Everyone who has ever lived can find a reason to settle for less than what they are capable of achieving. Life is very hard at times. We get burned out, tired, exhausted, afraid, frustrated, defeated, lost, scared and hopeless. We all have these feelings at some point. They make us want to give up, stop fighting, settle for something less than the best.

I’ve been there. I’ve been kicked, beaten and bruised by what this life dishes out. I have scars and wounds that may fade with time but they’ll never completely go away.

So do you.

Despite all the doubters and difficult circumstances you may face, settling for less than what you are capable of has to be your greatest enemy in life because it’s the only enemy you can personally defeat. You can’t always control the forces around you – Things like who your parents are and what choices they make or where you live or whether or not you have any money. But you can control your response to the forces around you. It’s not always easy, but how you react remains your choice. You can let the forces shape you, or you can refuse to let something or someone else control who you become.

Your surroundings often act like a funnel, trying to squeeze you into a clone of the others around you. The pull of peer pressure is to fit in, dress the same, act the same and even misbehave the same. But the promise of peer pressure – that you will be successful if you fit in – is a lie. It is a lie because the people who go on to achieve great things are never clones of those around them. They are unique, one-of-a-kind individuals. That’s because every dream inside a person is unique, and if your dream is unique, you must be too in order to see it happen.



Bouncing Back From Adversity

One of my biggest challenges growing up was learning to own the life I’d been given. That may sound like a no-brainer to those of you that have heard my story. After all, I had no choice in all the experiences of those early years. But the truth is that everybody experiences things they didn’t choose.

Many people spend the rest of their lives protesting and rebelling against the injustices of their past. They fill their minds with a long list of excuses for not chasing their dreams.

Others choose to own their lives and rise above their circumstances regardless of what happened.

One of the keys to bouncing back from adversity is accepting responsibility for your future, in thick and thin. That doesn’t mean you remain where you are. And it doesn’t mean you downplay negative circumstances or act like you enjoyed every moment you’ve been alive. What it does mean is that you reach a point where you admit, “Nobody but me can make something of my life.” It’s ultimately an admission that you have no excuses for not giving your all to be successful.

I know because I’ve been there. There were so many days that I had every excuse to strive for nothing but survival. I could make a compelling argument that life was out to get me. Yet, instead of finding excuses for not succeeding I realized that I had to find a way around them and do whatever it took to be successful.

We all have reasons – some of them very legitimate reasons – to stop pursuing our dreams. I must have had a couple thousand before I reached middle school. You might too. But you can’t let your reasons for quitting dictate what you do. Instead of spending time wallowing in your past, you have to spend your time finding a way to a brighter future.

In the end, excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. It’s OK to acknowledge they are there, but to be successful and achieve your dreams you have to learn to not pick them up. People who succeed do what they say they’re going to do. People who fail make excuses for falling short.

Excuses are a sign of weakness, and they pave the road to failure. Excellence is a sign of strength, and it paves the road to success.

Drop the excuses and embrace excellence at every turn.


How To Get More Out Of Your Life

How To Get More Out Of Your LifeMost people want to get more of their lives. They talk about reaching their dreams, but often times simply don’t know how to make them happen.

I’ve had the opportunity to be around many successful people, and have watched first hand how they moved from having a dream to actually achieving their dreams. I’m a big believer that anyone can learn what they need to do differently to achieve your dreams.

Here are six of my observations and the things you will want to begin doing immediately, if you aren’t already.

1. They know what they want.

This one is obvious, but if you don’t have a clear goal, dream or desire in mind, how will you know when you’ve gotten where you wanted to be? Successful people have clear goals and a clear vision for how to get there.

Achievers often have really big goals, but they’re also realistic and have a solid plan for how to get where they want to go. They dream big but also have big plans.

2. They focus on their goals.

Once they know what they want, they are tenacious and focused on continual progress toward their goals. They don’t run over people or deliberately hurt people to get what they want, but they do stay focused on the end goal in all their interactions and daily tasks. Achievers have clear minds and clear goals and are consistent in making progress toward those goals.

 3. They don’t procrastinate.

Some of the things we have to do to meet our goals or achieve our dreams are not very fun, but successful people are able to focus on what needs to get done and do it even when it’s unpleasant. They have a plan and they can follow it for as long as it takes without giving up.

4. They create their own opportunities.

Successful people know that nothing good comes without hard work. They understand that things aren’t going to be handed to them without hard work on their part, and they are willing to put in that work to get what they want.

5. They are passionate.

It’s very helpful when reaching for a big goal to not just get excited by it, but to truly be passionate about it. Achievers often talk about how much fun they are having, or say that they would do what they do even if they weren’t getting paid (and in the beginning, they probably weren’t). That’s the kind of passion you need to achieve your biggest goals.

6. They never quit.

Achievers are tenacious, sticking to their plans and goals as long as they need to in order to get where they want to be. If they didn’t stick with it, they wouldn’t achieve anything and neither will you.


Take Responsibility for Everything

imagesTake responsibility for everything. Yes, I do mean absolutely everything, whether something is your fault or not.

Taking responsibility for everything that life throws your way is a key character trait that distinguishes the most successful people from the rest. However, even if success isn’t a huge priority for you, you can still derive incredible value from taking responsibility.

Taking responsibility for your life and circumstances is incredibly empowering. It’s empowering because it’s a measure of your courage, of your selfconfidence, self-worth and of your mental strength, toughness and resilience.

To take responsibility is empowering because it provides you with a sense of control over your life. In essence it gives you greater self-assurance that you will eventually get the outcome you are after.

To take responsibility is empowering because it encourages solution-based thinking that can lead to a plethora of creative ideas to help you solve your problems more effectively. In other words, it empowers you to take an active role in solving your life’s problems, which earns you an incredible amount of respect in the eyes of others.

Now of course taking responsibility doesn’t mean you are weak or powerless and therefore you blame yourself for everything. This isn’t about blame. This is rather about responsibility. There is a big difference.

Blaming yourself comes from a position of weakness. It comes from a victimized mentality that doesn’t have any control over life or circumstances. To take responsibility means to take ownership of the situation. It means fully accepting how things are and committing yourself to making things right. That’s what taking responsibility is all about.

Paying the Price

Paying the PriceI once heard about a young man who, in his eagerness to make it to the top, went to a well-known millionaire for advice about how to get there.

“What is the first reason for your success?” he asked.

“Hard work,” the millionaire replied.

Disappointed, the inexperienced fellow responded, “What is the second reason?”

We laugh at this young man’s desire for a quick-and-easy formula, but his response brings up a much more serious question for people who aren’t doing what they know they’d like to do: Are you willing to pay the price to get there?

You’ll never live the life you’ve always dreamed of at a bargain-basement price. In fact, the cost is often much higher than most people are willing to pay. I’ve seen more examples of this than I can count. People start chasing their dreams with energy and enthusiasm, only to fizzle out when they realize how much effort is involved. If they had counted the cost first; if they had seriously investigated what it would take to make them successful in that area, they may have gone another direction. Instead, they’re right back where they started, dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

The way to avoid this scenario, of course, is to count the cost of doing what you’d like to do before you begin. So what does the price tag include? Here are just a few items:

1. Hard work
There’s no way around this.  You can’t fulfill your dream without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. You also will have to spend time, large quantities of time, working diligently and doing things you don’t particularly like in order to prepare yourself for the future you want.

2. Learning
Doing what you love will require you to be teachable, acquire some new skills, and polish your existing abilities. Are you willing to devote the time, effort and energy to making that happen?

3. Discipline
It takes focus and commitment to pursue your dreams without getting sidetracked or giving up. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to be intentional about it, and that takes discipline.

4. Change
At the surface, this might not seem like a significant price. As we all know, change isn’t easy. It can cause stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and a host of other uncomfortable emotions.     However, change almost always produces growth.

5. Emotional Stamina
On your way toward doing what you love, you’re going to stumble and you undoubtedly will take a few hard falls. When that happens, you’ve got to have the intestinal fortitude to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get going again. Do you?

As you think about the price of doing what you want to do, remember that the only way to find out for sure how much you’ll have to pay in each of these areas is to find someone who is living what you’d like to do and ask them about the cost. Ask them what they DID in order to DO what they do.

The young man in our introduction got it partly right, he went to someone for advice about how to be successful. Sadly, his response shows that he was unwilling to pay the price. But it doesn’t have to be that way for you.

Now the ball is in your court. If you know what you want to do but aren’t doing it yet, stop making excuses and start taking steps to make it happen. Don’t wait until everything is perfect to begin because everything will never be perfect. Don’t put it off until tomorrow because tomorrow you’ll be tempted to put it off until the next day.

Just start.

And as you begin, remember these three truths about the end result.

1. Doing what you want to do will be different than you imagined it would be.

2. It will be more difficult than you ever imagined.

3. And it will be better than you ever imagined.

I can assure you that when you’re doing what you really want to do, it’s not work. It’s fun because you’re reaching your potential and you’re helping others reach theirs. It just doesn’t get any better than that.