15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.

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Just Jump Off The Ladder

Ever hear the phrase “Two steps forward, one step back”? Meaning that during the process of advancing forward, we sometimes hit setbacks, but as long as we keep moving we eventually will succeed?

Two steps forward, one step back is only a good thing if we are progressing towards a worthwhile goal. Sometimes we need to be willing to take a voluntary step backwards and make sure we are on the right track.

What do I mean by a step backward? Well everyone has a situation that’s different.

You may be three years into your college degree and realize that you have no interest in pursuing a career in your major. Step back, get some counsel from someone that you trust and has a valuable opinion. It may seem right now like you’ve just wasted the last three years. But that is not a good reason to waste the next twenty.

Sometimes stepping back might mean walking away from a relationship that is hurting us. If you are in a relationship with someone that is negative about your dreams and goals, confront them. Either they change their attitude or you stop associating with them. This may seem cruel, but would you want someone close to you to be responsible for destroying all of your dreams and goals for the next twenty years? How would that affect your relationship?

Some people may need to step back and streamline their finances to get them under control. Most people are so concerned with status they will stay enslaved to a bank just for the sake of living in a home they had no business buying in the first place (or driving a car, sailing a boat, or eating at that trendy restaurant). Take a step back, downsize, streamline, and start using a black pen instead of a red pen for your bank account.

Some people might need to turn their backs on whatever they are currently doing for income. You may have lots of experience. And you may be good at it. But if it ain’t paying the dollars, then staying there doesn’t make any sense.

When you are climbing the ladder of success and realize it is leaning against the wrong building, climbing faster is not the answer. Sometimes success requires a step back. And, of course, stepping back off a ladder is the fastest way back down.

Have you ever had to go backwards in order to make progress?

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Never Change, Stay Insane

Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” We as humans do stuff. When we do stuff, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. But no matter the outcome, we can always benefit from it. When we succeed at the task at hand we receive whatever benefit we hoped to get from that task: the contract, the sale, the date. When we fail at it, we have an opportunity to learn.

Notice though, that I didn’t say we learn from failure, just that we have the opportunity to learn from it. There is nothing inherently great about failing.

But when you have a healthy attitude about failing, it is not heartbreaking, it does not lower your own sense of worth, it does not devalue you as a person. As long as you are trying and failing, you are growing. And as long as you are growing, you are becoming greater. You are adding value to yourself as a person.

When you fail at something, and life is trying to teach you a lesson, just remember this: A lesson will be repeated until it is learned. Fail once, maybe you can blame it on chance. Fail a second time, maybe the odds just weren’t with you. Fail one thousand consecutive times, you may want to consider changing something. Always keep an eye out for the lesson so that life doesn’t have to keep beating you with that stick to get your attention.

Many people know about the tens of thousands of failed experiments that Thomas Edison went through in the process of inventing the electric light bulb. And, many people have heard about history’s possibly most positive comment when asked if he was dejected or depressed: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Yes, he kept trying. But the key was that he kept trying different things.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So while persistence is admirable, without the willingness to learn and change, we are not exhibiting determination so much as lunacy.

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Set Yourself on Fire

fireSome people have the wrong idea about motivation and success. They think that in order to succeed, they must first get motivated then they will be able to perform at a higher level. And so they postpone their effort until they are struck by a bolt of motivation from the heavens. While that may happen on occasion, external motivation does not last forever. Also, you are just as likely to be hit by a bolt of frustration and quit if you are waiting for outside forces to move you around.

The way to avoid being manipulated by all these lightning bolts being thrown about is to rely on yourself for motivation. And the way to do that is by giving yourself a healthy dose of enthusiasm. Like motivation, enthusiasm is an emotion; A temporary feeling. But you can create enthusiasm by an act of will. Once you decide to increase your enthusiasm, just follow these simple steps:

1. Act enthusiastic

2. That’s all

What? They don’t all have to be a 10-step process do they?

When you act enthusiastic, you will become enthusiastic. When you increase your enthusiasm you will have more energy. When you have more energy, you gain motivation to get your tasks done. Congratulations, you are now motivated to succeed, all you have to do is fake it (see Step 1).

Really? Yes. (see Step 2).

Enthusiasm will increase your effectiveness at just about any task. Another benefit of your increased level of enthusiasm, is it will increase the effectiveness of the people around you. Enthusiasm is contagious. Your enthusiasm will spread to the people around you at work or at play.

Winning sports teams recognize the power of enthusiasm. One teammate steps up with a powerful move, or play, or score; And the rest of the team becomes energized and starts to gain momentum. An enthusiastic home-team crowd is so important that they are called “the extra sixth player” on the team (well, just in basketball). One player can fire up the crowd, or sometimes a particularly loyal crowd will try to fire up a team that is lacking enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is not limited to sports though. You can inject enthusiasm into nearly any aspect of your life. Get enthusiastic about your child’s role in their school play and they will become enthusiastic about it. Get enthusiastic about your store meeting and force your coworkers that are dragging themselves in to wake up. Get enthusiastic about making a phone call, going grocery shopping, washing your dog and visiting the dentist. Enthusiasm is so important that Norman Vincent Peale wrote an entire book on the subject, Enthusiasm Makes The Difference. Frank Bettger devoted the first chapter of his book, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, to enthusiasm (which helped him not just as a professional baseball player, but also as an insurance salesman).

How has a healthy dose of enthusiasm helped you to thrive in a bleak situation?

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Failure is Not an Option, It is a Necessity

Everybody fails from time to time. Anyone that has never failed at something has probably never accomplished anything worthwhile. Nearly every mental or physical activity you have ever performed in your life, you failed at it the first time you tried it (except for those things performed automatically by your nervous system). But somehow, when we reach a certain age we become self-conscious and start to view failure as a bad thing.

Failure is not a bad thing, our reaction to the failure is what is important. If we allow embarrassment to overshadow our desire to achieve, then a few early failures will derail whatever you are attempting; whether it is algebra, skiing, or asking a girl to the prom. Nobody likes failing, falling or rejection. But you will live a happier more fulfilled life if you retake that quiz, go back up that slope, and ask another girl out. As long as we maintain the idea that a single failure is a normal part of life, we just view them the same way we view bumps in the road. When you hit a bump, you keep driving. You don’t get out of your car and yell at the bump in the road, and berate yourself for hitting the bump, then blame the bump on your future problems.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Understand this, the opposite of success is not failure, the opposite of success is quitting.

Quitting also becomes a habit. And when we develop a habit of quitting when things get hard, eventually we stop trying altogether. So we try fewer and fewer new things. We stay in familiar territory, we stay comfortable, we stop growing and we start stagnating. “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure till he gives up.”

Try to fail at something this week.

Failure is Not an Option, It is a Necessity


A New 15 Minutes

My book It Takes 15 Minutes to Change Your Life, is about improving your life in various areas (financial, personal, spiritual) through the investment of 15-minute blocks of time, repeated daily. Since publishing it and shedding my job it really has changed my life significantly. It used to be I was a full-time employee, using my spare time to promote my business, then with 15-minutes every day, working on becoming an author. Now my full-time job is divided between: promoting myself as an author, writing book number two, and promoting my business, using my spare time to act, but I still intend to devote 15 minutes to some task or project to improve myself in some way.

Currently, I’m spending 15-minutes a day cleaning and organizing. Over the years, I’ve allowed myself to become something of a slob. Not quite as bad as some of those “hoarder” reality shows I’ve seen commercials for, but a detailed list of just the stuff I threw out of my bedroom could have been enough material for a second book. Now, I still have a long way to go, but just in the past two weeks, I’ve actually managed to clear out enough space for a home office, with an actual desk and chair and places for files. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is to me, and here’s why: My entire first book was written almost entirely away from home because there was too much clutter and distractions (I did most of my writing at work or I would actually have to drive to a coffee shop just to write for 15 minutes). Now, with an actual office space, I can write at home, which saves me the time it takes to leave the house to find a safe writing spot.

Which gives me back an extra 15-minute block of time to work with. Funny how that works, success begets success. Even in little things.

What is something in your life that you can devote 15-minutes a day to developing or improving?