Pinnacleceo's Take

Experiences put to paper…

The Pursuit of Greatness: Five Things Leaders MUST Do Every Day!

There is a commercial that talks about not wanting to be just good, but be great. Don’t settle for less than what you can be. That makes perfect sense. If you are a leader and are responsible for people, performance and production, you really should have no other mindset than to be great.

Attaining greatness is a long term pursuit. Some achieve it sooner than others but the fact is that very few people stumble into greatness. It takes dedication and a LOT of work. In my personal journey while I am still in hot pursuit of getting there, one thing I have found to be unconditional to growth is that it takes short term victories to attain long term success. What I mean by this is you need to have a strategy to win every day!

Five “Up’s” to Greatness:

Notice the term unconditional in my statement above? What does that mean? Does it mean to do what is needed only when it’s easy, or when you feel like it? Does it mean only when you are pushed back up against a wall? REALLY?  Unconditional means “no other options”. It means developing habits that create auto-pilot behavior! Here are five things you as a leader MUST do every day in your pursuit.

1.     Get Up! That’s right. I said it…GET OUT OF BED with a skip in your step. The first thing you think about as you get up will set the pace for your day. This is why it is CRITICAL that you control the FIRST THOUGHTS that come to mind. Is it another great day for opportunity or is it another day of making a means to an end? Are you blessed and thankful that you GET TO go to work or are you frustrated because you HAVE TO? Make sure your self-talk conversations are positive every morning when you start your day. What you are THINKING is what you are BRINGING to your workplace! As a leader there may be nothing more important. GET UP!

2.     Show Up! Be the first to appear and when you do be the catalyst, be the energy. Leaders cannot hide in the masses at any point during the day. You must be relevant. Your team is looking to you. You can never take the role as a spectator. When you show up, you are ready to go the moment the game starts and you play until the whistle blows. Show Up!

3.     Set Up! Set the stage every day for your team to win! This is up to you! Before the day begins you need to set the tone, the expectations and the means of doing all you can to help you team be successful. Your team is riding on the ship that you are steering and they will go where you take them. Does your workplace ALWAYS feel like a positive, opportunistic environment? As a member of your team when I arrive, do I believe today is another day to win…Set Up!

4.     Step Up! You must be viewed as the “Go-To” person, the one who “wants the ball” in crunch time. You need to step up and train others how to develop the “give me the ball” mentality. You must INVEST in your players! Every team has go-to players. They EXPECT to be the person who takes the final shot, and they ACCEPT the responsibility even if they miss. Regardless, they still look to taking the next clutch shot again and again with great anticipation! Step Up!

5.     Serve Up! You as a leader will never gain more respect and trust from you team than when you become a servant. Great leaders understand the more they are responsible for, the higher degree of service required. Find a way to make someone’s day every day. I coached Little League Baseball for many years and I was amazed how hard a young man would play for you with just simple recognition of effort! It was clear one of the main reasons our teams were GREAT was because our players actually want to be on our team! Does the same hold true for you? Serve Up!

These five “up’s” when developed habitually, will open the doors to significant opportunities and growth. They create the environment and the approach to win every day. Days turn to months, months to years and with a blink of an eye, you will find yourself closer and closer to greatness.

Finally, as I wrap up, let me remind you again…this is a pursuit, a long term pursuit. Please know the difference in pursuing and chasing something. Unlike the game of tag you played as a kid where you opted for chasing the slowest kid on the playground or the closest, easiest player to no longer be “IT”, pursuit is defined by a purpose and a passion…where failure is not an option.

Best wishes as you pursue greatness every day!


Want at Good Look At Your Productivity Profile? Connect the Dots!

There are a lot of places you can post your profile today. Social media is filled with outlets that allow you to “put yourself out there”. At any given moment, if you are not satisfied with it, you can simply make a change…You want it to be perfect, don’t you?

Think about your profile. What’s in it? Let’s break it down…

Normally there is a spot for your picture. Let’s be honest, you do not just throw one up there. You may search through every file you own to find the exact picture, in the exact light, that in your mind makes you look the best you can be!

Next is information about you. Who you are, what you do, what you like and what you have done. Again, many take a painstaking approach to getting this piece exactly where they want it.

Once you have all the details in order, you are ready to present yourself to the world for acceptance and approval. Our best foot forward.

There is another profile I would like to discuss. It’s your productivity profile. It, like the profile described above has a picture of you, who you are, what matters to you and what you have done. It can even display where you are going! The question becomes…do we put as much time and attention into this one? Do we always put our best foot forward here as well?

When I began my sales career over thirty years ago, I was given a daily planner. A paper version at that! The purpose of this tool was to keep me focused on what my priorities were. Priorities were the “must-do’s” DAILY that had to be accomplished to be productive. My must-do’s every day for productive business success were consistently the same…prospect for new business, be involved in a business transaction and learn all I could to master my craft to become as professional and efficient as possible. That was it.

Of course, there were many elements to this prioritizing process and many other things mattered, but at the end of the day, to be productive, I had to focus on those three things. The writing was on the wall so to speak because all I had to do to see how well I was doing, was simply look in my daily planner and connect the dots.

Every time I scheduled prospecting time I placed a dot in that time slot. Every time I scheduled an appointment, I placed a dot in that time slot and, every time I scheduled learning time, being mentored, studying or simply managing my business…you got it…I put a dot.

It became very easy for me to view my productivity profile for you see all I had to do at any given moment, was look at my prior week or my upcoming week and just connect the dots. Prospect call dots turned into appointment dots and appointment dots turned into closed deal dots and learning time dots helped me master the art of getting referrals and handling objections and finding new markets, on and on…

 If my planner was filled with dots every day, my profile displayed what I wanted it to. I soon learned one of the greatest feeling in the world for me as a professional sales person, was to open my upcoming weekly planner and see it filled with dots! I also learned one of the most difficult things to overcome is just the opposite…days filled with empty space.

So here are some practical tips to help you with your productivity profile.

1.      Know your priorities: If you don’t know what your “must-do’s” are, you need to identify them and focus on them immediately. We all know how distracted we can get.

2.      Track your results: Keep score of how you are doing DAILY. I cannot emphasis this point enough, you MUST keep score EVERY DAY!

3.      Start connecting the dots: Here is the beauty of this…you are in charge! It’s your profile and no one else’s! You are in control of the dots!

4.      Always think ahead…way ahead. Always be in “dot-adding” mode! Do all you can to keep your upcoming weeks and months filled with dots. Do not get into the habit of waiting until the last minute or every worse, only start paying attention to your productivity profile when you are about to fail!

Your productivity profile clearly displays your results. The great news…you are in charge of what it looks like. So if you want to know where your productivity has been, where it is, and where it is headed, the answer is quite clear…connect the dots!

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A Lesson on Performance From a Little League Right Fielder

I have written many sports analogies over the years, especially ones dealing with coaching kids.  You will never convince me that there are not valuable life-long lessons from these experiences.

Baseball season is once again upon us so a few days ago, I drove past my old “field of dreams” Little League ballpark to reminisce. Staring out into the outfield I was reminded of a powerful lesson I learned on how to gain consistent maximum performance from a seven year old playing a most unpopular position.

First, let’s be real. When it comes to seven year olds, getting much focus other than the end of the game cookie at any position is pretty difficult, even more so for those delegated to the outfield.  During the early years, very few balls make it out of the infield, BUT those playing in the infield are involved  because they get to field, throw and catch the ball so naturally it is easier for them stay engaged.

Outfielders however have a different view of the game.  Many of them see the game through clumps of dirt or rocks or even a bug or two.  They quite often dance to their own tune and on occasion, some just head into the dugout during the middle of an inning.  The reason as stated above is simple, not much happening for them.

As a result of this reality, many times kids in the outfield decide this is not fun and soon determine they don’t want to play anymore.  They don’t get excited about the games and they especially don’t like going to practice. Which brings me to the first lesson learned…if a player on your team is not having fun, whose fault is that?  If you said the coach, you are correct!!!

One particular game on a very hot July Saturday afternoon, our machine-pitch team’s right fielder was having one of those days as described above.  Nothing was happening in right field and he spent a lot of his time getting his uniform dirty playing in the dirt.  After a few “Will, get up buddy, here we go” pleas from me, he gave in and got in ready position again. Thankfully our time in the field ended quickly that inning and we came off the field and got ready to bat.

The kids who were about to step up to home plate dashed off the field and quickly put their hitting gloves on and grabbed their high dollar bats.  Will however, was down the list in the lineup and when coupled with a very hot, boring inning of zero activity, he slumped and slowly headed to the dugout.

As Will approached me, I had a defining moment with him that I will never forget.  I saw the disappointment in his eyes and I took it personally. (Not to get of track here, but how about you?  When you see your fellow co-worker or team mate hurting, does it bother you…Do you even notice!!!!)

Okay back to the story. I put my hand on his shoulder and I dropped down to one knee and looked him right in the eye.  “Will” I said, “I have never told you this but on draft night before the season started and we were picking the players we wanted to be on our team, your name came up and I could not wait to pick you to be our right fielder. I could not think of anyone I would want more than you, so when your name was called I said…The Aztecs choose Will, and I am so glad you are on our team…give me five!”

Both Will and my world changed.  His countenance changed immediately!  His eyes lit up and a huge smile covered his face.  He gave me a BIG high five and ran into the dugout.  I have to admit, this brought a tear to my eye…it does to this day!

The following game, as the players and their parents were arriving for pre-game warmup, Will was the first one there.  His dad came up to me and said’ “Coach, I don’t know what you said to Will but he could not wait to get here. “He’s been looking forward to this game all week!”

I’m going to get off track again… BOOM! That’s what everything we do should be about. I can’t tell you how that made me feel.  As a coach as a human, to me, that’s our purpose! Okay, now the conclusion.

I thanked Will’s father for his comments and headed to the dugout.  Will was the first to meet me. “Right field today coach?” “You’re the best right fielder I know buddy”, I said and off he went.

From that day on, Will’s outlook and performance changed. He was more attentive in the field, he liked coming to practice.  Why?  Did he start seeing more activity in right field?  Did he move up in the batting lineup? No.

Here is the lesson.  Just like Will, we will perform at our best when we are recognized and valued for what we do. We just want to!  I believe at the moment I told Will how proud I was that he was on our team, he could have moved a mountain!

I coached youth sports for years and we never had the strongest, fastest most talented athletes yet we won more championships than anyone else during our time.  My study if filled with championship memories.

The reason for this success is clear…kids WANTED to be on our team and they WANTED to play their best for us!  Why?  Because we never let a time go by that we did not tell every player how valuable they were to us.  We would always say that the most important hitter on the team was the one at the plate. We did not let batting order be a distraction.  Every at bat was equally valuable! We believed that effort and attitude would always trump mere talent alone.  I still believe that today!

I think the lesson here is clear.  It is for me.  I to this day, do everything in my power to sincerely acknowledge a colleague, co-worker or client and express my appreciation for their influence and impact on the success of my livelihood.  I do the same for my family and friends too.

So stay alert.  Keep your eyes open and the next time you see someone who feels like a Little League right fielder, hand them their glove, look them in the eye and tell them how proud you are to know them and be on their team! It will impact your both exponentially.

Valuable Lessons From March Madness

Ahhh, it’s that time of year every college basketball fan loves…March Madness. I must confess, I enjoy watching the tournament and filling out my bracket only to see it destroyed by the end of the first weekend. Which brings me to my topic today.

Most people when they are completing their brackets use a logical approach to their selections. They take into consideration a team’s seeding, their record, the conference they play in and their opponent. For those of you who have participated in this activity over the years, you have learned that what appears to be a given, is not always the case! Without question, almost every year on the first weekend of tournament play, there is an upset. Some are not so unexpected and some are shockers. Why? Good question! Regardless of whether you are a number one seed or a Cinderella, there is an explanation and a lesson in this for all of us…Here we go!

In 2013, a small school on the gulf coast of Florida seeded number 15, upset number 2 seed Georgetown 78-68. At one point Florida Gulf Coast led by 19 points. Should Florida Gulf Coast ever had a lead like that yet alone win the game? How?

In 1976, The Indiana Hoosiers began the year ranked number one and finished with an undefeated mark of 32-0, the last undefeated team in college basketball. During the NCAA tournament they cruised their way to a national championship winning every game by an average of 17 points per game. Were the other teams that less talented? Again, the question, How?

In the first case with Florida Gulf Coast, I believe they had a point to make and a will to make it. Think about it, except for a very few, the only people that believed they could win were inside the Florida Gulf Coast locker room. They had to believe they could win…If they didn’t,they should have never left the locker room.

First lesson…always believe you can win. Regardless of how things might be stacked up against you, you must believe BEFORE you begin, that you will WIN! I have seen many examples of a “defeated” approach to business and to life that clearly demonstrates that person has already lost. You see it in their attitude and even in the way they walk! You have no chance of winning anything unless first you expect to win and you put forth your BEST effort to do so PERIOD!!!

In the second example, the 1976 Indiana team knew full well that when they played any team on any given night, that team would put forth their best effort. Why? To be the team that knocked off the best of the best. Imagine the pressure to always perform at peak performance to maintain their status of being number one. Think of how the team viewed an undefeated season and wanted to protect it with all they had. Think how it felt going into the tournament knowing that just one loss, would not only ruin the undefeated season but would end it as well!

As the record shows, this team was well equipped to handle the situation from the top down. The result: An undefeated championship season.

Second lesson…Never take your competitor lightly and keep your foot on the gas! Perhaps the Bible says it best, “Pride cometh before a fall.” Never take your competitor lightly. If you are at the top of your game, they would like nothing better than to find your weakness and expose it so they can defeat you! In sports or in life, never take your opponents, or your opportunities lightly…to stay on top you must earn it EVERY DAY. Never take your foot off the gas is a metaphor I have heard for years. It simply means, don’t slow down, don’t ease up, give it all you’ve got until the results are decided. This is clearly the banner championship teams and organizations display consistently season after season, year after year!

These are powerful lessons for each of us. I hope you like me, are never at a place where you stop looking for ways to learn! If you are a fan of March Madness, pay attention to the way each team approaches their game and how they play it. Does their body language from the bench to the court demonstrate they can win regardless of who they are playing, or are they defeated before they walk out of the locker room? Is the higher seed playing as if their opponent will just fold up and quit?

These lessons are a great reminder to each of us that we can determine our outcomes simply by the approach we take to our livelihood and our lives every day. If you are at the top of your game, take nothing for granted, do all you can to stay there. If you are a Cinderella, set your expectations high and believe in every opportunity that you are going to WIN!

Here’s to winning your championship game every day!

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The Logical Flow of Developing Great Business and the Number One Reason it Stops!

Allow me to preach for a moment to all the sales/business development people out there. But before I do, please let me preface my sermon…

I have been fortunate to be in business for myself for 32 years. I love all it affords. The potential, the flexibility and the opportunities to help others. I have always and will always take the approach that I have much to learn. Any time I can gather any knowledge, concept or an idea that will make me better, I will always be open to it. The minute or even the second I believe that I KNOW IT ALL, is the beginning of my downfall.

There are some things however I have learned and experienced first-hand that I believe to be unconditional truths about business development. One, there is a logical flow to great business development and two, there is one primary reason it stops! Based on that preface and supported evidence from my personal experiences, I’ll begin my sermon.

Basic logic when it comes to developing great business is simple: Grow business and revenue through products/services purchased consistently from loyal customers and clients who are identified through promotion activity.

To grow your business and generate revenue, you must have a product or service that provides and perceives value.

In order to sell your product or service to make revenue, you must have a market. You need customers and clients. Some markets are vast and some are specialized but regardless, you must have enough people willing to consistently purchase what you are offering.

To identify customers and clients, you must promote yourself and what you are offering. For me the very best way to do this is prospecting. I believe regardless of the product or service you provide, regardless of the set up or means of delivering your product or service (that is people coming to you or you going to them), to secure a constant logical flow of business development you MUST prospect!

I’ve seen a lot of different negative approaches and attitudes about prospecting over the years. Here are a few. See if you can identify with them.

  • Prospecting is tough. It can be. The main reason salespeople feel this way is a result of a fear factor of being rejected. No one likes to hear “no” but some get to the point to where they fear it so much, they can’t muster the courage to go again. Remember, when you hear that word, it is not a personal attack on you.
  •   I don’t have any prospects/I’ve run out of prospects. Why not? How? If you have truly exhausted every opportunity to promote yourself, gathered every referral possible, sought out every alternative market or situation and you have no one to talk to and you are not generating the livelihood you want or need, then you need to seek other opportunities. I do not want to be rude but if you have genuinely run out of market, then you need to do something else. Be honest, is that the truth or an excuse? If it is the truth, you need to find another way to generate revenue and enjoy your life!
  •  The economy is bad right now. You still have to eat don’t you? About ten years ago I had a very profitable market that I prospected that went through some major changes. For a period of about one year, when I prospected them I heard the same thing time after time, “No” things are very tight now, budget cuts, etc. Regardless of the reason, I still had to provide for my family.

I’ll admit it was very tough for a while. But the reality was I had to do something. Just because things were not going the way I planned was no excuse for me to quit.  Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that regardless of how your business is flowing, or how the economy is doing, you keep getting things from the electric and phone companies, (to name a few), every thirty days?

The only way to remedy this was to take control of the situation. The only way I knew how to do that, was to turn up the prospecting activity. It was either that or seek other means of earning a living. Since I had poured my life into what I believed and what I loved, there was only ONE option for me…I got productive in prospecting!

My efforts awarded me a new market that I had never worked in. Had I not been in the position I was in, I might not have found this market as quickly as I did. Additionally, after two years, the industry that I lost earlier came back and now I have two markets in my prospecting mix to develop business in!

Over the years, the example above has happened time and time again. External circumstances, economic conditions and other variables out of my control have impacted my business flow, but I have always been able to successfully ride every situation out because I believe in and I know how to prospect.

The number one reason I have found great business flow stops is when prospecting stops. When you stop filling your funnel with potential…your potential stops. It’s simple logic!

Most successful sales people regardless of how long they have been in business will tell you that it’s not difficult making a sale, or building a relationship. If you are professional and offer value to improve the lives of those you serve, closing the deal is an enjoyable experience. It’s the continued, constant process of finding those relationship building situations that requires the most focus.

So there you have it. My experience has shown me there is a logical flow to building and sustaining great business.  A great product or service requires long term loyal customers and the way to find long term loyal customers is to constantly have your funnel full of great prospects. The only way to have a funnel full of great prospects is to…I think you get the idea.

It is my hope that each of you find great business opportunities consistently flowing your way!


Our Most Powerful Promoter Is…?

Answer the following riddle: You can see it but you can’t touch it. Everybody has one. It leaves a path where you have been, is a driving force where you are going and more times than not is already there waiting for you when you arrive. Answer?

Your reputation is a powerful promoter and ally in your life. The definition of reputation is: A widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic; the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something.

What is the first thing that comes to a person’s mind when they hear your name or the organization you work for or perhaps own? Integrity, honest, ambitious, caring? Or self-centered, demeaning, dishonest? So how does one attain a reputation? Is it a fair process? Does reputation really matter? Let’s take a closer look.

Consider the riddle above, you can see it but you can’t touch it. Your reputation is based on the actions you perform. How you treat people…all people, customers and co-workers alike. How you conduct business and how you behave outside of the workplace. These actions create the perception (intangible you can’t touch) that is generally held by others as the definition describes!

Everybody has one. Yes, all of us have a reputation. Unless we have lived under a rock and never engaged with other human beings, there is a generally held belief about the person we are. For example, years ago, I met an older gentleman who every time you would run into him was always positive and uplifting. He would always greet you with an enthusiastic hello. He just made you feel like you mattered. One day I met him in the airport as I was headed off to a huge business meeting to close a very large client. He asked what I was doing and I told him. Right there in the airport, he grabbed my hand and said a little prayer that I would have great success. He said he was in my corner and told me I could do anything I set my mind to do. This was huge for me at that time as I was a very young entrepreneur just getting my feet wet and more importantly going after my first BIG deal. Oh, by the way, I did get that client and I still have them today…twenty years later! Thank you Carrol Lockett!

My point is that from that time on, every time his name was mentioned, immediately I would say “that man is the most encouraging person I know!” Interestingly enough…everyone else said the same thing. What a powerful, powerful reputation!

It leaves a path where you have been, is the driving force where you are going and more times than not, is already waiting for you when you arrive. Wow that’s a lot. Your reputation is a serious thing!!! My dad was an electrical contractor for 52 years. He ran his own business for all but two years of his work life. Every project he did required specific standards to be approved. After each job, my dad would put his tag on his work for the inspectors to approve. His work always exceeded the standards. I asked him once why it was so important he went above and beyond the standard. He had a great answer. He said, “because my name is on it.” Many years later I was told of how inspectors would go look at a completed project of my dad’s work and at first glance would say “This is some of JR’s work!” His reputation left a path of extraordinary work!

Your reputation will be a driving force to where you go personally and in the workplace. A positive reputation will open door after door, create new opportunities just because people will believe you are the “go to” person. Think about the power a reputation has for a physician. One of my best lifelong friends is a doctor. He has thousands of patients because when you mention his name, people say he takes great care of them and he is one of the best at being able to quickly diagnosing what is wrong. When you hear that and you have a loved one who needs care and needs to get well quickly…well enough said. You will call Dr. Owens!

Finally, many times before you get an opportunity to perform what you are all about, people will already have an expectation of the outcome. I coached a youth football team for many years. We lost one game in six years (on a controversial play!). Really! There were many games we played over the years that we won the game before it even started. You could hear kids and parents alike say “We are playing the Raiders, they never lose…If we can just get through this game, then we can think about winning.” Why? It’s simple. We had a reputation of winning that went before us!

In conclusion, please DO NOT take your reputation for granted. In all my years of experience I have learned unconditionally that it is a most powerful ally. Always be perceived as a person of integrity. Someone who is always lifting people up, encouraging them to be all they can be. Why would anyone not want to be this type of person? Why would anyone enjoy belittling someone or walk around in a negative state of mind? Why would you sacrifice a lifetime of achievement and potential for one second of dishonest or deceptive gain? Why!!!

It is my hope that everyone who encounters me in business or just in person, feels a little bit better about themselves; has a re-focused view on being as productive as they can be simply because someone told them they can, then they pass that on to others.

That my friend is a reputation you cannot put a price tag on!

Stay productive!


Want to Know the Status of Your Livelihood? Check Your Vitals!

I recently experienced a major loss in my family. My father passed away because of a serious car accident. I know many of you reading this have experienced a loss like this but regardless of when or how it happened…it leaves a permanent hole in your heart.

The reason I start this writing with this announcement is that during his brief stay in the hospital, the nurses and doctors, therapist and other medical team members kept a constant view of a couple of monitors and what could not be seen on a monitor, was checked with regularity by a skilled care giver.  I am talking about vital signs. Heart rate, temperature, breathing and blood pressure.

These important signs are designed to let you know the status of your physical condition AT THAT MOMENT! They are a current measure of your condition. Naturally, if any of these signs go beyond a stated benchmark (especially in a critical situation) action must be taken immediately.

There are vital signs to the condition of our business or our work. They too display our condition at that given moment. So, if you want to know where you stand…at any time, check the following vitals:

  • Vision: Do you still have a dream? Do you see your end game as strongly now as when you first began your journey? Can you paint a vivid enough picture for those that work for you and with you to get on and stay on board with your vision?
  • Velocity: Are you headed in the right direction and at the right speed. Do you assess and hold yourself accountable for results on a consistent basis and are you pursing your work or career with the proper focus and energy? It’s too important to not check your velocity. Going the wrong direction or at the wrong speed or perhaps both will destroy you!!
  • Value: Do you bring something of worth beyond the product or the norm to increase the benefit of working with you or selecting you as my provider of choice? What do you demonstrate that proves worth beyond the transaction?
  • Volume: Do you offer something that keeps them coming back or that is so professionally presented that people can’t help but purchase from or choose you? A successful business model has been and always will be a professional, volume based business…great value time and time again. Turn it up!
  • Victory: Do you celebrate your success and the success of others? Do you recognize those that helped get you where you are and where you are going? You should! People are your greatest resource and asset and should never be taken for granted. IT IS JUST AS EASY TO LIFT SOMEONE UP AS IT IS TO TEAR THEM DOWN…IT’S A MATTER OF CHOICE. Celebrate victories then move on to another and another!

Finally, there are two types of care you can implement regarding both physical and business or work vitals. One type of care is acute: This means action immediately or serious consequences will result. Acute care means a life-threatening situation.

The other care is preventative: Simply monitoring your vitals regularly and infusing them with a proper diet, activity and vitamins will help keep you healthy, energetic, focused and on target to make your dreams a reality.

So, there are your vitals and their specific types of care. These five things can show you at any moment where you are and are also a great indicator of where you are headed. The question now is…which type of care will you choose.

Best wishes for a very successful 2017!

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Go! Until the Whistle Blows.

Ah, fall is in the air. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, cooler temperatures, leaves turning colors and of course football.

I had the great privilege of coaching

a youth football team for many years. We were awesome, in fact over a six-year period we lost one game…seriously, just one game, 6 to 8 on a controversial two-point conversion try…oh well, moving on!

The other day, I was rummaging through some boxes and I came across my old coaching whistle. It was great to see that precious piece of memorabilia, and it reminded me of a concept we used to teach relentlessly to our players. In every drill or every play, we always instructed our guys to “go until the whistle blows”. What does that mean? Simply this, give your best, give your all for yourself and your teammates until it’s officially over. Don’t quit, don’t give up and don’t assume anything until the deal is done!

I can remember more times than once, someone would be running down the field and a presumed tackle would be made only to realize that the person carrying the ball was not officially down. When the ball carrier did not hear the whistle, they kept running, yet the defenders made the assumption the play was over and stopped performing. As a result, the ball carrier gained a much larger competitive edge or even scored. This could have been prevented if the defense had simply adhered to the rule…go until the whistle blows!

Often times this mentality of making assumptions can creep into mindsets of coaches and players alike which can also create catastrophic consequences. One of my favorite professional football teams in recent seasons when they get a big lead (which does not happen all that often), take their foot off the gas, they don’t go all out, until the whistle blows. It seems as if they are playing not to lose rather than playing to win. I have seen this philosophy work but I have also seen it fail. Believe me, there is no greater feeling of disappointment than blowing a huge lead and going down in defeat when it could have been prevented.

So here is the point for us. Regardless of what we do, we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal all day and give what we do for a living our very best, every minute of every day. Don’t assume anything, make sure you do all you can to meet your goals or objectives for the day…here’s why this is critical.

When you develop this mindset and approach to your day, you will gain momentum and anyone who has experienced momentum at all will tell you, it is a very powerful force! Once you harness momentum in your favor, you begin to understand what it takes to keep it going and you value it for its worth. Your behavior changes and before long you develop habits that keep you doing the things you need to do to win. It just becomes second nature to go until you hear the whistle…then you get ready and do it all again. It’s a beautiful thing.

The game is on. Are you prepared? Are you ready to give it your all every day? Get momentum on your side and keep it…GO until the whistle blows!

Stay productive.


We Are All in the Construction Business!

I am having a brand new office with a conference room, a classroom and a simulation training lab being built and I am very excited about it! It is going to be great. The other day I was walking around the facility and admiring how it was coming together. Right now, the frame is up and they are putting the electrical work in for the outlets and the video projector and screens etc, and today they are putting up the walls. Once again I discovered some valuable learning points.

  1. There is a specific order to putting things together the RIGHT WAY. Have you ever tried to put something together on your own thinking you don’t need to follow the instructions only to find that once completed, it just does not look right or worse, does not work right? Then you discover what you missed and BOOM, you have to start over again! I must confess I have. Once I put a fertilizer spreader together only to discover at the end that I had put a critical device on backwards. Yep, you got it…I had to take the entire thing apart and with that, I sought out the instructions and followed them to the letter!
  2. There are tools available to help the process along. There are specific tools that are designed to help make the construction process seamless, such as a specific screwdriver for a specific kind of screw, a wrench that fits a certain size of bolt, on and on. Sometimes there is only one tool that fits a specific component and without it, you will just be wasting your time if you attempt any other approach or try to shortcut the process.
  3. There is always help: Almost everything comes with a set of instructions or a helpline or a website or even someone who has experience and is willing to provide assistance in helping you construct whatever it is you are building. I have found these many times to be great resources and if you are like me and not very “mechanically minded”, you will take all the help you can get.
  4. You cannot enjoy the full benefits of what you are building until you complete the work. Years ago when my wife and I bought our first home, one of the things we wanted to have was a nice, green front yard. In order to have this, I decided I would have someone bring me pallets of grass and I would sod my yard. I could not wait to see that beautiful green stuff growing in my yard…but wait! Before I could even start laying the sod (which was pretty laborious in itself), I had to prepare the dirt…That was brutal. It was hot and at first I did not have the right tools (see number 2 above) to do what I needed to do. Needless to say, it took more weekends than I expected too complete. Regardless, even with tired muscles and a very sore back, I did not stop the project because I envisioned in my mind what the end result would be and I made it a reality.

The point to number 4 is simple, first you have to see the end before you start and then you must be disciplined and diligent to pursue it to the end…it won’t happen on its own and it rarely happens overnight…it takes work, but OH!!!, once complete it sure feels great to run your bare feet through a nicely manicured, thick, green lawn on a summer night. You get the picture!

So ladies and gentlemen here is the BIG picture to this post. We are all in the construction business! Each of us are building something. Some are building a career, some are working on their entrepreneurial dream and some are building their resume. Regardless of where you are and what you are constructing, it is critical you understand the order of doing things the RIGHT way! I cannot tell you the value of just doing things the right way the first time!

There are specific tools that are available to all of us no matter what we do. The question is do we have them and do we know how to use them to the best of our ability? As discussed above, sometimes just as there are tools that only fit a specific component, there are very specific things we must focus on individually. It is NOT one size fits all. Sometimes it is unique to you. The key here is you know this and discover it immediately.

No matter what we are building in our lives, there is always help. People and processes waiting to assist. I have a couple of mentors that I consult with regularly year after year and their insight is priceless to me. Because of the value they have provided me, I now in turn am mentoring others. You will find most successful people who have had help and instructions along the way are more than willing to pass it on. You don’t have to go it alone…get some help and instructions!

Finally, as stated in point number 4, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the results of your efforts come to pass. There is no greater feeling than a sense of accomplishment and self-worth of a job well done. BUT, in my personal experience, great rewards do not come easy, it takes everything discussed in this post and more.

So, now that you know, grab your hard hat, your blueprint and all the right tools; do things right the first time; get some help, see the end result now, and keep on constructing…that nice green lawn is calling!

Where Do You Rank on the Food Chain?

Okay, those of you who have followed me for a while know I am always looking for ways to learn and share from experiences and once again, I have…so here is another thought for your consideration regarding how you approach your livelihood and your life.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a week’s vacation with my family to Colorado. You know the drill, relax, get recharged, take it easy right? Wrong! I know you are probably the same way, you do more on vacation and come back more tired than you left!! Same for us.

One of my favorite parts of our trip was a father and son golf day. It was great! Me and my son on a beautiful mountain course. Ahhh, okay, on with the point.

As we were playing one of the holes, the golf supervisor (the person who makes sure all is going smoothly) drove up behind us and asked a rather peculiar question. “Do you guys have food in your cart?” I knew I did not but my son Jordan indicated he had opened up a package of peanut butter crackers. “That explains why those birds are following you,” he stated. As we looked behind us there were about three black birds (looked like crows) following us, why…they were hoping we drop something so they could just gather up a free meal. This got me to thinking.

Some folks view their day, their livelihood or business the same way. Take whatever happens, live by chance, hope they are in the right place at the right time, hoping something falls in their lap. What about me? How do I approach my day? What about you?

I discovered three different levels with three very different outcomes of the food chain on my trip that I believe have great application to us and our livelihood. Let look at all three.

The Gatherers: This describes the black birds that followed us. They were waiting for something to occur outside of their control, to fall in their lap, so all they had to do was gather it up. Granted they had to be there, but before they could reap their reward, something had to happen first; it had to fall from the tree or drop from the vine before they could retrieve it. Occasionally gatherers will pick the low hanging fruit…that’s another lesson in itself. I consider these to be the middle of the food chain.

The Scavengers: These are the “bottom feeders”. These feast on something that is already dead! I found examples of scavengers driving down small mountainous roads. Buzzards swarm the air waiting on roadkill. They only eat what is leftover, and many times what no other creature will eat! They do the very least and have absolutely the lowest amount of control of their diet…think about that.

The Hunters: This is the TOP of the food chain. I saw a hawk on the move going after prey. Hunters eat when they want and what they want! They wait for nothing. They are always on the lookout for what’s next. When they are hungry, they don’t wait for something out of their control to occur, they make it happen. Sometimes it takes no time at all to gain the reward but other times, it may take much longer than expected, but their attitude and approach never changes. They understand if they want to eat…they have to hunt!

So where are you on the business food chain? Are you waiting for something to fall in your lap so you can simply gather it up? Do you only focus on the low hanging fruit? Are you waiting for all the leftovers or only going for the least amount of effort and live on a limited diet? Or, are you taking charge and sharpening your skills and hunt every day?

Remember, regardless of what you do or where you are, there are members of every level of the food chain in your marketplace.  The question becomes, where do you rank?

Nothing more needs to be said…Happy hunting!!!

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