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In an inspiring new motivational book, management consultant and speaking guru Brian Biro describes how we can seize and act upon the Windows of Opportunity that we encounter to transform our lives.
In There Are No Overachievers, renown speaker and former U.S. Swimming coach Brian Biro distills a lifetime of lessons on how to be more energized and passionate about work and life by seizing the WOO. A WOO is a Window of Opportunitya precious, unrepeatable moment that can impact, redirect, and even reshape our lives, once we recognize and choose to seize them. By enhancing our ability to relate to others, increasing our personal energy, fostering greater teamwork, and better partnering with those around us, he shows us how we can create windows of opportunity each and every day that can change our careers and our lives.
Organized in a series of short, targeted chapters, There Are No Overachievers encourages us to engage others, overcome our incessant need for approval, and go beyond our limits to deliver breakthrough results. Interweaving personal stories and anecdotes from his life as a top national swimming coach and executive vice president with insights and action steps we can apply to our lives, Biro reveals the secrets to living a rich and dynamic life, and a successful and fulfilling career.
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
A former vice-president of a major transportation corporation and author of Beyond Success, Brian Biro was rated #1 from over 40 Speakers at 4 consecutive INC. Magazine international conferences. With degrees from Stanford University and UCLA, Brian has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, FOX and as a featured speaker at the Disney Institute in Orlando. Brian was recently named one of the top 100 most inspirational graduates of the UCLA Graduate School of Business in honor of their 75th Anniversary. He has also been honored as one of the top 70 Speakers in the world.
Read an Excerpt
Shake Your Future
One evening my wife and daughters and I were dining in a café in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, where we lived at the time. The café was on the second floor of an old Main Street brick building and had huge windows that captured the stunning panorama of the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountain ranges enclosing our valley. Everyone in the café was eating or chatting quietly when something caught my four-year-old daughter Jenna’s attention and she walked over to the window. As she gazed out at the mountains a look of pure wonder came over her, and with great excitement and considerable volume she burst out: “Look, Mommy, Daddy, Kelsey . . . we’re in heaven!”
Well, the whole place went dead quiet. Everyone stared at us, and we turned bright red. Then after a moment the shock gave way to delight, and grins and laughter erupted all around us at the unbridled joy of Jenna’s revelation.
Six months later as I sat in the window seat on my flight to Seattle I looked down at the magnificent puffy cloud formations below me. For some reason the sight made me think of heaven again, which in turn reminded me of Jenna at that café. Grinning, I thought, My daughter is the cutest kid on the planet!
But then something hit me like a thunderbolt. Suddenly right there in that plane I saw for the first time that my little girl was brilliant. She was a visionary. Why? Because she was the only one who saw heaven. It was right there in front of us, but all I saw was my to‑do list, my schedule, and my trials and tribulations. At that moment I decided to put on Jenna’s lenses and look for the heaven in everything around me . . . especially in people!
Most of us have never been taught to look at our lives as shining windows of opportunity, or WOOs. In fact, we are powerfully conditioned to do precisely the opposite. In our first five years of life we hear one word more than any other. Though completely well-intentioned, that word is no. Our parents love us and want to keep us safe and protected. Instinctively they teach us to be on the lookout for danger and uncertainty, so we develop caution and wariness about the unknown. This is important and vital to our well-being as we experience the complex and fascinating world outside the womb. But over time, two other tremendously powerful words become imprinted in our subconscious as a result, and begin to color the way we view the world. Those words are or else: “You better watch out, or else something bad will happen.” Then there’s another set of words that can slam the brakes on any risk taking: “Be careful or you’ll get hurt.”
It is easy to assume that as we get older and more experienced we will stop focusing on obstacles, fears, and doubts. But for most of us this is not the case. When parents joke about their children not coming into the world with an instruction manual, they are on to something important. We are not taught to shift our focus toward windows of opportunity. The wariness we learned as children becomes entrenched in our subconscious as we focus more and more on what could go wrong, rather than envisioning what could go right.
How much of the news that we watch on television or read online is positive, energizing, and uplifting? Instead we are bombarded with impending disasters. We worry about our health, our finances, our children, our security, and most of all the unknown and unexpected new obstacles lying in wait around the next corner. Why do we do this? What do we get out of spiraling downward into worst-case scenarios?
But what if there was another way to view each day? What if we were taught a simple, gracious, and enlivening way to begin our day by appreciating it as the greatest gift we are given? What if we were taught to break the pattern of fearing uncertainty and obstacles? What if we replace all of that with the conviction that windows of opportunity are all around us if we look for and open them? What if we broke through the status quo and learned that happiness is a choice? What if we developed that choice into a fresh new habit? What if that new habit leads us to inner peace, a sense of purpose, loving relationships, and extraordinary energy? And what if by our example we taught our children, our business associates, and our friends to look for the WOO instead of the woe?
I promise that this is all not only possible but also simple, fulfilling, and fun. I’ve been living my life this way for the last thirty-five years, and I know beyond a doubt that WOOs are right there in front of me every day. I’ve laid the groundwork, muddled along through lots of trial and error, and emerged on the other side with a way that will make it easy for every one of us to enjoy every precious moment. The first step is to develop an eager spirit. I learned this lesson from one of the greatest teachers I have ever known.
I once asked John Wooden, “Coach, what’s the difference between a good team and a great one?” The great basketball coach’s answer took me by surprise. He said, “Brian, the difference between a good basketball team and a great one is the same difference between a good leader and a great one, a good parent and a great one, a good life and a great one. I believe the difference comes down to two little words. On good teams every-one is willing to support one another and the greater good. But great teams, teachers, parents, and leaders are eager to do whatever it takes. It’s the difference between being willing and being eager that has the greatest impact on your performance, your character, and your impact on others.”
Just as we all have hearts and minds, we have within us what I think of as an “eager meter.” Picture a speedometer with willing at the zero mark and eager all the way at the other side, at 200 miles per hour. The most important truth about our eager meter is that we each are 100 percent in charge of our own, whether or not we think we have one. No one else controls our hope and faith in ourselves. No one else can ever give up for us. No one else can take us from good to great. We do that all by ourselves.
Why do some people seem to get all the breaks, caught in a perennial upward spiral? Is it merely luck or chance? Could it be that they live at a higher level on their eager meter?
I can always spot someone who has developed an eager spirit because their automatic, lighthearted response to most every WOO that comes their way is “The answer is yes. What’s the question?”
Just as we can build a muscle, we can develop our sense of eagerness. The most powerful, simple, and fun way to accelerate our eager meter is to begin to say yes to more WOOs, especially those that show up disguised as invitations that stretch us beyond our comfort zones. As we elevate our ratio of yeses to nos, we will find that we are choosing faith in ourselves over fear of the unknown. A surefire way to hit the gas and shake our future is by seeing the future through a lens of possibility.
One beautiful autumn evening, my friend Tom was relaxing on his patio thinking about his life after a long but satisfying day’s work. He thought, Wow! I am so lucky! I am living a great life! He had a beautiful home overlooking the ocean in south Florida, and he had a great job. Best of all, he was in love with a woman with whom he intended to spend the rest of his life.
At the time, his focus outside of his own work was on his fiancée’s career. She was an up-and-coming singer, and Tom was her manager. For two years he’d sacrificed every spare moment to the project of landing a recording contract for her. Earlier that afternoon he’d received the call they’d been dreaming of day and night. A top record company was offering her a lucrative deal. They would sign within a week! As he sat there on the patio sipping an ice-cold beer, he thought things just couldn’t get any better.
A couple of days later he was dealt a blow he never saw coming. The woman he loved had found someone else. She wanted Tom out of her life. Just like that, it was over. Her words hit him like a freight train.
A year later he was living in a one-room apartment with only his clothes, a futon mattress, and a television. The breakup had hit him so hard that he just limped away, leaving her the house and virtually all their other possessions. His life had deteriorated rapidly into emptiness, his eager meter hovering precariously close to zero. Listlessly he struggled to work each day, only to return to the tiny apartment and the silence that had become his only companion. Refusing to see friends or family, he had become a social hermit.
That New Year’s Eve, as he sat alone in the darkness, he hit rock bottom. He realized he could no longer live this way. Either he was going to end it all or he would take back control of his life. As he teetered on the brink of suicide, a thought swept over him that would turn his life around. He decided then and there that he was going to make the next 365 days the “Year of the Tom.”
He made a pledge to himself that every single day he would take at least one action that would enhance his life in some way—reading a book, watching a video, or listening to a recording that would help him in his career; spending quality time with a good friend; exercising; or attending a seminar or lecture on a subject in which he had interest. He had no idea where this would take him, but for the first time since the breakup it sparked hope and just the slightest flicker of eagerness.
He told his friends about the Year of the Tom and asked for their help. They had been so worried about Tom that they were thrilled to hear of his new sense of purpose. Several of them got together and brainstormed ways to help Tom. They came up with the inspired idea of forming the Intergalactic Annum Society—the official sponsors of the Year of the Tom. The society’s charter was to “oversee the distribution of annual control” by keeping in constant touch with Tom. They even hosted a black-tie party where they awarded him a special certificate for bringing fresh meaning to his life through the Year of the Tom.
As the year progressed, Tom began to realize that many people go through life feeling helpless and without direction, just as he had when his girlfriend left him. They resign themselves to just getting by, wishing that something better would come along. This helplessness paralyzes them into believing they have no control over their lives and their happiness. They are barely willing to put one foot in front of the other, all eagerness and purpose drained away.
By creating his year of action and celebration, Tom accepted full responsibility for the quality of his life, and gradually empowered himself with the confidence to change it. He also looked at what had gone wrong, how he had overlooked many red flags that could have warned him in that relationship. He thought about the qualities he wanted in a woman with whom he could spend the rest of his life. This filled him not only with fresh hope but also with a resolve to never settle for less. Notch by notch, his eager meter began to rise.
By the end of the Year of the Tom, he had transformed his life in countless ways. He was engaged to a nurturing, intelligent woman who loved him unconditionally. He had been promoted to a management position and loved the new challenge and responsibility. He found he had enormous passion for mentoring and leading others. He had so much energy, he even started a side business in his spare time that generated substantial extra income and introduced him to many new friends. But the most dramatic change in his life was his newfound faith in possibility. He understood that not only do we have choices about what we do each day, but we also have the ultimate choice about the meaning we give to life’s happenings. Tom’s story is proof that even when it seems our lenses of possibility have been shattered, we have within us the special tools to put them back together.
In business, your eager meter has an enormous impact on the trajectory of your career. One of the most vivid examples of the results ignited by a truly eager spirit is the story of legendary director and producer Steven Spielberg. His pathway to one of the greatest careers in the movie industry is testimony to what is possible when you combine nearly off-the-charts eagerness with an unstoppable determination to seize the WOO.
From a very early age, Spielberg was enthralled with cinema. By the age of twelve he was already making what he called “adventure films,” which were short 8 mm home movies. To earn his photography merit badge as a Boy Scout, he wrote and produced a short western he called The Last Gunfight. As he said years later when interviewed about his career, “That was how it all started.” He was hooked on creating movies.
Though passionate and inspired about moviemaking, Spielberg was an unmotivated student in his regular classes. His eager meter was sparked only by his love of the movies. Through a family friend who was an executive at Universal Studios, seventeen-year-old Steven was given a short unpaid internship at the studio offices. However, this internship did not grant Steven admission to the movie lot where the films were being created. Undeterred by something as trivial as official access, and burning to learn everything he possibly could about film, Steven snuck onto the lot virtually every day. He pretended he belonged there and showed up in every department he could sneak into, watching, talking, and networking as if this was exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Though apprehended on several occasions and tossed off the lot, young Spielberg just kept coming back until he became so familiar to many of the crews that they accepted his presence as normal.
When it came to cinema, Spielberg, like the great white shark he would later make famous in Jaws, devoured absolutely everything he could clamp his jaws around. His passion and interest were so extraordinary that he simply couldn’t get enough. He endeared himself to several crew members who were impressed by his unflagging enthusiasm.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Greatest Gift We're Given Is Today! 13
Stage 1 Shaking the Future 17
1 Shake Your Future 19
2 What You Focus On Is What You Create 29
3 The Past Does Not Equal the Future 39
Stage 2 Energize and Engage 45
4 A New Kind of Energy-Going from 3 to 101 47
5 Expired or Inspired? 57
6 Be Easy to Impress and Hard to Offend 73
7 The Power of Asking Questions 79
Stage 3 Build People, Build Teams, Build Relationships 89
8 The Positive Pygmalion 91
9 Take the High Road-The View Is So Much Better 105
10 Networking That Works! 115
11 The Superglue That Binds Us Together 119
12 The Most Precious Present 133
13 Just Listen! 145
14 Giver and Receiver 149
Stage 4 Delivering Breakthrough Results 153
15 Lighten Up, Don't Tighten Up 155
16 Us Versus Them 161
17 Pesky Need for Approval! 169
18 You'll Be Amazed at What You Can Do When You Seize the WOO! 175