The topic for this month’s tip is based on a quote coined by Ted Romaine. He and I were fellow members of Toastmasters many years ago. This quote has motivated me to action many times in my life. It reminds me that I am only limited by my self-imposed restraints.
By nature, I am an ambitious person. For as long as I can remember, I have set my sights high. In fact, 20 years ago when the facilitator at our company retreat asked me what I desired to do in future yearly sales, I told him $100 million. Because our current sales were below $10 million, those present chuckled as if I were insane. This year we will do well in excess of $100 million.
Was there a connection between my vision of doing $100 million in sales and us hitting it 20 years later? You can bet the house on it! That vision has been like a beacon of light that has guided our way while we made decisions and took actions to reach that goal.
When I made that plan, I had no idea about the incredible opportunities that existed beyond that dream. Now that we have gone as far as I could see, I am going to see how far we can go by setting our new sales goal at $1 billion. I am thankful for people like my friend Ted who encouraged me to push harder and see how far I could go.
Success and limits
When I am helping people set their goals, many like to set limits on themselves by telling me they are content with the status quo and doing what they have always done. They are happy with their sales, the size of jobs they perform, and the way their company operates.
I explain the dangers of this strategy and liken it to the boiled frog syndrome. If you put a frog in a pan of hot water, it will jump out. However, if you put that same frog in cold water then gradually increase the heat, the frog will get more and more comfortable until it is boiled to death.
There is so much we can accomplish when we manage how our mind works. I believe we have all underutilized our minds, our abilities, our talents, and our time. These are our possessions and provide us a tremendous amount of wealth. How we manage these intangibles will determine how far we can push our dreams.
Let me be clear, no line in the sand says, “You’ve arrived.” A sign like that indicates an end to the journey. In both your personal life and in your career, you should have goals and objectives you want to accomplish. But once they are achieved, you should never stop moving forward. Should you let your career stagnate? No way. A truly successful person would not dream of stopping there. There are always greater adventures and bigger opportunities ahead.
Within all of us is the power to do great things. However, many are immobilized by three power killers.
- Negative thoughts—Your perception of a situation/plan/ goal pre-determines the outcome. When you have a preconceived opinion that something cannot be accomplished, you are guaranteeing its failure before you begin. For example, when you are golfing and you have a shot 160 yards over the water, you must tell yourself that you want the ball to land on the dry fairway across the water. But if you tell yourself, “Don’t hit it in the water,” all your brain hears is, “Hit it in the water” which is likely what you will do. Instead of focusing on the negative, you must adjust your belief or decision to the evidence and the desired outcome.
- Selfishness—If you make every decision to benefit only yourself, you have failed as a human. Make it your priority to think beyond your personal desires and consider what you can do that will benefit others, especially those on your team who have helped you reach your own goals.
- Inactivity— Growth requires taking action. You need to be willing to expend energy to pursue opportunities beyond your initial dream. You need to discover what course you should take to provide the greatest service to others. This takes deep self-analysis to understand your strengths and weakness, which will allow you to focus your actions where you are more inclined to be successful.
If you are truly going to expand the boundaries of the vision for your career, you must first and foremost, be true to yourself. That means taking the best of what makes you unique and fully capitalizing on it. For example, if Tom Brady is on your team, you are not going to put him in the game as your kicker. You are going to take advantage of his quarterback skills and let him lead the team to victory. Next, learn to improve upon your current successes because that is where you will set yourself apart from the competition. That is where true success is found.
Once you have identified what you do best, you need to drill down to decide what you can do that is most useful to others. This is not just about finding an idea that will make you a lot of money. Think bigger. Ask yourself what you can do to improve the lives of the people in your community, state, or country. Your focus should be trained on an objective that is powerful enough to make a significant economic, social, or environmental impact.
Lastly, concentrate all your energy on this idea. Work toward your goal without ceasing. Then, evaluate your success and be proud of your accomplishments. The resulting pride and happiness will come in abundance.
Know Your Value
For many, wealth is determined by financial figures. The dollar amounts tallied by their accountant is how they measure their success. When my daughter Kaylee was six, she came home from school one day and asked, “Dad, are we rich?” I quizzed her on what prompted this question and she said it was related to comments from kids at school. I explained to her that we are rich if we believe we are, and I added that being rich includes being happy, treating others right, and appreciating life, regardless of whether we have money.
If my business failed and I lost everything tomorrow, my wealth will not have been impacted because true wealth is found within— my mind, abilities, talents, and time. Each of you has been given these assets. They cannot be taken away and they are always with you. Their value lies in how well they are utilized. As I like to tell people who are not producing well and threaten to leave our company if they are not promoted, “Don’t forget, you will have to take yourself with you when you go.”
When you have reached a goal or milestone in your life, it is time to reset your sights on something greater ahead. If you are serious about going as far as you can see rather than seeing how far you can go, you need to ask yourself this:
“What can I dream or do today that will put me on a path to do something that I never thought possible before I woke up this morning? What is my vision? Am I willing to invest in helping others to help me become successful?”