Life 180

Page 1

Action Steps to Create the New

Thomas Nestor

Action Steps to Create the New

Thomas Nestor





A Decision






The Commitment, the Beginning






Setting Up Your Goals and Making Them Work






Your Vocabulary, Change It!



Baby Steps, Small Bites, Little by Little...



Shape Up Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually


10 Respond, Don’t React


11 Discipline, Discipline, Discipline


12 Change Your Course, Don’t Change Your Dream


13 Be Careful! “Give Up Goals” and “Go Up Goals”


14 Team Players Always Win


15 Training the Mind That Has Been Conditioned to Fail


16 Visualize the Reaching: See Yourself in Your New Future


Appendix 228

Copyright © 2013 by Thomas Nestor All right reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without prior permission of the author. Cover and Book Design by

Steven A. Wright


There were many motivations behind my decision to write this book. As with most things in life, there are several that I can consciously latch on to and describe in detail, while others are more ephemeral and harder to get a grasp on for myself, let alone describe them here. One motivation, however, is crystal clear for me as I sit down to type and has been for a while now.

I decided to write this book because, when I look around at the world, I not only believe but know that there are many young people out there who are in the same mental and emotional place I was when I was at twenty-four years old.

I believe that there are young men and women out there who have dreams, goals, and desires to be more and do more. They imagine themselves transcending any and all difficulties they may be facing in their lives currently, and yet they feel as though they are caught in some sort of trap or lifestyle that they just can’t see themselves getting out of.


What I am attempting to do is no small feat, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt from my own experience that it can happen.

I want to get those individuals who want more to think bigger, dream bigger, and believe in themselves and know that they can have whatever they desire if they put forth the effort.

Since my decision to get serious about life, I have acquired multimillions in real estate with four businesses and over fifty employees. I am currently thirty-two years old; within the eight-year time frame from twenty-four to thirty-two, my life has literally gone from the barstool and a life filled with nothing but so-called “good times” to a life literally filled with blessings. I don’t want to start bragging about my accomplishments because it’s not important; what is important is the process, and the point of this narrative isn’t me but you and what you can accomplish.

I wrote this book because I asked myself, “If I could reach just one person, young or old, and have the possibility of changing their life for the better, would it be worth it?” And the answer was most definitely yes! This book is your book. If it motivates


you to make even the smallest change or move in the right direction, all my efforts will have been paid back in full.

I want to share the knowledge I’ve acquired in the last eight years with you. In turn, I hope you take this book, read it, do what it says, and then give a copy to someone you know who could use some help from someone who is relatable, real, and who has been through some challenges. By creating a dialogue and a shared database of experience, we can make changes in our lives and the lives around us.

Certainly, my challenges don’t compare to some other people’s challenges. Regardless, they were “my challenges”—everyone has their challenges that they must overcome. While you read this book, know that my hope is that you overcome the stumbling blocks in your life and achieve the dreams you may think are unachievable.

Tom Nestor, September 8, 2011


1 A Decision

On January 3, 2004, I made a decision that would change my life forever.

I was sitting on a barstool on the South Side of Chicago looking at the people surrounding me—the people I had come to the bar with and the older people and regulars that always filled the place. Like that, I had a very vivid (and very disturbing) glimpse of what my future would be if I didn’t change things at that very moment. I started asking myself a series of questions:

Is this what I’m all about? Is this what my future looks like? Are these the people that I want to spend my life with? Are there any benefits for me being here?

You often hear people talk about moments of lucidity or epiphany; it’s something that can be hard to understand or even believe until you experience it for yourself. Luckily for me, I was able to truly experience the moment and let the lesson in.


At the time I was twenty-four years old. I asked myself, “Do I really want to be sitting in a bar when I’m forty, fifty, sixty years old? Do I want to be stuck in this pattern in places like this for decades to come?”

In that instant, I took everything in and made a conscious decision. I decided I was going to make a change. This is where the true nature of gaining clarity comes in; those ideas had flitted across my mind many times in the past, but I hadn’t been ready and they hadn’t really crystallized for me in a meaningful way.

This time everything came together. I made the decision that I was going to say good-bye to the bar and everything that alcohol had to offer forever.

I decided that there had to be something more to life.

Now, I didn’t know what I was going to do . . . there was no clarity for me yet on that particular point. The only thing I did know was that the bar scene was not good for me or my future and that I had to get that scene out of my life, which


also meant taking a break or totally doing away with some of my relationships.

Then the backlash came. Doubts and negative thoughts crept in one after the other; what started as a moment of clarity was followed by a lot of discourse and confusion. Thoughts like You can give up the bar after the holidays because you’re gonna miss out on all the parties or You can give up the bar after Danny’s birthday. I mean what’s he going to think if you don’t show up for his twenty-fifth birthday party on Western Avenue!? Started laying a claim on my psyche. What are all your friends gonna think if you just get up and walk out of the bar and their lives forever? Seriously, Tom, are you really going to be able to quit drinking with your friends? What are you going to do with your free time? Those thoughts and many, many more thoughts and challenges raced through my mind.

Truthfully, I didn’t have those answers and I didn’t know where I was going to go. All I knew is that I didn’t want to be there anymore. There was no way after experiencing that lucidity and seeing what my future was on track to be that I could


possibly waste away inside of a saloon for one more moment. I had to get myself out and point my life in a new direction.

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. —David Russell

It may not surprise you to hear that the questions circling around the subject of my friends were the ones that haunted me the most. We all put a lot of stock in what our friends say and do—I was no different.

When my friends found out that I had decided to quit drinking, quit going to the bars, and quit going out, there were many different responses. Some of them were mad. Some of them respected the decision . . . and some of them didn’t believe me. All this “constructive” criticism hurts in its own way. It certainly could have pushed me off track pretty early on. After all, thoughts like these had already muddied the waters right after my moment of clarity . . . Now other people were saying the same things to me. Out loud. Were they right?


No. The only thing that mattered was what I believed, how I saw myself, and where I saw my future going. Nothing else mattered.

No. The only thing that mattered was what I believed, how I saw myself, and where I saw my future going. Nothing else mattered.

For me, it was a bar and drinking that needed to be overcome; a purpose needed to be birthed in my life. I knew this and had made a choice.

An individual can never figure out where to go unless they first know where they currently are. If you are planning a trip and you plug the destination into the GPS, the only way the GPS can give you clear directions is if it knows your starting point. In the same way, we can never figure out how to achieve our dreams unless we know our starting point. I was an individual who abused alcohol whose sole purpose in life was to have fun going out socializing. What about you? Where are you in your life? Be honest with yourself.

Real choices cannot be affected by the mutterings and mumblings of even your best friends. For somebody else, the choice that needs to be made may center on the need to stop snorting cocaine or injecting heroin. For someone else, the


choice may center on their living situation; you may be living in an abuse-filled home where you’re frightened to do anything because it may mean bodily harm. Or maybe you are a single mother with children and your future looks pretty dark and grim; in fact, it looks like you presently have no future.

Whatever the situation, there is an answer to the problem— making the choice and sticking to it no matter what anyone says.

Success is the result of these real choices, not chances.

We’ll look at relationships in greater detail further on, but for now I can tell you that the real friends in your life will stick by you when you make a real choice. I can also tell you that I don’t know the entire answer to your problem because I didn’t know the entire answer to my own problem. I did know it was going to be a process . . . and a process requires many steps and the patience to let them happen in their own time.

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. –Rita Mae Brown


The first step needed was to just make the choice that I wanted a new direction for my life. Once I made that decision, I decided I would deal with whatever came after that.

I know how hard it was to leave my environment at the time and block out the external and internal voices that were passing judgment on my choice. I needed to head down a new road, a new path, unchartered waters—and do it without most of the people I had shared my life with up until that point.

If you are happy with your life and where you are headed, then read no further. But if you are looking for a change—a real change—this book will help you. After reading this book, you will know how to make your life better by not only making a decision, changing your mind-set, and following through with the goals you have set for yourself and your future, but also by developing the right relationships and listening to the voice that matters—the voice of your choice.

Remember that improvement is guaranteed only to those who are willing to change.


Call to Action 1.

You can’t figure out where you’re going until you first know where you are . . . Evaluate where you are in your life.

2. If you are content with where you are, keep on truckin’ . . . If you’re not happy with your present circumstances, make a decision and move forward. 3. Move forward to what? Move forward to chapter 2 . . .


2 Self-image

Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become. —Maxwell Maltz

It wasn’t just my friends getting in the way—it was also me.

I could not imagine in my wildest imaginations ever being without my friends or not ever having a beer in my hands at a party or having a nice cold one on a hot summer day. My selfimage—the idea I had of myself—simply would not allow me to get there. If I can impart any core idea to you in this book, it’s that we perform in accordance with an image or a picture of an image we have planted in our own mind.

Positive thinking will not work for the individual who is negative on himself.

As I stated earlier, on January 3, 2004, I made a decision to take my life on a different route. What was the image I had of myself 11

up until that point? Well, prior to that, I had an image of living the life of a millionaire, of having a beautiful family, having a nice home . . . you know, living the happy life, the good life.

The thing is my actions at the time were not lining up with the pictures I had of my future.

The people who succeed, the people who manage to get or keep their lives on track, are the ones who never lose sight of a positive image they have of themselves in their heads.

Consider this story: Abraham Lincoln failed in business in 1831. He was defeated for state legislator in 1832. He tried another business in 1833. It failed. His fiancĂŠe died in 1835. He had a nervous breakdown in 1836. In 1843, he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in 1848 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in 1855. He lost. The next year he ran for vice president and lost. In 1859 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated. In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln was elected the sixteenth president of the United States. The difference


between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.

How did President Lincoln do it? How did he overcome more barriers than many of us encounter to go on to become a great success? How did he keep going?

The reason Abraham Lincoln decided to keep going was because of the picture he had of himself.

When your heart decides the destination, your mind will design the map for obtaining it. Think about that. When you choose your desire, the method for obtaining it becomes obvious. You may have gotten hints about that in your journey so far—little indications that a positive self-image aligns with a positive path in life.

When you decide the future you want to experience, the method for getting there becomes clear and apparent. You have to choose what you want before you can know how to get it. Very few people know what they want. Indecision is cancerous; it’s deadly and it’s perpetual. We’ll look at this in


greater detail later on, but for now, I do want to point out how absolutely critical it is for you to not wallow in a place of indecision. Moving forward through this initial choice will push you forward perpetually through the rest of your journey.

Before I decided to change my life, I saw myself going down a different path. Eventually your actions will line up with how you see yourself. Every time I would go out with my friends to the bars/clubs I would ask myself, “Why are you even going here? You know what the outcome of the night is going to be. Why don’t you just turn around and go home?”

I knew what the right thing to do was . . . I just kept doing something different. Why? Because I was stuck in a negative self-image.

A negative self-image can be a very entrenched thing. We get so used to internally shaming ourselves that it begins to seem normal.

No matter how much reinforcement we get from people around us, we automatically default to that negative self-image.


There was a famous interview with Michelle Pfeiffer, the actress, several years back. She was widely considered one of the most beautiful women in the world and was lauded wherever she went for her ethereal beauty. The thing is she didn’t feel beautiful. In that interview, Barbara Walters asked her if she felt as beautiful as other people said she was, and she replied that she hardly ever found herself beautiful. No matter how many millions of people told her she was attractive, she still didn’t feel it within herself.

That’s pretty remarkable and shows how powerful our own self-image can be. It takes a lot of focus and clarity to repaint our internal self-images in a positive light.

Once I had my own moment of lucidity all those years ago, I was able to refocus on a picture of how I wanted my life to turn out, a picture of me as a successful and productive individual. I knew that the road that I was heading down was not in keeping with the picture I then had for myself.

You’ll hear me say often in these pages that changing your life is a process. Any time there is a process, there is a series


of steps that must be taken to achieve what your desired outcome is.

Seeing or picturing yourself in your desired future is the first step of that process.

You need to see yourself in a new light.

If you see yourself as a nobody, start seeing yourself as a somebody.

The thinking that has brought you to where you are now will not take you where you want to go . . .

See yourself as someone with value, someone that is precious, someone who can rise to the top in everything you do!


Call to Action 1.

Create a healthy self image by building a dream wall. Cut out pictures of what your future has in it and place it on your refrigerator or in your bathroom mirror.

2. Starting speaking to yourself. Tell yourself that you are confident, you are strong, or you are healthy, etc. 3. Start building a new image. 4. People who wait for changes outside before making changes internally never change at all.


3 The Commitment, the Beginning

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. –William James

So I was in that bar with my friends on January 3, 2004, sitting around talking, like we did all the time on every weekend, over and over again, talking about the same old stuff . . . but it wasn’t the stuff you would expect to hear from young guys.

We were talking about the “good old times.” Since we were all around twenty-four, talking about the good old times meant talking about college and high school football and just old stories of growing up with the guys in the neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong; memories of great things or funny moments that have happened in the past are often enjoyable to reminisce about, but week in and week out? As young men we were fixated on our pasts and not talking about our futures—our goals, the accomplishments we wanted to achieve, the things we wanted to get better at, or hobbies we wanted to take up 19

. . . None of that was up for discussion. We were just stuck, talking about the past.

“Remember the time when we did this.” “Remember, Nestor, when you did that?” “College was the best time ever, wasn’t it?” . . . We would laugh and talk for a while and then move on to the next story. It would continue on like that for hours and hours, weekend after weekend.

It became very old, very quick. Anybody who’s in the bar scene for very long can attest to that.

A while after that critical night, years later actually, I started recalling things I had heard in the past, stories that had been passed on to me from different successful people in my life or at events I had been taken to by my parents. You see, as a youngster, I was taken to a lot of events or functions by my parents. My parents are people who are always improving and getting better. Things that those motivational speakers at those events had talked about started regurgitating themselves within my spirit.


Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. —Unknown

Peter J. Daniels is one who is particularly prevalent in my mind. He had come to the States from Australia and had made a decision that he wanted a better life. He authored thirteen books, including How to Reach Your Life Goals and How to be Happy Though Rich.

Daniels had come from a disadvantaged background and was even challenged with illiteracy in his early years. His family was third-generation welfare recipients; he had two alcoholic brothers, four fathers, and two mothers. Many of his relatives had been in jail. He failed at every grade in school and became a bricklayer. At the age of twenty-six, hopelessly in debt, he decided to attend a crusade on May 25, 1959. He attributes his life change and subsequent success to that meeting.

After reading six thousand biographies (yes, you read that number correctly), Daniels went into business three times . . . and each time became bankrupt. Was that the end of his story?


No way. He subsequently went on and managed to build a large real estate business in Australia and South East Asia and now serves as a director and chairman on a range of international boards.

Described by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale as the best speaker in the world, Daniels has been speaking on personal development for over thirty years.

So why do I bring up Peter Daniels? Because his story, like mine, is so emblematic of something I want you to realize. There are stories from all over the world about people becoming successes, who had what at one time seemed like no future in sight.

It’s really amazing. How did they manage to do that? We’ve talked about how those people (just like me) made a decision and also realigned their internal image of themselves with a positive future.

The next critical step? They made a commitment.


In order to complete the first step of your journey, you must make a decision. With that decision comes a major commitment.

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. —Michael Jordan

The story of Michael Jordan in his earlier years of basketball is a great story about commitment.

In his memoir, Jordan talks about the commitment he had to apply and maintain for his decision to attend North Carolina. He was a star athlete just out of high school and had a lot of good options before him. What he knew, though, inside himself was that he wanted to attend UNC. The coach of the basketball program at UNC, Dean Smith, had taken a lot of players all the way to the NBA.


But a lot of people were trying to take Jordan off that path. Is this starting to sound familiar? He had made that decision and aligned his internal vision of himself with the future he wanted, and yet the people around him were trying to dissuade him from this path. Here’s how he described it in his own words:

People were telling me I should go around the difficult route, but I wasn’t about to do that. I had locked in, committed to my goals. I wanted to find out. I wanted to know where I stood.

You see that? He was committed.

Commitment means a lot of things. It can mean devotion to a practice schedule, a certain number of pages written every day, or staying away from alcohol every day. It’s hard work and it takes complete devotion and involvement on your part. Michael Jordan would tell you he doesn’t go halfway. In his mind and the minds of other successful people like him, insufficient commitment is the only thing that could keep them back. As Jordan puts it, “I don’t do things halfheartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect halfhearted results.”


Let’s stop and consider that. It seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yes, if you go halfway . . . you only get halfway there. And yet how many of us actually commit ourselves to going all the way?

I know this and someone like Michael Jordan knows this . . . that a lot of people approach life with a “halfway” mentality and then end up failing. They only do a dance, put on a show, of being committed. But they’re not willing to fully commit to their goals, to their dreams, to their new path.

Jordan said that he saw it all the time even in professional sports. He would always hear “if onlys” from people around him: If only this had happened, then I wouldn’t be here. He heard people again and again serving up excuses for what had happened to them. What was the key ingredient missing for those people?

Responsibility! You cannot be fully committed to your goals if you don’t take responsibility for everything that has happened to you up to that point. Yes, there are difficulties in life, in everyone’s lives. But the point of staying committed is to work your way through those difficulties.


Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. —Michael Jordan

No one said it was easy, right? Jordan also tells a great anecdote about how even he could have been tempted into taking an easy out and not staying committed to his true, selfappointed path.

After a stellar sophomore season at UNC, Jordan started listening to the voices around him that wanted to get him off his path. He started listening to what everyone else had to say about his game, instead of playing his game, his way. He was told he was good and he was spectacular . . . and instead of staying focused and committed on his own path, he started playing a game defined by the ideas he was getting from all around him. Thankfully, his coach called him out. He sat him down and was literally able to play him some game footage, showing him how his game had changed.


How many of us get that chance? How many of us have someone who has a highlights reel of our lives that can point out how we’ve strayed? Jordan was lucky to have Coach Smith there at that time. But he was also willing, in his own right, to maintain his focus and stay committed to his path and his future. Even if we all had a Coach Smith with game footage, we still wouldn’t be able to achieve the goals we set for ourselves without commitment.

Michael Jordan believed in himself and had a vision for his life. He wanted the best, and he was committed to excellence— committed to the best school with the best coach. He wasn’t about to dodge the pressure. Too many people dodge the pressure thinking they will get the same result as they would if they met the pressure head-on, fought through it, and achieved their desired results.

Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant. —Anthony Robbins


Part of making a commitment is dealing with the pressure that comes along with making a commitment. Pressure is a must if you want a difference in your life. You are doing yourself a great disservice if you are trying to dodge the pressure for momentary comfort. Although the pressure doesn’t feel good, it makes you grow into something better than you were before.

What about you? Have you tried to run around the pressure of your commitments? Are you fighting through the pressure of the goals you have committed to?

Let’s take a break here and look at this from another perspective—the world of science.

Diamonds form about hundred miles below the Earth’s surface, in the molten rock of the Earth’s mantle, which provides the right amounts of pressure and heat to transform carbon into diamond. In order for a diamond to be created, carbon must be placed under at least 435,113 pounds per square inch of pressure at a temperature of at least 752 degrees Fahrenheit. If conditions drop below either of these two points, graphite will be created.


What does a science lesson about diamonds and graphite have to do with me? Why did I include this here now? The answer is that I wanted to show you something:

There is a certain amount of pressure and heat you must have in your life to become something great or have more value.

Now, am I saying that if you’re not under pressure, then you’re not valuable? No. But if you would like to see bigger and better things and go to new levels, you’re going to have to step into an arena that is uncomfortable. If you don’t have the right amount of pressure in your life, you won’t be as great as you could be. If the right amount of pressure is not in your life, you are just as ordinary as everyone else.

You do have the inner strength to take the pressure. Keep in mind you are capable of handling more pressure than you think you can. Not pushing yourself to the limit will make you a piece of graphite instead of a diamond.


Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. —Ayn Rand

So you have to decide. What makes you different? What do you want in life? I found out after making my decision and committing to a better life that people are going to think what they want to think and do what they want to do in life. My biggest fear was “what will other people think?” What I found out was that people don’t really care what you do. They might for a few minutes and you might be the topic of conversation for a little bit, but when it’s all said and done, they are really only concerned about themselves and their family, not whether or not you have decided to quit drinking or quit anything else for that matter.


Had I not made a commitment to change my life for the better, God only knows where I would be.

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. —Dale Carnegie

Had I not made a commitment to change my life for the better, God only knows where I would be. I can tell you from the experience of stepping out of my comfort zone and being put on the firing line of everyone I knew that it was the best decision I have ever made, and I have made the decision that when my life is said and done I will not ask myself the question “what if” or say statements such as “I wish I would have” because people who are “gonna do this” or “have a mind to do that” come to the end of their life having accomplished nothing, making excuses as to who got in their way, blaming other people for their lack of success, and they are bitter and unhappy. That will not be me!

Your commitments are the beginning of your journey to success in life.


Call to Action 1. Commit, Commit, Commit 2. Commit to finishing this book. 3. Commit to taking these action steps. 4. Commit to transforming your life and create the life you really want.


4 Relationships

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

–Flavia Weedn Relationships may be the most critical aspect of whether or not your decision to reach the top ever comes to pass.

When I made the decision to excel in life, I made the decision to stop drinking. Along with that, I also made the decision to add some new relationships and change the frequency in which I associated with my current friends. Why, you may ask?

I made the decision to add new relationships because I came to the realization that I am a product of my environment.

As much as I loved the people of my present at that time, I knew that it was impossible to be successful in my future if those were the only relationships that I pursued. It was impossible because 35

I realized that we had different values. I valued different ideas, different things, and even different people than they did. We didn’t see eye to eye for the most part anymore.

Unless two people share the same common values, it is impossible to walk together in the same direction.

I needed friends who were already there where I wanted to go. It’s like the party you want to go to, but you aren’t invited. You ask yourself, “How can I get in? Who do I have to get into a relationship with in order to hang with those guys?”

Just as you go after your goals, go after the people you want to bring into your life to get into that party. Be respectful and honor the people who are above you. Have a great attitude and give them the attention they require. Be flexible and obedient if they ever need you to do anything. Have a desire to please and give to them and truly value their relationship.


Trouble is part of your life, and if you don’t share it, you don’t give the person who loves you enough chance to love you enough. –Dinah Shore

After I made that critical decision on that night in January 2004, I needed to be in relationships with people I could trust, people who were willing to give to the relationship what I was willing to give, and people who were strong in areas where I was weak. I believe that my brother and I have a great relationship because of this fact. He is strong in a lot of areas that I am not, and the opposite is true as well.

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. —Swedish Proverb

There’s mutuality there, a give and take that benefits both of us. So many relationships are one-sided and draining. Whether you have the upper hand or the person you’re in the relationship does, oftentimes you will find yourself in a very imbalanced situation in a relationship, which consequently creates imbalance in the rest of your life.


My brother, John, is a year and nine months older than me; so growing up, we were pretty tight. When you’re that close in age, it’s easy to feel a natural bond and affinity with each other. We did a lot together. Since he was technically the eldest and because he was very active and outgoing, I was often “along for the ride” and going with his flow.

Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to make them feel good. In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take. —Anthony Robbins

However, this wasn’t an imbalance because it was exactly what we both needed. Balance in a relationship doesn’t always mean even-steven across the board. It means that both parties involved are getting what they need out of the situation. My brother was very active, and I just kind of laughed at everything he did and always enjoyed his company. More importantly, I always looked up to him and still do.


He made a similar decision to the one that I made on that day in January, his coming a few years before I made mine. By the time I got to the point in my life where I needed to achieve a new balance and clarity, it was a great resource to me that he had already experienced a very similar epiphany in his life. His decision had a big influence on me because it was able to reinforce the decision I ended up making for myself. He has been such a major influence in my life, and the respect I have had for him throughout all my life really played a part in buoying me in my choice as I moved forward with my decision.

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. —Emily Kimbrough

This touches on something very critical—how we make decisions. No one can make a decision for you. No matter how influential and inspiring a big brother may be, in the end it is your decision. What a well-balanced and mutually beneficial relationship will do for you is reinforce your decision. The friends I was hanging out with when I was still in a pattern of self-destruction were not reinforcing my decision. They were


When you decide to meet someone’s need in life, I truly believe that someone will come along and be the person, in turn, who meets your need.

trying to chip away at it, whether consciously or unconsciously. Maybe they were jealous or angry that I was moving on; maybe they just didn’t “get it.” Whatever their motivations, they were draining my resources instead of replenishing them.

Take time to watch those whom you’re in relationship with and see where they are strong. Stay away from their strengths and fill in the voids of their weaknesses. In that way, you will become what they need.

When you decide to meet someone’s need in life, I truly believe that someone will come along and be the person, in turn, who meets your need.

Moving forward from that point in my life, I had to be careful of whom I allowed into my life. You cannot afford to have the wrong people in your life. While you move forward and stay committed to your path, you need a support structure around you, not a demolition crew. The wrong circle of friends will tear down every foundation you have built over the years and destroy all the hard work, focus, and commitment you have applied toward your future.


Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

With people who truly support you and with whom you have the foundations of a real relationship, you will have absolute honesty and clarity—with them and within yourself. One of the greatest days in my life was the day I became honest with myself; I cried in my parents’ laundry room and just let it all out. I didn’t want any of the crap anymore. I let it all out and just became transparent.

A truly beneficial relationship will give you support when you least expect it. There is a famous story about the novelist Stephen King. While still a poor, struggling writer, he finished his first novel Carrie and began submitting it to publishers. Publisher after publisher turned it down. It got to the point where King was so demoralized that he decided to give up on being a writer.

He took the manuscript and threw it in the trash.


His wife, however, knew what potential he had. Even if he had lost faith in it, she had not. She went into the trash can and fished out the manuscript. She sat King down and told him that he had a gift and that he would eventually get a break if he only stayed committed. He had to try again—and again, and again, and again, if necessary.

Stephen King’s wife was able to give him something that he didn’t have within himself at the time. Thanks to the mutuality and honesty in their relationship, his wife was able to step in and act for him in a way he couldn’t do himself.

The result? Well, we all know . . . Stephen King went on to become one of the best-selling authors of all time with hundreds of books in publication.

He might have missed out on that success, however, if he had not had a truly supportive relationship in his life.

When you struggle with your partner, you are struggling with yourself. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself. —Deepak Chopra 43

Another sign of a positive relationship is transparency. You know you have an authentic relationship when you can be transparent about everything. Full and complete disclosure need to be in existence in order for you to have a true relationship. Make sure the people you are in relationship with aren’t hiding anything. Make sure that who they are in front of people is the same as when they are all alone. Likewise, make sure that you are sharing your most honest voice with those around you.

Some signs to look for that will tell you whether you are in a healthy relationship are as follows:

• That you feel strong in yourself independent of that relationship. You don’t want to rely on someone else to de fine who you are or how you feel about who you are. • That you each respect the other person’s independence and identity. • That you are each able to maintain healthy relationships with other people as well. • That you have an open, honest dialogue and are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences.


• That you each accept the other’s influence. Like I said, relationships should be based on mutuality. You want to support one another—sometimes this means putting in your two cents, but remember, in the end, any decision belongs to the person making it.

Sometimes conflict does occur, even in the healthiest friendship or relationship. When conflicts do surface, just deal with them fairly. Give the other person a voice and don’t let your anger belittle or dehumanize what they have to say. Try to maintain your objectivity and independence. As you move forward through this book and on your personal journey towardreaching your goals, you will gain the self-sufficiency and confidence you need to deal with conflict situations more capably.

Another great technique that I’ve learned along the way for building constructive relationships and communicating with the people around you are five steps that an old bartender friend of mine named Murray used to give his clientele a perfect pour. Yes, I learned some things in those bars. Sometimes you can use things intended for evil as a positive in life. This is a very


interesting way of approaching your relationships and one that has provided me with a lot of clarity in my own relationships.

Step One: The Glass (Your Heart)

Murray’s technique: Take a dry, clean glass, which should be a twenty-ounce tulip pint glass. The internal aerodynamics of a tulip glass allows the nitrogen bubbles to flow down the sides of the glass and the contour “bump” in the middle pushes the bubbles back to the center on their way up.

In the same way, your heart is a glass container, one that keeps things it hears and sees. It is a glass storage container. When your heart is troubled, people can see right through it. When it is filled with negativity, negative words and actions pour from it through your mouth and behavior.

The good thing about the heart is whatever you fill it up with will come out. How do I fill my heart? You fill your heart with what you listen to and what you see. If you listen to negative people and negative things, you will have a negative outlook on life.


Whenever I was drinking and had a little too much to drink (and anybody that used to drink or still drinks can relate to this), words would come out of my mouth that I would not say normally if I was sober. Why did those words come out? The reason they came out was because it was what I truly believed, and when I had too much alcohol in my system, I wasn’t fully aware of what I was saying, let my guard down, and just started spouting off at the mouth.

We’ll get into the power of words in greater detail in a later chapter. For the sake of what we’re discussing here, it’s important to understand that the words of your heart will be clear to the people around you.

Here’s a story to really illustrate how that happens. The Smith family was a large family. They had many brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles, and they were very close. All the men in that family would go on a golf outing to Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, or Wisconsin every Memorial Day weekend. They really enjoyed spending time with one another and changed the destination yearly. Drinking was a part of the trip. Not every member of the family took part, but most of the


men had a few beers every day on the course and with dinner. Not a big deal, in fact, quite normal on a men’s golf trip.

On that one particular trip, the men in the Smith family had a few too many drinks. They started getting very unruly and became very critical of one another. They started saying things that were very hurtful, things that must have been in their hearts for a long time. It took alcohol for them to come out, and actually it was like some of the men became different people. There was physical fighting, and terrible language was used toward one another. It was so bad that some of the members of that tight knit group of family members actually left and went all the way home—and they were in another state! The rest of the family (the sober guys) was shocked, and it was all a result of too many drinks. Anybody who has been drinking for any period of time or knows somebody who drinks has most likely experienced that type of behavior, or they have a story like this to say.

Make sure you understand that eventually what you have in your heart will become clear to others.


Step Two: The Angle (Your Ear)

Murray’s technique: The glass should be held at a forty-five-degree angle under the tap. The tap faucet should not touch the tulip glass or beer. If you just hold it straight under the faucet, you’ll get a big block of bubbles and a fish eye.

“The angle” is important in the pour because it’s the way the beer hits the container that determines how good a pour it is. Let me ask you a question. What angle is your ear at? Like the glass, is your ear tilted to listen to the right people and receive their perfect pour in your life, or is your ear tilted toward someone else and are you allowing the beer tap (influencer) to pour something that is bubbly and not as good a pour in your life?

Are you tilting your glass in the right direction? Have you positioned yourself with people who are beneficial to you and your future? Where are you tilting the glass?


Everyone in life is positioned in a certain way in life and living toward there persuasions. The girl you married said “yes” because you persuaded her that you were the best man for her to marry. You took the position at your job because that company persuaded you that it was a great place to work with lots of potential for promotion and growth based upon performance. McDonald’s persuaded you that their food is the best in the fast food industry with their marketing and television ads, and they accomplish that goal every year because they deliver a great product on top of it. You bought your car because someone or something you saw on online, television, or in a magazine persuaded you to buy it. Persuasions, persuasions, persuasions . . .

Make sure you are tilting your glass—your ear—under the right tap. The wrong tap is dangerous. Positioning and posturing yourself can ultimately determine the outcome of your life. If you are positioned wrong and your glass is tilted the wrong way at the wrong time, you can miss opportunities.

Opportunities come to the prepared mind. If you are prepared and in the right place at the right time, you will be ready to


jump on the opportunity when it shows its face. Everything in this book will help you achieve a prepared mind and have you ready for when those moments of opportunity present themselves.

Step Three: The Pour (What You Listen To)

Murray’s Technique: Let the beer flow nice and smoothly into the angled glass and fill it up threequarters of the way.

What you listen to is what you think about. What you think about is what you do.

What you fill yourself up with and how you let it come into you is critical. Again, surround yourself with people who will provide you with positivity in a steady stream.

Step Four: The Head (Your Thoughts)

Murray’s Technique: Let it settle. On the way through the faucet, the beer passes through a five-hole disk


restrictor plate at a high speed, creating friction and bringing out nitrogen bubbles. The bubbles are agitated—they can’t go back into the solution, so they flow down the interior sides and back up the middle, but they can’t escape. So they build this wonderful, creamy head on top. It’s like an architect building a strong foundation.

Use what you’ve filled yourself up with via what you’ve decided to watch and listen to and your relationships to create positive thoughts about yourself, your life, and your choices. We will look at building a foundation for yourself in greater detail later on, but for now understand that you need to use the positivity you get from your daily intake of the world you create for yourself to create healthy thoughts in your own mind, which will directly influence your overall well-being.

In my favorite book there is an epistle that was written by a gentleman named Paul to the people of Philippi. It reads, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the


beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Step Five: The Top-off (Your Actions)

Murray’s Technique: Once it settles, you want to fill up the glass and top it off. You allowed it to settle, you created a domed effect across the top of the pint, and now your head is looking proud over the glass. That’s the perfect vision of the perfect pint.

Take the foundation you’ve built and the positive words and thoughts you’ve filled your mind with to act in the world with positive actions. What you have created inside yourself will extend directly into your actions.

What am I pouring into my life that is influencing me positively or negatively? What kind of relationships do I have with people? What kind of people are they? What are they pouring into my life? Are they pouring good and wise counsel or are


they pouring dangerous poison, trying to cause me to slip back into the twenty-four-year-old kid with no dreams or goals and just that good old barstool to prop me up.

These are the questions you have to ask yourself about your relationships and the people in your life before you move forward. Once you’ve made your decision and committed to making a change in your life, you will need to make sure that the people in your life won’t hold you back. Use these techniques and ask yourself these questions to make sure you are in the best place you can be to truly transform your life.


Call to Action 1.

Your success in life can be, and will be determined by who you choose to sit at the feet of, and who you choose to call friend.


Examine your relationships, and if you can’t find someone in your current environment that can help you get to the next level, then find someone who can outside of it. Don’t make excuses.


Decide that you are going to be a servant to that person, and a protégé. There was a world renown carpenter from Nazareth that said, “the greatest among you is the servant of all.”

4. Learn all the skill sets and acquire all the wisdom you can from the individuals above you, they can show you things and open doors for you that you cannot open on your own.


5 Setting Up Your Goals and Making Them Work

Before I made that decision to change my life in January 2004, I had one goal in life. That goal was to put in my forty or so hours at work during the week and then hit the bars on Friday and Saturday nights.

I felt like I was doing my duty. I felt like I was doing enough. After all, I held a job and paid my bills. That’s what everyone else was doing, and that’s what I was doing. I was keeping up— putting food on the table, keeping my job, and enjoying my weekend. But I wasn’t keeping up, really. I was holding myself back. I was keeping myself in one spot, afraid to develop, grow, and become new things, things that maybe I wasn’t comfortable or familiar with.

Then I decided to make a different commitment. It wasn’t just about getting out of the bar, so I made the commitment to get out of the bar . . . So what? You know there are a lot of people making lots of commitments out there today. Think about it. How many times have you said you were going to do this or 57

you had it in mind to do that? Now how many of those times have you actually followed through?

I know I have made plenty of commitments that I haven’t followed through with; I gave my word that I was going to do things, but usually ended up failing miserably on most of the things I had committed to. I was a Catholic for years, and I would say, “I am giving up something for Lent, which lasts forty days—sugar, coffee, smoking, what have you.” But rarely did I follow through with 100 percent of that commitment. I would start out with motivation and gusto. Then the excuses would start creeping in. “Well, I am really tired today. Just one espresso won’t count.” Eventually, the little cheats would snowball into a complete abandonment of everything I had committed to. A seven-day Lent does not make a Lent.

New Year’s resolutions are another perfect example. People are always making commitments on the first day of the year— “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to give up smoking!” Do they do it? Not sure, but I think we can agree that generally most people don’t. Most people slack off and eventually drop their goal set on January 1 completely. Not only do they drop


it, they forget about it completely, as if it never happened in the first place.

I am a workout fanatic. I love to work out. I’ve noticed over the years that from January 1 through February 15 the gym is slammed so bad you can’t find a parking spot or a locker when you get in the gym. There are no treadmills. There are no elliptical machines. Even all the free weights are taken if you go during the busiest hours of the day. After that time period, people stop going to the gym little by little. Eventually, the gym gets back to its manageable crowd of regulars.

Now what’s going on here? I’m going to frame it in a very specific question now. I want you to really pause here and weigh this one. I want you to really think about it:

Why is it so hard to finish?

It is easy for a lot of us to start things: volunteer programs, exercise regimes, home improvement projects. But why is it so hard to finish? Why do so many of us continually fall into a cycle of enthusiastic commitment that quickly degenerates


into semi-commitment and finally ends with completely disregarding the initial commitment made? Why do none of us seem to have follow-through?

The simple answer is that it’s just not easy. It takes practice, it takes effort, and it takes concentration.

Let me give you some tips on how to finish what you have started. There are rules to having and fulfilling goals, simply because if one wants to take the time to make the goals, then one should want the formula so they can efficiently get the best results. I will give you a few rules to help you if you are still reading this book. By the way, if you are still reading and you do what this book says to do, there is literally no chance, I mean none, that you will be the same after the book comes to an end.

A very important first step to consider is whether you have your mind-set oriented on growth.

John R. Ryan, president of the Center for Creative Leadership, tells an interesting story. When he was superintendent at the


United States Naval Academy, he would often visit classes to talk to the cadets and professors. He asked one question of the students again and again: How many of you want to be leaders?

In the naval classrooms, he always got a unanimous response— everyone wanted to be a leader.

Then when he moved into the traditional university setting and asked the same question of all the students he met, he got nowhere near the same enthusiasm. The students in the regular university were not oriented toward leadership. They weren’t oriented toward growth.

He goes on to explain that this difference can be chalked up to the fact that the culture of state universities did not foster a culture of leadership. In his words:

If you live in a culture where your colleagues believe you can be a leader and help you develop the skills you need, you will enthusiastically embrace the mantle of leadership.


Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself— your own purpose, ethics principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15 % leading your peers. –Dee Hock, Founder of Visa

Now, this relates to the relationships we discussed in the previous chapter. You want to surround yourself with people who foster the right mentality. But it also relates to the culture you create for yourself. You need to foment a culture of leadership in your own mind.

I also want to make clear that having a leadership mentality doesn’t mean that you want to be a CEO or a general or the president. A leadership mentality simply means that you are oriented in growing and developing—becoming something.

Many people are oriented on just acquiring skills. We go to a university or trade school just to add things—the lessons we learn—to ourselves, like we’re accessorizing ourselves or


something. We don’t look at it as a process, as a series of steps, that will develop us into something bigger or greater.

Regardless of your occupation, you will view yourself as a leader at home, at work, and in your community. –John Ryan

People who are oriented on change and leadership see themselves growing and becoming something greater.

Ryan in his writing also references the work of Carol Dweck, author of Mind-set: The New Psychology of Success. Dweck has researched and written extensively on what she calls “growth mind-sets” and “fixed mind-sets.”

People with growth mind-sets see themselves as full of potential for growth and change. They focus on hard work and commitment over time as the way in which to improve step by step toward the goal they want to achieve. It doesn’t matter if they are in the world of sports, art, academia, or the military; they simply see themselves as an ongoing process with only one end in sight—success.


On the other side of the spectrum are people with fixed mentalities. The fixed mind-set tells you that you will only go as far as some vague idea called “talent” will take you. If you orient on a fixed mind-set, you don’t see yourself improving through diligence and commitment, but only through whatever inner resources you already have.

From what you’ve read so far in this book, how far do you think you’re going to get by thinking you’re limited? You’ve read enough so far to realize that your mental approach and positive orientation are essential to your success in reaching your goals.

When I first realized that I needed to change my life, I switched from a fixed mind-set to a growth mind-set. I had been stuck in an idea of myself and, as a result, was keeping myself frozen in time and in one place. By making that decision that night in January 2004, I jolted myself into a growth mind-set. I began to see myself as someone who could change, move forward through time and experience, and evolve into a better and more successful person.


How do you see yourself? Are you limited by what you have within you right now? Or can you grow and evolve by moving forward and working diligently to achieve your goals?

Working and writing in the area of business, John Ryan developed three questions oriented on the fixed versus growth concept to apply to businesses. I’ve redesigned the concept to address personal growth—a guide of sort on how to run the “business” of your self. Ask yourself three questions:

How well are you managing your talents? In a busy, difficult world, a lot of us default to just playing off our obvious strengths because we are too rushed or scared to develop any of our other talents and potential strengths. How can we worry about developing a new skill when we have to get by and pay the bills every month? However, in a growth mind-set, you tap all your resources. When you’re oriented on growth, you don’t do the bare minimum just to get by. You bring everything you have to offer to the table.

Ask yourself if you are tapping all your resources. Are you bringing your A-game across the board?


Are you taking risks? Taking risks doesn’t mean going bungee jumping or free climbing El Capitan. It means being filled with conviction that you have the resources to navigate unchartered territory.

It’s not about harming yourself . . . It’s about fulfilling yourself.

Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away. –Admiral James B. Stockdale

Finally, are you not leading your own life? Never settle. Even when you achieve your goals down the line, don’t stop and think that you don’t have further to go. There is always a


journey in front of us, no matter our level of success, and it is incumbent upon each of us to lead our own way.

Now that we’ve talked about the big picture ideas, let’s look at some meat and potato techniques you can use to orient yourself on your goals.

Tip No. 1: Writing Down Your Goals The first tip is writing down your dreams and goals. Sounds pretty simple. Why is writing your goals so important? Writing down your dreams and goals is an important first step toward achieving them because by writing them down it forces you to visualize your goals. You want to keep them present and alive. This relates to the dehumanization I mentioned earlier. It’s the nature of the human mind to continually process and pass over information. Your synapses are constantly firing new ideas, new information into your brain. Your brain takes what it needs immediately and either stores or discards the rest. The brain is just not a static system.


You need to keep reminding yourself of your commitment. You need to not just think about it, but see it and allow it to exist on another level than just a vague idea in your mind, which could get shuffled aside at any moment.

Additionally, the act of writing your goals down creates a commitment on your part. Only about 3 percent of the population actually takes the time to write down their goals and dreams. Maybe that is why so few people actually are living the life that they would like to be living. Writing down your goals creates the road map to your success. Although just the act of writing them down can set the process in motion, it is also extremely important to review your goals frequently. Put them in a place where you will see them every day. Take a moment whenever you come across them to stop and really consider again how important they are to you and how committed you are to the process.

Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. –Helen Keller


Remember, the more focused you are on your goals the more likely you are to accomplish them. I know this works and I know that you can reach your goals if you commit yourself to them because it worked for me. I’m not telling you anything I haven’t had real life experience with. I’ve felt the power of these techniques many times in the last several years.

When I first made the decision to change my life for the better, I was twenty-four years old making $12 an hour. One of the first things my mentor made me do was read a book about mission statements and goal setting. At twenty-four years of age, I wrote down a goal that I would be a cash millionaire by the age of thirty. As I sit here, writing, I am thirty-two years old. From the decision at twenty-four years old, it took me three years of doing the “five As” to advance in the workplace, shift my focus from my rights to my responsibilities, and achieve success. At twenty-eight, I convinced a bank that I was responsible enough and qualified enough to purchase a business for 1.3 million dollars. At twenty-nine, a bank gave me a loan to purchase another business for 1.8 million dollars. At thirty, I leased and constructed another ten-thousandsquare-foot building downtown Chicago. I was worth about


five million dollars, owned three companies, and had a very nice income. I mentioned the “five As” a moment ago. What are the “five As” you ask?

1. Appearance: One part of appearance is what you look like to others in regards to how you keep yourself. Depending on the industry this is very important.

Another part of appearance is what you look like in all the different aspects of your life? Are you one person at work and someone different in your social life, or are you balanced throughout?

And lastly and most importantly, how do you appear to yourself, self-image? Remember than an individual cannot perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way they see themselves.

2. Attitude: Attitude is of the utmost importance when it comes to success. Attitude determines altitude or how high you will go in life. It determines if you’re responding or reacting to your situations and events that take place in your life.


Remember than an individual cannot perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way they see themselves.

3. Acquisition: What kind of knowledge and skill sets are you going to need to develop in order to achieve success in your life?

4. Application: Now that you’ve acquired all this knowledge, understanding, and skills, are you applying it? You must! Not only must you apply it, but with the right attitude and appearance as well.

5. Authority: Who are your mentors, coaches, authority figures? Are you sitting at their feet, asking them questions, learning from them? You must to be successful. Can you be successful on your own? Sure. But why not have someone give you the framework of thinking that is going to save you years of time instead of trying to do things “on your own.”

Now, why am I telling you this? What I am doing is trying to explain to you that none of this is mundane stuff. This is not some small step that you can overlook until the real meat and potato techniques come along. This is critical stuff. Again, deciding to make that change and staying committed to it is


the only way you will achieve what you want to achieve. The simple act of writing your goals down will have a much larger and overarching effect in your life. I know it works and I need you to understand how critical a part of the process it is.

There have been studies done about the effectiveness of the simple act of writing down your goals. According to Dr. Mike Murdock, founder of the Wisdom Center in Dallas, Texas, if you have a goal and you write it down, you increase your chance of achieving it by 90 percent. When you have a clear-cut goal on paper and in your mind, your brain will create the road map for you to attain it.

Understanding the neuropsychology of writing something down can also help you understand how critical that step is. As you probably know, our brains are divided into separate regions that handle and process different kinds of stimuli and information coming into our brain through our senses. These separate regions process visual stimuli, auditory stimuli, feelings, words and language, and more. There are paths of communication between these sections, of course. For example, when you hear a beautiful piece of music, you might


feel a response from the emotion center of your brain and then express that feeling through your language center, right?

It is this cross communication between the different sections of the brain that comes into play here. If you just listen to a teacher talking, say, your brain is just getting auditory stimuli to process. It stores some of that, but is not very discerning in what it thinks is important. It can prioritize a comment she made about the weather as highly as a fact about the American Revolution. Critical details are treated the same way as nonsense.

Writing something down makes your brain prioritize it. By sending the information into a different section, you’ve highlighted to your brain that that is a crucial piece of information. As you write, you are creating relationships and context for the words involved. Placing the words in a spatial context makes them high priority to your brain.

And isn’t that exactly what you want for your goals?

In one study done at a university, one group of students was asked to take notes on a lecture while a second group


of students was asked to just listen to the lecture and not take notes. Here’s what happened: both groups remembered around the same amount of information. However, the group that took notes remembered more significant and more important information. The group that just listened to the lecture just remembered random things.

What this study tells us is that through the act of writing we are imbuing words with an order and added meaning. Can you see what this would do for your goals?

It is clear from this that you are underscoring your commitment to your goals when you choose to write your goals down. Your mind is structurally more committed to your goals during the writing process. When you write your goals down, you will remember what matters about them and your mind will make what matters a priority.

When NBA star Kirk Hinrich was in eighth grade, his teacher had the students write down their dreams of what they want to be when they got older. Kirk wrote down that he wanted to be the starting point guard for the Chicago Bulls. Kirk loved


basketball. He played all through high school and was very good. The University of Kansas gave Kirk a full ride to play basketball there, and while at Kansas, he was a very successful point guard there as well for a few years.

As you may know, every year there is an NBA Draft, just like in most sports. In 2003, the Chicago Bulls had the seventh pick in the first round of the draft. Who do you think they picked? You guessed it—Kirk Hinrich.

People get what they believe for in life, nothing more and nothing less. —Dr. Kenneth Hagin

Was it a fluke that the Bulls picked him? Was it just a happy coincidence? Maybe. But I’m willing to bet that a large proportion of successful people have a similar story. Movie star Jim Carrey had a story a lot like that too. He often talks about writing himself a check for one million dollars when he was still a broke young actor and promising himself that he would be able to cash it one day. Clearly, that promise he made to himself came true.


It’s no fluke that the overwhelming evidence tells us that people who believe in their dreams so much that they actually sit down and take the time to write them out achieve them at a much higher rate than those that don’t. I pulled out a quote by Dr. Kenneth Hagin above because I think it’s so important: “People get what they believe for in life, nothing more and nothing less.” It is so true. If you believe, you will receive. If you write it down, keep it in front of you, and pursue it daily, there is nothing that can stop you—nothing.

Tip No. 2: Speak Positively About Your Goals There is a story about ZigZiglar and losing weight. While Zig was writing a book and was trying to lose weight, he would get up very early in the morning to go running. While he was running he would say to himself, “You have got to pay the price if you want to lose weight!” He would continue to run, and every day he would run farther and farther until finally he got to the point where he enjoyed running through college campuses or down a trail in the forest or through the neighborhood on a beautiful spring morning. Zig said to himself while he was running one morning, after he had lost sixty pounds, “You don’t pay the


price to lose weight. You pay the price for being out of shape. You enjoy the benefits of good health.”

The point that Zig was trying to make is you don’t “pay the price” to obtain your goals; you enjoy the benefits of reaching your goals. I think too many people look at how hard the road is to becoming everything they would like to be, and instead of focusing on the finish line and thinking about the benefits they will get to enjoy, they focus on what they will have to endure. The prize or the benefits always outweigh the effort and hardships put forth to reach the goal.

Part of the reason why we write down and examine our goals is to create a set of instructions for our subconscious mind to carry out. As we discussed earlier, our subconscious mind is a very efficient tool, but it cannot determine right from wrong and it does not judge. Its only function is to carry out its instructions. The more positive instructions you give it, the more positive results you will get. So just as we provide more clarity to our minds by prioritizing the information we give it and writing down our goals, we further supplement that by surrounding that information with positivity.


Never underestimate the power of positive thinking and visualization. There is a famous story about a study done on a group of Olympic athletes. All the players were brought in and had their athletic performance assessed so that the researchers had a baseline.

The athletes were then separated into groups. Each group would pursue a training regimen with a different set of priorities. One group was then told to practice in a purely physical sense; they would follow their drills and exercises like they usually did. A second group was told to tweak it slightly and do only 75 percent physical practice. They would supplement that with mental practice—visualizations of their future performance. Two more control groups were assigned even higher percentages of mental practice. The breakdown looked like this: • Group 1: 100 percent physical training; • Group 2: 75 percent physical training with 25 percent mental training; • Group 3: 50 percent physical training with 50 percent mental training; • Group 4: 25 percent physical training with 75 percent mental training. 79

At the end of a few weeks, something very interesting happened. All the players were brought back in and their athletic performance was assessed once more. All groups had improved by some degree or another. But which group do you think performed the best?

Group 4! With 75 percent of their time devoted to mental training and only a quarter of their time dedicated to physical practice, those athletes performed the best. The study was cited as landmark and the scientists were attributed with discovering that mental practice can act as a precursor to muscle impulses. But doesn’t it seem as if there was more than that—more than just a case of their brains training their muscles to fire?

Don’t you see that their visualizations of their performances, their future, had an effect on how they perceived their performance as well?

Imagine what you could do with this knowledge. Imagine how this could be implemented into your own life. Think for a moment what will happen then if you both physically practice


and visualize? We are writing down our goals and bringing them into a physical, spatial place, interacting with them every day and we’re thinking positively about them. Doesn’t it make sense that we’re going to get all our free throws in, then, every time?

This is powerful stuff. The results of this study are so pervasive that they are used in the training of most professional athletes now around the globe. They’ve been shown again and again to work in practice. Visualize where you are going and what you’re going to do to reach your goals and you’ll be most of the way there.

Tip No. 3: Write Your Goals Out in Complete Detail (refer to the 7 action steps at the end of this chapter) One of my employees came to me and asked me for more money. She said, “I do this, that, and the other, and I believe that I deserve to get paid more.”

I said, “Well, how much more do you believe you deserve?” She said, “I don’t know, just more.” I pondered the situation, and I agreed to increase her hourly wage. I increased it a


quarter more per hour. She was happy. But what if she had said she wanted a dollar more? Or two dollars more per hour? I would have considered it and possibly even given it to her.

But she didn’t have a clear-cut goal as to what she wanted. She didn’t have an exact, detailed vision of what she wanted her future to be. Think about our basketball players and their free throws; do you think they just imagined the ball swishing through the net? No, they were told to practice. They imagined dribbling the ball a few times, setting up the shot, eyeing the basket, the delivery, the release . . . all the steps before any swoosh could happen.

My employee knew she wanted more, but she only had a general idea of what her goal was. If she had known exactly how much more she wanted, then when the opportunity presented itself, she would have been able to cash in or at least given me an idea that she believed she was worth more to the company. She achieved her goal; she got a raise. But she didn’t necessarily get the raise she really deserved. Had her goal been absolutely clear cut, then when I asked her how


much she wanted, she would have known right away instead of saying “just more.”

This touches on something very critical—confidence. If she had really set her goals, written them down, and positively visualized executing them, it would have created and engendered more confidence in her. People who know what they want always come across as more confident to others. If she had come into my office with that kind of attitude, that kind of confidence, she may have even received a new title on top of a raise.

What about you? Do you want a new home? How clear cut is your goal? Instead of writing “a new home,” write “a four-thousandsquare-foot contemporary home with four bedrooms and three baths and a view of the mountain on twenty acres of land.” Be precise, be exact; say and write exactly what you want.

Do you want to lose weight? How much weight? How quickly do you want to lose it? What size dress or pants do you want to fit into? Do you want a new car? Just any car? How about a Cadillac Escalade, black on black, 24 rims, leather interior, 406 horsepower, brand spanking new?!


You see, my friend, there are goals, and then there are goals. Real goals are written in big, bold letters in our hearts and in our minds. You need to be very detailed. Why do we need to be detailed? Because, again, we are reprogramming our brains to go with us on this new path. We are giving the subconscious mind a detailed set of instructions to work on. The more information you give it, the more clear the final outcome becomes. The more precise the outcome, the more efficient the subconscious mind can become.

Can you close your eyes and visualize the car I described above? Open the door and step up on the automatic step that slides out from under the car. Sit down in the car on the brandnew leather seats. Take a deep breath and smell that brandnew car smell. Put your favorite song in the CD player and see yourself cruising down the road with the sun roof open on a warm summer evening as the sun is setting. Can you see it? So can your subconscious mind.


Tip No. 4: Write Your Goals Down in the Present Tense Write your goals down in the present tense. This is because the unconscious mind chooses a path of least resistance. If you write, “I will be slim,” the unconscious mind does nothing, thinking that the will be may be postponed until later.

A strong salesperson would never go through an entire sales presentation and then at the end, when he or she knows that the prospect is ready to buy, say, “Okay, do you want to sign this deal now or in a few days?” People are always looking to put things off. Our minds are always looking to put something aside for processing later. Don’t give yourself the option of putting anything off until tomorrow. Act as if everything is happening now; it makes it a more vivid reality, both in your heart and in your mind.

A friend had a business that was losing money. He set his goal to break even the next month. Every month, the next month would come and be this month, so his goal would be true to break even the next month, which would never come.


Eventually he changed his goal to “I am breaking even this month.” That very month he broke even for the first time.

Writing your goals in the present tense, first person, as if they are currently true, will make them come true.

Tip No. 5: Rewrite Your Goals When the words are written and then repeatedly rewritten, they have maximum impact. Think of it as a physical practice session working in tandem with your mental practice, your positive visualization.

This also relates to something else very important. Although we want to maintain consistency and focus when it comes to our goals, we don’t want to be so single-minded that we don’t make any necessary adjustments. Reaching your goals, just like life, is an ongoing process. You can still be very committed while also understanding that new factors and new influences come into our lives all the time and that you may need to tweak your goals a bit. Readjustments along the way are good and healthy and actually keep you on track.


You don’t have to be content with a first draft.

Write down your goal. Then rephrase it, compact it, add motivating adjectives, and make it pithy. A week later, you may want to adjust it again. Keep on fine-tuning.

Tuning into exactly what your goals are will actually keep you in touch with them and keep you committed to them in the long run.

Tip No. 6: Take Action Here’s your takeaway for this chapter—opinions are not actions. Are you a wanna doer or a think abouter? You wanna do this or you’re thinkin’ about doing that . . . I always wanted to go back to school and get my masters in psychology. I was thinking about opening my own breakfast place in the city. I always wanted to take the kids to Disney, show them Cinderella’s castle, and introduce them to Mickey and Minnie. Wanna do this and thinking about doing that . . .


The problem with the wanna doers and the think abouters is that usually they end up become the never doers. You’ve made a choice that you want to change things in your life . . . now make it happen.

Take the first step. The second step. Orient yourself on action.

“If there is hope in the future, there is power in the present.” You have the choice to do something today, right now. Get started; you don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.


Call to Action 1. Write down your goals. 2. Write down the reason you want to achieve them. 3. Write down the obstacles you will have to overcome. 4. Write down the people, groups, and organizations you will need to work with in order to achieve success. 5. Write down what you need to know to accomplish your goals. 6. Put a plan of Action together. 7. Put a date you wish to achieve your goals.


6 Foundations

It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. —Roy Disney

Any structure, whether a house, a garage, or workshop, is only as secure as the foundation on which it rests.

What is your foundation? Is it stable, balanced, secure? What things can you do to supplement your foundation if it needs reinforcing?

Very few of us are provided with perfect foundations. Whether it’s circumstance or through the direct actions of someone in our childhoods, many of us did not have a chance to lay the kind of foundation that could hold up an edifice for the ages. I had a pretty decent foundation growing up, but just like everyone else there are cracks that need some sealing. There are many ways to be a great parent, but there is no way to be


a perfect one. For this reason, everyone of us have some faulty cracks that need to be addressed.

Is there something you can do to retrofit your foundation and make it last for decades to come? Yes. But you will need tools and you will need some help from others.

Enroll in Automobile University Taking the time to listen to experts on personal development to and from work will have a major impact on your life. The things that I have learned from the greatest speakers and coaches on the planet while driving in the car are priceless. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world.

Ask a mentor‌ Retrofitting your foundation is not a DIY (do it yourself) project. Just as with a house’s foundation, you want the advice of a professional contractor or even an experienced friend. Hopefully, I can help you through this book. You can also look for direct, personal mentors within your life or for help from a wise friend.


It takes a lot of experience and education through life to become an expert on laying a good foundation. Don’t feel like you are compromising yourself by consulting with others.

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. —David Brinkley

Read, Read, Read… The greatest leaders in the world are reading people. Read 15 minutes a day, it will make a big difference in your life as well, and help you build that healthy foundation.

Laying a foundation requires good planning, adherence to local code, and careful consideration of how you will be using the finished structure. Just how big are your dreams? What kind of foundation you’re going to build depends on the structure you’re going to put on top of it. Are you going really big? Or is your picture of contentment a nice, sturdy cottage? Use your visualization techniques and detailed goal setting to tell you what kind of structure you will be building so that you know exactly what kind of foundation you’re going to need.


The greatest leaders in the world are reading people.

Think about features you might want to add on later in life. A spouse? A trip around the world? Lay your foundation so that future projects and additions to the original floor plan can be made. Remember, life is not stagnant and neither are your goals. You always want to be ready to make tweaks and adjustments along the way.

Character is the firm foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect. Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character. –R.C. Samsel

Inspect! People don’t do what’s expected, people do what’s inspected, and so it is with you! Check back in on your foundation, even if it feels like it’s been steady for years. Signs of subsidence can be tricky, hidden.

Especially for those of us who have always thought of ourselves as steady or strong in character, we can work on old expectations and not be aware that changes have taken place.


You need to constantly check in with yourself and make sure that your foundation is still strong.

Consult back with your experts: reread this book and talk to your mentors and friends. Even the soundest foundation needs a check-in. A thorough inspection can not only show you any cracks that have appeared, but also if your foundation is still sound reinforce you by showing you what steady ground you are on.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we have set ourselves in good stead.

When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made. —Author Unknown


Call to Action 1. Purchase some CD’s, and MP3’s so you can change your life on the way to work. 2.

Purchase some books that you can read on personal development. If they have a workbook program I would advise you to go through that as well.


Foundational living is constant work, and you can never take time off confessing your future, and saying daily affirmations that will help build the foundation of your life’s work. Which brings us to the next chapter called “Vocabulary.”


7 Your Vocabulary, Change It!

You will always hear people say that words don’t matter. We learn the old “sticks and stones” routine from a pretty young age.

The truth is that words do matter. I’m not talking about the blatant insults; I’m talking about the small bits of language that we use to color our lives and direct our paths.

The language we use to discuss ourselves, our goals, and our journey need to be positive, and they need to be the types of words that will keep us on our path and drive us forward.

No matter how many times we’ve recited “sticks and stones may break my bones . . .” to ourselves, we all know that words carry weight. They can create psychic scars and they can drive our narrative in ways we don’t even realize.

Think about some of the clichés we use every day:

“Same old, same old.” 99

“Pretty good.”

And even one that I used earlier:

“The good old days.”

These words tell us about where we are and where we’ve been. Today is kind of meh, kind of ordinary. Let’s look back at the past and focus on something we can’t change!

We also color our future with negative language. “I don’t think I can do that.” . . . “That’s not a possibility” . . . Are these proactive approaches? Constructive approaches? Is that the kind of mentality that is going to keep us on the road to reach our goals?

A classic mentioned by Nan S. Russell in her writing is problem versus challenge. Problems are static and often insurmountable; challenges are things that we are welcome to step up, meet, and transform. Proactive language! Using positive proactive language like this can literally change the way your mind processes what it takes in. Is something that happened at work


a problem or a challenge? If it’s a challenge, then you are literally inviting yourself to step up and meet it, right?

Use proactive language whenever you can.

The language we use to communicate is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm. Exactly as it is with our words.

—Anonymous Poorly chosen words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations, and hold people back. Well-chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking, and alter results. I learned in twenty years in management that my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak to.

Have you ever heard the story of the two frogs that fell in a pit? A group of frogs were traveling through the woods. They


were all hopping along and enjoying themselves when two of them fell into a deep pit.

The pit was very deep; it was clear in an instant to the frogs on top that the height of the pit was well beyond the average leap of a frog. When the other frogs realized this, they told the two frogs in the pit to give up and that they were as good as dead.

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed of what the other frogs were saying and gave up. He lay down in a corner and had no more hope of ever getting out.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop tormenting himself. “Go lie down with the other frog and give up!� They shouted at him.


But he jumped even harder . . . and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs stared at him. “Why did you keep jumping? Didn’t you hear us?”

The frog stared at them blankly. He hadn’t heard them—he was deaf. He had thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

That is the power of words. An encouraging word to someone who is down or even to yourself can motivate and lift up. On the other hand, a destructive word can be just what it takes to tell us to give up.

Be careful of what you say—especially to yourself. Always encourage yourself. Encourage those around you; you will benefit from the positivity created through your efforts.

Winning in life means constantly readjusting your focus; a large part of this, along with maintaining a healthy perspective, comes from the language we choose. Try not to swear, for example. Yes, you may think a swear word doesn’t mean anything in the long run, but it really does. We all know it. By using them, you’re not only being unclear and unoriginal in


your thinking and speaking, you’re also being insulting to your own intelligence and the intelligence of those around you. Think about it . . . would you curse in front of the president when meeting him for the first time? Probably not. You would maintain decorum and respect.

Don’t you want to do that for everyone, including yourself?

Life change takes years to achieve, but there are small shifts in your language, steps you can take today and in the coming months, that can really redirect your life and mental approach forever.

They may sound like small things, but in the aggregate, they will make a big difference.

We’ve discussed how changing your life is to change your attitude and mind-set. And the best way to change your attitude and mind-set is to remove certain words and phrases from your vocabulary and to replace them with others that are more positive.


Did is a word of achievement, Won’t is a word of retreat, Might is a word of bereavement, Can’t is a word of defeat, Ought is a word of duty, Try is a word of each hour, Will is a word of beauty, Can is a word of power. —Unknown Author

It might take some time to remove negative phrases and words because you’ve gotten so used to them. But once you start using new words and phrases that are more positive, you’ll be surprised at how almost instantly people around you react differently and how you look at the world around you in a fresh way.

I own some preschools and child care centers. We have a discipline policy that states we will use positive redirection to reinforce behavior. If a child is running in the classroom it is the teacher’s responsibility to correct the behavior of that child. Which is better? “Billy, no running!” or “Billy, we walk in


school.” Now, you can still say them both in the same tone of voice, but use positive words instead.

This one small adjustment can really change everything for you.


An awful word! Why waste your energy on it? Do you really hate anything? How about just using “don’t like?” Can you feel the difference that small shift instantly makes to your inner world and your outlook?

Here are some words that you don’t want to engage with in general: Should Can’t Try Problems Hard Worrisome Stupid Must


Take these words and turn them on their heads. Use words that embody a similar meaning in a more proactive and positive way:

Will/can Challenges/obstacles Best effort Welcome obligation

Think of your words as the stones with which you are paving the road that you are taking into the future. The negative words are sharp, erratic. The positive words are smooth and fit well with the other stones.

If you know anything at this point in the book, it’s that you create your own state of mind and that this state of mind defines your future.

Once you start to realize this and you start to act in a positive, successful manner, you will literally see your path transform right in front of your eyes.

Throw out the negative language!


Don’t think of yourself as broke, say. Think of yourself as building yourself up brick by brick back into a state of financial solvency. You can’t focus on words like debts, collection agency, and insolvency and move forward.

How about thinking about your actions and engaging in positive language around how you’re going to pull yourself out of financial issues? Money-making activities, path to solvency, repaid, current.

Do you feel how much better it makes you feel just reading that?

Tips and Techniques

Define your interior dialogue and the language of your dreams.

Language colors your interior world at every moment, every second of the day. This often happens without you realizing it, but there are techniques you can do to streamline the process and color your interior world with a language of positivity and progress.


It may feel odd and uncomfortable at first. Many people misconstrue this in the same way they misinterpret a Zen Buddhist who meditates; repeating a mantra over and over again isn’t going to make you a Zen in an instant. It’s an exercise, a practice, one that reprograms your entire mechanism.

Use the same positive words you are using in your external world and in your communications with others to dress out your interior world. Maybe when you talk to yourself you think, Dude, what the hell? Try to phrase that more constructively. “All right, what was it we were trying to achieve here?” It will feel odd. At first.

But you’ll also feel a release right away. Replacing that negative language with positive words will give you a mental break you didn’t even know you needed. We get so used to these negative interior dialogues that we think they’re normal.

They’re not.

When a negative thought enters your mind, kick it out! It will try again. And again. Keep using conscious, directed thought


to get that negative language out and the positive language back in. Doing this consistently will eventually teach your mind to disregard the negative feedback.

This is a physical exercise. You’re rewiring your brain in a way. You need to train it patiently and consistently, just like you would a muscle.

In case you feel any inner resistance when replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, do not give up. Just keep your focus on the new vocabulary and language you’ve built for your mind.

You could be having the lousiest week of your life and dealing with the worst boss or the worst client. Inside your head, however, you’re still having a positive dialogue. I’m working through this well! The difficulties of this week were handled in a really constructive way!


Call to Action 1. Listen to yourself speaking. How often do you swear? How often do you say things like: that’s a problem, or I can’t afford it, or your killing me, or you’re driving me crazy? 2. Use positive reinforcement instead. Example: this is a challenge, or I’m working on building some additional income.


8 Baby Steps, Small Bites, Little by Little

Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

—Henry Ford Now, I want to reiterate something very critical here. You have to pace yourself. This isn’t because you’re going to spontaneously combust if you get too much success at once. It’s because real change comes slowly and steadily. The people who wait for decisions to happen outside them before they make decisions internally are gonna get run over by life and never accomplish anything.

You need to realize that this isn’t about hitting the lottery. It’s about a conscious decision and then taking everything step by step and building in increments.

We’ve all heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your city on a hill isn’t going to be built in a day either. You need to focus your energies on the small day-to-day tasks (like the


word “orientation” we talked about in the previous chapter); these day-to-day tasks will pile up bit by bit—brick by brick.

Listen to the story of Hee Ah Lee. Hee Ah Lee was born in the mid-1980s in South Korea with severe physical deformities. Lee’s mother had become pregnant unexpectedly during the time when she was frequently taking medication for motion sickness. Once she found out that she was pregnant, doctors told her that because of the medication her child would be born with deformities. She decided to continue with the pregnancy and handle whatever happened step by step.

Her doctors were not optimistic about Hee Ah’s chances of living a fulfilling life. Many of her relatives wanted to send her away to a country like the United States or Canada, where she would have more options and more medical care. Hee Ah’s mother however was determined to keep her with her at home. She told the doctors that they would figure out how to cope together step by step.

Hee Ah’s physical disfigurements, including slight brain damage, were pervasive. Each of Hee Ah’s hands had only two fingers.


Her legs, severely underdeveloped, had to be amputated from the knees down at the age of four. Life was difficult at times, but she and her mother managed, day by day, step by step.

When Hee Ah reached preschool age, her mother started looking for ways to strengthen the little girl’s hands so that she could learn basic skills. She decided that piano lessons would be the best answer. Piano lessons would help her strengthen her hands so that she could hold a pencil and learn to write. More importantly, however, Hee Ah’s mother believed that if her daughter could master the piano, she could master anything, if she just took things step by step.

The thing was no piano teachers would take on Hee Ah. They all said the same thing: How can you play the piano with only four fingers? Hee Ah’s mother always responded that even if she only learned to play three notes in a row, it would be a start—a first baby step.

Month after month, for six months, piano schools turned them down. Finally, one teacher took them on, but soon enough, she found the task impossible, too. She wanted to give up, but


Hee Ah’s mother wouldn’t let her. They took the lessons step by step, bit by bit. Hee Ah started out with the basics. She focused on just being able to get through one bar of music. Then she concentrated on completing a song. Soon enough, she had an entire repertoire of songs that she had learned.

Then something amazing began to happen. Within one year, Hee Ah had won the grand prize in a piano concert for kindergartners. By the age of seven, Hee Ah had won a national competition for handicapped performers and was presented with her award by the president of Korea.

But she didn’t stop there. Eventually, Hee Ah became a concert pianist. She began touring the world, wowing audiences on every continent with her skill. She was eventually able to play pieces that even ten-fingered pianists never master.

Hee Ah’s story is one of a truly supportive relationship between her and her mother, but it’s also a story of how anything can be overcome if it’s approached step by step. What started out as a simple exercise to just get Hee Ah able to grip a pencil


ended up being a calling, simply by virtue of taking it slow and building her skills bit by bit.

Today Lee is in her early thirties, has won numerous awards, and is a widely traveled concert pianist with more than two hundred appearances. Her first album titled was released in June 2008.

What does Hee Ah’s story tell us? That anything can be overcome if you break it down and take it step by step. If Hee Ah and her mother had only looked at the big picture, life could have quickly become overwhelming.

Instead, they took things one at a time—one note, one bar, one song. Following this systematic approach to playing the piano helped Hee Ah understand that she was capable of anything. It transformed her entire life.

Now, how can you do this for yourself?

Direct and organize your time. Set up a daily schedule for yourself and stick to it. Here’s the thing about schedules: You have to practice them, like everything else. Addressing yourself to a set


schedule every day will actually make you more productive as you get used to working within this new structure.

It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. —Chinese Proverb

Prioritize your day. Don’t waste your time on things that aren’t going to give you a return on your investment. 70 percent of people are watching something on television in which they really have no interest. Have you fallen into that pattern? Maybe you’re so exhausted at the end of the day that you don’t have the energy to do anything else but sit in front of the TV. But is this really regenerating you? Is it giving you anything back?

This isn’t to say that you don’t need a break now and then. Everybody does. But the thing about something like television is that it can be an empty activity. Empty activities don’t give you any return on your investment. If, on the other hand, you were researching for a new book that you wanted to write on a character from the Civil War and the Ken Burns documentary


about the war was on PBS, that would be an active use of your time (and hopefully restful and enjoyable).

If you break goals into increments and spend your time wisely, things will begin to happen. Believe me, I’ve seen it again and again in my own life.

You’ve heard before in this book, and I’ll say it again—commitment and action. Sound simple enough? What exactly does it mean? Have you ever wanted something—a new job, a new relationship, a new life? Dreaming is a great place to start, but where do you go from there? How do you make things happen?

You have to translate your dreams into a space of action. You have to move forward.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all that I can permit myself to contemplate. —John Steinbeck


First you have to believe in the possibility that this new way is possible. See it as if it has already happened and is part of your life. Will it be easy to attain? Probably not. Yes, that’s what I said. It will probably be hard. That isn’t to say it’s undoable. I have found from my own experience that anything I have ever wanted in life took a commitment on my part and action. Action is always the hardest because you have to do something. You have to move yourself out of a comfort zone to a place that isn’t very comfortable at all.

When I first started my Web site, for example, it was one page. One little page . . . but I was committed to expanding the offerings to include more . . . and slowly I did. Being selffunded has its limitations. To expand required planning and action in what I call “baby steps.”

Take each piece, one at a time, and complete it. Move on to the next one. Soon you will have mastered many of the tasks you found so hard to do initially. Congratulate yourself on your movement. Be strong! Don’t listen to those who want to impede your progress. Do it for you!


So the next time you want to do something different in your life, take the plunge! Be bold, make a commitment, take action, and keep doing something every day to move your dream forward into reality. Anyone can do this, anywhere, anytime. Everything is possible; just ask me, I know!

Call to Action 1. Break down your goals into small steps 2.

Put dates on each step. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That simply means each step should have a time frame for completion.

3. Get moving, and go on to the next chapter.


9 Shape Up Physically, Mentally, and Spiritually

Mind, body, spirit—you’ve heard the three mentioned in connection many times, maybe. The truth is they are absolutely inter-related. They are a continuum, the central one of your life, really. The harmony with which they each operate not only helps the other parts of the continuum, but also extends into your daily life and helps you as a whole.

Achieving your goals takes all your strength and stamina— mentally, physically, and spiritually. You need to make sure that each of these aspects within you is ready to really support you on your journey toward reaching your goals.

Shaping Up Physically

Getting in physical shape is the most autonomous of the physical–mental–spiritual continuum. You can get in great physical shape for the most part without necessarily achieving balance in your mental and spiritual lives. Of course, you will still be getting signs from the other areas in your physical self, 123

no matter how many miles you run a day or how low your body fat is. If you’re stressed, you may experience ulcers. If your spirit is imbalanced, you may not be able to sleep well each night.

True overall physical health in the end can only be achieved when all elements of the continuum are working together in harmony.

Physical health is also one of the easier ones to start fixing. As with everything else I’ve taught you, it just takes consistency. If you are completely unfamiliar with exercise, just start out with five, ten, fifteen minutes a day. Just make sure you do it consistently.

You’ll be amazed at the amount of clarity and balance you will get in your life when you begin to exercise regularly. This balance is really your goal here; you don’t need to run a marathon to achieve your goals (although running a marathon is the ultimate personal challenge and an amazing experience). What you want to achieve by introducing exercise and better health into your life is harmony within the continuum of body–


mind–spirit, which will only put you in better stead while you go after your goals.

A friend of mine mentioned a great organization to me a few months back. This group was started by a young woman who loves to run. She saw how much clarity running was bringing into her life. She realized that running could help others get some clarity in their lives too. So she started a running group for homeless people who were trying to get back on their feet.

Adding that physical discipline to their lives was the missing ingredient those men and women needed. Now the organization has chapters all over the country and has helped hundreds of the homeless gain a new focus and get on the path to reaching their own goals.

Like I mentioned earlier, I love to work out. I see a lot of people coming into the gym and getting intimidated by the process and giving up right away because they feel they can’t keep up. Again, commitment and consistency is what matters.


You also don’t need to get rid of all the junk food in your cupboard. In the long run, that would be ideal. But part of achieving your goals is maintaining balance and working in baby steps. Allow yourself a treat once in a while. Of course, overall you want to be pursuing as healthy a lifestyle as possible.

Shaping Up Mentally

A lot of what we’ve discussed so far is oriented on shaping up mentally. Everything from your positive visualization that you want to do to orient yourself on your goals to changing the words and affecting the way you think relate to your mental well-being.

Mental health is interesting because it is a true midpoint in many ways between the physical and the spiritual. Sometimes mental health is affected by physical facts—an inherited trait that affects the way our brain is wired, the way we process information. Sometimes mental health is affected by spiritual malaise or troubles. Your mental well-being is really both a physical and spiritual thing.


This becomes really evident when you consider the best tips for improving your mental well-being—they can be both physical and spiritual. For example, getting plenty of rest and exercising regularly are always recommended as ways to get your mind in better shape. Also, spending time with others and finding some spiritual solace in companionship is often advised.

In order to achieve the best mental balance, consider taking the following steps:

Get Plenty of Rest The mind gets more easily frazzled when you are short on sleep. Make sure that you get seven or eight hours of sleep as often as possible to sustain a healthy balance in your mind–body–spirit continuum.

Exercise Your Body Exercise relieves stress, but it also gets your blood flowing. Your mind relies on a healthy flow of blood just like the rest of your body. You will be energizing your brain if you keep yourself active.


Exercise Your Mind Keep your mind in shape with puzzles and mental exercises. Spend some time each day reading, especially right before you go to sleep; this relaxes the mind and prepares it for rest.

Spend Time with People You Value Getting out and spending time with people that you value is good for your spiritual well-being and supplements mental health. Also, engaging in conversation keeps the mind active and healthy. Spend some time talking with your friends, coworkers, family—anyone whom you value and with whom you have a well-balanced relationship.

Take Some Time To Yourself Yes, socializing is good for your mind, but sometimes spending time by yourself can be just as advantageous. You want to take some time to recharge once in a while and reconnect with your own thoughts. This would be a good time, too, to revisit your list of goals and assess your progress and level of commitment.


A man is what he thinks about all day long. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a wonderful story about perspective that really elucidates how important maintaining a positive outlook is. There was a grouchy old grandfather who was visiting his son and his family one weekend. Being a prankster by nature, his grandson decided to smear some Limburger cheese on his grandfather’s moustache while he was taking a nap. Once the grandfather woke up, he stood up and announced, “This room stinks.” He walked into another room. “This whole house stinks!” He walked outside into the fresh air . . . “The whole world stinks!” Your mental attitude is like that cheese; you carry it around with you everywhere and it directly affects and colors everything you interact with. If you have a negative outlook, you will begin to see everything negative as well. There is no way to achieve true mental health with a negative outlook.

Concentrate each day on positive and empowering thoughts. Exercise them just like you would a muscle. Thinking positively will become more automatic the more often you do it.


You are going to be dead a lot longer than you are going to be alive so getting yourself in tip top shape spiritually is a really big deal.

Shaping Up Spiritually

Make no mistake about it, there is a spiritual realm to life. You are going to be dead a lot longer than you are going to be alive so getting yourself in tip top shape spiritually is a really big deal. When I made my decision to change on January 3rd, 2004 I decided to make Jesus Christ the Lord of my life. I embraced the Bible as my life manual to achieve success in all aspects of what I do. I’m not writing this book to push Christianity on you, but you need to ponder the thought of where you are going to end up when this marathon is all said and done.

Getting in tip-top shape spiritually does not necessarily mean going to a church or a temple or a mosque, although I do believe that getting fed spiritually by someone who is called to that lifestyle is very important.

Living a spiritual life also means finding an inner simplicity, an inner balance. Many people do find these through faith. Others find this through good practices and living a balanced life.


You need to do what works for you, but again I have to reiterate my belief system and say that I found spiritual balance through Christianity. Just like with everything else we’ve discussed in this book, you have to pay attention to and heed what your life is telling you. Probably more than anything else in this book, spiritual balance is just something that you cannot force. You may have seen people who tell you they’ve recently experienced spiritual enlightenment . . . but they seem so stressed. True clarity and balance in your spirituality will feel easy.

Of course, finding it is not. But if you approach it with the same commitment you use with all the tools in here, you have a very good chance of finding it.

Talking about achieving spiritual balance can seem difficult because it’s hard for us to pin down exactly what it is at times. Since it is part of the continuum, however, steps you take to improve the other areas of your life will naturally seep in and improve your spiritual well-being.

An important thing to keep in mind is that you need to stay interested in life. Having a passion for your life and being


engaged by your life naturally seeps into everything you do when you openly express it. Before I made that decision in 2004 to change my life, I wasn’t engaged. I wasn’t passionate. Once I made that choice, I was interested again in my own life. Think about that phenomenon that we’ve all experienced where, when you are interested in something, it starts showing up everywhere. I just bought a blue car . . . Now everywhere I look I see blue cars!

If you become interested in life—its joys, its complexities, its gifts—it starts popping up everywhere.

This is essentially what I think maintaining spiritual health is.

Volunteer/Serving Volunteering and working in your community is a vital tool that can really expand your understanding of the journeys of others, and as a result yours. Helping someone else provides a lot of moral and spiritual clarity. You may make connections and learn lessons in this type of endeavor that you just can’t find anywhere else.


Take Things One At a Time Take it easy on yourself! Remember, brick by brick, step by step. This is an ongoing journey that you are in for the long haul. Each of the steps that you take gets you closer to your goal and teaches you something that will help you along the way. There’s no rush! Enjoy the experience of living this journey and orienting on your ultimate goals.


Call to Action 1. Wake up with thanksgiving. 2. Join a gym, and go four times per week. 3. Read something beneficial to your personal development for 15 minutes every night. 4. Remember, you are a spirit, that has a soul (mind, will, and emotions), that lives in a body. All three areas must be fed so balance may be achieved.


10 Respond, Don’t React

Doctors tell us that Responding is positive and Reacting is negative. How do they tell us that? If you’re sick, you go to the doctor and he/she gives you medication and says, “Come back and see me in a couple days.” You go back to the doctor and he/she has one of two statements. Either “Oh no, your body is having a bad Reaction to the medicine,” or “Oh good, your body is Responding to the treatment.” Responding is positive, Reacting is negative. You are going to encounter disappointment along the way. It does not matter how perfectly you run your life, how committed you stay to your goals, or what level of success you reach, you will at some time or another experience disappointment. What you do need to do when this happens is deal with it well and Respond. How many people do you know who deal with disappointment well? How do you personally deal with disappointment? Do you get angry? Sad? Do you blow it off as though nothing happened (which can potentially be as dangerous as the other options)?


The way in which you cope with disappointments is one of the defining factors in how you will do in life and how well and how quickly you will achieve your goals. Don’t wallow. Don’t be angry. Be proactive. Get back up and seek out new opportunities and find a positive outlook on the turn of events.

Likewise, do not act as if nothing has happened. Not properly assimilating a disappointment can leave it to fester and affect you later on down the road. Always take a moment to address what has happened. Then allow yourself to proactively move forward. Denial is one of the most effective ways to inflict harm on yourself and your progress. Repression hurts and festers and leads to a system-wide infection. Don’t brush aside your experience so effectively that you have never even processed it. Remember, there are lessons there to learn, lessons that you can use down the road as you progress toward your goals.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


I understand that all this may be hard to do at first. The positive visualization skills you have been hearing about all along in this story will always help. Start telling yourself: Everything happens for a reason; everything happens for a reason . . . We can just never really know what that reason is. Once you start doing this, you will usually find that within a few days at first, and even within a few hours once you get experienced at keeping your visions positive, you have turned away from the disappointment and found yourself back on a positive path forward.

Maintain forward vision. Fixating on the past, even if it has just happened, gets you nowhere. Again, acknowledge the disappointment, see what lessons you can learn from it, and move on.

The truth is that disappointments are often just a matter of perspective. You can never know what place an event has in the larger scheme of things.

Take the Clark family, for example. Over one hundred years ago in Scotland, there was a young family that dreamed of


going to America. The family—mom, dad, and nine children— all worked hard and saved for years to be in a financial place where they could finally afford passage to the United States and begin a new life.

Finally, after years of toil, the family booked their tickets and finalized all the paperwork for their immigration across the Atlantic. It was the culmination of all their dreams and hopes as a family, and it was just a few days away.

Then suddenly, the youngest boy was bitten by a dog and diagnosed with rabies. Due to the risk of infection and of spreading the disease amongst all the passengers, the family was quarantined. They were told they would not be allowed to board the ship and sail to their new lives on the other side of the ocean.

Just a few moments away from fulfilling their shared vision, it was taken away just like that.

The father of the family railed against their misfortune. Why after all their devotion and hard work had that mischance


ruined their hopes at the last moment? He was bitterly and deeply entrenched in his disappointment.

And then the unthinkable happened. The news arrived that the ship that they had been booked on, the Titanic, had sunk at sea. Hundreds of people had perished in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, the majority of whom had been in steerage, the class the entire family would have been travelling in.

They had been left behind only to be saved.

We cannot always know what the big picture is or what an event means clearly enough to truly judge what it is. What seems like a disappointment could be a saving grace in the long run or from another perspective.

Try to maintain an understanding of this when stumbling blocks happen.

Even the vaguest resentment at your disappointment will eventually develop into anger. You should avoid anger at all costs. Anger works in all directions; not only do you alienate the


people around you, you also alienate yourself. It will destroy all the work you have done to see yourself in a positive light and keep yourself forward thinking. Like I said, disappointments happen to everyone and we can’t always understand what has happened or what is at stake. If you allow yourself to devolve into anger, you will only end up in a place far worse than the one you experienced as a result of your disappointment. Getting mad at the situation or yourself is only going to make the situation and your feelings worse.

Instead of letting yourself fall into a pattern of anger and resentment, take a look around and assess the things that have been going well for you and the resources that you still have available to you. You cannot have control on external factors all the time, but you can have control over what you bring to the table.

When I chose to find a new focus in my life and get on a path to true self-fulfillment and success, I had to leave resentments behind. If I had sat around thinking about the things that were done to me to get me where I was, I would never have gotten off that barstool.


I also couldn’t afford to spend too much time getting angry at myself either. I had the lion’s share of responsibility for all my disappointments up to that point. I had let myself get stuck; I had reconciled myself to treading water and associating with a number of negative influences. But I couldn’t sit around beating myself up either. I acknowledged my involvement in my own disappointment and then moved on, moved forward.

Stay focused on your work at hand. Stay positive and engaged!

There’s a very moving story around the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a true testament to how transcendent a dedicated, committed human spirit and mind can be.

The Brooklyn Bridge in New York City is an engineering feat, but it is also a feat of human potential. A very ingenious engineer named John Roebling conceived the idea of the bridge. A lot of other experts in his field tossed off his idea. They told him there was no way he would be able to build such an ambitious project with the technologies of the day.


Roebling was not about to be dissuaded from his dream. He enlisted the help of his similarly innovative son, Washington, and set out to design, plan, build, and complete that engineering masterpiece. They got the financing in place, got their permits and city paperwork taken care of, and hired a crew to begin construction.

Only a few months into the project, a truly disastrous event took place. An on-site accident killed Roebling and left his son a quadriplegic with brain damage severe enough to prevent him from communicating with words. Immediately, plans were made to scrap the project; how could that ambitious project continue without the only two people who really understood how to execute it? The thing is, Washington was not down for the count—not by a long shot.

Even though he had lost the ability to move or communicate through the spoken word, Washington’s faculties were all still in place. More importantly, his dream of building the bridge and his devotion to that dream had not faded.


So what did he do? He engineered a new way to communicate. In cooperation with his very patient and caring wife, Washington developed a system for communicating through finger taps. An idea hit him as he lay in his hospital bed, and he developed a code for communication. He literally tapped out instructions for the construction of the bridge and oversaw the entire project from his bed for thirteen more years. So you can see how the bridge is not only a miracle of engineering, but also a miracle of human ambition and commitment, too.

No matter how carefully we lead our lives, we are going to experience disappointment. It is inevitable that we will see failure, grief, pain, and every type of disappointment come into our lives.

Since you are sure to see disappointments, make sure you keep an extra sharp eye out for joy. Spend time with people you love and value: family, friends, mentors, anyone who brings you solace, love, and joy. These moments of balance and bliss will make you that much more prepared when disappointments arrive.


Don’t look the wrong way. Where should you be focusing your vision? Don’t look at others when you should be looking inward at yourself. Focus your vision and your energy internally on how you can transform yourself. Don’t worry too much at the failings of others. There’s an excellent passage from The Brothers Karamazov that I have always felt explains this point best:

If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road, and try not to leave it. Above all, avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself. Watch over your own deceitfulness and look into it every hour, every minute. Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don’t be frightened overmuch even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is


greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it—at that very moment I predict that you will reach it . . .

When you learn to embrace challenges and enjoy facing them, disappointments will dissolve before your eyes. Enjoy exercising your “challenge” muscles; dig into any difficulties you encounter and see how strong you become and how skilled you become at overcoming them.

Whenever things go wrong, look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow. The only real failure is giving up. You’ve heard that life is a journey . . . Think of it as an exciting one that is continually taking you to a new place that you’ve never seen. Don’t look at it as a dull trip to the corner store that you drive every day.


Engage your imagination and all your resources and strengths in overcoming your difficulties and they won’t be difficulties any longer.

Don’t whine about what happens! What were you expecting? Perfection. That will never happen. Whether you were born with all the advantages in the world or in a tin shack with no chance of an education, your success is entirely dependent on you and your outlook. All you need to do is focus on your own assets and stay committed to your goals; remember this above everything else! Whining about whatever hand you’ve been dealt with only holds you back.

Reach out to your friends, mentors, and loved ones. Consider them an internal resource. Even though you have to rely on yourself ultimately, you are not alone. There are plenty of people around you with interesting thoughts, perspectives, and stories of their own. Learn from them and tap them as you would your own internal resources.

Stories are what help us most. Share yours and reach out for the ones around you.


Exercise patience. You cannot know what the master plan is. Take your time and exercise patience in all things. Decide to be a Responder and not a Reactor.

Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures. —Joseph Addison

Call to Action 1. When negative situations arrive, think about how you respond instead of react.


11 Discipline, Discipline, Discipline

Let’s get one thing straight right here at the beginning— discipline is not about being rigid. It’s about being tough on yourself. “When you’re tough on yourself, life will be infinitely easier on you.”- Zig Ziglar.

It’s about staying focused and creating techniques and patterns for yourself, which help you stay focused and on track.

As I mentioned many times already, you will not achieve your dreams if you are not disciplined and focused. What I’ve also touched on though is that sometimes you have to make adjustments. You don’t want to be so rigid that you can’t respond to new ideas that might come your way.

Another part of staying on your path toward your goals is periodically reassessing those goals daily—what they mean to you, how they fit into your life, and so on.


Professional athletes must be disciplined in many aspects of life. This is nothing more than focused attention and effort. To be successful individually or collectively, sacrifices involving discipline (“focused attention and effort”) are required. Great athletes not only accept discipline, they embrace it for the benefit of the team. They have the strength of character to overcome temptations and pressures and will do what’s right for their team at the moment of truth. Discipline is exhibited by attentiveness, enthusiasm, sportsmanship, respecting authority and personal responsibility. Because they display “athletic integrity“, disciplined athletes are better teammates. They are reliable and trustworthy, are always there for their teammates. For a team, discipline can be the characteristic that sets them apart and gives them an edge. The non-athlete chooses self-indulgence (“I’ll do what I want!”) over selfcontrol and only thinks of discipline in terms of punishment. Accepting discipline (“focused attention and effort”) is a positive form of teamwork. It is also a choice.

So when I say discipline, I’m really asking you to use discipline techniques to stay focused.


Many people use the concept of self-discipline to punish themselves. That’s definitely not what I’m talking about or what I would encourage. Use more positive language when addressing the discipline you need to succeed—like I said, focused. On schedule is another good one. Professional is also great. All these are subsets, to a degree, of discipline, ones that really embody all that is good about discipline.

Some of the negative aspects of discipline might be deprivation, being a taskmaster. These are negatively oriented words and approaches that will not foster the attitude you need in the long term to succeed.

So what are some practical techniques you can use to introduce constructive and healthy discipline into your life?

Well, it depends on how naturally disciplined you already are. Are you someone who is usually on time? Do you adhere to a schedule easily? Do you stay committed to tasks or do you drop projects after the initial flush of excitement?


Ask yourself these questions and really consider how disciplined you are by nature. Try to be realistic about your strengths and your weaknesses. It won’t make it any easier for you down the road if you are dealing with a completely different scenario from the one you planned for, simply because you didn’t want to look too closely at yourself and your habits.

Regarding sticking with it, don’t worry, most people have this fault. Staying on point and committed is a problem for a lot of people, as we discussed earlier in the book.

Make yourself a schedule of tasks that you need to get done every day to work on your goals. If your dream is to start a corner café, commit a block of time every day to address your business plan. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time; in fact, starting with a small block of time will help you stay committed in the beginning. Maybe you’re a songwriter; commit yourself to producing one verse or even just one line every day. Remember, it’s not the volume that matters so much in the beginning as the consistency.


What you’re doing with this practice is, again, maintaining focus. Just like with our negative thoughts, many of us have to reprogram our brains to stay on task. Maybe you were disciplined when you were younger and in school. A lot of us finished school and thought, Great! I’m off the hook. I don’t have to stay disciplined now. But you do! The great thing about discipline is, however, that the more you do it, the more you enjoy it. It’s a self-perpetuating process.

Also, once you start getting results, you won’t even consider the difficulties involved. There really won’t be any. If you stay committed to your half an hour prep sessions every day, eventually you will be running well past those thirty minutes without even realizing it.

Practice Does Make Perfect

Most people know who Tom Brady is. If you don’t, he is arguably the greatest NFL quarterback of all time. Just say his name, Tom Brady. If you are a football fan and you hear those words, what comes to mind? Dynasty? Champion? Super Bowl?


Now think of the word underdog. Tom Brady is just about the last thing you think of. And yet, that’s just who he was. Brady was an underdog—a tortoise who conquered the hare.

After Brady was drafted by the Patriots, we all know (or at least most of us do) he had to sit behind Bledsoe for a while; waiting, watching, and learning before his opportunity came knocking.

But I’m talking beyond that. I mean in life, Brady was an underdog. A tortoise as it were. But one with a dream, and who through hard work, fulfilled that dream.

Brady loved sports all his life. He grew up around sports with three athletic older sisters and his parents who supported all of them. Tom also lived 30 minutes away from the 49ers stadium, and his beloved Joe Montana which probably had something to do with it.

He had a passion for excellence, and a determination to win. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest in his neighborhood. But he knew how to win.


Tom would go around challenging any of the fast kids to a footrace. He got smoked every time. But afterwards, as if watching film after the game, he would analyze what went wrong. What made them so fast, and what needed to be done. In time, he could beat any kid in town.

With his intelligence and never say die attitude, he flourished in sports. Not football, but baseball. He could hit, run, and throw with the best of them.

Brady never actually played football until freshman year at an all-boys Catholic school in the town he grew up in, San Mateo. Â His Junior year he was starring in two sports: baseball and football. He was known for his incredible work ethic and actually devised the football workout and training schedule.

His hard work payed off. In 1994 both Blue Chip Illustrated and Prep Football Report regarded him as an All-American HighSchool Quarterback.


However, in the 1995 MLB draft, the Montreal Expos picked him in the 18th round. Brady had to make up his mind between Baseball and Football.

After thinking over his choices, he choose football. Good choice. Although many closer schools were interested in Brady, he chose to go with a scholarship at the University of Michigan.

But he was redshirted his freshman year, and the next was still only a third string QB. Remember, though, this is Tom Brady. With his incredible hare conquering intelligence, he memorized the playbook and practiced with all the starters.

In 1997, he was still last place in the quarterback race at Michigan. As soon as he was starting to get snaps, his year ended due to his getting a surgical removal of his appendix.

When Brian Griese finally graduated, and after a grueling camp, he was elected starter in 1998.

It wasn’t a cakewalk to the NFL after that though, no sirree.


They lost their first two games to Notre Dame and Syracuse. Still believing in Brady, Coach Carr kept him at the helm. That led to good results as Tom Brady turned the season around leading them on a winning streak all the way to the season finale—rival Ohio State.

Brady proved himself big time in that game, going 31-56 for 375 yards and a touchdown. He also set records in completions, attempts, and yardage. Remarkably, it wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes rolled on to victory in a 31-16 win.

He led the Wolverines to a 45-31 win over the Razorbacks in the Citris Bowl for a comeback victory.

Only Jim Harbaugh threw for more yards then him in a single season in all of Michigan’s history.

Still, Brady wasn’t a shoe in for the starting job in 1999. That was sophomore Drew Henson’s fault. He was supposed to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” type talent.


Although he shared time with Henson for the majority of the season, he still emerged as the solo starter for the last four games, wrapping it all up with an overtime victory over Alabama in the Orange Bowl 35-34.

Scouts gave mixed reviews about Brady. While he had amazing work ethic, attitude, and drive there was something lacking. His durability.

He was 6-4 sure, but only just over 200 pounds. He wasn’t a mobile Quarterback, and eventually was pegged as a solid back up, not worthy of ever getting a starting job. Bill Belichick was one who saw something in him. And come 6th round of the 2000 draft, Tom Brady was a New England Patriot.

What’s interesting is Brady actually lost his cool. During the draft, he had envisioned going during the first two rounds he recalls...and after the 4th or so round his parents said he grabbed a baseball bat and decided to do a little “landscaping” in their backyard.


He showed up for camp ready to play though. Once again, he was teased for being small. Once again, he showed them all that the tortoise does beat the hare. He committed the playbook to memory and began to be respected through his work ethic.

That year was a total disaster for the Pats. They went 5-11, and Brady’s only action came in a 34-9 beating to the Detroit Lions (one of our prouder moments).

Tom Brady trained harder than anyone else and added 15 pounds of muscle during the off season. He already had the playbook memorized and practiced footwork in his apartment. There wasn’t a single day he wasn’t preparing and practicing in some way. He was confident that come next year, he could lead the team to victory.

In week two, he finally got his chance. If you look at it, he owes the start of his NFL career to Jets Linebacker Mo Lewis, who nearly killed Drew Bledsoe. Literally.


He sheared a blood vessel in his chest. There was no way he was going to play again, and recovery was going to be long and painful. For better or worse, this was Tom’s shot.

The next week, by some miracle, they beat Manning and the Colts. After that they lost hard to Miami. His pro career was off to a rocky start, and the Pats were still without a clear leader.

Safety Lowyer Milloy took Brady aside after the game in Miami. He reminded him of his days in Michigan. Brady was a true leader there. It was time to be a leader for New England. Something tells me he took that to heart...

The next week the Pats made a comeback victory, winning it in overtime. Brady through a 91 yard pass to David Patten, the longest play from scrimmage in franchise history.

The next five games they went 4-1, including a victory over the heavily favored Rams. The next game though was key. They played the Jets. Bledsoe was healthy enough to play finally. It appeared Brady kept the seat warm, and it was time to turn things over.

162 He was allowed to stay in (much to Drew’s maddening, and disappointment) and won against New York that week. That made his record 6-3, far superior to Bledsoe’s job of 5-11 last season. The decision was clear, and Brady would stay starter.

He went on to win games against Cleveland, and the Bills to set up a showdown between division rivals Miami and New England.

He stayed cool under pressure and beat Miami 21-13. Next week Brady and co. crushed the Panthers securing home field advantage for the first week of the playoffs, and a guaranteed AFC East division title.

Here they were, in the first week of the playoffs. They were the underdogs against the Oakland Raiders despite being in Foxboro.

They led an exciting, snowy game into overtime with a field goal, and then won after Brady threw 8 complete passes in a row. The final score was 16-13.


In the AFC Conference Championship they beat the Steelers although Brady sprained an ankle. Believe it or not (and no one did) the Pats were going to the Super Bowl.

On paper, there was no contest. None, at all. The Rams were so overrated, the only question was how many points would they lose by.

Everyone was elated to hear Tom would start. Well...not Bledsoe, but that’s a different story.

Kurt Warner had an amazing receiving corps, and all star Marshall Faulk. Tom Brady looked like a high school kid compared to the Rams. It seemed there was no way Tom and co. could possibly win.

Come halftime though, that sneaky tortoise did what he did best. He analyzed the strengths of his team, and concentrated on penetrating the Rams weaknesses. The Pats were more physical, and showed it.


Warner had an injured thumb, and the receiving corps looked like they’d been through World War 3. All of a sudden...the Rams appeared vulnerable.

It was now 17-17 with 90 seconds left. Tom Brady had the ball on his own 17 yardline. He drove the team down the field to the 30 yard line, with only seven seconds left.

Vinitari nailed the field goal and won the game 20-17. Brady won the MVP, and went into the locker room a hero. After that his life was a blur—parties, magazines, photo shoots, the whole shabang. The only key addition to the team for next season was Deion Branch. Something didn’t quite gel about the team, and they ended up not making the playoffs despite amazing effort.

Of course, the media ate it up. Is Tom Brady a fluke? Can he stay healthy? And on and on and on...


In the next season, with some help of course, Brady won another Super Bowl against Carolina 32-29. With two rings, and a pair of MVP trophies all rumors were put to rest.

Tom Brady established himself as a premier Quarterback of the NFL. He had amazing stats on paper, and had finally conquered all hares. He was the underdog, the tortoise, but won.

We all know how it goes from here, because Tom Brady became a household name. He went from being associated with words like “slow”, “underdog”, “ bench warmer”, and “wanna be” to “champion”, “Super Bowl”, “winner”, and eventually “dynasty”.

How did he do it? Determination, work ethic, and by applying himself to learning. I think we all learn a little something from Tom Brady’s story, fulfilling the timeless illustration of how that tortoise conquered the hare.

How much do you want your dreams? Do you want to do this or don’t you?


Disciplining Your Mind

Yes, discipline your time, but as I already touched on that point, you also need to discipline your mind.

Mental discipline isn’t about controlling your thoughts; it’s about dealing well and constructively with the information that comes in. This subject is also addressed in the “Change Your Vocabulary” section and in the “Spiritual Health” section of this book. Here we’re going to discuss the actual technical aspects of engaging in mental discipline or mindfulness.

Without mental discipline, your mind engages in automatic responses which of course trigger automatic emotions, too. This stems from what information is coming into your brain and also from entrenched old habits of behavior. It’s these old habits that are really the problem and create most of your difficulties. Mental discipline works against the tyranny of these destructive patterns and allows you to use your thoughts and their resulting emotions to more productive ends.


Mindfulness is a skill that is learned steadily and consistently over time. Sound familiar? Most things that we’re talking about in this book are like that. That’s because they’re of value. Only cheap things are made quickly and with little effort. Even though my own transformation was triggered by an instant moment of waking up and a subsequent decision, it took me many years of work to break the patterns I had been in when I was stuck on that barstool.

Mental discipline isn’t just something that I go on about. It has permeated the world of sports, academics, and more and has made a big difference for people dealing with anything from alcoholism to depression to stress. Developing a habit of mental discipline will help you exercise better everything that you learn in this book and make you a more constructive and productive person in the world at large, too.

So what is mental discipline? In the most simple sense, it is really just paying attention to what is going on at any given moment. Don’t I do that already? you might be thinking . . . but no, you don’t. What you do is engage your judgments, your perspective, your perceptions of what’s happening, instead of


really paying attention to what’s going on. You see a red car on the street, say—you don’t just let it be a red car, do you? You file it into a category; you pass a judgment. I like red cars or red cars are flashy. It’s natural for all of us to do this. This is how patterns of negative behavior start.

We’re always chasing endlessly after pleasant or unpleasant feelings associated with what is occurring at any given moment, instead of just letting ourselves be. With that comes a loss of control that fuels negative behaviors . . . you know, the ones that got us here in the first place!

The good news is that we can use the concept of discipline we discussed at the beginning of this chapter to teach our minds to focus and be more constructive. When you feel your mind getting rushed, taking in too much, or throwing judgments around before the true nature of any given situation has really been made clear, just stop it. And the way you stop it from thinking a certain way is redirect it. How do I redirect it? You tell it what to think. Your mind cannot think about one thing while you are speaking about something else. Here is an exercise to illustrate what I am talking about. Look at your


shoes, think about the color, think about the price you paid, and think about how nice they are. Now look at your shirt and audibly speak about how nice your shirt is, the color, the texture. You stopped thinking about your shoes didn’t you. In the same way, when you’re thinking negative thoughts in regards to your life, speak out positive statements. Maybe you just failed at something or something bad just happened, be proactive when it comes to your mind. Speak positive affirming statements over and over until you’re thinking about the statements instead of the circumstances.

“Failure is an event, and not a person. I am a winner.” “Failure is an event, and not a person. I am a winner.” Repeat, Repeat, Repeat… Until you know in your heart that you are a winner, you can do whatever you believe you can do.


Call to Action

The three D’s

1. Desire - everyone starts out with a desire to accomplish dreams 2. Discipline – this is where most fail, read this chapter again. Discipline is what separates you from everyone else. 3.

Delight- after discipline you will delight in whatever it is you had to discipline yourself for. Example: I wanted to get stronger and more muscular, it was a desire. I had to discipline myself to go to the gym everyday. Now, I delight in going to the gym everyday, and it doesn’t seem like discipline anymore.


12 Change Your Course, Don’t Change Your Dream

As I’ve said before, you can and should make adjustments when you need to on this journey. I know I made more than a few myself in the last several years of my journey from the barstool to where I am today.

Don’t change your dream, though. Never! That’s the whole point of getting on this path—to reach that dream. Your goals are the one constant in your life and on this journey that you are taking.

When I made those adjustments in my own life along the way, I always stayed focused on building a successful business and becoming financially solvent. That never changed. If that had changed, and if your goals change for you, what’s going to happen?

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. —Anais Nin 173

You’re going to fall all the way back to square one.

There’s a famous story about Akio Morita. You might have never heard of Morita, but you’ve more likely than not heard of his company, Sony.

When Morita started Sony, their first product was not a hifi stereo or any form of advanced electronics . . . It was a rice cooker.

But that rice cooker did not work.

The rice cooker was so bad, in fact, that it scorched all the rice instead of steaming it. It was a huge, initial failure. A change had to be made, of course. Morita, however, did not say to himself, “Okay, I’ve got to get out of business.” He knew he had what it takes to build a great company. He didn’t have to lose sight of his dream; he just had to make a change, an adjustment, along the way. He dropped the rice cooker and invested in new offerings. Eventually, he grew Sony to become one of the biggest producers of electronics in the world.


You, like Morita, need to stick with your plan, but make sensible adjustments that will help you stick with that plan to reach your dreams. Think of it as sticking with a psychic budget. What if an unexpected expense comes up? Are you going to benefit more if you sit around and whine about dipping into your savings or are you going to benefit more if you get back to work and keep doing what you need to do to replenish it?

Sticking with a course that’s not working creates negative thoughts. You already know what negative thoughts will do to your journey, don’t you?

Many people understand the concept of setting goals in life to empower themselves and reach a place of fulfillment. What they don’t understand is that they need to maintain momentum.

Use your dreams as that carrot dangling right in front of you. It keeps you going, keeps you driving forward. It keeps you engaged in the journey you are taking toward your goals.

As we’ve discussed, positive thoughts and language are a perpetual energy machine. Those dreams will continue to feed


back into your system and give you the energy you need to make it on the long haul to your goals.

Now, I’ve been using goals and dreams interchangeably here, but there is a distinction. Dreams never stop. Dreams are the eternal soul of your goals in a way.

You can reach your goals in the sense that you can build that business, buy that house, or marry that dream partner, but your dreams will never be reached. What!? What I mean is that they’ll never be reached because they’ve been with you all along the way.

Your dreams are the living and constant manifestation of your goals! Don’t give up on them.

If we find an adjustment has to be made on the course, dreams won’t change. They are impermeable to criticism. The only difficulty for the lot of us is remembering that they are there. We get so programmed to think and react negatively that we shove those ultimate manifestations of positivity aside.


Another classic example of staying fixated on your dreams and not letting minor adjustments sway you from your course is the story of Albert Einstein’s life. Everyone is familiar with the famous physicist; he is probably the most well-known scientist in the twentieth century, if not in the history of the world. Many of us have heard stories about him getting D’s in school or not speaking until he was four, all of which, incidentally, are true.

What some of you may not know is that when he made his theoretical breakthrough, which really put him on the radar of all the physicists in the world, he was working as a patent clerk. To many people, doing such a mundane job would seem like the exact opposite of being a successful physicist, but Einstein never looked at it that way. He saw it as a temporary adjustment that had to be made out of necessity. He never stopped thinking and dreaming about physics. He actually enjoyed his job because it gave him time to think. In fact, it was his enormous amount of downtime in that job that allowed him to think up the theory of general relativity, which made him such an instant success in his chosen field.


People who fulfill their dreams are the happiest people on earth. But the joy is in the doing, not the reaching! When you are transfixed by your dreams, they motivate you forward no matter what change of direction is needed.

Goals are based firmly in space and time; dreams are eternal. You’ll get the house, the business, the great girl, but your dreams will still be there pushing you ahead.

Your dreams are the manifestation of what you truly can do and who you truly can be. There is no greater goal in life than to live your dream . . . every day. Making your decision and getting on your path through this book is the way you can begin to do that.

Hold on to those dreams and let them move you forward!


Call to Action 1. When situations arise that look like your dreams will have to go on hold for a bit, look for solutions. 2. Say to yourself, “Achieving my dream looks challenging at this point, what is it I can do to get around this current situation and still stay on the road to victory.” 3. The answers are out there, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened... 4. Whatever you do, DON’T QUIT!


13 Be Careful! ”I’m Gonna Quit! Goals” and “I’m Gonna Win Goals”

We have talked about your goals throughout this book. Did you know, though, that there are different types of goals?

There are quitting goals and winning goals.

What does that mean? Well, quitting goals are those goals we make to quit certain negative habits: smoking, drinking, doing drugs, maybe gambling. These goals are about leaving something behind, stepping away from a way of life. They focus on a past and as a result can pull a lot of your energy and your focus into the past.

Now, you’ve read enough at this point to know . . . that’s not where you want your focus to be.

Are quitting goals necessary? Absolutely. Should we fixate and obsess over them for the rest of our lives, constantly hitting rewind to play back some bit of the past? Absolutely not.


Quitting goals are your starting point. There are a lot of wonderful programs of rehabilitation out there that have helped a lot of people deal with some pretty sizable problems and addictions. Fantastic! Good! That’s what we need to do to begin our journey. But what you’ll often see is people then stagnating in that space. They’re obsessed with where they were, constantly going back in conversations and in their perceptions of themselves to what they came from.

Again, aren’t we supposed to be moving forward?

Now, I’ve been talking a lot about my own quitting goals, but I’ve only done that here to help you. I want you to have my full story so that you can understand how effective everything that I’m teaching you in this book has been in my life. Personally, I never fixate on my quitting goals. They are a badge of honor and I’m glad that I had that experience. And I’m glad that I can share that experience with you. But I’m oriented on my future and want to always keep myself on that track.

Winning goals do just that. They move you forward. Winning goals are your goals about where you want to be and what


Winning goals are something special, something powerful.

you want to become: reaching a high point in your profession, buying that beach house, finishing that record. They keep you focused on the future and what you are becoming and manifesting bit by bit every day.

Doesn’t that sound a lot better and more like what we’re hoping for ourselves here by beginning this journey?

Winning goals are your motivators. They are the space you need to move into after accomplishing your quitting goals. Now, there’s an important point to make here: You do need to accomplish your quitting goals. Winning goals can be so powerful, and achieving them can bring us so much success that many of us think that we can just bypass the quitting goals. The worlds of art and music, for example, are littered with people who achieved their winning goals, but never successfully addressed their quitting goals. Think of all the rock stars who flamed out before thirty on drugs and alcohol. Think of Vincent Van Gogh and his prodigious talent; his winning goal to become a painter was so all-encompassing and powerful that he was never able to address issues of depression and addiction. In the end, not addressing his


quitting goals ended up destroying his life and winning goals. So don’t try to sidestep this critical part of the process.

Og Mandino, a truly motivational writer, transformed himself after addressing his quitting goals. He is a true embodiment of overcoming that first step and then continuing on to address winning goals. Before he became well known, Mandino was at a low point in his life. He was addicted to alcohol and went downhill faster and faster every day. Things got so bad that he decided to take his own life. He even bought a gun. But he never pulled that trigger. Instead, he decided to give himself a second chance and change his life. He gave up alcohol and started focusing on manifesting his winning goals.

Winning goals are something special, something powerful.

Winning goals are also something precious. You should keep your winning goals close to your heart. You might not even want to trust them with your most beloved and trustworthy friend. By keeping them to yourself, you are not belittling the person who supports you. It’s just that these winning goals are the core of all your endeavors. Have you ever thought something


and then said it and it just feels entirely different once it’s out there? You can’t risk that happening with something of such intrinsic value to yourself and your journey.

The quitting goals, well . . . you can choose to share them or not. It really depends on the situation. Sometimes it can give people a healthy idea of where you’re coming from and even help them understand and support you more. Then again it can also create a space of judgment . . . You don’t want someone’s view of you completely transfigured by their fixation on something that you did in the past, right?

After all, your vision is transfixed on the future, isn’t it?


Call to Action 1.

Tell people in your circle your quitting goals. You’re quitting this, and you’re quitting that. It will help keep you accountable.


Tell only the people that you know will have nothing but positive comments to say about your winning goals. Be very careful about this one.


14 Team Players Always Win


You will often hear people saying that the law of the jungle defines human interactions as well as animal interactions. People act as though “survival of the fittest� is the only way any of us succeed in life. The truth is, however, that teamwork is really what defines success in humans and in the animal kingdom.

Look at the emperor penguin. The female penguin lays the egg and leaves it with her male mate to incubate. The male penguin holds the egg on his feet and under his belly for months during the long winter. He loses nearly 70 percent of his body weight during this arduous event. How does he do it? By working in close cooperation with his fellow emperor penguins.

All the males gather into a large circular group. The penguins on the outside protect the penguins on the inside from the cold and the wind. When they get cold, they rotate to the inside, and the penguins who have been warmed at the center of the group rotate to the outside. In this way, all the penguins are


able to see their eggs through the harshest winter imaginable and still survive themselves.

Real team players!

What about Canadian Geese? Have you ever seen them fly in one of their perfect V formations? That shape allows for less wind resistance, adding as much as 75 percent to the geese’s range of flight over what they would have accomplished alone. Geese have figured out the benefits of playing in a team. They also understand leadership. Every goose in the formation is a leader. When one is on point leading the formation for a long time and needs to rest, another goose will rotate to the front and take over. Every goose has that growth mind-set that we discussed earlier! As a result, they are stronger as a whole.

How beneficial would that type of approach be to your life?

Now, this is not antithetical to anything I’ve written about already. You might be thinking, But I thought self-defining, independent, and confident within ourselves alone! Why are you now telling me to rely on others? Well, for one,


teamwork works best when everyone on the team is strong and autonomous in their own right. And, second, you’re not compromising any of your self by working on a team. In fact, you’re supplementing your personal success.

It’s a matter of reciprocal altruism, the kind of mutuality we discussed earlier in terms of your personal relationships. Everyone on a team brings something to the table, and they all benefit from it.

Building a Strong Team

In order to be a great team player and build a strong team, you need to understand the elements of what makes someone a great asset to a team. Let’s take a look at what really makes a great addition to a team.

A Great Team Player Is Reliable

A great team player is consistent, committed, and as a result reliable. A real team player delivers on time and in an efficient manner. Like with most everything else we’ve discussed, this


starts with you. If you aren’t reliable in your own mind, how will you be reliable to others? Focus on maintaining a consistency and reliability in how you approach everything; this will make you a very effective team player.

A Great Team Player Is a Great Communicator

How is a team going to work without communication? Whether we’re discussing a flock of geese, a pro football team, or a business, a team needs to share and communicate signals in an effective manner. How do you communicate? Are you proactive in your communication? Do you strive to be clear in everything you say?

Really, take a look at how you communicate and whether you are communicating effectively with the people around you. Signs of good communication skills include the following.

A Great Team Player Is Always Actively Engaged and Listening

Active engagement and listening are critical elements of communication. Being a good communicator depends on how


well you are taking in the information and stimuli around you. Are you catching all the details? Are you touching on the right, crucial points in any given discussion? Active engagement and listening also helps you understand the point of views of others and respond constructively. By making ourselves listen consistently as a practice, we learn to really hear the points being made around us. When you really hear what people are saying, you are less likely to get sensitive and react negatively when people voice an opinion that contradicts yours.

Active engagement means showing up—both physically and mentally. Always be there for your team and use your carefully honed listening skills to peak your interest and heighten your engagement in what’s going on.

Active engagement also leads to taking the initiative on things. Remember, everyone in a team is a leader, like our Canadian Geese. You will need to be engaged and paying attention to step up and take the mantle of leadership when necessary.


A Good Team Player Is A Giver And Generous

A great team player wants everyone on the team to succeed. The health of the entire team depends on the soundness of each element, right? So why would you hold back a good idea that might benefit another team member and the team as a whole, just because it might make you look good to keep the credit or because you want to retain some element of power and control? Share your good ideas and make them part of the team effort. It will only circle back and benefit you in the long run.

A Good Team Player Cooperates

Sharing your ideas and efforts goes hand in hand with cooperation. Work with others and really focus on a group effort. You will always hear about people who say things like, “I just can’t work in a group at all. I’ll bring my ideas to the table when they’re formulated.” This kind of mentality doesn’t help the team and it doesn’t help the individual; he or she is missing out on some great potential input from team members.


A Good Team Player Goes with the Flow

We have discussed in great detail how things will change for you and you will need to go with the flow in your individual life and efforts. This goes doubly for your efforts on a team. Because there are so many factors involved in a team and so many channels of import, things can be changing constantly. Don’t fear it; don’t get annoyed by it or frustrated.

In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. —T.S. Eliot

You aren’t going to fix anything by being inflexible. Rigidity is good in certain areas of our life, but usually opening up and being flexible really makes the difference and creates the change that is needed. All the above—listening, being engaged, cooperating, etc.—will help you adjust when the time comes.


A Good Team Player Is Committed to the Team

This is a concept that you are an expert at this point. You know very well that no amount of commitment is too much. Stay as committed to your team as you are to your personal endeavors. Your team members will see, feel, and understand your commitment. This will cause them to hold you in high esteem more than almost any other asset. Think about it? When you hear someone say, “That guy is really committed to the team,” isn’t that the very definition of being a great team player?

A Good Team Player Is Oriented on Solutions

Be a problem solver, not someone who catalogues or obsesses over problems. Just as in our discussion about dealing with disappointments, when a problem surfaces on a team, you need to act proactively in order to be a good team player. It sounds simple, but fixing problems is the only way to fix them, right?

Oftentimes, people will settle into roles on a team or assign roles to other people; that’s the person who whines about problems, and that’s the person who causes problems. The


only person you want to be is the person who fixes problems. Imagine how far a team full of problem solvers could go?

A Good Team Player Is Polite

Some people think they are most effective when they adhere to a tough managerial style. You need to understand that there is a difference between firmness and toughness. When working in a team setting, you can be organized, efficient, and committed to getting things done while still being considerate and courteous to everyone involved. A true professional never resorts to name-calling or insults. A true professional, as mentioned earlier, also stays flexible; how can you or your team maintain flexibility when you’re pigeonholing and belittling everyone around you?

Team players who embody the qualities of great team players don’t come under any particular style or personality. They don’t need to be dominant or even too outgoing. In fact, they may even be reserved . . . but they are never, ever passive. They all share one thing in common: They are always positive and are never disengaged. They are always willing to step up

and add to the team’s efforts, and it’s never inconvenient or annoying for them to do so.

A great team player understands that what’s best for the individual is best for the team . . . which in the longer run is, again, best for the individual. Their commitment is to winning—not as if they’re waging a war, but as if the whole team is crossing the finish line together. And this gets to really the key factor of being a great team player, the one I really want you to take away with you:

A great team player makes sure that everyone is along for the ride.

A few decades back, there was a literary group founded at a university in the Midwest that managed to establish a great reputation for itself early on thanks to the talents of the young men involved. Those ambitious young short-story writers, poets, novelists, and essayists all had an unparalleled ability to put the pith of human experience on to the page. It was really one of those amazing situations where an unusually large number of truly extraordinary people ended up in close proximity to one another. On a team. This team of highly

A great team player understands that what’s best for the individual is best for the team . . .


skilled individuals got together regularly to work together, brainstorm, and develop new ideas.

But you know what? These guys weren’t cooperative. They weren’t communicative. They destroyed one another. They judged. Any flaw they saw in the work of another team member was instantly jumped on and insulted without mercy. It was probably the toughest, most unsupportive teams to ever attempt to do something creative.

The literary meetings held by those writers were so judgmental that they ended up being called the Stranglers. Now what kind of creative success do you think they actually achieved in the long run? Not much.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the campus, a group of female students got together and started their own literary group. They decided on a much less combative approach. They believed that working as a team would be better for them in the long run. They called their group the Wranglers. They supported one another. They finessed things; sure, there was still criticism involved (after all, literary criticism was on the


agenda), but they criticized constructively. They helped their team members find a way out of difficulties. If a piece that one of the members wrote wasn’t working, they all worked together to figure out how that writer could fix it.

How well do you think this team fared?

A few decades later, when the success of the Stranglers versus the Wranglers was assessed by the university, one thing became instantly clear—the Wranglers had succeeded where the Stranglers had failed. Even though the Stranglers team comprised some of the most effective and talented writers at the university, none of them managed to succeed at literary careers. The Wranglers, on the other hand, managed to make it; seven of them went on to successful careers as writers with one even gaining an international reputation by writing The Yearling.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that no matter how talented your team is or how “deep your bench is,” your team won’t make it unless it comprises proactive, constructive team members.


Do you want to be an effective member of an effective team? Or do you want to be a part of a team that gets nothing done and goes nowhere in the end?

Do you want to be a member of the Wranglers or the Stranglers?


Call to Action 1. Work on the following qualities to be more of a team player: 2. Being Reliable 3. Communicate Effectively 4. Listen Well 5. Be Generous, Don’t Have Alligator Arms 6. Cooperate 7. Be Flexible 8. Commit to the Team 9. Be a Problem Solver 10. Be Polite and Kind


15 Training the Mind That Has Been Conditioned to Fail


You have heard me mention ZigZiglar during this book. In fact, you’ve probably heard him in a lot of contexts; he is one of the most well-known and extensively shared thinkers of the last hundred years. He coined more useful concepts and told more useful stories than almost anyone in the history of sales and marketing.

At the core of all his messages was that you need to maintain a success-driven mentality in order to succeed. If you are ever oriented on failure or negativity in the slightest, you will limit your opportunities to succeed.

Ziglar saw one thing in particular as especially draining on a goal-oriented mind-set—being a SNIOP. SNIOP? What does that mean?

A SNIOP is someone who is susceptible to the negative influence of other people.


How many of us fall into this category again and again, in little ways and big ways? This is easily one of the most pervasive failings in people. Why?

Because it happens on so many levels. Someone can tell you directly that you’ve done something they think is dumb, but they can also show you in subconscious ways. Comments on our behavior are also all over the media we absorb so much of every day—this person is a success, this person is beautiful . . . If you don’t know to block it out or ignore it, it is going to come at you all the time, every day and in every way imaginable.

If it’s so pervasive, how can you possibly protect yourself against negative influences? You can’t lock yourself in a room and never talk to anyone again. You can’t shut yourself off emotionally. That would only hurt you.

What you can do is define your game. ZigZiglar often cited Coach John Wooden as one of the exemplars of avoiding SNIOPs. Coach Wooden, as you may know, won more collegiate championships as the basketball coach at UCLA than any other coach in the history of the game. How? He taught his


players to play their own game, define the game for themselves, and never let the opposing team define the parameters.

Play your own game. Don’t let anyone else tell you what game you are playing.

When you let someone else define the game, you also let them define your limits. Do you know who Roger Bannister is? He was the young man who broke the sub-4 mile back in the 1950s. Up until that point, running a mile in less than four minutes had been the Holy Grail of running. Everyone at an amateur, semi-professional, and professional level was fixated on breaking that unbreakable record.

Except it wasn’t unbreakable. It was just a construct—one that had been holding all those runners back for years. “No one can run a sub-4!” They would always tell themselves. “That’s the line . . . That’s the record!”

They were letting the outside world define their narrative, their limitations, their game.


How can I say this with such authority? Because as soon as Bannister broke the record, eight runners also broke the record within the next year. Did they all start eating their Wheaties all of a sudden? Were runners all of a sudden getting on steroids in 1954? Of course not!

The mental limit set by the culture of running had held them all back.

Negative thinking and negative statements have a powerful effect on all of us. Even just one lone negativity-filled person can affect an entire room of positive people. As we’ve discussed earlier, our brains get stuck in patterns; there is so much negative information coming at us all the time that it is almost impossible to have a natural resistance to it. Maybe one in a million people is able to float above a steady wave of negativity.

For most of us—like it was for me—we have to make a conscious decision to break out of a pattern of negativity and set our lives in a new direction.


Are you a SNIOP? Are there people around you who are SNIOPs and may be bringing you down? Remember, when I made the choice to change my life, I had to change a lot of the people in it, too. I also had to change the language I was using to frame and discuss my life. I had to change my mental approach.

All these factors were SNIOPs. Again, you aren’t going to shut yourself off from anyone. We all desire approval from others, and it’s natural to listen to others. You won’t be able to make it so that all SNIOP-related things around you disappear. You can just change how you process it and deal with it.

You want to focus on what matters—your goals and the techniques you are using to reach them. You want to maintain a proactive, positive approach. When you focus on yourself and your efforts in a constructive way, you begin to build up a natural resistance to negativity.

The first moment you pay attention to those who are negative, a bunch of things will happen in rapid succession: One, you will push yourself off your path, whether slightly or big time. (Even


the small nudges to your course can have a disastrous effect in the long run.) Two, you will start to carry these negative influences along with you on your path. Aren’t you already carrying enough? And third? This is the most important—you’ll lower your sights . . . and that means losing sight of your goals.

Trying to fit anyone else’s standards only ends in frustration. Even if you get an occasional accolade from a SNIOP, those little moments of support won’t make any difference against the moments of negativity. What you’ve handed over to the negative person is control of your life; they are now defining your goals.

As we discussed in the previous chapter, you have to protect your goals. Sometimes we expose ourselves to SNIOPs by sharing our goals. This is, of course, the most dangerous kind of negativity. Take care of your goals—keep them close and keep them safe.

Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is always willing to offer up an opinion. When you ask for input, you open yourself to a potential flood of negativity. Minimize this by being very selective when sharing your ideas.


There’s something interesting that goes on when you limit your need for input from other people—they stop giving it.

When you consistently signal to people that their negativity is not welcome, they will actually stop offering it. Some will get this faster than others, but eventually most people will understand on some level what you’re trying to do.

Remember! Your only goal is to reach your goal!

Have you ever heard the famous Ziglar story about the fleas? When you take fleas and put them in a jar, they’re going to start jumping and jumping and jumping, trying to get out. What happens when they do that? They whack their heads on the lid of the jar.

They learn their lesson quickly enough. After very little time, they pull their jumps a bit. They’re still jumping; they’re just not whacking their heads on the lid anymore.

Then something amazing happens. Once they’ve self-taught and told themselves to pull their jumps, they keep doing it


consistently. They can actually take the lid right off the jar . . . and they won’t escape. You initially told the fleas they couldn’t escape with the lid. They internalized the lesson and incorporated it into how they operate.

And then they can’t unlearn that lesson.

That’s what you do to yourself when you let yourself become a SNIOP and listen to other SNIOPs.

Break the pattern! Open your eyes and see that the lid is off. You don’t have to respect some arbitrary limitation anymore, whether it’s that lid or the four-minute mile.

There’s another famous story that relates to all this. There was a man whose friend worked at the circus as an acrobat. His friend invited him to come “backstage” before the circus began to see how the whole operation worked. He saw some pretty fascinating things: the bearded lady grooming her beard, the strong man warming up by lifting a car.


As he passed by a group of elephants, he saw the most amazing thing of all the eccentric sights in that circus. He saw giant creatures who weighed tons being held in place by little ropes, ropes that would hardly hold a strong dog, let alone a giant elephant. He paused, confused. No chains for elephants? Anyone with common sense could see that those animals could snap those ropes at any time . . . Why weren’t they doing it?

While he was standing there pondering that, his acrobat friend passed by. “I know what you’re thinking about,” his acrobat friend said. “I thought the exact same thing the first time I saw them. You’re thinking about the ropes.”

“Yes!” said the man. “What in the world is going on? Those animals are strong enough to break those ropes in a split second!”

The acrobat smiled. “Let me explain,” he went on. “When these elephants were babies, their trainers started tying them off with these exact same ropes. They weren’t strong enough at that point to break the ropes. As they grew, the trainers continued to use the same ropes, but the elephants never challenged that first lesson they learned. They kept on believing that those


ropes could hold them all the way into their adulthood that you see here now. It just took telling them once that they couldn’t do it for them to buy into it for the rest of their lives.”

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life holding on tight to the idea that we cannot do something, simply because someone told us once that we couldn’t do it?

Don’t be the elephants! Test your boundaries constantly. Redefine the parameters of your word as you see fit, when you like. And like the fleas, don’t let an imaginary boundary set in place by someone else inform you how you should operate.

You define your own game—no one else.

Here’s a story from real life that underscores this point beautifully. There’s a young man named Patrick Henry Hughes, who has a significant musical gift. He has also been blind and crippled since birth. He needs a wheelchair to get around. His fingers are thick and inflexible and hardly suited to an instrumentalist.

The thing is no one ever told him that that was a problem.


He plays piano beautifully. In fact, he plays several instruments. When he plays the piano, like Hee Ah who we discussed earlier, his fingers move with a skill that far surpasses the skill of socalled “able-bodied” people.

No one ever convinced Patrick that he had a rope he couldn’t break around his ankles. No one ever programmed him to think that he couldn’t do things that other kids could do.

When asked about his physical difficulties, here’s what Patrick says:

I mean, God made me blind and didn’t give me the ability to walk. I mean, big deal . . . He gave me the talent to play piano and trumpet and all that good stuff.

Patrick has a unique approach to life, one that all of us can learn from. Obstacles that would floor most people mean nothing to him. He is determined to always set his own rules, and if a rope is put around his ankle, he’ll do his best to snap it.


He isn’t alone in this. His parents and entire family have always reinforced this approach to life. And he has also helped them.

At first, Patrick’s parents thought their problems were insurmountable. They were both working overtime and getting little sleep, really struggling to keep their family afloat while dealing with Patrick’s medical issues and needs.

Then they saw how Patrick didn’t see his struggles as problematic. He didn’t see any lid on the jar or rope around his ankle. His parents learned from that attitude. Now, instead of focusing on all the hard work and lack of sleep they go through, they focus on the positive and how lucky they are to have someone as motivational and inspirational as Patrick in their lives.

Patrick’s father works an all-night shift, gets a few hours of sleep, and then helps Patrick during the day. He considers it a pleasure, not a hardship.

Patrick’s mother works full-time and takes care of the house. She sees to Patrick’s medical needs and takes care of his siblings, too. She doesn’t see it as toil; she sees it as a pleasure.


Everyone in the family chooses to maintain a healthy perspective. There is no “Boo hoo, why me?” in this family. The only thing you hear is “how lucky are we!”

Are they tired? Yes. Are they stressed out at times? Yes. But what do they get in return? The presence of a young man who inspires and who never settles for what someone else has told him are his limitations.

Patrick even cites his lack of sight as one of his many blessings. He sees his blindness as having given him an ability to “see” things and people from the inside, instead of getting stuck on outward appearances. He says he is able to “see” a complete and vivid world that many people with sight might not be able to see or don’t pay attention to.

Patrick now attends university. He plays in the marching band at the band leader’s suggestion. Patrick’s father helps him out and goes to every rehearsal and every game.

Patrick’s father acts as his son’s eyes and legs, guiding him around the field while Patrick plays trumpet in the brass


section. They adhere closely to formation. There are no cheats, no shortcuts. Patrick functions just as a band member who is able to walk. Sometimes their bandmates even have to step in and give Patrick’s dad some pointers.

I hope you get from this and from everything you’ve read in this book that anything is possible for you. If you stay focused on your goals and maintain a positive outlook like Patrick’s, anything is possible.

Being a SNIOP doesn’t get you anywhere. Believing that the rope around your ankle is going to keep you in place isn’t going to get you anywhere. Believing you can go no higher than a certain point, like the fleas in the jar, isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Be like Patrick and define for yourself who you are and what you are capable of.

When you do this, you will find that your world is transformed and that you are on your way to achieving your ultimate success.


Call to Action 1. Be aware of negative people and negative vocabulary 2. Be confident in yourself, and in your dreams 3.

Understand that the things in your life that you don’t think are possible, and may seem somewhat scary to even think about, are very attainable.

4. Decide that you will NOT be a SNIOP 5. One more Chapter to go! FINISH!


16 Visualize the Reaching: See Yourself in Your New Future


We’ve talked a lot throughout this book about using visualization to orient yourself on your goals and really imagine yourself being in that space of success that you will occupy in the future. As I begin to wrap things up, I want to leave you with a few exercises to use to keep visualizing your future.

I also want to reiterate how much everything I’ve included in here has helped me in my own journey. As I’ve said to you again and again, making a journey like this takes commitment and practice; the good news is that I know this from real personal experience. These techniques and lessons have made a remarkable difference in my life and can work for you.

Once you’ve made your decision and set your sights on your goal, all you have to worry about is getting from day to day with a clear heart and ironclad focus.


I made a commitment to myself all those years ago as I sat in that bar. I want you to make that same kind of commitment to yourself now.

Your Future Letter

There’s something interesting that takes place in a lot of job interviews. The person doing the hiring asks the person being interviewed where they want to be in five years, and that person does not mention the very company they’re actually being interviewed at. Funny, right? Interviewees who answer that way don’t usually get hired. For one, their thoughts and actions are not in line. Second, the interviewer can feel that their heart isn’t really in the job.

That’s how important visualizing your future is. Now, instead of five years from now, I want you to consider where you’re going to be ten years from now. You’ve made your decision, set your goals; now I want you to really envision what it will be like.

I want you to sit down now with all the information you’ve learned along the way here and all the knowledge you’ve gleaned from really assessing your own life and experience while reading this book and write down a letter to yourself.


The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen. —Lee Iacocca

This letter will be a commitment. This letter will clearly and honestly elucidate your dreams for your future. It will be a declaration of your future.

I made a commitment to myself all those years ago as I sat in that bar. I want you to make that same kind of commitment to yourself now.

I want you to sit down and write this letter to a friend: someone you invest in, someone you trust, someone you can share all your dreams with without fear, someone you feel that you will still know and care for a decade down the road and who will still be caring about you.

I want you to write in the present tense, as if the events in your life ten years from now when you reach your goals have already taken place.


Write as if it has happened. When you do that, when you imagine that, it will happen.

Dear Janet, I finally made it to Paris. I’ve been living with Tom in a great walk-up and working on my novel for five years now . . .

Rick, I wanted to touch base with you after all these years and let you know something. My business finally fell into place. I am the official owner of my own restaurant . . .

Dear Shana, I met the women of my dreams and moved to Argentina . . . You always told me everything I wanted for myself would come true . . .

Use detail. Use your imagination. Again, really envision what is going to happen and make this record of it. Carry it with you as you move forward and transform your current existence into the one it was always meant to be.


Include where you will be living, what you will be doing for fun and for a living (maybe they’re the same!), and who you will be spending your time with.

Make up details for that future world that hasn’t even been conceived as yet—are cars still the same? Who’s the president? Have we gone back to the moon?

Engage your imagination.

In closing, I would like to thank you for coming along on this journey with me in this book. I know that it will put you in a good place to start your own journey. Remember to stay focused above all of us on your ultimate goals. Use the lessons in positivity you’ve learned here to stay oriented on your goals no matter what happens.

I know you can do it because I did it myself. And I have helped many others accomplish their journeys as well. The evidence is there from practice and lives lived and goals accomplished.

May success be yours as well.


Call to Action 1. Write the letter, it is a powerful exercise.




I’ve added this appendix with some of my favorite quotes from some of the most inspirational writers and thinkers I have ever encountered as a resource for you. Read through these quotes and look into the works of these authors, too. All this knowledge can be incorporated into your journey toward your goals.

Weigh each quote and see how it impacts you and how it applies to everything we have discussed in this book. Remember, there is a world of opportunity and joy out there for you. The words here are just a taste of what you have in store for yourself when you begin down your self-appointed road toward success.


Choices are the hinges of destiny. —Attributed to both Edwin Markham and Pythagoras Consider what you think justice requires, and decide accordingly. But never give your reasons; for your judgment will probably be right, but your reasons will certainly be wrong.

—Lord Mansfield Some persons are very decisive when it comes to avoiding decisions. —Brendan Francis You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice. —Steven D. Woodhull Life is the sum of all your choices. —Albert Camus


Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing. —Herman Broch Indecision becomes decision with time. —Author Unknown The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live. —Flora Whittemore Decisions become easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world. —Anso Coetzer Reconsider, v. To seek a justification for a decision already made. —Ambrose Bierce The inability to make a decision has often been passed off as patience. —Author Unknown


Having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night is a very old human need. —Margaret Mead Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. —Swedish Proverb Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. —Emily Kimbrough There’s one sad truth in life I’ve found While journeying east and west– The only folks we really wound Are those we love the best. We flatter those we scarcely know, We please the fleeting guest, And deal full many a thoughtless blow To those who love us best. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Oh, the comfort—the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. —Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859 Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade. —Leo Buscaglia Sticks and stones are hard on bones Aimed with angry art, Words can sting like anything But silence breaks the heart. —Phyllis McGinley, Ballad of Lost Objects, 1954 Assumptions are the termites of relationships. —Henry Winkler I like her because she smiles at me and means it. —Anonymous


Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings. —Miles Franklin In the end, who among us does not choose to be a little less right to be a little less lonely. —Robert Brault, You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you. —Frederick Buechner Present your family and friends with their eulogies now— they won’t be able to hear how much you love them and appreciate them from inside the coffin. —Anonymous


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” —A. A. Milne I felt it shelter to speak to you. —Emily Dickinson Are we not like two volumes of one book? —Marceline Desbordes-Valmore Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important. —Carl Reiner Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us. —Hector Bianciotti, Sans La Misericorde du Christ Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. —Marcel Proust


When something is missing in your life, it usually turns out to be someone. —Robert Brault, To know when to go away and when to come closer is the key to any lasting relationship. —DoménicoCieri Estrada Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. —Flavia Weedn, Forever, © No road is long with good company. —Turkish Proverb If fame were based on kindness instead of popularity, on understanding and not on worldwide attention, you would be the biggest celebrity on earth. And to my heart, you already are. —Anonymous


Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. —Oprah Winfrey Good company upon the road is the shortest cut. —Author Unknown There are times when two people need to step apart from each other, but there is no rule that says they have to turn and fire. —Robert Brault, Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for you. —Author Unknown People change and forget to tell each other. —Lillian Hellman In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other.


—Linda Ellerbee, Move On: Adventures in the Real World Sometimes you have to get to know someone really well to realize you’re really strangers. —Mary Tyler Moore Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky. —Rainer Maria Rilke You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with. —Wayne W. Dyer How lucky I am to have something that makes saying good-bye so hard. —The movie Annie


In LIFE 180, author Thomas Nestor presents a universal, entire, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With piercing insights and pointed narratives, Nestor reveals a step-by-step walkway for living with decency, integrity, service, and character-principles that give us the safeguard to adapt to change and the wisdom and effectiveness to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates. Thomas Nestor was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. As a young man, he entered college as an Early Childhood Education major, with an emphasis in Business Administration. While in school, he worked as a teacher and an administrative assistant at a prestigious children’s Academy until becoming the Executive Director in 2004. After three years of administrative responsibilities, he purchased three Academy locations in the years ranging from 2007-2009 becoming a business owner and commercial real estate holder at 30 years of age. Thomas currently speaks for assemblies at High Schools and Colleges on the topics of Choices and Goal Setting that Works, along with operating three businesses.