Why it’s important to give yourself permission to be an amateur.

When I became an entrepreneur one of the greatest gifts I gave myself was permission to be an amateur. Or perhaps the only reason I became an entrepreneur is that I was okay with being an amateur. It’s hard to say.

Entrepreneurs ultimately need to know everything there is to know about starting and running a business. Yet the vast majority of this knowledge comes from on-the-job training. Which is how you learned to ride a bike. It’s how the Wright Brothers learned to fly. It’s how MLK learned to give great speeches. And how we all learned to do the Electric Slide. #boogiewoogiewoogie

By allowing yourself to be an amateur you allow for mistakes. You put a premium on learning, not knowing. Remember, you could never learn to juggle without making mistakes. The same is true for standup comedy. And parenting your children. (Don’t tell my kids that.) We start every area of life stupid. Being okay with that is the smart way to begin.

I make progress by doing what I know to do until I discover a better way. The secret is to always be looking for and open to that better way. Once you find it, you add it to your personal weaponry and you take another step forward. Those who reach the highest level of achievement simply never stop taking steps forward. Neither should you.

My kids and I recently learned to surf. Which is kind of like learning to ride a bike. Only with tighter fitting clothes.

Key Takeaway

Allow yourself to be a beginner. It makes you much more likely to begin. Allow for mistakes. When you accept your amateur status the journey from ignorance to intelligence is more enjoyable and rewarding. Learn and grow as you go. Recognize your improvements. And know that you can apply the same approach to anything in life.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why I have so much confidence in the power of confidence.

When I was a kid there was a famous commercial where a group of idealists sang, ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke.’ The commercial made me believe that together we could solve world-thirst. But despite how much I enjoy an occasional ice-cold Coca-Cola, if I could give the world anything at all, it would be more confidence.

The Dictionary Definition

Merriam Webster, a woman who knew a lot of words, defines confidence in the following way:

Confidence: 

a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers

b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way

c: the quality or state of being certain 

Becoming A Confidence Donor

Many years ago I made a conscious decision to contribute to individual confidence whenever I could. I began handing out compliments liberally. I complimented people on strong performances. I noted how much potential or ability I saw in others. I highlighted skills and talents that people were really good at.

I let my positive inner dialog about others become an outer dialog, where I tell people the good things I am thinking about them. Kinda like Jim Carey in Liar Liar. I comment on quick math skills, strong customer service, a smart suggestion, good hair, a great attitude, a fun clothing choice, or the refusal to stop drinking Tab just because the rest of the world did.

I don’t feel awkward about offering others such positive comments either. Because I know it is like making a valuable deposit in their confidence piggy bank. And the fuller the piggy bank the more valuable it is when you need to butcher the pig.

Just as we can pay each other with money, we can also pay others in confidence. In fact, some of the compliments, encouragement, feedback, and support that I have received throughout my life have been more valuable than money. Because they have forced me to see myself as better, stronger, smarter or more capable than I recognized. Which in turn encouraged me to take bigger bets on myself.

The bets I’ve made on myself include raising my hand for challenging assignments, speaking up when I thought someone needed to, and stepping out of my comfort zone to develop new abilities. In fact, when I decided to start my own business it was my confidence in both myself and my team and our ability to make the business successful that made all the difference.

I string together my own successes like popcorn on a old-timey Christmas tree. Or Cheerios on a preschool necklace. That string of successes helps me believe that my next attempt will be successful too. Of course this is not guaranteed. And I have plenty of failures, missteps and mistakes. But I don’t string them together to tell a story about myself. Neither should you. Because it simply doesn’t help.

Key Takeaway:

Confidence is one of the planet’s most valuable forces. It fuels a can-do, will-do mindset. It provides courage to take on new challenges. It is like armor that helps you survive the attacks of life. Help build confidence in others through genuine compliments, support, and encouragement. It will prove amongst the greatest investments you will ever make.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message (because they are amazing) please share it with them.

How much are your priorities worth to you?

Yesterday I was in Atlanta on a business trip. I had been there since Thursday. My return flight was scheduled to be the last flight back to Milwaukee on Saturday night. Pre-Covid, when I used to fly with a naked face, I took that 2-hour 10:30 pm flight all the time. Because it allowed me to get a full day of work in before hitting the airport. But yesterday I finished early and was thrilled to be able to try to catch an earlier flight from ATL to MKE. 

The Fee

I got to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 3 pm, and went to a Delta kiosk (unpaid endorsement) to try to change flights. Because when I tried to call to change flights the phone system told me there was a 2-hour wait time. Which I thought was phoney baloney. But after just a few taps at the kiosk (tap tap tap in) an option to take an earlier flight at 4:30 pm appeared. However, it also came with a $75 change fee. 

I considered the fee for a moment. And I did the following math:

For $75…

I get home at 6:00 pm CT. Not Midnight.

+ I get to see my kids today.

+ I get to run in the house screaming MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!

+ I get to have dinner with my family.

+ I can go for an evening walk with my wife.

+ I can watch the sunset over the pond in my backyard.

+ I can participate in family game night.

+ I can toss a lacrosse ball with my son Magnus.

+ I can work on some discus technique in the backyard with my daughter Ava.

+ I can look for the new baby geese that just hatched in the nest in our backyard.

+ I can tuck my 3 kids into bed.

+ I can have a glass of red wine with my wife Dawn. (I can, but I won’t because I have the palate of a 6-year old and think alcohol tastes ucky.)

+ I can watch Netflix and chill with my wife Dawn. (Or I can watch a repeat SNL and probably no chill.)

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I could do ALL of these things for $75.

In that moment, I had the clarity and insight to realize that there will come a day at the end of my days when I would spend everything I had for that opportunity. I swiped my credit card and quickly snatched up one of the greatest bargains life had ever offered me.

Thank You

Thank you Delta for getting me home early last night. I did everything on the list. Plus it was 88 degrees in Milwaukee, which is unseasonably awesome in Brew City. Game Night was Klask. Dinner was Culver’s Butter Burgers on our back patio. And I didn’t take a moment for granted.

Key Takeaway

Time is the most valuable commodity on Earth. Enjoy every moment you get. Steal it if you have to. If you ever find it on sale somewhere, don’t think twice about paying for it. You’ll never regret more time spent on or with your top priorities. 

*If you know someone who would benefit from this message, please share it with them.