How My Trumpet Can Keep You On Top

482855233

In 5th grade I decided to join the elementary school band and play the trumpet. (Why the trumpet? They let us try all the instruments, but I couldn’t keep my cheeks from puffing out when I tried the trombone. Yup, that’s the kind of thought I put into my instrument of choice.)

In the first week of practice we had auditions. Out of 36 trumpets, I was 33rd chair. (Take that chair 34, 35, and 36!) Let’s just say I was not awesome at this.

All of that changed when our band director handed out the music. We were going to play the theme from Rocky! (Gonna Fly Now) This was in 1978. The movie had only come out two years earlier and I loved that song. And, the trumpets had an amazing part.

I took the sheet music home and started playing it. But I didn’t have the melody. I was playing boring low notes the whole time. I didn’t understand why. (I’ll explain in a minute.) I really didn’t sound very good. It was painful to listen to me.

My mom saw me struggling and got me private lessons. I had a really cool teacher who said my embouchure – the way my mouth was on the trumpet – was all wrong. He showed me what to do and sent me home.

I worked my butt off and the next week my teacher was stunned. He said my embouchure was now “super good” and we could start really learning how to play.

I practiced hard.

Three months later my band had auditions again. This time I jumped from 33rd chair to 3rd chair. I even beat out all but two of the 6th graders who had been playing a year longer than I had. Wow! All the hard practicing was really paying off.

Then, my director asked me to hand in all my music. I didn’t know what was happening. Had I done something wrong? Was I in trouble? Nope, she just wanted to give me the 1st part for every song. I didn’t understand. What did 1st part mean?

I was so new to music that I didn’t realize there were different parts depending on how good you were. The best players played 1st part melody. I had been playing 3rd part harmony. Now I was getting the 1st part for all our songs – and that included the first part to ROCKY!

I rode my bike home as fast as I could and started playing that song, imagining I was running up the steps in Philly. I was playing the melody. I sounded like the theme song! (Well, kinda. I sounded like the simplified 5th grade version of the song, but I was playing the MELODY!)

From there I fell in love with the trumpet and ramped up my practicing. In junior high I was in two bands, practiced in the marching band after school and spent at least another hour practicing at home each day.

In 8th grade I auditioned for the all county band and made 1st chair. That meant I was the best junior high trumpet player in all of Orange County, Florida (Orlando). I thought that was pretty cool.

In fact, I got a little cocky. I let my practice schedule slip. I didn’t work as hard on new songs. I didn’t ask my private teacher to push me as hard.

The next year, as a 9th grader I auditioned for the all county band again – and only made third chair. An 8th grader was second chair! How did I let this happen?

I realized that I had become complacent with my trumpet. I wasn’t looking for new songs and new challenges. I was resting on my accomplishments. While I was doing that, other people were working hard to get better. And they passed me by.

How many of us have done that in some part of our life or work?

Sometimes it’s because we get bored or tired. Other times it’s because we aren’t paying attention to the changes in our business or life. Still other times we aren’t looking for the ways to innovate and change to reach a new level of success.

If we want to fix that, we have to keep looking for the next Rocky Theme Song that gets us excited. That’s what helps drive us to put in the hard work it takes to become the best version of ourselves we can.

Question for comment:

What’s your next Rocky? What’s gonna make you fly now?

(If this post resonated with you, please share it, and my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding and Pursuing Your Purpose, with a friend.)

How to Have Long Term Goals AND Get Instant Gratification

If your only payoff for all your sacrifice and hard work is years away, you might give up.

Now-vs-doing-later-450x299

You understand that you have to delay gratification sometimes. You put your head down and work hard on your goals so that when you achieve them you will reap the rewards. And you have a lot of goals.

You have goals at your full time job. You have goals for a new career that you’re starting on the side. You have relationship goals, personal goals, physical goals, spiritual and financial goals.

Oh, is that all?

Do you ever get tired of working so hard for the hope of future happiness? I know I do.

If we’re not careful, and all we do is deny the now for the future, we can lose our motivation and give up on the goals we truly want.

I’ve been thinking about that as I’ve been building my professional speaking business.

I have some ambitious goals on who I want to present to, how often I want to speak, where in the world I want to speak, how much I want to earn, and more.

To achieve those goals, there is a lot of work to do. Some of it I don’t enjoy very much. I don’t really like creating my website, editing my demo video, cold calling prospects, following up on the cold calls, and tracking every contact I make.

It’s a lot of work without a quick payoff. Staying focused on my why helps. But, if I don’t get some instant gratification as I go, I might give up before I reach my ultimate goal.

I have to be more than goal destination oriented. I need to be process oriented as well.

The good news is there are a bunch of things I love about being a professional speaker. I can choose to focus more on those things, and enjoy what I’m doing now, while also continuing to pursue my long-term goals.

I love:

  • Creating presentations that positively impact people’s lives
  • Presenting to people and organizations about the importance of purpose in and out of the workplace
  • Helping businesses create more engaged employees and a better bottom line
  • Helping people find and pursue their Passionate Purpose
  • Meeting new people before and after each presentation
  • Seeing people change because of my speech
  • Getting referrals for more events
  • Traveling to new places to give my talks and seminars
  • Signing my book for people who are all in on living extraordinary lives

I can go a step further and even find things I enjoy inside the things I don’t.

I can turn cold calling into a way to meet new people and offer ways to serve them – not sell them.

I can focus on the fun parts of creating my web page and demo video. I enjoy making those look good and being great resources for people.

When I get my focus right, I can enjoy my journey to my long-term goals. And that makes all the difference.

Questions for discussion:

What destination goal is frustrating you?
What parts of working toward that goal do you love?
What could you do to make the journey more enjoyable on a daily basis?

Let’s GO!

(If this post resonated with you, share it with a friend and check out my book, GO! How to Find and Pursue Your Passionate Purpose, available in paperback and audiobook.)

If You’re Stuck, It’s Time to GROW

man-stuck-in-box-no-control

If you just feel stuck, how do you get unstuck? What I do with my coaching clients, and what I do to coach myself, is GROW.

GROW stands for:

Goals
Reality
Options
Way Forward (or Will)

When I coach, I see my clients as having the best answers to their questions. My job is to help them become more self-aware, fully develop their goals and options, and help them choose the best ones.

When you take responsibility for creating your life, you become much more invested in the work and the outcomes. You also become more successful.

Begin with the end in mind. What do you want? If you aren’t clear on that, it’s going to be much more difficult to get there.

Goals: Which part of your life do you need to change? Your career, relationships, physical fitness, spiritual development, what?

Some of the great questions I use to figure out my goals come from the book, Coaching For Performance, by John Whitmore. If you’re looking to improve your career you might ask yourself questions like:

  • Imagine 1 year in the future – what would your ideal work situation be?
  • What would a typical day be like? Describe it in detail.
  • What part or parts of that ideal work situation do you desire most?
  • How important, on a scale of 1 to 10, is each one to you?
  • Now, what is your work goal?
  • If that seems to big a goal, what are some smaller, more attainable goals that will get you on your way to your ultimate goal?
  • When would you want this goal achieved?
  • How would you know you achieved it?

There are times that just getting clear on your goal will get you unstuck. Most of the time, however, you’re going to want to go further to ensure success.

The next step is being brutally honest about your reality.

Reality: Objectively look at your current situation. A key here is owning the responsibility for where you are and what it will take to get where you want to be. Self-awareness is crucial to getting unstuck.

Staying with a change in career as the example, start with some questions like these: 

  • What is your current reality at work?
  • What is your reality on what it would take to change that?
  • What and who don’t you like in your current work situation?
  • What and who do you like in your current work situation?
  • How much of this do you see as under your control?
  • How could you make it something you could control?
  • What makes your work meaningful?
  • What do you see as your purpose in your work?

Now that your clear on what you want and where you are, you need to come up with options.

Options – What options do you have for changing things? (Let’s use the example of having a goal for a new job.)

  • What might you gain by changing jobs or starting your own business?
  • What might you lose?
  • How do you make sure the same things you don’t like about your current job don’t crop up again in your new job?
  • How would you find it the new job?
  • How else?
  • Where would you find it?
  • Where else?
  • What would you have to change to get that job?
  • What could you do to change that?
  • What’s been holding you back from these options?
  • What else could you do?
  • If you knew the answer, what would it be?
  • What advice would you give a friend in this situation?
  • Of all the options you’ve come up with, which 3 do you like the most?
  • Which would make the biggest difference in your life?

You’ve come a long way, but if you stop here you really haven’t done anything meaningful. You must take action. It’s time to plan the Way Forward.

Way Forward (or Will): What specific actions will you take to achieve your goal?

  • Which options are you going to take action on?
  • What actions have you taken on this so far?
  • How did those actions work out?
  • When will you start?
  • How will you know when you achieve your goal?
  • What’s your deadline for achieving your goal?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly do you feel you can achieve your goal on time?
  • If it’s not at least an 8, what can you do to make it an 8?
  • Do you need to take smaller actions you believe you can achieve in order to ramp up to bigger ones?
  • What can you do to stay motivated when you hit obstacles?
  • Why do you want this goal? How can that keep you motivated?
  • How often should we review your progress to keep you on track?

This is just a small look at how the GROW process can help you get unstuck.

You may need to improve your education, skills, and talents to get where you need to go. But, your goals, options, and solutions for what you want – and why you want it- are inside you. It’s time to start pulling them out.

Let’s GO!

I have personal coaching available now. Click here to learn more.

How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Quitting

feet on diet scale weight loss_10566_5185977_ver1.0_640_360

You have a Passionate Purpose and you’re going for it, but your motivation is failing. You’re just not sure all the effort is worth it.

Or, you have a goal that you’ve started working on several times, but you just can’t seem to achieve it.

I feel ya.

Recently, I put on a “little weight” (and we all know what that means). I know it’s not good for me, I don’t feel very good when I overeat, and I don’t like how I look. I saw a picture of myself on my phone and thought, who’s the chubby dude?

It’s me. Doh!

So I set a goal target weight, figured out how many pounds I could lose per week, and decided when I would meet my goal. Then I planned how many calories a day I would consume.

For the first few days I was doing great! Then, the weekend came and I had a cheat day. That turned into a cheat weekend. Then, I was hit or miss on my diet. This went on for a few months.

I was so frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I do this? I figured out that I hadn’t tied my goal to a strong enough why. When you want to eat your favorite foods, or you want to overeat, or you want to have a couple of drinks (high in empty calories) what are you going to tell yourself to stay motivated?

I have now created some strong short and long term “whys” for my weight loss goal. My daughter is graduating high school in 8 weeks. So I’m tying my goal and deadline to that.

Short term why:
To look my best for her party and all the family photos.

Long term whys:
To live healthier and longer for my wife and daughters
To have more energy
To feel better after I eat (not stuffed and bloated)
To look better for my wife and myself
To be a good example for my daughters

Now every time I start to think about slipping back to my old ways of eating, I read my “whys.” That helps me focus on the short-term and long-term pleasure I will get instead of the short-term pain I’m feeling.

I still have a cheat day once a week, but I don’t turn it into an all-I-can-eat day like I used to.

You can use this with any goal or purpose you’re struggling with. Tie it to a strong why. Focus on it. Say it out loud to yourself if you need to. Meditate on it until you feel your motivation kick in again.

You can do it.

Let’s GO!

(I’m now offering a 40 day online coaching course to kick start finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose.)

Motivation Doesn’t Last, So Why Bother?

Enhance-Motivation-eLearning

Maybe you’ve tried to pursue your Passionate Purpose before, got motivated, had some initial success, and then gave up—what happened?

Did you start to think that all this personal development stuff doesn’t work? Maybe you decided that getting motivated isn’t worth it because it just wears off after a while.

Well, did you eat more than once today? I guess that eating thing wears off.

Did you take more than one shower this week? I guess that whole bathing thing wears off.

Yes, virtually everything wears off if we let it. I used to know how to do calculus problems. It’s been 30 years since I’ve done one and I couldn’t do one right now if my life depended on it. It wore off.

Did you exercise at the gym one day and say now you’re fit for the rest of your life? Ridiculous, right? Then why do we think that we only have to be motivated once and we’re set for life? Why do we think there’s some easy button to success and to pursuing our dreams?

We will get there, but it takes deliberate, persistent effort aimed at our Passionate Purpose. It takes improving ourselves day after day to become the person we want to be.

I would love to be one of the people who tell you that if you have passion and desire and you think positive thoughts your dream will appear at the end of a double rainbow with pots of gold and butterflies and sprinkles on Twinkies that have no calories—but that’s not the truth.

Setting goals works. But you need to get clear on what you want, why you want it, that you have to achieve it, when you will reach it, and how you’ll do it. Then you must take consistent action to get it done.

Oh, that’s all? Sweet! Then I’ll create world peace for breakfast and save the whales after lunch.

I know it can sound intimidating and overwhelming, but when you do this one step at a time it’s really not that hard.

It may sound like word games, but I believe there is a difference between motivation and inspiration. My purpose isn’t just to motivate you for a short time. My purpose is to help inspire you to find your Passionate Purpose. When you find and pursue that you will become self-motivated.

You will still have ups and down on how motivated you are. But when you find your why you have a reservoir of motivation in your soul that you can draw from whenever you need it.

Know this: If you’ve been working on what we’ve been talking about, you are in an elite group of people walking this planet. You have defined your Passionate Purpose, created goals and mini-goals for your success, and developed an action plan to get you there. Most people never do this in their entire lives. You are on your way to a totally new life! If …

Yup, there is a HUGE “if.” If you stop now, this will all be a complete waste of time. In fact, if you stop now, all this might actually hurt you instead of help you. You might start to believe that none of this really works. It’s all nonsense and a waste of time. You are not in control of your own destiny. You will never live the life of your dreams. At best, you are doomed to a life of mediocrity.

Quick! Hide all the sharp objects in your home! Life is no longer worth living!

See how ridiculous that line of “reasoning” can go? Is that really how you want to look at the world and your power over your own life? I can tell you that the most successful people do not allow themselves to think that way. From now on neither will you.

Instead, you are going to keep a positive focus on your goal and take daily action on your plan.

You must take action. Without action, all of this is just a lot of time and effort wasted. Without action you will lose focus, become frustrated, decide goal setting doesn’t work, and quit.

So here’s my advice: Don’t wait one day, start now. If you put this off until you’re “ready,” or your busy project at work ends, or until after your vacation, or until the kids are grown, or the time is right, or (fill in the excuse) you will never start or finish. If you only remember one thing from this book, remember this:

Go!

As soon as you “Go!” and start taking action on your Passionate Purpose, you are a success. The staircase will start appearing faster and faster. This is why you are here. The possibilities are endless for your life now. You aren’t just surviving, you are thriving. You aren’t just earning a living, you’re earning a life.

Let’s Go!

(I’m now offering a 40 day online coaching course to kick start finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose.)

Have You Ever Fallen Into The Impressive Trap?

antique-trap-a

 

Why we do something is vital to the level of motivation and persistence we give to it. It also figures prominently in determining how much enjoyment we get out of it. Sometimes we put out a lot of time and effort before we realize we’ve anchored it all to a “why” that doesn’t serve us very well.

I was reminded of this when my daughter was practicing the piano and working on a fairly difficult jazz piece. After a while she plopped down on the couch beside me, looking frustrated.

I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I want to impress people by playing this song, but it’s hard.”

Before I could stop myself, I laughed out loud. I reminded her that if it was easy, everyone would do it. But then we got to the more important point. Doing something to impress others will never truly satisfy. The feeling you get from it is hollow and won’t last. It also means you’re allowing others to determine your worth. Why would you want to do that?

We all know this, yet somehow the “impressive” trap can sneak up on us. My wife, Anne, admits how it got to her in the story of her two careers.

Her first degree is in finance. Anne had big plans to become a senior executive in the banking industry. In just her first few years out of school, she was well on her way as an assistant vice president in private banking.

But, then she started volunteering as a tutor for at risk students at an inner city elementary school. She loved helping the little girl who was assigned to her. After a while, Anne realized she enjoyed tutoring much more than she enjoyed banking. If she was going to be honest, she didn’t like her job at all.

Anne had thought about becoming a teacher earlier in her life, but she worried about what other people might say. “Anne, you’re a straight A student, why would you use that just to teach elementary school?”

She knew that people say they value teachers, but many think if you’re a teacher it’s because you can’t do anything else. Or, you just want your summers off. Anne knew that wasn’t true, but she was letting other people’s opinions decide her fate.

She finally admitted to herself that the main reason she chose to be a finance major and go into banking was to impress others. Anne wanted people to know she was smart. She wanted the prestigious job title. She didn’t want anyone patting her on the head telling her what a cute, little teacher she was.

Once she figured that out, it didn’t take long for her to rework her “why.” She wanted to help inspire and teach our children to make our future brighter. Anne went back to school and got her Masters in Education.

She has helped change the lives of countless children and just won the award for teacher of the year at her school. She gets great joy out of teaching! She found the “why” that motivates her.

The “whys” that truly motivate us for the long term, and for the best results, are intrinsic. It’s not about impressing someone, or making our parents/significant other/society happy.

It’s about creating the extraordinary life of our dreams. It’s about growing, learning, being challenged, and achieving. It’s about enjoying what we do, not just the results of what we do. It’s about being the masters of our fate and embracing that.

Most of all, it’s about transcending ourselves, making a difference, and living a life that matters.

“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.”
–Daniel Pink

What is motivating you right now?

(I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.)

How to Actually Use What You’ve Learned

less-is-more

I gave a presentation today and at the end of it I got a great question from a new friend in the audience: How do you maintain your motivation and actually use the new information you learned to create your best life?

We had a good conversation about that, and as I drove home I started listening to an audiobook that addressed the exact same question. I don’t believe in coincidences, so my ears really perked up.

Here’s what I got out of my drive home:

Have you ever read a great personal development book, or listened to an audiobook, or attended a seminar, gotten fired up about changing your life and reaching new goals, only to have the feeling fizzle?

Then, you’re off to read the next book and the cycle repeats itself? This happens to me sometimes, how about you?

When we get great information, why don’t we use it to change our behavior and our lives?

I think it’s because that can be a hard thing to do. It’s easier for us to read a book, or listen to a podcast, or attend some training, than it is to implement what we’ve learned.

I love what Ken Blanchard and Paul Meyer say in their book, Know Can Do! Put Your Know-How Into Action. Once you’ve got some good knowledge, you need to integrate it into your behavior and life before you move on to the next thing. Otherwise, you end up in information overload territory.

Imagine getting a golf lesson and the pro explains how to fix ten problems with your swing. How do you think your next round of golf is going to go? There is no way you are going to be able to remember and implement all the suggestions. You are probably going to end up getting frustrated, playing worse, and then giving up changing your swing at all.

Instead, how about learning less, but really learning it. The idea is to take a couple pieces of great information, or ONE book, learn it through spaced repetition and use it in your life. Once you’ve integrated it into your daily routine, then you’re ready to learn something new.

Learn less, more.

To continue with the golf analogy: Work on one or two fixes to your swing. Get those down really well, and then move on to the next fix.

Or, say you just picked up a new book and the information in it resonated with you. Here’s how you really learn it over spaced repetition: Read the book through once. Read it through a second time, underlining the compelling points. Read it a third time and take notes on the “aha moments” that leap out at you. Read it a fourth time with an accountability partner who keeps you on track to actually implement the ideas from the book into your life. Finally, teach the ideas to someone else.

If you do all that, you really know the material, in theory and in practice. That makes a lot more sense to me than getting a superficial knowledge and then moving on to the next shiny thing.

What do you think?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

How to Help Each Other Succeed

partners

Motivation is a tricky thing. It waxes and wanes like the moon. Some people claim motivation doesn’t work because it wears off.

Hold on, I eat three (or five) times a day. I guess I should just stop eating. It wears off.
I work out three times a week. I guess I should just stop exercising. It wears off.
I shower every day. I guess I should just stop showering. It wears off.

Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it? EVERYTHING wears off.

The question is, how do you stay motivated to pursue your Passionate Purpose? A big helper in that is finding an accountability partner. The word “partner,” is important here. This is going to be a mutually beneficial relationship. You are going to motivate each other.

So, find someone you like and trust who is also looking for an accountability partner. It should be someone who shares your desire for an extraordinary life, someone who will support you in your efforts and kick you in the butt when you need it.

I find the best accountability partners are people who want you to hold them accountable for goals they’re working on in their life as well. When you encourage each other AND hold each other accountable, great things happen. Once you find one:

  • Tell each other exactly what you want and why you want it
  • Set a date for when will complete “x”
  • Determine how will you know you’ve done it
  • Schedule a weekly phone call to review the past week’s activities towards your goals
  • If necessary, exchange an accountability email half way through the week
  • Encourage and challenge each other to keep going

To be clear, the content of the call and the email is simple:

1) What did you say you would do this week?

2) What work have you done on that?

3) What went right?

4) What didn’t go so well?

5) What’s holding you back?

6) What adjustments do you need to make to improve your progress?

7) What can you do to help your partner?

Warning:

As you work on your Passionate Purpose, you will hit plateaus. Expect it and be ready to do the work necessary to break through them.

Fear and doubt will creep in from time to time.

Some of your friends and family may feed your fear and doubt by telling you your wasting your time, or that living an extraordinary life is for the lucky few, not you.

Some will do this because they think they’re protecting you from disappointment. Sadly, some will do this because they’re jealous of your aspirations and achievements.

You will overcome that by leaning on why you want this new life, on your passionate purpose, on your skills, abilities and experience.

You can do it. And there are plenty of people who WANT you to succeed. Lean on them, too.

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!