Ever wonder what the difference is between successful people and unsuccessful people? It is not physical. Both people look very similar on the surface. If you cut them open you would find all the same things inside both. You would also discover that both groups highly dislike being cut open.
The difference between successful, accomplished people and those who never progress is not in knowledge. Everyone knows what to do:
Rise early (to get the worms)
Successful people do what they know they should do. They act. They make. They move. They try. They try again.
The unaccomplished know what to do, but don’t.
Don’t be a don’ter.
The more you do the more you will accomplish. And the more you do the more you will be inspired to do. It is a virtuous cycle. Get yourself into the positive feedback loop of action and you are sure to get more action. (And who doesn’t want more action?)
Make a list of the things you know you should do today. The whole list can be written in 30 seconds. 5 minutes if you have a slow pen. Then simply spend your day doing the things on your list.
Take action. Do what you already know you should. It’s the not-so-secret secret to success.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
There are over 8 billion people on Earth. That’s hard to wrap your head around. In fact, wrapping your head around anything is hard to do. And it’s not good for your head. But despite the astronomical number of Earthlings, all people fall into 3 categories.
The 3 Categories of People
People you don’t know.
People you kinda know.
People you know.
An Important Distinction
So, what is the difference between Category 2 and Category 3? To be categorized as someone you know, you must know their name. This is the gateway to a real relationship.
To fill your life with Category 3 people you should introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with.
Category 3 is The Magic Category.
Category 3 is full of your friends and family. This is your network. It’s your safety net. The more people you have in bucket 3 the more support you have. The more love you feel. Category 3 is where your opportunities come from. These are the people that can help advance your career, can help you make a sale, or offer you a kidney. These are the only people who will show up at your funeral (other than random people who love little ham sandwiches and sorrow).
Turn 2s into 3s
Category 2 contains people that you see or interact with. However, you remain anonymous to each other. Literally. The definition of anonymous is a person not identified by name; or of unknown name.
What you do with your category 2 people has a major impact on your life. The greater the percentage of people that you move from category 2 to category 3 the richer your life will become.
Conversely, the more people you allow to accumulate in category 2 the more loneliness and isolation you feel. A negative emotion builds in us when we are surrounded by people that we don’t know on a first-name basis (And I don’t mean like Cher, Madonna and Pele.)
The Power of 2s
This means Category 2 people are the swing people in your life. Leave them in Category 2 and they will always be familiar but nameless strangers. A natural tension accumulates between such people. You will wonder why you don’t actually introduce yourselves to each other. You create theories about dislike, or snobbishness, or standoffishness, or Eliot Ness. These theories are almost always unfounded. And almost always negative. Just ask Al Capone.
Most people simply avoid making the first move to introduce themselves to their 2s. It may be the discomfort of making the first move, a fear of rejection from a disinterested party. Or it may be that a body at rest simply tends to stay at rest.
It’s Smart To Hide Your Smartphone.
When we have a free moment among category 2 people we often invest our time and attention in our smartphone and its endless rabbit holes. It would be a much more valuable investment of your time and attention to introduce yourself to those around you. Exchange names and pleasantries. Find commonalities. Express your desire to turn your 2s into 3s. (You may have to reference this post for it all to make sense.)
Introduce yourself to everyone you spend time with. Clear out your category 2 bucket Move as many people to category 3 as you can. You will find your life fuller, friendlier and more enjoyable. More people will know your name. Which makes your world feel smaller, more personal, and more rewarding. By filling your world with category 3 people you win at life. It is how you develop a successful career. And it is how you create positive energy everywhere you go.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
On New Year’s Eve, I sat down and reflected on the year gone by. The last day of the year is always a good time to look back and learn what worked and what didn’t. In 2020 I didn’t eat any bats. I didn’t break any windows that didn’t belong to me. And I didn’t act like a cranky baby during a nationally televised debate. I like to focus on the positive. So here are 20 things I am glad I did do last year.
Things I am glad I did in 2020.
1. I wore a mask a lot. It’s really easy to wear a mask. And it helps you and the people around you not get sick and die. That’s why Batman and The Lone Ranger both wore one. And they both saved a lot of people.
2. I saved for a rainy day. I have been fiscally conservative with my business, The Weaponry. Which means that I left money (my fiscals) in the business to make sure it could weather challenging times. So when the economy went sideways in March I didn’t panic. Not worrying whether we would be open to see 2021 allowed me to focus on opportunities instead. And opportunities kept coming.
3. I played foosball. During the March-May lockdown, my 3 kids and I played foosball together every night. It was something fun to look forward to each day. It was the only competitive sport we saw during that time. All 4 of us got much better at the game as we bonded and created foosy memories.
4. I went to the beach. In June my family and I went to Hilton Head Island for a week. While traveling and hoteling has some inherent risks, we were cautious, wore masks around others and socially distanced. But the change of scenery was valuable to our mental health. And the beach itself made us forget about life for a while (like in that Billy Joel song, with Davy, who is still in the Navy).
5. I bought lobster. While we were in Hilton Head my kids asked what lobster tasted like. As a New Englander, I have had a lot of lobstah. It was surprising to realize that my kids had never had it. So one night at dinner I allowed my kids to order the lobster, the most expensive thing on the menu. They loved it, and greatly appreciated the splurge. Remember, sometimes you’ve gotta splurge for the lobster.
6. I organized Zoom calls with friends. I probably had 1000 Zoom calls in 2020. After spending hours each day Zooming with clients and coworkers, I thought Zoom would be a great way to see my friends and family too. My sisters coordinated our family Zooms. But I organized calls with my college track teammates from The University of Wisconsin. I had calls with my high school football teammates. I had many calls with friends from New England, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Florida and on and on. It was a lot like having friends over for beverages. It simply required someone to take the lead.
7. I kept exercising. During the lockdown, I relocated our home exercise equipment to a more prominent place in our basement and started exercising at home with my family. Now, as my daughter Ava and son Magnus play basketball, my son Johann and I go to the gym and lift weights together several times each week. As a result, I am stronger now than I was 30 years ago. And I am way stronger than I was 40 years ago. (This sounds good until you realize how young I was 40 years ago.)
8. I rode my bike a lot. Bike riding during the pandemic was like going to therapy. (It was also like a song by Queen.) Most nights during the summer I would ride for 30-90 minutes. Not only was it good exercise, it was freeing in a time that didn’t feel so free.
9. We took an epic road trip. At the end of July, my family and I went on one of the 3 greatest road trips of my life. We took 11 days and drove from Wisconsin to Idaho. We visited several national parks, including The Badlands, Yellowstone, Glacier, and Theodore Roosevelt. The trip was an educational and inspirational adventure. It was the highlight of 2020.
10. I sent an email saying we were ready to help. On March 16th, I sent all of our clients an email saying we were up and ready to work remotely. We were fully functional from home on day one of The Lockdown. Our clients were ready to roll with us. We just kept on crushing it throughout the lockdown and the rest of the year. Not only did we pick up more work from agencies that didn’t make it, we ended up having our best year ever by 25%.
11. I gave blood. Giving blood has been something I always wanted to do, but just never started. I come from a family of blood donors. My Dad has given so much blood that I expect he looks like dehydrated fruit on the inside. I finally donated blood this fall. And I will definitely do it again. It is not difficult to do. And I am very proud to have finally checked the box on this oddly elusive life goal.
12. I spoke to college students at 4 different schools. In 2020 I spoke to students at The University of Wisconsin, Marquette University, Concordia University of Wisconsin and Carroll University. Yet I never set foot on any of the campuses. I spoke about advertising, marketing, creativity, business, entrepreneurship and leadership. But I was also able to develop stronger relationships with the professors, lecturers and other school staff members. The academic and business world should be more closely linked. Because we need each other (not knead each other, or kneed each other).
13. I gave bonuses. Throughout the year I was very open with my team about our goals for the year, both before and after we knew anything about covid-19. My team worked very hard to not only keep our business going and growing, but to keep our clients thriving during a very unpredictable time. And when a company does well the team should benefit too. So I was extremely proud to hand out bonus checks on December 30th. Because when the whole team shares in the success you experience more success.
14. I wrote 151 blog posts. I maintained my 3-post-a-week habit throughout the year. I tried to share good news and an upbeat, positive perspective throughout 2020. I hope it helped provide a little light and a little levity in brevity during the unique challenges of the year.
15. I became even more adaptable. The great gift of 2020 was adaptability. It was not an option to reject the opportunity to learn to adapt. It was a requirement. As a result, I learned how to function with new rules, under new conditions, in new settings. I learned what I could live and work without. I became more inventive and open-minded. I saw my children take classes, music lessons, and even athletic practice via Zoom. As they say at Progressive Insurance, you have to be able to go with the flow.
16. I helped people who needed help. I tried to help people who needed the kind of help I could offer in 2020. Sometimes it was encouragement. Sometimes it was business, marketing and entrepreneurial advice. Sometimes it was a bit of work for those who were having a hard time finding work and making money. Because we all need a little help from time to time.
17. I wrote a book. In 2020 I wrote a book. My goal in 2021 is to get it published. In 2022 my goal will be to have someone who is not related to me actually buy the book. More on this in a later post.
18. I read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to my kids. I have now read the book to all 3 of my kids. The financial literacy the book teaches is simply not taught anywhere else. In fact, the first two kids I read the book to this spring both asked to buy stocks and have done extremely well with their investments. I highly recommend that you read this book if you haven’t. Read it to your kids if you have kids. And if you don’t have kids, don’t have kids! They are expensive. Especially if they like lobster.
19. I switched dentist. My former dentist was fine. The kind of fine that will lull you into accepting a lesser experience for a long time. But our delayed dental care of 2020 encouraged my wife Dawn and me to reconsider the dentist we have seen for the past 3 or 4 years. We love the new dental practice we found. In fact, I had a chipped crown replaced and I literally didn’t have a moment of discomfort. Don’t settle for fine. Seek outstanding. And get your teeth right.
20. I said yes a lot. I had many requests for my time and talent in 2020. I was asked to help, to get involved, to serve and to contribute in many different ways. Yes was my default. I felt like the world needed more yeses in 2020. Perhaps I did too. Yeses help you grow and make the world a better place. Yes, even if you are the owner of a lonely heart.
It is important to reflect on your year, your actions and your attitudes. Note what is working for you and what is not. Learn and grow as you go. Be deliberate in your actions. Embrace a life of continuous improvement. It’s the best path to the best you.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
When you were young you had an exciting vision for your life. You knew that in the future your life would be amazing. You would have a career you loved, a family who spent a lot of quality time together, and a fun friend group. Perhaps you imagined travel and adventure. Or you contributed significant time, talent and money to important causes. You created art or music. You looked great for your age. And you imagined yourself reading a blog post that reminded you of your life’s vision.
There may be hundreds of details about your life that you pictured differently than they are right now. But remember, you have the power to change those details. You have the ability to continuously improve your life. In fact, your life will become more like the life you envisioned until you stop trying to make it so. Or until you die. Whichever comes first.
Don’t settle for less. Remember that things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. You are the author of your story. You are the architect and builder of your world. You are the head of quality control. You are the bouncer, deciding who gets in and who gets thrown out. You are the boss, determining what work needs to be done next. You are the Dean, setting the coursework you must study. And you are the timekeeper who announces when you have spent too long on something that is not working.
You can change your life to be more like the life you imagined at any time. Don’t settle. Don’t give up. Revisit the vision you have for your own life often. And live into it a little more every day.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has been the talk of the sports world this week. He lit up the NFL on Sunday, rushing for a Colts record 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. He completed the regular season with 1169 rushing yards, 3rd best in the NFL in 2020. He also used his remarkable speed, agility and hand-washing skills to avoid covid all season long.
Taylor’s standout NFL season comes on the heels of a record-setting college career.
Jonathan Taylor highlights at the University of Wisconsin:
1st running back in college football history to rush for 6,000 yards in 3 seasons.
6th most rushing yards in college football history, despite only playing 3 seasons.
Winner of the Doak Walker Award as America’s best college running back in both 2018 and 2019.
2 time unanimous 1st-team All-American in 2018 and 2019
In 2020, as Jonathan Taylor began his NFL career, he also began a partnership with UW Credit Union. Taylor first became a member of UW Credit Union his freshman year in Madison. It was the first bank account the Salem, New Jersey native ever had. In fact, it was Taylor who first approached UW Credit Union about a possible partnership, noting the strong connection he felt towards the brand.
Starting and Stopping
The first scheduled collaboration between Taylor and UW Credit Union was supposed to happen back in March of 2020, just before the NFL draft. JT was hosting a series of football camps for youth in Milwaukee and Madison that was sponsored by UW Credit Union. But the camps were scheduled for March 14 and 15th. Which was the weekend the coronavirus pulled the plug on all fun and games in America.
Not only were the camps canceled, the entire country went into lockdown-mode for the next 2 months. The only sports happening in America were toilet paper hunting, cleaning supply gathering, and an epic game of covid dodgeball.
One Last Chance
By the middle of summer, we had all settled into the new normal. Anne Norman, the Chief Marketing Officer of UW Credit Union approached our team at The Weaponry about the JT partnership again. She asked us if we thought we should still try to create some new content with Jonathan if logistics would allow. We said absolutely. So we contacted Team Taylor and Everett Sports Marketing, JT’s marketing agents, to see what if anything was still possible.
As it turns out, Anne’s call was well timed. JT needed to report to training camp with the Indianapolis Colts the next week. As luck would happen, he was going to be in Madison a day before that to pack up his apartment, move, and enjoy some Toppers Pizza. So we had one day to capture what we needed. However, we had less than a week to prepare.
This meant we had less than a week to figure out what we were going to do with JT, where we were going to do it, and who we were going to work with to film and photograph him. Under normal circumstances, this would be a very tight squeeze. But during the covid-era the opening was so small we didn’t know if even JT could run through it.
The location was difficult to find. The University of Wisconsin was in full lockdown mode, and wouldn’t allow anyone on campus, including the athletic facilities. Dane County put tight restrictions on gatherings of non-household-sharing humans. So we were in a tough spot.
Finally, we found a high school that would allow us to film on their football field. It is probably more accurate to say that they said, ‘We don’t want to know anything about this, but the gate might not be locked, and you might be able to get on the field if you are all masked and socially distant.’
We found a Milwaukee-based film crew that had safety protocols in place and could run a safe covid-era shoot. We tapped our good friend and great photographer Lucian MacAfee for photography duties. Now we just needed scripts to film and ideas to photograph.
This was the first time in my career that my team had locked in a shoot location and both film and photo crews before we had any ideas about what we were going to create. But then again, this was also my first pandemic.
Our creative team of Kevin Kayse and Kristyn Lilley fired off a barrage of potential video scripts for JT to deliver for social media and the UW Credit Union website. But our timing was limited. And we didn’t know how JT would be on camera, or whether he could deliver humorous ideas. Plus, we couldn’t shoot other actors with JT. To their great credit, the UW Credit Union marketing team trusted that we would come up with something. And we did.
Despite all of the twists and turns we had experienced since March, on the day of the shoot everything went according to plan. Everyone showed up at the right location at the right time. Everyone wore masks. We used long lenses that allowed JT to be a significant distance from the camera. And we rolled film.
JT was great. He was as good at working with the teleprompter as anyone I have ever worked with. He was extremely coachable and took direction well. We were pleasantly surprised that he was able to deftly deliver the light humor several of the videos required.
In fact, while we were planning on creating a series of online and social videos, we were so pleased with how they turned out that we decided to turn the videos into TV commercials as well. And the response to the spots has been great.
Here is the first commercial to air.
Here is the second commercial to air, which focuses on UW Credit Union’s mobile app.
Thanks to UW Credit Union for the opportunity to create this work. Thanks to Anne Norman, Becky Hubing and Jill Rickert of UWCU for your help at the shoot. Thanks to Rachel Everett and ESM for all your help. Thanks to producer Mandi Nodorft for pulling things together. Thanks to Lucian McAfee for all the great photography. And thanks to Jonathan Taylor for being great to work with, and funny too.
According to the Chinese calendar, 2020 was the year of the rat. No one is likely to argue that designation. But for most of us, 2020 was also the year of the video call. In 2020 I used Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Go To Meeting, Ring Central, Skype, and PantsOptional. (Ok, I may have made the last one up.)
Zoom and its various alternatives have provided a way for life to continue with some sense of normalcy since covid-19 burst on the scene and began stealing our toilet paper. Thanks to these platforms we can still have meetings and meetups. We can still conduct business. We can still educate our youth. And we can still answer No when asked if we drink alone on those pesky diagnostic questionnaires.
The Zoom Advantage
While it is easy to think of a Zoom meeting as inferior to in-person meetings, there is at least one major advantage Zoom offers over in-person get-togethers. And it’s not related to deodorant.
Zoom offers you the unique opportunity to see yourself the way others see you in meetings. It is arguably the greatest gift of 2020. And it’s a gift you should take advantage of.
When you are on a video conference, and you select to view the meeting in gallery mode, meaning that you can see all participants, you also get to view yourself, in real-time.
This self-view is extremely valuable whether you are talking and presenting or simply listening to others.
7 things to look for when you see yourself on Zoom.
How do you look? Check your attire and your grooming. Do you look professional and respectable? Are you well dressed? Are you properly groomed? Or do you look like you just stumbled in from a pajama party? Your clothing and your hair still matter on Zoom. Look the part.
Are you smiling? Do you look friendly? Are you scowling? Do you have RBF? It makes a big difference. Especially when you are not in the room together. A pleasant smile is a good default.
How is your posture? Are you upright and attentive? Or are you lounging like you are watching a late-night informercial? I am surprised at how many loungers I see on Zoom. Especially among the student population. Don’t be that kid.
Do you appear engaged and interested in the conversation? Or do you look like you would rather be anywhere else? People take as much interest in you as you take in them. So engage.
Do you come across as energetic or lethargic? When you bring energy to the screen others do too. When you lack energy you put people to sleep, like narcolepsy.
Are you providing affirmations? On video conferences, simple head nods go a long way to convey that you agree and support the points being made. However, one long head nod means you have fallen asleep.
How are people responding? You can easily tie your delivery to the response you see on screen form others. Are you connecting? Are you knocking it out of the park? Or have you lost the audience? Make adjustments to make sure you are getting the response you are looking for.
To make sure you are presenting yourself well check the following:
How is the lighting? Are you bright enough? Are you too bright? Do you look like you are beaming in from Heaven? Adjust your lighting using lamps or windows until you look great.
Does your background help your brand image or hurt it? Be aware of what is behind you. It has the ability to make you seem more interesting, or reveal that you are really a slob.
Check the camera angle. Think about TV news anchors. The camera should be at eye level. It should not be looking up your nose. Use books or boxes to raise your computer camera if necessary.
Are you looking at the camera? If you have a second monitor it can appear as if you are never looking at the camera. This happens to me sometimes. It is weird. Fix it if you can. It makes you appear distracted or disinterested.
Take The Fast Feedback
Zoom and other video conference platforms provide you with a mirror during meetings and meetup. They allow you to monitor, evaluate and adjust how you are presenting yourself to the world. This is a rare opportunity to see what you are offering the world in real-time. It is like watching game film. It enables you to see how you are being received. And it allows you to change up your style and delivery, on the fly, and see how your audience responds.
Take advantage of the opportunity video conferencing offers and tune in to see how others see you. Notice how others respond to you. And experiment with adjustments. Zoom will teach you how to become a better presenter and a better audience. All you have to do is pay attention.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this idea, please share it with them.
Here we are again at the beginning of a new year. The shelves have been restocked with hope. We have resolutions to keep and gym memberships to use. Okay, so you aren’t going to the gym because of covid, and because you have some kind of exercisey-thingie at home. (I have been going to the gym, because there is no one else there.)
The Resolutionary War
I don’t make resolutions. I set goals. And I have 2 very simple goals for 2021. They cover everything I want to do this year.
My 2021 goal: To do more and better.
I want to do more on the X-axis. I want to get better on the Y-axis. And I want all of the arrows in my life pointing up and to the right.
I want to do more of everything.
More helping others
More quality time with my family
More time spent with friends
More Dinty Moore
But it’s not enough to simply do more. I want quantity and quality. Like chocolate and peanut butter. Like tastes great and less filling.
I want to do everything better.
Better quality time
Better Homes & Gardens
Better Baby Buggy Bumpers
It’s impossible to know exactly what lies ahead over the next 12 months. But you can commit to growth and self-improvement. Your capacity is a matter of self-perception. Self-improvement is a mindset too. Getting your mind right is how you get your life right. So here’s to a More and Better Approach to everything in 2021.
That was quite a year we just had, huh? Which is why 2020 had more nicknames than Sean ‘P-Puffy-Diddy-Daddy’ Combs. 2020 was called Train Wreck, Dumpster Fire, Sh!t Show, The Worst Year Ever. And then, of course, there were the really bad names.
But none of those labels are helpful. So as we start 2021, consider reframing how you think of 2020, and the year ahead.
The Story Of Your Life.
Think of each year as a chapter of your life. Chapter 1 was your birth. Your Genisis (only without Phil Collins). The next few chapters covered your childhood. Several chapters later, you left home on your life’s journey. The following chapters were full of exciting rising action, as you found your path, gained momentum, and enjoyed success, happiness and stability.
Then Came 2020.
In the story of your life, 2020 was the plot twist. It was where your plans were disrupted. The path was blocked. The rules were changed. The villain showed up and started messing with your toilet paper. Maybe you lost all you had. Or lost someone close to you. Or lost an election.
But remember, the best part of the story always happens after the plot twist. The story gets really good after things go sideways, or downhill, or into the dumpster and set on fire.
As humans, we can’t wait to see what happens next. We are dying to know how the hero of the story responds. Do they splat or do they bounce? Do they give The Wicked Witch the ruby slippers, or do they moisturize her and steal her cleaning equipment? Enquiring minds want to know.
Welcome to 2021 everyone.
This year, and this chapter, represent the critical choice of your story. This is where you, the main character, responds to the plot twist. This is where you make the critical decisions that ultimately lead to the climax of your story.
So, we all want to know, what are you going to do now that it is 2021? How are you going to respond? What are you going to make happen next? How are you going to get your happy ending? (Robert Kraft wants to know.)
It’s up to you. You are both the author and the main character of your story. You are in control. You choose the adventure. You choose the tone and the pace. You choose your supporting characters. And your choices make all the difference.
2021 is a pivotal year in your story. Remember, you get to write what happens next. So write a really great chapter. You have 365 days to work with. Use them all.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
We have finally come to the end of 2020. This year is certain to be a first-ballot inductee to the Year Hall of Fame. The unprecedented health, economic, political, racial, and social issues of 2020 have made this a year like no other.
Yet the adaptability, innovation, resilience and humanness revealed in 2020 have shown just how amazing humans really are. While cockroaches are known as the species that will survive anything, 2020 has proven that human survival skills are very well intact. Right Mr. Darwin?
Preparing For 2021
Now it’s time to prepare for a great 2021. Why prepare? Because great years, like great lives, don’t just happen. We make them happen.
A key element of living a great life is self-reflection. Asking yourself good questions is like conducting your own performance review. It’s a simple way to discover where you need to course correct, where your course is already correct, and where your corset could correct.
1. Am I educating myself? Getting better starts with getting smarter. Continue to self-educate and your knowledge, abilities, and competitive advantages will grow like compound interest.
2. Am I exercising enough? Your body is your life vehicle. Regular exercise keeps it in top shape. Which will allow you to travel further, faster and over rougher terrain.
3. Am I giving enough to others? Shel Silverstein famously wrote about The Giving Tree. But there is also a magical Giving Boomerang (perhaps made of wood from the giving tree). Because when you give your time, talent and treasure to others, good things come back to you in even bigger and better ways.
4. Am I disciplined enough? Discipline is what gets the job done. If you are not doing the things you’ve committed to, or if you are not avoiding the things you should avoid, check your discipline. Remember, you only need enough to create a habit. Then the habit takes over and discipline can be deployed towards something else.
5. Am I thinking big enough? The answer for 99% of us is no. Think Bigger. Think as big as you can. Think Elon Musk-y. Because bigger thoughts lead to bigger results. It costs the same amount to think big as it does to think small. But the return on your thinking investment is much different. You can always go bigger. #TWSS
6. Am I taking the actions that matter most? Not all actions are created equal. Remember the 80/20 rule. Find the small actions with the biggest rewards. There are a lot of actions that generate very little results. Simply taking the right kinds of action (interacting with the right people for example) can change your life. For proof see Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run.
7. Am I empathetic enough? Are you putting yourself in other people’s shoes? (Like Dr. Scholl’s) Are you really thinking about issues from someone else’s perspective? Want to make and keep more friends? Or develop more sales? Develop your empathy.
8. Am I providing more value than I am costing? This is the key to becoming a highly valuable and sought after human. Always give more than you take and you will remain in control of your destiny. As soon as that ratio flips you are no longer in the drivers seat. Sorry Charlie.
9. Am I getting better or getting worse? Check your trajectory. You are either headed up or down on every possible measure. The good news is that with all but some physical aging issues you can always improve your own angle through focused effort, commitment and mindset.
10. Am I strengthening my network? Most people think far too little about the strength of their network. But take it from the mobile carriers, it is all about the strength of your network. Continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships. Make as many genuine friendships as you can. When you do, your social, professional and political capital will continue to grow. Which opens you to more opportunities. Remember, opportunities are human things.
11. Am I valuable to know? Do you add value to others? Are you kind, helpful, or inspiring? Do you offer access and connections? Are you are great listener? Really think about the value you offer others. The more value you offer, the more people will seek you out. And you want to be sought after.
12. Am I stretching myself? Growth occurs by stretching beyond your previous abilities. By stretching you expand and strengthen. If you are not stretching you are prone to atrophy and shrinkage. Nobody wants shrinkage. Just ask George Costanza.
13. Am I surprising people? Are you simply doing the things others come to expect of you? Or are you surprising them with new abilities and ambitions? Have you become predictable? Or are you endlessly interesting? Keep the surprises coming.
14. Am I keeping my word? Trustworthiness is the bedrock of relationships, and the gateway to opportunity. Check your trustworthiness more often than once a year. Keeping your word is required on a daily basis. Like flossing and changing your undies.
15. Am I living into my vision for myself? You have aspirations. But simply having aspirations is not enough. You have to get yourself to the destination. You have to become the person you imagined, dragon. Do the doing, not just the dreaming.
16. Am I noticing those who need me? We all have people who need us. Family, friends, clients, employees, community members. Do you see them? Do you notice what they need from you? Do you notice what you have to give?
17. Am I being present? Be now. This is all you ever have.
18. Am I taking care of my health? Have you seen your doctor and dentist lately? Do you have a doctor and dentist? How about a mental health specialist? A chiropractor? Take care of yourself. Because everybody needs a body.
19. Am I eating well? You are what you eat. Literally. Be mindful of your personal building materials. It makes a difference. Because you don’t want to look like a Cheeto in your Speedo.
20. Do I have a healthy way to destress? The world is an all-you-can-eat stress buffet. You need to have ways to rid yourself of the stress. Sleep, exercise and church are my go-to’s. Find your ways to destress best.
21. Do I have enough human interaction? It is easy to become isolated from others, especially during a global pandemic. Humans are social creatures. We need a minimum of human interaction. Positive human interaction is often exactly what we need for comfort, belonging and perspective. During times of isolation, use technology to get your daily allowance of humans. Don’t use Chat Roulette.
22. Am I spending enough time in nature? Spending time in nature is great for re-grounding yourself. A little quiet time with Mama Nature provides peace and perspective you can’t get anywhere else.
23. Am I getting enough sleep? Sleep is the great reset button. It enables you to regenerate your best self. Take advantage of it. Get as much as you need.
24. Am I finding joy in my work? Work fills half of your waking hours. Finding joy in work is finding joy in life. If you are not finding joy it is time for a change. A new approach, a new job, or a new career should be on the table.
25. Does my boss value me? An unfair amount of your happiness is tied to your relationship with your boss. If you have a boss that values you and treats you well you have won half the battle. If not, make a change. Life is too short for bad bosses.
26. Am I living a story worth reading? You only get one shot at life. Make it great. make it a story worth telling, worth hearing and worth reading.
27. Am I positively impacting others? At the end of our days the only thing that really matters is the impact we have on others. Focus on making a positive impact and you will live a great life.
28. Am I laughing enough? This is the easiest way to measure happiness. Laughter is more valuable than money. Spend more time with the people who make you laugh. They will make you feel most alive.
29. Am I making others laugh? We are drawn to people who make us laugh. Are you able to see the humor in life and share it with others? A humorous perspective is always a valuable resource. Especially during difficult times.
30. Am I investing enough in my most important relationship? Think of the one relationship that means more to you than any other. A spouse or significant other. A parent, child or sibling. A friend, partner or neighbor. Are you investing in that person as much as you should? Always give the most important people the most.
31. Am I giving more than people expect? When you offer up 30 questions do you actually give 31? It’s not that hard to do. Overdeliver. People remember.
Self improvement starts with asking yourself good questions. You are a work in progress. Knowing what you should work on is how you make the progress.
*If you know someone who would benefit from these questions, please share this with them.
I get asked questions about blogging all the time. The questions often come from people who are thinking about writing their own blog. Usually they consider starting a blog because they are told they should for professional reasons. Or they believe there is some other great reward involved. Like money and fame. Like so many of us bloggers, they are often deciding between becoming a famous blogger, singer or professional athlete. And the other 2 require actual talent. But blogging isn’t something you should force yourself to do for personal or professional gain. You should blog if you love writing.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King says he writes because he loves to. The money follows the love.
I can relate to King’s statement. Well, at least the first half. I love to write this blog. I love to share what I know. I love to help more people benefit from what I am benefitting from.
The simple process of writing helps me think through my own ideas, insights and philosophies. Which means that I learn by forcing myself to write. Which forces me to think. Which therefore forces me to am. Which is an obscure Descartes reference. And obscure references are actually my favoritest part of writing my blog. Along with making up words like favoritest.
It’s Not About The Benjamins
I don’t get paid to blog. And I never expect to. But I know that I am adding value to whomever decides to read what I am writing. Because I am offering ideas, lessons and stories wrapped in a touch of humor. Which is the literary equivalent of water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. And who doesn’t love bacon? (Pigs don’t love bacon.)
It’s A Small World After Albrecht
I am not worried about expanding my blog readership. In fact, I dig the fact that a small sliver of the world reads what I am writing. That’s fun for me.
I am posting this on the Sunday of a holiday weekend, at the tail of the year, when reading a blog post isn’t a top priority for most people. I probably could have skipped writing today and no one would have noticed. And there is a good chance that only a small number of people will read this post. But I love to write anyway. Which is the key to writing a successful blog, column, book or newsletter. Do what you love, and there will be people who love what you do too. Which leads to more good things, like the Fine Young Cannibals sang.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. And thank you for reading this post specifically. Today is a free day that you could use to do anything, or nothing at all. And you decided to spend a few minutes reading what I wrote. That means a lot to me. Have a great rest of your day. I hope you do something you love.