You made a great plan. Then life got in the way. What do you do now?

Humans are extremely intelligent animals. We have been able to transform the planet to better suit our needs. We envision a world that doesn’t exist and then we create plans to make it a reality. We are like the Walt Disney of the animal kingdom. (Meaning the real animal kingdom, not the Animal Kingdom that Disney created to illustrate this point.)

Humans are really good at knowing what actions we should take to get the result we want. In a perfect world, we would always get the results we wanted. Because we would always take the right steps. Like John Travolta.

But between deciding on the right actions to take and actually taking them a funny thing often happens. Not funny haha. Funny strange.

Every day, all over this big blue marble, the regular events of life get in the way of our plans.

Things change. New demands pop up. Curveballs get thrown. Wrenches get thrown. And eventually, the towel gets thrown in the ring.

But there is one simple solution that will prevent your plan from failing.

Remember that play that you were going to run to make your plans a reality? Before the noise and static?

Run the play anyway.

Do what you set out to do.

Modify your execution if you have to.

Take shorter actions.

Or change the time frame.

Adjust your process to work with the new conditions.

But don’t make excuses.

Change what needs to be changed.

But not the play.

You know that play will work.

Key Takeaway

Run the play anyway. You know it is right. You just need to run it.

*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.

When your mind and body wrestle who wins?

The human is the most fascinating of all machines. It is a walking, talking, taco-eating miracle made of 2 distinct parts.

First, there is the physical part. The body. It’s the part of the human that we can see and touch. (With consent.) It is the most obvious part. But it is also the least interesting.

The second part of the human is the mind. This is where the thinking takes place. This is where humans are most interesting and differentiated. If you think people look different on the outside, you would be shocked by how different people’s minds operate. For proof, see the new Netflix series Dahmer. (Or just take my word for it and you will sleep better tonight.)

For better or worse, your mind and body are married for life. Like Thunder and Lightening, Brooks and Dunn, or Mike & Ikes. Your life is a result of how well your mind and body work together.

The key to the mind-body collaboration is who is in control. Because both highly successful people and highly unsuccessful people know what they should do. The difference is that successful people do what they know they should and unsuccessful people don’t.

The Question

Who is in control, your mind or your body?

Who determines if you get out of bed or hit the snooze button?

Who determines if you thumb through your phone or work on that important project?

Who determined whether you exercise?

Or eat the way you know you should?

Or take any action at all?

If your mind is not telling your body what to do, your body is in control.

Mind Your Mind.

Your mind knows your goals and vision. It knows what needs to happen to get there. Your body doesn’t have goals beyond rest, food, pleasure, and safety. So if your mind has goals that expand beyond those 4 areas, it has to be in charge, or you will never achieve your goals. Unless your goal is to be featured on My 600-Pound Life.

When you experience moments of weakness or laziness, recognize that you are experiencing a battle for control between your mind and body. If your body wins, you lose. But if your mind is in control, and can make your body do what it needs to do, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

Key Takeaway

The key to long-term success, accomplishment and happiness is that your mind must be in control. Your thinking, planning and visioning must lead to the right actions. It is not enough to think and know. Accomplishment and progress come through doing. So provide your body with the fuel and sleep it needs. Then let your mind take over to accomplish the rest.

*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.

The best first step to take to be highly successful.

Last week I was a guest on the ContenderCast Podcast with host Justin Honaman, Justin interviewed me about entrepreneurship, and the things I have learned by launching and running the advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. We discussed lessons from my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? And we talked about his transition from Diet Coke to Coke Zero. (This paragraph has been brought to you by Coke Zero.)

I can’t wait for the podcast episode to drop. I expect it will change my life the way Sara Blakely’s life changed when she went on the Oprah Winfrey show. So don’t be surprised if the world starts wearing my undergarments too.

Advice

One of the great questions Justin asked me was, ‘What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?’

My answer was clear and instant:

Spend time with people who have already done it.

But that advice is not specifically for want-to-be entrepreneurs. Or wantrepreneurs.

It is the best advice I can share about any type of success and achievement.

The best way to achieve a massive goal is to spend time with people who have already done what you want to do.

When you spend time with superstars their mindset rubs off on you. Unlike tickets on the Polar Express, their mindset is transferrable.

Spending time with high achievers is like going to a Success Optometrist. They help you see success in much greater detail. You see the actions they take, the mindset they have adopted, and the relationships they develop and maintain.

When you see those things up close you realize that you can do all of those things too. Suddenly, your belief in what is possible expands. Your risk tolerance increases. Your view of money transforms. And your excuses fade away.

There is an intelligence that increases with increasing levels of success. It can appear mysterious or unattainable from a distance. But once you have a front-row seat to higher levels of success, it demystifies the process. It’s like seeing how magic tricks are actually performed. You quickly realize there is no magic. There are simply skills developed, practiced, and perfected until it looks like magic.

Key Takeaway

Seek out successful people. Step into their orbit and let their positive peer pressure propel you. Notice the way they act, read, and think. Modify their approaches to your needs and style. Soak up the education and inspiration. It will change your life like nothing else can. Because when you are close to those who model the behavior you want to see in yourself you can’t help but replicate it. It’s like a language immersion program. Only the language is success. Soon you’ll notice others who want to get close to you and learn how you do what you do. That’s when you know it works.

*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.

What great lessons would you learn if you met the ideal you?

Life is a choose-your-own-adventure game. Every moment of every day, you get to decide what you do next. You choose action vs non-action. You choose the type of action. You choose where you are. And who you are with. You even choose which way to put the toilet paper roll on the holder. Which determines whether or not you are a heathen.

Imagine that with every choice, you are splitting into multiple versions of yourself. There is a version of you that said yes and no, who did and did not with every choice you ever had the opportunity to make.

Every one of the possible choices led to a different possible you.

Now imagine that once you reach the afterlife, you are all there. All of the iterations of you spawned by different decisions converge at You-a-palooza. Even Death Row you would be there, fresh from the electric chair. You would recognize them by their hair. And the spark in their eyes.

Super You

You would meet the version of you that accomplished the most and made the most good decisions. You would meet the you who took the most actions, who put themself in the right place at the right time, and spent time with the best people.

Think about how that person compares to the you that you are today.

Would you be very alike, or very different?

What could you learn from them?

This is a semi-creepy photo that semi-represents the Multi-You Concept.

Now, consider what you can do to get closer to that version of yourself, starting today.

Would you:

  • Take new actions?
  • Make different decisions?
  • Update your goals and decision-making criteria?
  • Move?
  • Change jobs or careers?
  • Start that personal project?
  • Volunteer and give?
  • Create a business?
  • Take a leap?
  • Not be afraid?
  • Exercise?
  • Hang out with different people?
  • Stop a bad habit?
  • Pick up new hobbies?
  • Study?
  • Read?
  • Ask questions?
  • Put the donut down?

Key Takeaway

There is a best version of you. You have the opportunity to get closer to that person every day. Consider what they are like, who they are and what they do that makes them so great. Compare yourself to Super You. Let them guide you. And close the gap between the two of you every day.

*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.

Never yield to pessimism.

I am an optimist. Both by nature and by nurture. It enables me to see the good in people and in situations. It helps me see solutions and silver linings. And it continuously contributes to my happiness. Like pizza. Or laughing gas.

An optimist is hopeful and confident about the future and the potential for success. An optimist is not an eye doctor. (But an eye doctor can be an optimist.)

Optimism vs Pessimism

Optimism is the precious metal of mindsets.

While pessimism is useless.

It’s a dead end.

A forfeit.

Never yield to pessimism.

There is no value in being pessimistic about humans.

Or politics.

Or law.

There is no need to be pessimistic about our economy.

Or the state of humanity.

Or your future.

These are all things that we can influence.

Humans confront challenges and we respond.

We change things for the better

Errors get corrected.

New solutions are created.

New possibilities are created.

Humans always seek better answers and better outcomes.

We believe in happy endings. Like Walt Disney. And Robert Kraft.

And we make them come true.

What Does That Say About Me?

Yesterday was the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend. It was a great day to sleep in, relax and recharge.

But I was up at 5:30am. Which was 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I had things I wanted to do and didn’t want to waste any time. Because like Ben Franklin said, the early morning has gold in its mouth. (And so does Lil’ Wayne.)

After starting my morning by investing 90 minutes in a personal project I quickly got ready for my day. I headed down to my office in Milwaukee. On a Saturday. I was there from 8 am until 5pm, working on a special project that I will share more about soon.

After I wrapped up things at work I quickly drove home, cleaned up, and within an hour headed to American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, for a fun night with my wife Dawn and my kids Ava, Johann and Magnus. We went to a concert featuring country artists Parker McCollum, Brothers Osborne, and headliner Eric Church. The show was incredible. And long. Eric Church played so long that I was afraid that when I returned to my parking space my Ford Expedition would be replaced by a pumpkin and a family of mice. #BibbidiBobbidiBoo

By the time we got home, it was after 1:00 am. I got to bed at about 1:45 am. It was a Jam Master Jay-packed day.

This morning, on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, after getting to bed at 1:45 am, I woke up at 6:30 am. Because I have things to do.

I could have slept in. I had a hard day of work yesterday. I had a late night of play. And today is the Sunday of a long holiday weekend. If any day was made for rest, this is it. Like Kenny Loggins said.

But you are what you do. Your actions are proof of your commitment and character. I have made a commitment to myself to show up and take care of my business. To work on my personal projects. I have long-term goals. And they require consistency, no matter what.

I like doing hard things. I love delaying gratification. I enjoy sacrificing comfort and ease. Because you can trade them for bigger prizes later.

This morning I have the chorus to one of Parker McCollum’s hit songs playing in my head. Reflecting on his recent actions in the song Pretty Heart, McCollum asks the question, ‘What does that say about me?’ This morning, I’m doing the same.

Key Takeaway

What do your actions say about you? Are they proof that you are who you say you are? Are they reminders that you can count on yourself? That you are consistently investing in you? That you are taking care of yourself? That you are living up to your values and personal vision. These are important questions to ask. And the answers are in your actions.

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

+If you appreciate this message you’ll also like my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

This week I was blowing out candles and a new list of goals.

It was my birthday on Wednesday. I had a lot of friends and family members reach out to me to wish me a happy birthday. But my birthday fell on a cool and rainy Wednesday. Which meant that I wasn’t able to enjoy the outdoor activities I usually enjoy on my birthday, like biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and nude sunbathing.

While my birth day itself was not remarkable, I spent time planning for a memorable year. This is one of my favorite annual traditions. It helps me focus on the things that are most important to me. I want to experience happiness, fulfillment and success in all areas of my life. So I set a number of goals. Here are the areas I focused on for my next 365 days.

  1. Marriage: I set goals to strengthen my relationship with my wife Dawn. This makes everything else work.
  2. Health: I have to take care of my machine. But I haven’t seen a doctor in 7 years. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did see a doctor walking down the street. But this year I plan to see one at a checkup.
  3. Parenting: This is my most important job. So I am focusing on how to further build my children’s confidence. And keep them out of government-issued jumpsuits.
  4. Travel: I have major life travel goals. And I want to cross 2 of my major destinations off my list this year. (I also want to go visit them.)
  5. Business: These are my goals related to the growth and success of The Weaponry, the advertising and idea agency I launched 6 years ago. It’s my 4th baby. But probably the best behaved.
  6. Career: I focus on where I am going next. (I have a long way to go and a short time to get there.)
  7. Job: I focus on becoming better in my current role. Sidenote: Entrepreneurs can’t say take this job and shove it. Because you are both the shover and the shovee.
  8. Self Education: I set goals for becoming smarter and more capable. (There are a lot of books involved.)
  9. Fitness: The best way to feel young is to feel fit. So I have a couple of important goals here. Including building out the workout room in my new home so that I can maximize my personal fitness.
  10. Faith God knows this is important. (I can’t tell if I just used God’s name in vain, or out of vain.)
  11. Financial: This is what funds everything else. I keep it simple and focus on my net worth. Like Shakira’s hips, the numbers don’t lie.
  12. Home: I have goals that focus on our family nest. And how to make it our favorite place in the world.
  13. Key Relationships: At the end of our days the only thing that will matter is the impact we had on each other. Here I focus on my relationship with my parents and my sisters. I focus on my relationship with my high school friends, college teammates, college roommates, and local friends. And if I am a good friend, I will have more people to focus on next year.

Key Takeaway

A great year doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And it all starts by knowing what will contribute to your happiness and success. Refocus and rededicate yourself every year to your personal improvement and relationship development. It’s the best way to live the life you imagined.

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

+For more ways to get the most out of life, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Why you should surround yourself with people who make you better.

The most exciting project you will ever undertake in life is you. You get one opportunity to make one human as amazing as possible. And you have complete control over that human. Except when you get the hiccups or your arm falls asleep.

An amazing life can be defined and measured in a hundred different ways. But you get to choose your own definition. And the unit of measure. Better yet, like The Urban Dictionary, you can change the definition as you go.

But no matter what your self-improvement journey looks like, there is one rule that will never fail.

The best way to become a better person is to surround yourself with better people.

The right people will inspire you. Encourage you. And set a great example for you to follow.

They will share what they have learned. They will push you to push yourself further. They will show you the way. And challenge you to keep up.

The right people will open doors you didn’t know existed. They will demonstrate new techniques. Illuminate new ideas. And show you what you’ve been missing.

Better people pull you up. They suggest others to follow and learn from. They provide better criteria. And set new standards.

Spend time with others who will raise your expectations. Sharpen your thinking. And broaden your view.

Surround yourself with people who maintain good habits. Who will embarrass you for your bad habits. Who will expose your ignorance. And offer you better alternatives.

Spend time with others who reveal your strengths. Who will fuel your confidence. Who will help you strengthen your foundation. And who introduce you to more great people who will exert even more positive peer pressure on you. That is simply the best way to become your best self.

Pro Tip:

Thanks to modern technology and the Gutenberg printing press, you can also surround yourself with great people through books, social media, podcasts, or blogs. The principle is the same. And it’s a great way to augment your social circle if you live in Alaska, have awkward social skills, or live in a concrete dorm with a lot of bars, and barbwire that makes it hard to grab coffee. #ThereIsAlwaysAWay

Key Takeaway

Great people are contagious. When you spend time with them their greatness spreads. It inspires you to do and be more. They provide both a model and a path to follow. And they introduce you to more great people. Which has a compounding effect on your own self-improvement.

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

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

Make the most of your magic ingredient.

Yeast is like magic. It is the secret, almost invisible ingredient that makes bread rise. It creates action and life. It creates transformation. And alcohol. And stank.

But yeast only works if the conditions are favorable. If the environment is too cold it won’t activate. If the temperature is too hot it kills the yeast that makes the magic. #TooHotInTheHotTub

The human spirit is like yeast. It is your magic ingredient. It is the will to win. The drive to succeed. The hunger for more.

The human spirit fuels your resilience and determination. It is the force that will transform you into something even more remarkable tomorrow. Something far more remarkable than bread. Or beer.

But just as yeast needs the proper conditions to activate, so does the human spirit.

Remember

If you are a business owner, leader, parent, teacher, coach, or the person who runs Fight Club, you are responsible for creating the environment.

Your most important job is to make sure the environment doesn’t kill the magic ingredient.

Great people won’t stay in a toxic work environment.

Great athletes won’t stay to play on a negative team.

A lion tamer won’t stick his head in the mouth of a stressed-out lion. (At least not more than once.)

And most importantly, a poor home environment will prevent children from growing into the amazing adults they were born to be. We can’t let this happen.

Key Takeaway

Create an environment that lets the human spirit work its magic. Or seek out a supportive environment for yourself. And magic will surely follow.

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

For more, check out my new book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

The valuable life lesson Will Smith could use right now.

Everyone makes mistakes. Will Smith reminded us of that on Sunday night. And if you are a learning, growing, improving human your mistakes make you better prepared for the next challenge life throws your way. And life is going to throw more challenges your way. It’s what life does.

Early in my career, I made a mistake kinda like Will Smith’s. Granted, there were no Oscars involved. It was not on national television. I wasn’t mad at Chris Rock for saying that my wife looked like one of the fittest, most beautiful Hollywood actresses of all time. (You go Demi!) And I didn’t actually touch anyone.

But I did overreact to a coworker who had done something wrong.

In the moments that followed my overreaction, my boss gave me one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career. He simply and calmly told me:

When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.

It was great advice. It perfectly reframed my mistake for me. I could see that I was in the right, until I wasn’t. Yes, I had been wronged. But I became wronger. The court of public opinion would have acquitted me, until my behavior was such that they could no longer support me. #IWishIKnewHowToAcquitYou…

For two decades now that piece of advice has been written into my decision-making code. When I am processing how to respond to aggravations, slights, irritations, and insults I frequently access that code. And it always helps me make better decisions. As a result, I don’t give my power of rightness back to those who have wronged me.

Key Takeaway

When you are right, don’t respond in a way that makes you have to apologize.

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

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