How High Can You Climb?

“Good, Better, Best! Never let it rest, ’til your good is better, and your better, is best!” – St. Jerome

It can sometimes seem that life is an endless series of repetitive tasks that we have to accomplish. We have things our bosses need us to do every day, demands made by our family, favors requested by friends and so it goes. Very often our desire is for the task at hand just to go away. At times like this the temptation is for us to settle for the merely adequate or even the rather mediocre as we declare: “That will have to do” and consider the project finished.

There is a problem with accepting second-best or even third-rate standards in that what might start as a one off soon becomes more common and then even routine. If we are not careful our entire lives can be only mediocre or decidedly average as we condition ourselves to accept standards way below those we are capable of achieving.

Now I am not saying that we should all become perfectionists – far from it. Waiting until something is perfect is often an excuse for never getting anything done at all. Instead we should always aim to produce good work in our lives. “Good” should be our minimum acceptable standard of completion for any project, be it for our work or our social lives.

But we should not be prepared to stop at good. The next logical step is to make our good work better and then strive to make it the best it can possibly be. This fits in nicely with the idea of making slow and steady progress in our business, family and social lives. We should always be looking at new ways of doing something just that little bit better than we did it before.

We can apply this philosophy to every area of our lives and everything that we do. When good is the minimum standard and there is a burning desire to be even better than you were yesterday than the only way is up and you can keep going on-wards and upwards for the rest of your life. You could tell yourself something like this:

“I am a good parent. I am going to be a better parent. I want to be the best parent I can possibly be to my children.” Note that this mantra could apply to almost any aspect of your life.

Do You Have the Courage to Act?

“Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.” – Dr. Maxwell Maltz

It is fascinating to see how some people can take what they are given in life and go on to become ultra successful while others with the same opportunities never seem to achieve very much at all. And then there are stories of people who overcome great adversity to accomplish great things while those with every resource available to them just squander every chance they get.

I think it is fair to say that most people dream of being successful in their lives and it is true that “success” can mean vastly different things to different people. For some it can mean amassing lots of wealth and material possessions, for others it can mean living a flamboyant lifestyle, while for others it can mean achieving academic greatness, fame or the cult of celebrity.

But the only important consideration here today is what does success mean to you? How do you measure success in your life? Are you as successful as you would like to be? And, if not, what are you going to do about it? One thing is certain and it is that it is never too late to change your life around from the life you have now to the one you want to have tomorrow. Even if you have spent years walking down the wrong path there is no reason why you can’t turn around and get on the path you want to be on.

Sometimes all that you need to turn your life around is the courage to act on your ideas. Maybe now is the time to re-examine those yearnings you have always had but have never got around do doing anything about. Often there is an element of risk in following your ideas but rarely in life do we find reward without risk. The calculated risk means that from the outset you accept that things may go wrong in your plans and that you come up with strategies to deal with the unexpected. We can also be too easily prepared to allow others to make our decisions for us. We put too much store in our friends and family who tell us things like: “Oh that is such a stupid idea…you could never do that?”

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

“A jug fills drop by drop” – Buddha

There always seems to be an urgent need to get things done and in modern life it seems that the quicker one project is done the better. Then we rush headlong into the next project, get that done as quickly as we possibly can and so on.

This seems to be especially true in the online world – that fast-paced community where information is always just a few mouse clicks away and if the information we want cannot be found in seconds then we move on to the next page without a moment’s thought. It never ceases to amaze me that in the “make money online” niche nearly everyone is looking for the latest new “opportunity” where they can become rich overnight with little or no effort required on their part.

As a result there are countless thousands of sites catering for this demand with a new money making opportunity coming online almost every day. The sad thing is that this industry has a fantastically high failure rate with most people who seek to make money online never managing to make anything at all. But is it really any wonder when so many millions of people are seeking instant riches or are expecting money to magically appear in their bank accounts while they do nothing in return?

And yet despite all this there are people who are quietly making money online and making very decent livings for themselves in the process. They are not chasing instant success but they are involved with promoting products or services which all have one thing in common…they all add value to the lives of those who buy and use them.

The other thing the successful online marketers have in common is that they discover that the quickest way to make money online is by slowing right down. They start small and grow slowly. These smart marketers ignore all the promotions which claim to make them a millionaire in six months and instead seek to add one customer to their list each day or to make one new sale each day or to make one improvement to their website or their products. This way they fill their jugs one drop at a time.

The people who want to fill their jug overnight find it is impossible to do so but they won’t take the time to allow it to fill up one drop at a time. Instead they spend money on this program and that program until all their money is gone and they are left with nothing but a collection of empty jugs.

Invest In People

“No man becomes rich unless he enriches others” – Andrew Carnegie

You cannot withdraw on a relationship you have never made a deposit in. Start investing in people because they have value. Many times when you make investments in relationships without expecting anything in return they want to give you a higher return in value. You end up getting more than you give in the first place.

Good investors have to give before they receive and most of the time they end up receiving more than they invested. Their overall portfolio has a greater gain than what they have given, even when some of their investments have yet to or never will pay off.

It may seem strange to think of relationships with others in terms of an investment but that is exactly what it is. You are investing your time, your knowledge and your life-experiences in others and in the process you hope to enrich the life of that person along the way. But there is more to it than that because that person also has knowledge and life-experiences to share. By investing your time in that person, you too will be enriched by the interaction.

Building relationships in this manner takes time and effort but the rewards are worth it because these are the very building blocks of solid and life-long friendships. And in a world where the superficial and the meaningless are increasingly taking hold it is important to have solid relationships with people worth investing in.

Now as much as you may want to enrich others you will find that there are many people in life who don’t want to put the time and effort into building a relationship with you, and try as hard as you might, you are most unlikely to succeed in reaching out to these people.

Instead try and find someone who shares your life goals, your ideals or who has a similar set of morals as you do. So many people go into a relationship with the attitude of “what can this person do for me?” but this is the wrong attitude. Seek to enrich others and do so willingly and enthusiastically without the expectation of compensation or reward for yourself. By adding value to the lives of others you will be adding value to your own life in equal or greater measure.

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann von Goethe

Actually starting a project can often be one of the hardest parts of getting the entire thing done. I am willing to bet that you will sometimes have one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments where an amazingly good idea just suddenly pops into your head as if from nowhere. And I would further bet that if you gave it any serious thought at all then most of those thoughts consisted of finding reasons why you could not possibly do whatever it was that you had just thought of.

Sometimes you find that some months or years down the line another person has had exactly the same thought you had all that time ago but that they have gone on to change their lives by actually putting it into action. When this happens you are left holding your head in your hands and lamenting: “But that should have been me!”

So if you have a great idea that you have not acted upon or a dream for changing your life that you have been unwilling to put into action then what are you waiting for? Nobody is going to fulfill your dreams for you and only you can put them into action. Yes it can be scary taking action because you are going into uncharted waters but it will be an adventure and it could change your life.

You owe it to yourself to at least give yourself the opportunity to fulfill your dreams. Be bold and put your dreams into action and be prepared to experience the genius, power and magic within you. Yes it can be hard to start, especially when you are already telling yourself all sorts of reasons why it will not work, but at least give it a go. Just getting started creates a momentum of its own and you will find that many of the fears you had for not taking action simply disappear as you discover that the power of “I can” unleashes its own magic which overpowers the fears of “I can’t.”

Follow your dreams and stop giving yourself reasons not to do so because you will never experience the power and magic which lies within you unless you actually take action and start.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.” – Willis R. Whitney

One of the things which really annoys me in life are those people around me who always have excuses for not doing something they were supposed to do. Sometimes the amount of time and effort people put into coming up with excuse after excuse is extraordinary. Here are a couple of examples which come to mind.

I was once watching the reality TV show Big Brother, a show where complete strangers share a house together and are filmed around the clock for the viewing audience’s pleasure.

On this particular show two housemates were arguing over whose turn it was to do the washing up after dinner. “I did it last night,” said one. “Well I did it the night before and I made you breakfast,” countered the other. This argument went back and forth for at least ten minutes but during this time, quietly in the background, a third housemate was at the kitchen sink washing up the dirty plates. When he had finished he walked up the arguing housemates and said: “During all this time while you were making excuses you could have got the job done.”

Further back in time when at school I always remember one teacher who would never accept any reason for pupils turning up late to his lessons. Whenever it happened he would say: “It is your first responsibility to turn up for class on time.” I loved that expression and it has stayed with me for my entire life.

It seems to me that the whole idea of taking personal responsibility is now a decidedly old-fashioned concept for many these days. As personal responsibility declines so the excuse culture thrives and this is something we must all be wary of.

It is easy to make excuses but very often it is just as easy to find the one reason to do something and get the task in hand finished.

You’re Not Running for Office

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those that matter, don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.” – Theodor Seuss Geisel

Politicians will say anything to get elected and I’m sure they would do all of it if they could but there is a reason most of them never do. What pleases you displeases someone else and vice versa. This is the main reason why politicians, as a whole, are not thought of as very honest people.

One of the biggest mistakes early on in my business was trying to make everyone happy. I was allowing others to make every decision and this lead to me having no identity. A true leader is someone people can look at and know where they stand. They are like trees, willing to bend in the wind but with their roots firmly planted deep in the ground.

Focus on being everything to someone. Narrow down your focus like a single beam of light and it will start a small fire. The key here is being true to yourself in everything you do because that way you will always stay grounded in reality. If you try to do something you don’t feel is right just to please someone else then you are not being true to yourself and unless you are true to yourself you cannot be true to anybody else.

No matter what you do in life, you will never be able to bring the whole world along with you but you will be able to reach out and touch the hearts and minds of those people who share your core values. It is for this reason that you owe it to yourself and to those who believe in you to be who you are and to say how you feel.

Far too many of us feel we have to be the person we feel others want us to be and, as a result, we end up making our lives miserable. Also when you have the courage to be yourself life becomes so much easier because you have given yourself the freedom to be the person you really are. And those that matter will thank you for it.

Why Smiles and Kindness Matter

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.” – Humphry Davy

It is tempting to look upon our lives in terms of great achievements, milestones reached or heroic efforts to secure some lofty goal or ideal. However in reality life is just not like that. Yes there will be the occasional really big moment here and there but our lives are really made up of a long series of seemingly inconsequential events. Yet it is these moments which make up the majority of our lives so we should pay them more attention.

Taking the time to smile, to say “please” and “thank-you” and to be polite to others might be little things but they are also things which serve to brighten up the lives of others and you can do this at absolutely no personal cost to yourself.

I found another example which illustrated how it is the smaller and less significant events in our lives which can be more important than we give them credit for when I read a newspaper report titled: “The top five regrets of the dying” and I was struck at how ordinary the things on that list were. The top five regrets were as follows:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish I had let myself be happier.

These regrets are all very telling especially the first one. Your life is your own and nobody else’s so it follows that you should be true to yourself. There is a huge difference in being true to yourself while respecting the lives of others around you and in living a life you think that others expect of you. If you can do this while getting the little things right then not only will you be a happier person but others around you will think better of you too. The little things in life really do matter but sometimes in our fast-paced world we can lose sight of that fact.