Motivation

One More Mailbox

A few summers ago I did some running in my neighborhood. I’d start at my house, run until I hit what I felt was a good halfway point, then turn around and run home. I’d always like to push myself, especially with this big hill I’d run partially up so as I’d start to get to tired, I’d tell myself “just one more mailbox.”

Sometimes that next mailbox was twenty feet away, other times it was fifty. While running an extra mile or two seemed like something out of my reach, certainly I could go another twenty feet. And then when I hit that next mailbox, the next one was only a little farther away so I could repeat that process until my legs started to wobble.

Success is Simple – Just Follow the Instructions

One of the things I’ve learned recently as I’ve started to seriously workout again is that achieving a goal is a lot less complex than we make it out to be. Really, there are three basic steps: set the goal, create the action plan and then follow through with it. As I’m sure you can guess, most people fail on one of the last two steps.

Nighttime Courage

I couldn’t sleep one night last week so to be productive, I decided to follow up on some emails. Many of these emails were things that I had put off because I wanted to word them the right way. For example, I had to nudge a few people who I was awaiting a response from. But that night, I didn’t seem to care; no more beating around the bush – I was direct and to the point.

After that, I logged into the various social media sites to see what my friends were up to and saw some posts from friends from high school. I immediately thought about how life would have been different at that stage of my life had I had social media. No more waiting until school the next day for communicating – I could just send an email whenever. And that got me thinking about how today’s technology could have certainly made things interesting back then.

It’s Okay to Be a Sore Loser

What? Did I just say it’s okay to act like a bad sport after you lose? Well, not necessarily. We live in a culture that unfortunately discourages success. Kids now play sports where there are no scores and some schools are doing away with grades so that the kids that don’t perform well don’t feel bad. Now as adults, we run into situations all the time where we have the potential to be the loser: competing for an account or a promotion, putting an offer on a house or an item on ebay, dating, looking for work or any other situation where there is more than one person vying for the same limited resource.

Society tells us we should lose gracefully, and some personal development “gurus” tell us to change our meaning of “losing” be something ridiculous like “not competing” so that the act of just going for something automatically makes us a winner. But deep down, it hurts to lose. I’ve seen grown men weep after their team has lost a big game – and it’s not just the players, it’s the fans too. While that may seem silly to many of us, we all have competitive areas of our lives that we take seriously.

The Worst Type of Risk

I think most people naturally fear taking risks. There’s so much unknown and so many things that can go wrong. Plus, whenever someone takes a foolish risk and falls flat on his or her face, the story of it travels through that person’s network at lightspeed. So add ridicule and embarrassment to results often associated with taking risks.

The topic of risks came up with a few friends recently and I was asked about the worst risk I ever took. While I searched through my memories for the typical things that come to mind like asking out a girl who was way out of my league or investing time and/or effort into a startup, I couldn’t really find anything. Whenever I took social risks when it came to things like dating, I usually was glad about taking the risk – even if things didn’t work out in my favor, I knew to move on. As far as professional risks went, I’ve made my share of blunders with speeches, networking events and even with some of the classes I first offered when I pushed myself beyond my limits. But the blunders were only part of the story – for each of these blunders, there were a number of successes (sometimes just small ones) but these successes (and even mistakes) resulted in a learning experience.

Why People Fail

I’ve never been a big fan of “date” movies – romantic comedies where you know the guy and the girl are going to get together at the end, but not sure exactly how they’ll get through the mess created during the first twenty minutes of the film. With these types of films, part of the plot line usually has to do with a guy who’s afraid of commitment.

I usually get frustrated with this plot line – the gal should just move on (or to make it a movie more to my liking, blow up his car while he’s driving away). But no, it gets drawn out for 90+ minutes and somehow the guy sees the err in his ways and decides that he was wrong to not commit in the first place and spend the second half of the movie trying to correct the situation. In most cases, there’s a happy ending but not always. But what’s interesting is that fear or lack of commitment happens a lot in real life and the results are often not a happy ending.

Why Most Self-Help Books are Garbage

I try to read at least one book per week. It doesn’t always happen, but I try. While I love sci-fi and other fiction, I always find myself drawn to non-fiction so the majority of these books are from the self-help category. I don’t know what it is that draws me in – perhaps the quick fix, answer to all my prayers, one missing ingredient that’s keeping me from my dreams – but I find them fascinating. I also find these books to be fun – sort of like a treasure hunt – as I search for those useful morsels that I can apply to my own situation.

But with more and more of these books hitting the stores each week, the quality of the books (and their material) has dropped significantly. I’m finding it more difficult to not only find useful information, but actually getting through the book. I’ve noticed that many of these books use a similar format – a breakdown of the content of their book into a few distinct categories. As you read along, you’ll probably notice that many of the recent books you’ve read use this very same formula. So without further ado, here’s the breakdown of major parts of today’s self-help books:

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