It’s no secret that I like to have fun. I mean, of course, I do, because, who doesn’t? Everyone wants to enjoy themselves and I have wasted a lot of time trying to make my work fun. I say wasted because all of my attempts have always failed. It would start as fun, but because of looming deadlines or missed targets, I would end up more stressed than before. Then I learned a great secret from one of my mentors. He pulled me aside in a private meeting and told me to get serious. He told me to take myself lightly, but take my job and my responsibilities seriously. He told me that only when I got serious would I have any fun. It has been nearly ten years since I was given this advice and in that time, I will admit that I have had some tough days and uncomfortable meetings. I have had struggles like anyone else, but in that time, since I’ve gotten serious, I have never had more fun. Here’s why:

Focused Work Time Leaves More Time For Play

Getting serious with my schedule has given me more time to do things that I truly enjoy. I keep a really tight schedule. I meticulously plan just about every minute of my day because I know that by taking my schedule seriously, I will have more time for fun. Sure I have breaks in my day, and there are days when it all blows up, but by getting serious with time, there’s time left to do all that I want to accomplish.

Serious Practice Leads To More Wins

I have detailed in other posts how much I hate to lose. It’s the only emotion I feel more strongly than my love of winning. Winning is fun, but it comes at a cost. In order to show up sharp but relaxed on game day, I have to be extremely serious about my practice. I’ve seen this first hand with a great group of kids that I coach in a government club. We drill relentlessly in practice. I put them on uncomfortable sides of arguments and make them speak about issues that they are unprepared for. This level of practice has paid off for these students in big was as our delegation has dominated our conference, winning office after office. Those wins are fun, but they’re earned in serious practice.

Crossing Items Off A List Is The Most Joyous Thing In The World

In several other posts, I have detailed my love of lists. I keep a list of my big goals both in my journal and in Google Keep and I swear there’s no feeling in the world as wonderful as crossing one off. I don’t cross a goal off until it has been achieved and that feeling, as short-lived as it is, is enough to make my week. Getting to the place of achieving goals only comes through serious work, serious thought, and serious preparation. It is a cycle that repeats because the feeling of crossing it off drives the serious work and the serious work drives the feeling of crossing it off. It’s a momentum that can achieve big things that it’s brought by serious effort. I still love to have fun. It seems so silly to write that because who doesn’t love to have fun. That would be like someone saying I like ice cream as if there’s some mutant out there somewhere that doesn’t. Since we all love to have fun, I urge you to take my mentor’s advice and get serious. It’s the best way to have fun. ]]>

I still can’t believe baseball season is finally here. I will be the first to admit that I watch more television when the Reds are playing, but I still make time to get my books in. Here are the best books that I read or listened to in the month of March:

How To Think Like Leonardo DaVinci

During my Smart Work program, I make the point that our minds are for having ideas not storing them. It’s a concept that I learned from David Allen, who apparently learned it from Leonardo Da Vinci. What I appreciated the most about Michael Geib’s book is that digs deep into the history of Da Vinci to make it half biography and half how-to manual. One of the most important lessons is to always carry a notebook so that no ideas can get past you. I live it and I love it.

Conversational Confidence

This was an old audio program that was recommended to me and I’m glad I took the time to listen. When I say old, the program feels dated, but the principles still apply. Leil Lowndes fills her program with great insights on how to make a good first impression, how to work a party like a politician works a room, how to deal with difficult people and how to use your voice like a professional speaker. It’s all valuable content that makes some very stale references worth it.  

To Sell Is Human

This is probably my favorite book of the month. It’s both entertaining and insightful with a ton of valuable advice. One of my biggest takeaways came early in the book when Daniel Pink introduced the idea of possibility thinking with inquisitive self-talk; asking can I do it? rather than stating the yes or no to that question. It’s a trick that I have employed since. You read more about my experience here. By far the most entertaining part of the book to me, however, was the story of the last Fuller Brush Man. Having no memory of a neighborhood Fuller Man as a kid, it was a comical, inspiring and sometimes sad story that made the whole book work.

Organizing Tomorrow Today

Since I am always looking for ways to sharpen my skills and better organize my ideas, I was excited to read a book called Organizing Tomorrow Today. It didn’t let me down. Dr. Jason Selk and Tom Bartow bring an interesting mix of sports psychology and business consulting to make this book full of great advice. My big take away way to go one step beyond my top 3 targets that I set every day and set one bigger target on top of them. The idea of planning your day a day in advance has merit as well. I look forward to giving their advice the experiment they deserve. April will be a tough month to read as the weather will begin to call us outside and for me anyway, baseball will beckon on TV. That’s no excuse to backslide now, however, and this with this reading list, there is plenty to learn.]]>

The smell of the grass and the crack of the bat makes it pretty clear that it’s finally baseball season. It means that it’s also the end of the first quarter of 2017. Yes, friends, there’s only 3/4 of 2017 left. Time, it seems flies faster than Billy Hamilton down the baseline. With the first quarter in the books, it’s a good time for a check-in. How are you doing with your 2017 Goals? You know those big things we planned to accomplish all the way back in November? The goals that we’ve recommitted to every Monday in order to find some momentum? How have you done? Have you crossed 1/4 of them off of your list so far? If not, there’s good news and bad news. If you’ve wasted the first quarter of this year and have not yet acted on those goals, that time is gone and we can never get it back. The good news, however, is that there’s still more than plenty of time to recommit and make it happen. 3/4 of a year to be exact. If you find yourself lagging behind, here is a proven formula for catching up. Try it out because you really have nothing to lose.

Reevaluate

The end of every quarter is a great time to reevaluate. It’s possible that some of the goals you’ve set aren’t that important to you anymore. Maybe you’re closer than you thought and one one good week of effort could push you over the edge. We won’t know until we look and measure. Take a long look at your goals list. Do they all still fit? How far away are you? Three years ago, my number one goal was to be the World Champion of Public Speaking. I was knocked out of the tournament at the end of March. As badly as I wanted it, that goal had to be eliminated from the list. I was out. There might be goals on your list that no matter what you do you can’t make it happen. Scratch it off and move on. Now is the time to evaluate.

Regroup

The goals left on your list that still matter probably require a new plan. If it hasn’t happened yet, or if you haven’t seen significant progress, three months in is the time to regroup and put a new plan together.  I am a big believe in effort goals. Sometimes I can’t control the outcomes, but one thing that I can always control is effort. One of my big goals for 2017 has been to get as lean as I was in 2015. Knowing that there were a lot of variables to this, I had a series of effort goals from how often I got to the gym and how often I logged m food. I have been frustrated by my lack of progress, now was the time to take a long look at my action plan. I’ve regrouped and changed my plan. Have you?

Recommit

Are there goals on your list that you haven’t given your best effort towards? Now is the time to recommit to achieving those goals. With 3/4 of the year left, it can still be done but it will take commitment. I have had the goal since November to start a private Facebook group for those in the Slash/Economy. It wouldn’t be hard or time-consuming but a lack of commitment has kept me from following through. I’m recommitting today to have this created by the end of April.  The smell of the grass and the crack of the bat meant that baseball is back. When we reevaluate, regroup and recommit, we’ll be back too. Back to crushing our goals for 2017.        ]]>

If the world feels like a better place today, that’s because it is. It’s opening day in Cincinnati. Baseball is back, Marty’s on the radio and hope springs eternal once again. There are a lot of reason that I love baseball, but the biggest one is that it’s the game that best mirrors life.

You Have To Swing The Bat

There’s one baseball player that everyone has heard of. Babe Ruth. He was the homerun king for most of the 20th Century. He also struck out more frequently than he hit home runs. It didn’t stop him. He still showed up and give his best swing. In life, we have to step to the plate and swing the bat to make anything happen. We can study, plan and prepare as much as we want but if we leave the bat on our shoulder, we’ll never get a hit. Simply put, we have to try.

It’s Mostly Sprints And Rests

The bases in baseball at 90 feet apart. It isn’t very often that a player has to run more than that before they get to rest. They hit the ball, run 90 feet and rest until someone else hits the ball and they can run another 90 feet and if they’re safe, they can rest before they have to sprint again. Much of the life is made up of sprints the rests. The most successful people I know are able to work incredibly hard for short bursts, rest and then sprint again. They focus on the task before them, their 90 feet. They run it as hard they can and then rest until its time to sprint again.

Consistency Counts

Homerun hitters are great, but teams are built around people that can put the ball in play consistently. A hitter with a .300 and 10 home runs is more valuable than the one hitting .240 with 20 home runs. One is consistent and makes things happen by putting the ball in play while the other hits more home runs, but is a lot less reliable. In life, home runs are great and we all like them, but there’s more value in being consistent. We all know people who can turn in one good month, but it happens once a quarter. These people are homerun hitters, when they hit the ball, it goes a long way. They will be beaten by singles hitters that turn in a solid performance every month, no matter what. In baseball and business, consistency counts. If the world seems like a better place to day, it’s because it is. Opening Day is one of the most exciting days of the year. I love it because I’m reminded again that I have to swing the bat, be prepared to sprint and consistently put the work in. Baseball is a lot like life. Life is the only game more rewarding.  ]]>