If you blinked, you might have missed the season that was summer. It’s hard to believe that it’s the first Friday in September, yet here we are. The following is my recommended reading list for the next month. These are books that I have enjoyed and know that you will too.

The Years Of Lyndon Johnson; Master of the Senate

In August, I wrote a blog about lessons that can be gleaned from this amazing biography and there are many. It’s my all time favorite book and I read it at least once a year and I learn something new every time. Robert A. Caro documents not just the life of Lyndon Johnson and his masterful use of power, but the times during which he lives as well. There is so much history wrapped in this volume, from the Senate itself, the rise of southern power in that institution and the civil rights movement that confronted that power. Caro weaves a brilliant story of Lyndon Johnson’s mastery of legislative power to enhance his own reputation and to improve the lives of millions of people who had been discriminated against based on the color of their skin. It’s a great book by a great author about a great character. Pick this one up and you won’t put it down.

The Five Second Rule

Sometimes the most simple ideas are the most powerful. This book is a shining example that this is the case. Mel Robbins tells a simple story about a simple formula that can, in fact, change your life. The premise is that when confronted with something that scares us, that makes us uncomfortable or intimidated, that we should count backward from five (5-4-3-2-1) and then do it anyway. Robbins makes the point that by taking action and keeping our brains from slowing us down, we can live the life our dreams. It’s a compelling concept with simple action steps that I am sure can help anyone achieve all they’re capable of.

You Are A Bad Ass At Making Money

I absolutely loved Jen Sinceor’s first book, You Are A Bad Ass. It’s powerful and empowering. It’s permission to all of us to get over ourselves and our fears and follow our dreams. What that book did for our dreams, this book does for our wallets. So many of our problems with money come from a deeply held mindset that holds us back. The real value of this book is all that it does to eliminate those limiting beliefs. It’s a solid handbook to visualize what we want, to allow ourselves to want it and to figure out how to go get it. If you’re tired of being broke, this a great read to set you up. This month brings a list of how to’s from how to get power, how to get focused and how to get rich. Check them out and let me know which ones you enjoy the most.    ]]>

If you knew a friend of yours was stealing from you, would you still be friends? Would you still spend time together? Invite them into your home? Of course, you wouldn’t! You would confront them, disassociate with them and probably get a home security system. If someone you knew was stealing from you, you would cut them out of your life because you work too hard to have what is yours taken from you. Why then, do we let people close to us who are stealing our potential? The good natured, well-meaning people in our lives who want us to live in reality? The people who tell us we can’t do it or, worse yet, that we shouldn’t try? If any of these people were stealing from us, we would end the relationship but since they’re only robbing us of a brighter future, we allow it. If you knew that doing something every day was draining your bank account and killing your health would you stop? Millions of Americans have quit smoking for these reasons. Still, millions more watch mind numbing television filled with needless violence and negative news. For most of my life, this perfectly described me. I have been a cable news junkie. I watched them all; CNN, MSNBC, FOX. I even watched Telemundo even though I don’t speak Spanish! I would start every day filling my mind with enough death, disease, and destruction to last a life time and then wonder why I was in a bad mood. This went on for years until one day I watched Jim Rohn on YouTube and his words spoke right to me. Every day we must stand guard at the gates of our mind. Jim said that five years from now, we will be the sum total of the people we interact with and books that we’ve read and he encouraged his listeners to take a long hard look at both. That is what he meant by standing guard. We have people in our lives who love us and want us to do well, they just don’t understand our dreams. We don’t have to cut them out the way we would a thief, but we must control how much of their advice we actually take. Most of us have a box in our homes that deliver us great satisfaction and thrills. We don’t have to hit our televisions with a hammer, but we must control what and how much we watch. These people and these television programs are stealing from us if we aren’t careful and therefore must stand guard. We owe it to ourselves to keep outside influences from stealing from us. Most of us lock our cars. We lock our homes and some of us carry weapons for protection, yet we leave our greatest asset completely unlocked and unguarded. Five years from now, we will be the sum total of the people we interact with and the books we’ve read. Who will you become?]]>

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No Pain No Gain

You have no doubt heard that phrase before. It comes from bodybuilding where the central idea is that in order to build muscle. a bodybuilder must first break down their muscles by lifting weights. In order to gain, muscle, in this case, the lifter must feel pain. Sports scientists have repudiated the outdated idea that in order to build muscle, a person must lift until they feel pain, but one part of that old idea remains true; in order to grow, you will have to suffer some discomfort. Cute story, bro, but what’s the point? Sorry, when I write about bodybuilders, I can’t fight the urge to talk like one. The point is, that in order to get better at anything or to grow in any way, we’re going to be uncomfortable and in order to get really good at growing, we’re going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s long been y contention that all of us are in the persuasion profession. That no matter what our job titles are, our number one job is to persuade others to accept our ideas, buy our products or simply help us get what we want. In this line of work, in order to be great, we have to deal with a lot of discomforts. we have to:
  • Speak up in meetings.
  • Ask for the order.
  • Tell truth to power
  • Present in front of our peers
In every one of these circumstances, we have to do something that’s scary. We have to do something that feels uncomfortable but if we’re going to grow and be great, we have to do it anyway. The more comfortable we become just being uncomfortable, the better we can get. It always cracks me up when people tell me that I don’t get nervous before I speak. BOLOGNA! Every time I get on stage or take the front of the room, I feel uncomfortable. It isn’t natural to stand in public and tell stories about your life, your family, and your mistakes. It can be downright intimidating even if you do it every day for a living. Those who do it well, however, have become comfortable with that discomfort. They push themselves beyond their fear and do it anyway. This week, I challenge you to find areas where you are uncomfortable. Find an activity that scares you a little. The presentation you have to give, the call you have to make and do it anyway. In the moments while you’re engaged in that scary thing, feel the fear. Feel the the discomfort and get comfortable with it. After all, those bodybuilders are right; No Pain, No Gain.]]>

As back to school week wraps up, I can’t help but think of one last lesson that we learn in school but quickly abandon in “real world”; the lost art of note taking. When I was in school, I hated taking notes. To be fair, I hated pretty much everything about school outside of lunch time, but I really hated taking notes. I even had a teacher who graded our notes in one class. Needless to say, I did not do well. What I did not appreciate then that I so totally understand now is that note taking is a skill that can put us back in control and help us better manage our day. I hated it in school, but I can’t live without it today. Here are some hacks that I found that make my note taking most effective. Accept what works and reject what doesn’t.

In A Meeting, Always Ask Permission

On its face, this seems like just the polite thing to do and if that were the only reason, it would be good enough. When someone sits across from us writing as we speak, its only natural to wonder what they’re writing, asking permission is a courteous way to begin. But wait…there’s more. When we ask permission to take notes, we’re calling attention to the fact that we’re doing it. It’s a subtle way to remind the person we’re speaking with that we value our conversation enough to document it. It’s a powerful technique to let others know we’re listening and that we care.

When The Thought Comes, Write It Down

Maybe I’m strange, but when I’m in a meeting, my mind is usually always prompted to solve another problem by the seemingly unrelated conversation. OK, yes, I am definitely strange, but I don’t think this is the reason. The problem is, if I don’t make a note when these thoughts occur, I will probably lose them forever. Instead of suppressing the thought, I make the note and box it off so that I know it’s unrelated to the rest of the notes, but I’ve captured it so that I can act on it.

Find a System That Works

I have friends that cannot live without paper and pens. I have others who swear by Evernote. I prefer Google Keep, but it really doesn’t matter how we do it as long as do it. There is a lot of value in actually writing things down but there’s also value to those us with poor handwriting to use an electronic device. The key to finding what works for you and make it work. Were back to school and back to awesome. Keeping in mind the great lessons that we’ve learned and opportunity to ride the momentum of the second new year, we can’t help but finish 2017 strong.  ]]>

On Monday, I posted a blog about using the momentum of the new school year to refocus and accomplish big things. It was actually an update to an article that I posted last year at the same time. Back to school can be an amazing time to get back into the groove whether you have kids in school or not and there are lessons that our kids can teach us to make this time of year even ore powerful.

Start Early

The first day of school in the Fisher house hit hard because all of those lazy summer mornings spent sleeping in until 7:30 are over. With the bus arriving at 6:45, everyone’s day starts earlier. If, like my kids you’ve used summer as an excuse to start a little later, let’s get back to owing the morning. Most all of the highest achievers on the planet start early. There are only 24 hours in a day, make the most of them!

Make Structure Your Friend

When school starts, kids move from a summer filled with anything goes to days of structured learning. There are exact times for every part of their day from what they learn when to when they eat and when they play. Structure helps them reach the height of their achievement. Structure can do the same for all of us too. Carefully planning how we will spend our days will help us get the most out of it. Just like kids going back to school, structure can help us reach our highest potential.

Make New Friends

Without question, the most exciting part of going back to school is the opportunity to make new friends. When we were in school, this was easy. There were new kids in our class and as we got to know them, we made friends. In the adult world, this is much more difficult. We aren’t put into rooms with total stranger and kept there for six hours at a time. That doesn’t mean, though, that we should give up. I love the phrase “your net worth is a a reflection of your network” because there’s so much truth reflected in it. If we’re going to see brilliant success, we have to expand our social circles and make new friends. Back to school time is so exciting that I’m dedicating my entire week to it. If we ride the momentum and use the lessons our kids can teach us, we can make this season of the year our most productive yet.]]>

There’s a reason that this time of year is thought of as our second new year. A new school year is a fresh start for kids but it can be for all of us as well. Whether you have kids or not, seeing the yellow buses on the roads marks a change of season and reason to get back to awesome.  Here’s how to make the most of it.

Take Inventory

There’s only a month left in the 3rd quarter. After that, we’re down to our final 12 weeks of the year. Now is as good of a time as any to take inventory of where we stand with our annual goals. How much work is left to do?

Get Focused

Gary Vaynerchuk posted a 2-minute video called August making the point that August is the month to double down on business because it’s the month that our competitors are taking time off. Think on that for a minute, if this is a time when our competitors are resting, isn’t this the best time to hit it hard? It’s time to get focused on what we have left to accomplish.

Make Your Plan

If you started your year with an action plan, now is the time to review it. If you’ve worked thus far without a plan, now is the time to make one. If we’ve taken an honest inventory and focused on what needs to be done, spending the time making an actionable plan is the best time we can invest.  Two weeks ago, I felt like I had hit a wall. I took an afternoon alone just to review my plan. The kind of clarity that that afternoon gave me is almost unbelievable. It’s a great gift to give to yourself.

Sharpen Your Skills

Taking a long hard look at my goals and my action plan, I realized that in order to reach my 2016 goals, there were things that I needed to get better at doing and skills that I needed to sharpen. If you look at your goals and your plan and see your skills gap, now is the time bridge it.  I need to get better at building my list. Maybe you need to sharpen your communication skills. Whatever it is, now’s the time to get back to school.

Ride The Momentum

Watching my kids step on the bus last week, I remembered exactly what it felt like to do the same. I think if we try, every one of us can remember what back to school felt like. There is a feeling in the air this time of year that creates excitement. Using the momentum of this time of year can make acting on our plans much easier. Ride that momentum and see your plans solidify.   In life, we get so few chances for a fresh start. Most of us see New Year’s as a natural reset but this time of year, back to school season, is another great time to start again. If we take inventory, get focused, make a plan, sharpen our skills and ride the momentum, we can use back to school as our chance to get back to awesome.]]>

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Has it happened to you? Everything seems to be going fine. You’re focused, you’re productive, you’re working every day toward achieving your biggest goals, and then suddenly, without warning, you’re watching hours of cat videos on YouTube, eating ice cream out of the container and apathetic about ever achieving anything? if you said yes, congratulations, you’re a human being! The situation that I described above is an extreme case of being off course. It has become a cliche for speakers and trainers to describe an airplane on a cross continent flight and how that plane will be off course over 90% of the time, but through small adjustments and course corrections, finds itself landing at its final destination. I’m not a pilot, so I don’t know if this story that is so often repeated is true, but I have lived first hand being off course as a person and can verify its accuracy. It’s human nature to get distracted, to have competing goals and emotional responses to the world we live in and these are the things that can set us off course. Here’s how to correct your flight:

Focus On Your Calendar

When I find myself drifting and off course its usually because I have let too much white space fill my calendar. There is a time for reflection and thought, but too much of this will lead to just idle Facebook scrolling. Feeling off course to me is a signal that I need to work harder to schedule more meetings. When I don’t feel like it, I start with networking lunches, this usually builds the momentum to schedule other, more important meetings and by eliminating white space, correcting my course.

Focus On Reading

Earlier this summer, I posted a blog about how difficult it is to write when I’m not filling my head with new ideas. If I’m off course, I’m not writing and its usually because I’m not dedicating enough time to reading and filling my bucket. I love the website flipboard.com and I use it every day to mine the best of the web to keep helpful articles at my fingertips. Books are best but when off track, just reading a good blog post can start the process of correcting my course. Just a few minutes can be enough to get you in the right direction again.

Focus On Your Commitment To Your Goals

I saw a quote on social media the other day that said “It all boils down to commitment. you’re not lazy, you’re just not committed.” How I’ve lived this quote! When I care enough abut something, I will work endless hours and endure discomfort to no end. When I’m indifferent, however, I can sit back and watch the easiest of opportunities pass. The key to real course correction then, is to recommit to the big goals in my life. It’s the commitment that will inspire action and make me land at my destination. Without it, I will crash and burn hundreds of miles away. Going off course in a natural and frequent occurrence, even for high performers. The key is to recognize that we’re off course early and take the steps to correct it. When you know, focus on your calendar, focus on your reading and focus on your commitment. When you do, you’ll be back on course in no time.]]>