James Trotter combines his professional and personal experience as an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and Bible study group leader to share valuable life lessons and anecdotes in order to teach others how to:
- Set and use goals as measurable steps toward reaching something bigger
- Stop being a victim and take personal responsibility
- Increase motivation and continue moving forward
- Be open to advice and implement those words of wisdom into daily life
- Read books that provide practical advice and inspiration
- Give thanks for an abundance of blessings
For those ready to transform their dreams into reality, without relying on others to make it happen, this guidebook provides the basic rules that will open the doors to a new and exciting future!
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You Must!Basic Rules For Living The Best Life You Can
By James Trotter
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2009 James Trotter
All right reserved.
Chapter OneYOU MUST TAKE ACTION
You must take action! If you learn nothing else from this book, I hope you will learn this most important point: You Must Take Action! If you stop reading right now and apply this one principle, it will make a difference. The loftiest goals, the best laid plans, the best of intentions, whatever it might be. Without action, it's all useless. If you are not going to take action, please stop wasting your time reading this book.
So many times, people have come up with fantastic ideas, goals, and dreams only to do nothing with them and watch those fantastic ideas and dreams die. Ideas that may have changed the world as we know it (or at least their world as they knew it), but without action, nothing happened, nothing changed; the world stayed the same. The Reverend W.A. Nance said, "Failure can be divided into those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought."
Every year, millions of people make New Years'
Resolutions. "This year I'm gonna ..." Fill in the blank for whatever you promised last January. Most of these people have a few things in common:
1. They're sincere. They really believe this year will be different. They believe this year will be the year they get it in gear and do something. And, they really do want it to be different.
2. They have a desire. They have a reason to do whatever they are resolving to do. Maybe it's losing weight to be in better shape. Maybe it's eating healthier for better overall health. Maybe it's to get out of debt to reduce stress. Maybe it's to start recycling to cut down on the amount of trash going into landfills. Maybe it's to invest so they won't have to rely solely on Social Security when they retire (if it's still around). Maybe it's to give to one of those charities you see where you can feed a hungry child and send them to school and so on. Whatever the resolution, I believe most people want whatever it is they are resolving to do, but desire alone is not enough. (We'll discuss this more in another chapter.)
3. They know it can be done. The evidence is everywhere. People are doing exactly what other people have resolved to do, so it's not like it's impossible! You don't have to go too far or look too hard to see someone who is losing weight, eating healthier, getting out of debt, recycling more, investing, whatever it is. Just ask someone at work, or a neighbor, or even someone at the grocery store and I'm sure they would love to tell you about their sister's boyfriend's cousin's uncle's new wife who's had amazing success with blah, blah, blah. Every time you turn on the TV, there's another infomercial trying to teach you how, "You, too, can ..." (again, fill in the blank).
Let me just say these things are not bad. You need to be sincere. You need to have a desire, or in other words, you need to want to do something. If you want to do nothing, that's what you'll do. You need to know or feel that there's at least some chance of success. (This is not always the most important thing. Many of the things people have accomplished were done so when everyone else said it couldn't be done. Imagine telling someone in 1960 that a man would soon be walking on the moon. You might have literally been laughed out of the building, or even out of town! Yet, one decade later, men walked on the moon, not just once, but several times over! But that's another story. Just remember the old saying, "If you can dream it, you can do it!" But a little common sense and doing your homework also goes a long way. Someone once said, "There are two kinds of people in the world: doers and thinkers. The thinkers need to do more and the doers need to think more.")
Unfortunately, most of these people have one more thing in common: They did not take action. They were sincere. They truly believed change was coming, and they sincerely wanted that change to come! They had a desire to make a change, and reasons why the change would be good. And they had evidence that it could be done (in most cases), and in some cases, had even seen the evidence first hand by someone close to them making good on their resolutions. So what happened? The sincerity, the desire, and the evidence were just not enough. You've heard it before, and you will hear it again: You must take action!
All the sincerity your soul can muster, with all the desire of all the people in the world, put together with all the evidence anyone could ever need, is still useless without action! It's like starving at a Las Vegas buffet. The food is there, but you must eat! Without the action of putting the food in your mouth, you will die of starvation surrounded by mountains of food. "What irony!" some would say. "What foolishness!" others would say. "What a tragedy!" still others would say. They would all be right.
I like to read. One of the best books I have read is called "The Automatic Millionaire" by David Bach. The book is great, and has lots of good ideas, strategies, advice, and "Aha moments." However, the thing I like the most about this book is the end of each chapter. This is how David put it in the book's introduction:
"As you'll see in the next few hours, because of its unbelievably simple approach, this is an unbelievably easy book to get through. What's more, each chapter ends with a short summary outline I call Automatic Millionaire Action Steps, which makes crystal clear exactly what you can do today to start yourself on the road to accumulating real wealth."
There are a few key words in the paragraph above. First, each chapter contains the Action Steps. Not some, or half, or most of the chapters; each one has a place where it says, "Take action!" Second, the action steps are what you can do today. Stop waiting. Stop worrying. Stop playing the "what if" game. General George Patton said, "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow." Your plan of action may not be perfect, but that's OK. Go! Do it! Today!
"But what if I fail?" Everyone faces failure. The question is, what will you do when you encounter it? Only you can determine whether the failure overcame you, or you overcame the failure. Grace Hopper said, "A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." You will never accomplish what you want if you are only concerned about safety and security. Failure is not final or fatal unless you allow it to be. Remember the words of Henry Ford: "Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently."
Third, the action steps are clear. They are not complicated, multi-step processes that involve lots of time and attention. In some cases the action is simply to decide. Right here, right now, decide. As the actor and brilliant economist Ben Stein said, "The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want."
So, are you going to take action, or are you going to continue to make excuses and tell yourself once again all the reasons you can't do it? Ben Stein also said, "So many fail because they don't get started - they don't go. They don't overcome inertia. They don't begin." Eugene F. Ware said, "All glory comes from daring to begin." Successful people don't make excuses; they make things happen.
You can't be lazy. Lazy people don't enjoy success. Success comes to those who work for it. It's been said that luck is the point where hard work and opportunity come together. Dr. Armand Hammer said, "When I work fourteen hours a day, 7 days a week, I get lucky." Please don't think that I am suggesting that everyone work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. What I am suggesting is that it is the hard work that creates "luck". The author, speaker, and teacher Diana Rankin said, "It takes twenty years of hard work to become an overnight success." Another great quote by Ray Kroc: "Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get." Let's not forget about Lucille Ball. She said, "Luck to me is something else. Hard work - and realizing what is opportunity and what isn't." And finally, a quote from one of our great founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, who said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." Obviously I'm not alone in thinking that work may be a key to "being lucky".
The title of this chapter is "Swoosh!" It is inspired by the Nike shoe company. That little symbol on their shoes, apparel, boxes, and everything else they produce is called the Nike Swoosh. Every time you see the Nike swoosh, you probably remember their motto; "Just Do It". You don't have to figure that out. You don't have to have that explained to you. You don't have to find the deeper meaning in it. I like that. It's simple. And so is this: Go! Get out there! You must take action!
Chapter TwoYOU MUST HAVE A GOAL
Have you ever watched or listened to soccer games from Latin American countries? First of all, the commentators seem to speak so fast! I'm sure it's just because I don't understand the language, but it really seems fast! (I often wonder if they think the same thing about Americans, but that's another story.)
Second, they are excited! When the ball is getting close to the goal, they start raising the pitch of their voices, the volume, and (somehow) the speed! But the best part is when someone gets the ball into that net. The commentator screams, "GOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!" It's fun to watch and listen to.
So what's the point? The point is, without the bars sticking up with the net wrapped around them (i.e. the goal), it really wouldn't be that exciting. I mean, let's face it. Without the goal, it would just be a bunch of people kicking a ball around a grassy field. BORING! It's the goal in any game that makes that game worth watching. And playing! Without the goal, it's useless.
I remember some years ago I was at a seminar. The speaker was one of my favorite people to listen to and I was enjoying his presentation. He asked for a volunteer from the audience and a friend of mine raised his hand when I raised mine. (We'll say my friend's name is Mike.) The speaker chose Mike to go up on stage and help illustrate a point. Mike jumped up on stage right in the middle in front of the audience (instead of taking the stairs on the side. He's such a show-off).
As soon as Mike was up there, the speaker ducks behind the curtain and pulls out a basketball. He hands it to Mike and says something like, "We're going to see if you are any good at basketball. So go ahead and shoot." Mike looks around for a second or two and then turns back to the speaker and asks the perfect question. "Where's the goal?" (I think that's why I didn't get chosen. I would have asked some stupid question like, "So, you got some string and wood so I can throw something together real quick?" It just wouldn't have been the same.)
"Where's the goal?" Mike asked. The speaker says, "Thank you very much." He dismisses Mike back to his seat, and we all learn a very valuable lesson. If you don't know what you're shooting at, how do you know if you make it? If you don't know where you're going, how do you know when you get there? If you don't know what the goal is, how do you know if you've achieved it?
I remember hearing a story about a gas station attendant who is putting gas in a car one afternoon. He looks up and sees a guy running straight toward him at full speed. Breathing heavily and sweating profusely, the runner stops for a quick breather near the attendant who has just finished filling the car. The attendant looks at the runner and asks, "Where you going?" To which the runner responds, "I don't know, but I'm getting there fast!" The attendant asks the obvious question, "How do you know?" The runner stands in stunned silence, realizing that if he doesn't know where he's going, how can he be sure he's not running in the wrong direction?!?!
You may have heard it before, but it is worth repeating. The top three percent of successful people have this in common: they have a goal, and it is written down and reviewed daily. Again, I like action. So if you don't have a goal written down so you can review it daily, do yourself a favor and go do that right now. A goal is so important, as illustrated in the examples above. However, if the goal is not written down, it isn't so much a goal as it is a dream. Please don't misunderstand. A dream is something you need, and I think you should have one (or more) and it should be big! However, the way to achieve your dreams is to set goals.
Think of goals as measurable steps toward reaching something bigger. Let me give you an illustration. Let's say your dream is to go to Hawaii. (If you live in Hawaii, let's say your dream is to go to New York.) One of your first goals may be to save $1,000 dollars this year, next year, and the following year. The next goal is to do the research on the best places to stay while you're on the islands. The next goal is to find out who you know that has gone before and get information from them on things like attractions, fun things to do and see, and so forth. The next goal would be to begin planning your schedule (putting in vacation time requests at work, for example). Each of these things is a measurable step toward something bigger, i.e., going to Hawaii. Hawaii is the dream; saving, planning, researching, and scheduling are goals: measurable steps to realize the dream. If you don't have any goals, you basically just have a "happy place" in your mind (and you probably won't ever make it to Hawaii).
Maybe you've heard the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." A goal is to take so many bites per day until the whole elephant has been eaten. By looking at the elephant as a whole, you become overwhelmed. You start thinking, "There's no way! It's just too big." By setting goals, you can focus on each step of the journey toward reaching the end. Goals help you adjust your focus from the large, overwhelming end picture, down to the steps that you can do each day (or week, or month, or whatever) until the final objective is reached. The famous director Cecil B. DeMille said, "The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly."
Again let me say that a goal is different from a dream. I think everyone should have dreams, and I think those dreams should be written down and reviewed also. But if you have dreams with no goals to achieve those dreams, why have the dreams in the first place? If you have dreams, great! Now determine if you have goals to meet those dreams. If not, stop right now and set some goals! Seriously, stop reading and set some goals right now. And then write them down and review them every single day.
Don't just kick the ball around a grassy field with your coworkers for your whole life. You must set goals and take action!
Chapter ThreeYOU MUST TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
President Harry Truman had a philosophy about passing the buck: He didn't. The importance of personal responsibility cannot be overstated. This is something I learned a little about some time ago.
Personal responsibility comes into play in every area of your life. Think about it for just a moment. Getting up on time, getting to work on time, getting the job done, getting the kids picked up, getting the errands done, getting the laundry done, getting the bills paid, getting enough sleep, not sleeping too much and wasting the day, not over eating, exercising regularly, going to the doctor and dentist and optometrist regularly. There is so much that depends on you being responsible. And yet, so many people pass through life as if everything is someone else's responsibility.
I have to admit, this is a big pet peeve of mine. Perhaps I should apologize now if this chapter seems a bit too harsh. I don't mean to be critical, and remember I'm not preaching at you, I'm learning with you. Personal responsibility is something I also have to remember and work on frequently.
Unfortunately, we live in a very litigious society. Everybody is a "victim". Around three-fourths of the world's lawyers practice here in the United States and somewhere around 95% of the worlds lawsuits are filed here as well. What a sad statistic! Why is it always someone else's fault? Because nobody wants to take personal responsibility any more. This is so aggravating and frustrating to me. I know it sounds weird, but I actually like it when people point it out to me if I seem to be trying to pass the buck and not take responsibility for something. Unlike most people, I want to improve. I want to be better. I want to be a person that people know they can count on. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to improve all the time.
Excerpted from You Must! by James Trotter Copyright © 2009 by James Trotter. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1: You Must Take Action....................1
Chapter 2: You Must Have a Goal....................7
Chapter 3: You Must Take Personal Responsibility....................11
Chapter 4: You Must Realize Where Motivation Comes From....................19
Chapter 5: You Must Be Teachable....................23
Chapter 6: You Must Read Books....................31
Chapter 7: You Must Count Your Blessings....................37