop-out when the going gets tough, and the grass appears greener in some other pasture.
Before you diminish or change your focus, you have to ask yourself, "If we can't make it here, what makes us believe we can make it somewhere else?" If you are truly expanding out of success, that is quite different, but if you are thinking that success will come to you easier on some other path, you are probably in for a rude awakening.
Every individual or corporation that experiences success does it with a singular focus, and then out of that success they build another success and one to follow that.
Every triumph comes with its own price and degree of sacrifice. If you take a detour trying to avoid the toll, you will quite often find the going gets even tougher and the toll still remains to be paid. For this reason, we should never get the "How are we going to do it?" mixed up in the "What are we going to do?" decision. This is always a mistake made by people who live lives of quiet desperation, as it has been so ably described.
You are going to pay the price, no matter what course you pursue, so you might as well pursue the course that creates excitement and passion for you. Then simply focus on your goal and the activities you know it will take to get you there. You will find that the shortest route to your ultimate destiny will take you directly through the most intimidating and daunting task that lies before you. But, as always, I am convinced that if you have a dream inside of you, it was put there because you have the capacity to perform every task necessary to reach that goal.
Today's the day!
The Search for Normality
Recently, I heard about a group of advertising agencies that constantly seek what they call a "normal" city or town. Apparently, what they are looking for is the demographically perfect example of the United States. They spend a great deal of time searching for this elusive pocket of normality. Even when they find a city or town that they deem to be normal, within a year or two they have to move on because the existing site is—for whatever reason—no longer "normal."
As young children, we are all born as separate and distinct creative individuals. No matter what you may hear to the contrary, our society does not reward or appreciate unique individuals. We are taught at an early age to conform in every way so we will not stand out from the crowd. In essence, we are taught to be "normal."
This process of normalizing everyone is akin to seeking the lowest common human denominator. This is to say, if you never stand out you will certainly never be outstanding.
I will always remember being diagnosed with the disease that eventually resulted in my blindness. After it became apparent that I would slowly lose my sight and I would not be "normal," I remember my father saying, "Although you will never be normal, normal is really not anything worth aspiring to."
Although we would all agree with this in principle, as a society we still reward normality. While I would not advocate becoming antisocial, I do think greatness comes from individual creative expression. Think of all the things you do throughout your day. Ask yourself what would happen if you began performing a few of these tasks at a higher-than-normal level. Look at the mentors or people whose performance you aspire to. You will find that the real achievers in this world rarely do anything "normally." They perform a few critical tasks at the highest possible level and, quite often, ignore or delegate mundane tasks to others.
Excerpted from TODAY'S THE DAY by Jim Stovall. Copyright © 2007 Jim Stovall. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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