You Don’t Know Jack?…The One Word That Can Turn Failure To Success!

“Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm” Winston Churchill

How do you turn a perceived failure into success?

By meeting a Guy Named Jack!!!

Let me explain and start by saying that everyone has had times in their life where they’ve felt like a failure, didn’t measure up, or were disappointed in an outcome; including myself.  This actually happened to me recently at a public speaking contest I had been nominated for and entered.  It was an honor just to be nominated and compete in this International Speech Competition.  This was my first “speech competition,” per se.  All my prior engagements were always scheduled, planned and strictly professional.  I really enjoy the process of writing speeches, workshops, training’s and the creative process that goes into putting them together.  To be honest my only expectation was to show up, have a good showing while having some fun.

Then I met Jack!  Jack was an interesting fella to say the least.  While we waited to hear instructions I shook the other contestants hand, Jack being one of them. I simply asked how many of them had previously been in competitions.  Before anyone could answer Jack stuck his chest out and proclaimed “I have been in several, I own these things but don’t worry it’ll be alright.” I tried to contain a chuckle wondering why Jack felt the need to comfort the rest of the field; but it was funny to say the least.  Jack was not the most humble of gentleman and proceeded to tell everyone that he had a contingency of followers that accompanied him to the event.  I must admit my competitive juices began to flow a little when Jack entered stage left but it was all in good fun.

The competition began and the contestants gave their speeches.  My speech was an inspirational speech titled “Lean on Me,” where I highlighted the importance of team in my personal life.  As I left the stage, the president of the competition pulled me aside, with tears in her eyes, telling me how touched she was by my story.  It was a great experience and I was grateful for the opportunity to inspire at least one person in the room that night.  While the competition continued many of the participants and audience members came up and told me how touched they were by the speech as well.  Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, the results were in and the winner of the competition is………..Jack!!! Although I was a little disappointed in the outcome, I accepted the second place trophy, shook Jack’s hand and congratulated him on the win.  I still left feeling pretty good about the experience and my performance.

Until two weeks later.  Thats when I saw Jack again.  This time I was at another contest to support a friend in a different competition. As I walked in the room, I saw through my periphery vision none other than Jack.  At some point Jack made a b-line to me, interrupted a conversation I was having to make sure he came up and said………”What is your name again.”  I simply told him my name and made sure to congratulate him again on advancing.

As I left that night, my competitiveness had a sudden flashback to my days of playing college basketball.  It was a nice moment, remembering my years of playing hoops and the motivation to outperform your opponent.  As I’ve matured and my days of playing basketball have lessened the motivation has changed.  I am still very motivated and vigorously follow my passions and goals.  However, it now usually comes from an intrinsic place, inside of me; where I now want to help solve a problem or help someone for a greater good.  This gives me great personal gratification and truly does the soul good .  But Jack helped me tap into that extrinsic motivation, and I realized that the single most important principle that can turn perceived failure to success is motivation!

Motivation is an interesting thing. It is defined as “the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.” Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting to work early to complete an assignment or reading a book to gain knowledge.  Studies have identified three major components of motivation:

  1. Activation– the decision to initiate a behavior.
  2. Persistence– the continued effort towards a goal despite the obstacles that may exist
  3. Intensity– The concentration and vigor one goes about into pursuing a goal

This is what Jack helped me with and can help us all with; find out what truly motivates you! What are your goals?

My activation was entering the competition to follow my dreams and passion and continuing on this path.

What is yours?  Do you have a goal to go to school, change careers, start a family?  ACTIVATE!

Whatever your goals may be (writing a book, changing careers, following your dreams), be PERSISTENT!

Lastly, go after your passion with INTENSITY and vigor.  If you don’t believe in yourself and your goals, no one will.

This experience has also reminded me that what we sometimes perceive as failures, often times, is our greatest stepping stone.  Learning experiences that come from defeat isn’t failure at all, it’s the motivation we sometimes need to bring about a better perspective.  A setback is often a set up, for a comeback; to something even bigger and more rewarding.

Michael Jordan was cut by his high school team as a freshman.  He has told the story many times, citing the coach that cut him and the experience of not making the team as the reason he worked so hard to be great.  Albert Einstein couldn’t speak until he was 4 years old and his teachers said he wouldn’t amount to anything. Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor and told she wasn’t fit for TV.  Steve Jobs was fired by the company he helped create at age 30.  The list goes on.  All of these success stories have this one thing in common: they all turned perceived failure to success and used it as motivation to fuel their desire to be great.  They ran into their own Jack!

We all have an opportunity to do the same, to fuel our own desire to be great.  So the next time life presents you with what you perceive as a failure, an undesirable outcome or challenge, don’t allow it to deter you.  Find JACK and get to know him!

7 Ways To Leave A Legacy You’ll Be Proud Of!

What is your Legacy? Each day as we wake up and go about our daily routines, we have an opportunity to leave our footprint on the world.  Our legacy is a reflection of how our deeds and actions are remembered by those whose lives we’ve affected either directly or indirectly.  The beauty of life is that we get to decide, by the actions we take, what our legacy will be. Here are a few principles that I have learned help create a legacy that I can be proud of:

  1. Persevere- Remember your current situation isn’t your destination.  Never give up.  Although you may be going through a rough patch either at work, home, or in a relationship, don’t allow this to define you.  Stay true to your values and handle adversity with integrity.  Doing so will keep your values consistent with your actions thus enhancing your legacy in the long run.
  2. Selfless Service/Help Someone- Contribute and give of yourself without expectation of being recognized or someone returning the favor.  Whenever I have given of myself either as a mentor, friend or anonymous contributor, the reward for me comes from within.  People who aren’t always looking for recognition or payback usually stand apart as extraordinary.
  3. Do More Than Expected- Always do your best and then some. One of the definitions of integrity, is what you do when no one is looking.  It is easier to give 100% when things are going well, but what about during adversity?  Do you work just as hard to make sure you are giving greatest effort and leaving a legacy of hard work and committment?
  4. Make Your Words Count- Be a person that steers clear of negative talk.  This includes negative self talk as well as talking ill of others.  Stay clear of gossip and when you say something mean it! Leave a legacy that you are a person who is true to their word.
  5. Laugh and Smile- The ability to laugh and make others feel good about your presence is a gift.  Don’t take yourself so seriously, be able to laugh at yourself and your shortcomings.  Maya Angelo once said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people never forget how you made them feel!”. Couldn’t have said it any better.
  6. Take A Risk- Going through life always playing it safe will keep you in mediocrity. Take a risk in life, on a relationship, on your dream career. The benefits of following your passion will allow you to leave behind something you believed in.
  7. Give Others Credit– Say thank you to a job well done and include others in successes.  This takes time, effort and trust to build and develop relationships.  Great leaders can enroll others and celebrate successes with others as well.  It takes a special leader to enjoy successes without having to take all the credit.  Your work will speak for itself and the when others feel part of the success, your legacy grows exponentially.

Shannon L. Alder once stated “Carve Your Names On Hearts, Not Tombstones.  A Legacy Is Etched Into The Minds Of Others, And The Stories They Tell About You.” So, how do you define your Legacy? What are the habits you live by that will build your legacy?

7 Tips to Positive Thinking

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

This is one of my favorite Cherokee Indian Legends that highlights the importance of self-awareness and positivity.  Are you aware of the information you are filling your mind, body and spirit with on a daily basis? The things we read, watch, listen to, eat and speak all play a role in our happiness and general outlook on life.  For example, have you ever “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” or stumped your toe in the morning? What happens next?  We often tell ourselves that our day is doomed and more often than not this outlook becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  In all reality, you can restart your day whenever you choose but it’s up to you and how you change your perspective.  Napoleon Hill once said “It is your responsibility to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence on your mind.”  Try this…For the next 7 days, practice the 7 strategies below and see how it changes your perspective of the day.  Here are a few strategies to feed the positive wolf within:

  1. Start Writing a Journal- highlight your key successes throughout the day as well as what a successful day would look like. Once I started looking at success, I was drawn to success.
  2. Read Uplifting Information- I take the train every morning and usually read a book on my way to work.  Occasionally a newspaper will be sitting  around and I’ll always open up and read the sports section first. A friend once asked why I read the sports section first and I told him “when I wake up, I’d rather read about mans accomplishments than mans failures.”  So, read a book or listen to a cd that is positive and positively affects your spirit.
  3. Write a Gratitude List- Gratitude in my attitude always helps me with my day.  Sometimes the adversities in life are so acute, that they seem unbearable.  To change this outlook, sit down and take time to write the things in your life that you appreciate, make you happy and are grateful for.  Whenever I write a gratitude list, my perspective usually changes for the positive.
  4. Smile and Laugh – it’s a biological fact that laughter boosts the immense system, releases endorphins and improves blood flow to the heart.  So laugh and smile more and if you can try to make someone else laugh and smile as well!
  5. Help Someone- Take on the responsibility of being a mentor or a coach.  Being of service to someone else often triggers the most rewarding and soul satisfying feelings inside. Helping others takes us outside of ourselves and our own motives.
  6. THANK YOU- Take time to visit, call or write someone and tell them thank you.  I take time to thank mentors, family members and friends for the positive influence they have had on me.  They appreciate it and you will feel good about doing it.
  7. Surround Yourself with Positive People- The people you spend the most time with are the ones that influence you the most!

Do you have a technique to share that feeds the positive wolf?

“It was all a dream…” 3 ways to Develop your Strengths

On the anniversary of one of my favorite rappers, Biggie Smalls aka Notorious B.I.G’s death; I’ve been reflecting on the relevance of a quote he had in his song “Juicy.”  This song in retrospect spoke to important lessons about finding and developing your strengths in order to live a life beyond any you can imagine.  The lyrics of the song went as follows:

“It was all a Dream, I used to read Word Up Magazine, Salt and Pepper and Heavy D up in the limousine.  Hanging pictures on my wall, every Saturday, Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl.”

Whether consciously or subconsciously the message behind Biggie’s words ring true today for those hoping to discover or develop their strengths.  My personal and professional experience with self-improvement, leadership, strength finding and building a successful life has given me the opportunity to study and speak about the subject of strength building in various forums.  Anyone who is trying to develop their own personal strengths in hopes of living their dream life can take the following lessons from his lyrics:

  1. Visualize“Hanging pictures on my wall” If you don’t dare to visualize what success looks like to you, then how will you attain it? Take time to write down what your strengths are and what success would look like to you in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.  If you can’t visualize what a successful life will look, taste, smell and feel like, how will you ever achieve it? Use pictures and images that inspire you and look for things that are exciting.  If you are passionate about your work, it doesn’t feel as much like work; it feels like you are in your element and your strengths will develop as a result.
  2.  Research- “I used to read word up magazine.” If you have a goal of being an accountant than you need to research how people in your field became accountants.  My passion is coaching, workshops, trainings and public speaking so I began researching the people in the field that were doing the same.  Market research will tell you what is relevant and allow you to see what is out there.  Research can show you who if anyone in your profession is doing similar things that you would like to do.  Sometimes we think we need to not only reinvent the wheel but the entire car.  Take your time and study your profession in order to develop.
  3. Consistency- “Every Saturday, Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl.” Successful people take time to develop their strengths and skill set.  You can be naturally good at something but that will only take you so far.  Consistently developing your strengths is vital because there is always someone who will be just as hungry for success as you.  Study your profession or passion, attend workshops, coffee chats, and read literature.  We are in an age where information is at our fingertips, so take advantage of it and try to do something every day towards developing your strengths.

Over the past few years, I have spent lot of time cultivating my strengths and helping create a life beyond any I could have imagined.  I’ve been told by mentors to write down goals that I have for myself, and someday I’ll look back on that list of goals and see that I was cheating myself.  And that’s exactly what had happened, I’d been cheating myself.  Mostly because I never dared to dream that “impossible dream.”  In this process of self discovery, I’ve slowly started moving into a life and career that matched my dreams and strengths.  I’ve tried to give voice a voice to the voiceless, give hope to the hopeless, and give strength to those who are struggling.  However, there came a point where I felt that my individual strengths, talents and dreams were being underutilized thus short circuiting my growth and development.  The decision was to either remain complacent or make a change!  This is the point when I had to Visualize, Research and Consistently work on my skills.  The importance of taking time to develop my gift and follow my passion has been the greatest undertaking of my career.  But I had to make the decision to chase this dream of mine and put the time and effort in.  I knew that I needed to seek help from those who had experience and ask them to mentor me.  Their time, support and encouragement has been vital to the process and for that I am eternally grateful.  So take the time and be good to yourself, you are worth it.  You have a unique skill that can be cultivated to maximize your potential.  What are you waiting for? Visualize, Research and Be Consistent! And Dream the Impossible… Aubrey Hepburn once said “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.”