A lesson from the most exciting game I ever played.

When I was in 4th grade I was in a tense floor hockey game in gym class. Yes, we’re talking about floor hockey. In gym class. (Cue the Allen Iverson incredulous stink face.)

In the last game of the 4th-grade gym class floor hockey season, my team was down by 2 goals with under 2-minutes remaining on the clock.

With 1 minute and 45 seconds to go in the game, I scored a goal on a slap shot from 30 feet out. Suddenly, my team was down by just 1 point. And in my head, I started singing ‘Bring out your best, Budweiser Light…’ which was a popular ad campaign jingle from my youth. (Good job appealing to the 10-year olds Budweiser!)

Then, with just 30 seconds left in the game, I assisted on a goal to tie the game up.

We then rotated positions and I played goalie for the final 30 seconds. Suddenly, the DJ in my head faded down the Budweiser jingle and pushed play on Eye Of The Tiger.

With under 10 seconds left in the game, I stopped a shot on goal from one of the 5 Ryans in my class. With a MacGyver-like awareness of the ticking clock, I instantly gathered the puck and shot it from my own goal, across the entire gym floor, past all the defenders, and into the opposing goal to win the game. And I lost my little 4th-grade mind.

Over the next 13 years of my athletic career, I participated in 2 high school state final four football games, 4 high school state track meets, 2 New England high school track championships, 3 Big 10 Conference track and field championships and several track meets with 30,000 to 40,000 spectators. But to this day, that floor hockey game, with that ending, and my role in it, remains one of my favorite and most confidence-inspiring memories of my entire life.

Key Takeaway

It is never too late. There is always a chance. Keep believing. Keep going. Keep trying. Find the soundtrack in your head that ignites you. And believe in miracles. I do. Because I feel like I have helped make them happen. And you can too.

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

Make bigger bets on yourself.

Investing is like betting with really good odds. The best investments happen when you know something the rest of the world doesn’t. Just ask Martha Stewart.

But the best odds of all come when you invest in yourself. Because when you invest in yourself, the odds are stacked in your favor. And you do all the stacking. Because you have complete control over yourself. Like Janet Jackson.

The Decider

You decide how much work you put in. You decide not to quit, give up, or cut corners. You force yourself to make things turn out right. You put yourself first. You decide not to embezzle from yourself. You also decide not to bedazzle yourself.

The Safe Bet

Betting on yourself is always the safe choice. Because you have control over the outcome. Better yet, you know the outcome you are looking for. (And the income you are looking for too.)

You are your own best resource. You are your own most reliable asset. Put all your eggs in your own basket. And then protects the basket as if it is your only job in life. Because it is.

More Biggie. Less Smalls.

Too often our bets on ourselves are too small. So think bigger. Go bigger. Because there is no better bet. Plus, the bigger the bet you make on yourself the more pressure you put on yourself to grow.

Spend more time investing in your education and self-improvement. Invest in a coach. And in resources that you can utilize to achieve more. Read. Network. Learn. Listen. You will discover how much more you are capable of if only you pushed yourself to do what you are capable of doing.

Key Takeaway

The safest bet you will ever make is on yourself. You control the odds, the effort and the outcome. It is a completely legal form of insider trading. So bet big on yourself. Push yourself. Tip the odds in your favor. And other people will line up to bet on you too.

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

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.

Now is the perfect time to pay people in confidence.

A few months ago COVID-19 and The Global Lockdown may have sounded like a cool band name. But today they represent the two dominating forces on the planet. Right now they are locked in an epic standoff, like the FBI and The Branch Davidians. Physical and economic health is under attack. And we need Chip and Joanna Gaines to show up and save Waco with some shiplap.

Every day the news reports the latest health and economic casualties. But there is another human concern that is much harder to quantify.

Confidence, self assurance and motivation are waning. But you can make a difference. Even if money is in short supply.

Right now one of the most valuable things you can do is pay compliments. They can be the most valuable thing you ever give another person. Because they offer confidence, strength and resolve.

black and white laptop
Be this sign for others.

Compliments are the antidote against quitting, and, as a result, failure. Knowing that someone else believes in us is often all we need to believe a little more in ourselves.

I have had people pay me outrageous sums in compliments. Those compliments have expanded my self perception. And those comments helped propel me in ways that those who shared them could not have imagined.

Compliments always seem to land at the right time. When your trajectory is wrong, they help change the angle. When your trajectory is right on target a compliment helps you accelerate.

Too often we avoid or disclaim a compliment because we are afraid it will give the recipient a big head, or feed their ego. But like flour needs yeast to rise, amazing talent often needs positive feedback to rise to the demands necessary to turn great talent into skill, and ultimately results.

If you are wondering what you can do right now to make a difference, send an earnest compliment or 2. Or 200. Or 2000. Deliver it any way you like. You’re likely to make someone’s day. Like a sweet treat in the middle of a no carb diet.

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

The most important gift my mother gave me.

There are conversations that stay with you forever.  Today I am reflecting on a conversation that I had two decades ago. I was at the house of my high school track coach, Jude Dutille, in New Hampshire. Jude’s wife, Val made a comment that I will never forget. It was about my Mom.

Val observed that there was something unique about the kids in my family. It wasn’t that she thought me and my sisters Heather, Alison and Donielle were smart, funny, or kind.  It wasn’t that we were hard working, well mannered or good looking. It wasn’t even the crazy thing I wrote about it the post, What makes these siblings freakishly unique. (Which is worth the read.)  There was one noteworthy trait that Val recognized in me and my sisters. And she gave my Mom all the credit for it. It was our confidence.

img_1368.jpg
My parents and sisters.

Confidence

Val wondered what my Mom, Jill Albrecht had done to create such confidence in her children. I am not sure I had the answer in that moment 20 years ago. But today I do.

We felt confident because we knew were loved unconditionally. We felt confident because we trusted our Mom and our Dad. We always felt supported. Our Mom always made sure we were prepared. Because preparation is a major ingredient in the confidence recipe.

My Mom designed her home to feel safe. I had lived in 5 states by the time I started 7th grade. And despite the changes, or perhaps because of them, I always felt the stability of home, no matter what state, city or time zone we were in.

IMG_9141
My Mom and Dad at The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency.

My Personal Success

Today I recognize the confidence my Mom developed in me as a key factor in my personal success. I have always believed in myself. Even when the odds were long and the path was uncertain. My confidence has played a major role in my career success. And it was my confidence that things would turn out well that allowed me to launch my own business 3 years ago, when there was really no proof that I could pull it off.

My Wife

Today, my wife Dawn provides our 3 children with the same type of support, security and preparation that I enjoyed as a child. While you can’t give someone else confidence, you can create the perfect environment for confidence to flourish. That’s exactly what  Dawn is doing.

IMG_4873
Dawn and her mom, Cynthia Zabel.

Dawn continues to bolster my confidence too. When I told her I wanted to leave my job and start my own advertising agency, she was 100% behind it. Her unwavering belief in me made me believe in myself. Launching a startup can be extremely scary. But the truth is I wasn’t scared at all. A major reason was that Dawn, who had the most to lose, never doubted that the business would be successful. And she was right.

IMG_1805
Dawn teaches our children to aim high.

The Power Of Self Worth

Lately, I have been studying the lessons of vulnerability expert Brene Brown. Brown, a famed vulnerability and shame researcher at the University of Houston, says there is one key indicator that helps people stick their neck out and feel comfortable with vulnerability. That key factor is worthiness. That’s exactly what my Mom always made me feel. I felt worthy of good things. I felt worthy of love, friendship, of career success, and high achievement. And that self worth has fueled my confidence, motivation and posture my entire adult life.

Key Takeaway

The greatest gift we can give each other are the building blocks of confidence and the self worth that comes as a result. My mother made confidence development a priority. My wife is building it into our children. Confidence is the fuel and the foundation for success. There is no greater source of confidence than our mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, Dawn, my mother in law, Cynthia Zabel, and to Val Dutille. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s who have worked hard to build confidence and self worth in their children. Your job is the most important of all jobs on the planet. The results of your work will not only last a lifetime, it will be passed along for generations to come.

*If you know a mother who deserves to hear this message, please share it with her.

 

The secret ingredient to increase your creativity.

Everyone wishes they were more creative.  Even really creative people.  Because there is a magical power that comes with great creative abilities. You can see things others don’t. You find opportunities in business that others miss. You can create art, music, stories, products and services that people have never seen before.

Much has been written on the subject of increasing your creativity. There is brainstorming and mindstorming and Hannah Storming activities you can do. Some people try drugs or alcohol to unlock their creativity.  Which can lead to really creative ways to ruin your life.  But there is one key ingredient that is guaranteed to help you, your coworkers and your family and friends think more creatively. And that’s confidence.

Creativity is about taking chances. And the more we believe in ourselves the more and bigger chances we are willing to take. The opposite is also true.  When we don’t have great confidence in a particular area of our lives we play it safe. That’s why I look for confidence when I hire creative talent. (I also look to see if they are dry and secure, and if they will raise their hand…)

I saw a great example of confidence-enhanced creativity recently in my 10 year old daughter, Ava.  She is a great writer if I do say so myself. And I do say it often because I want to amplify this strength. Recently her school held a writing competition. Each class would have two finalists whose writings would be judged against the best writers from the other classes to see who was the best in the entire grade.

Ava came home one day and couldn’t wait to tell me what happened in class. She said, ‘Dad, today in school the kids started talking about who they thought were going to be the two winners from my class. And everyone thought that I was going to be one of them!’   She felt like she had already won. That’s because everyone believed in her. So what happened next? A couple weeks later I ran into her handsome and talented teacher, Mr. Paul DeVigne, at a school play. He said, ‘Adam, I’ve been looking for you! (I get this a lot.) We have had a writing competition at school and Ava won for her entire grade!  Now I need your permission to allow her to enter her poem in the county-wide competition.’ Boom goes the dynamite!

I am sure Ava would have written a nice piece no matter what. But the fact that her class believed in her gave her added confidence to take greater chances.  And when you read the poem she wrote she clearly pushed her creativity and took bigger chances than she might have had no one considered her a viable champ.

So look for opportunities to increase confidence in yourself and others.  Create easy wins, celebrate them and grow. Reward the wild ideas, the big dreams, and you’ll get bigger and wilder yet.  The mind is a complicated place. But if you fill it with high octane confidence there’s no telling what great ideas will come out.  Good luck.  Think big. I know you will. Because you are good enough. You are smart enough. And gosh darn it, people like you.