Archive for August, 2008

Below Average

August 21, 2008

I spend most of my time here talking about average people and high achievers.  But by definition, if there are average and high achievers, there must also be people who are below average.  Who is that person?

I heard about this one on the Kevin and Bean show who found this this obituary in the Vallejo Times-Herald:

Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on Aug. 7, 2008. Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

“Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times, too. But I truly believe at the end of the day all of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

“There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart.  We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, goodbye Mom.”

It doesn’t matter what your abilities, gifts or passion no one wants to leave this legacy.  You don’t have to be talented or exceptional to pursue a life of love, generosity and kindness.  That begins today.

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Fear v Confidence

August 19, 2008

Trying to live a special or exceptional life is scary, especially for the average guy.  I’ve written about confidence before as one of the things that distinguishes the high achiever from the average guy.  But confidence and fear aren’t the same thing.  I’m guessing that the high achiever feels fear.  I have no way of knowing.  Probably most would tell you yes, they feel it.  But, that doesn’t mean it is the same overwhelming, paralysis inducing fear that the average guy feels.

Confidence isn’t a lack of fear.  Confidence is a faith that you can achieve in spite of obstacles like fear.  So, by definition a high achiever who has confidence in him or herself may feel the fear but they will not be paralyzed with fear.

Not so with us average guys.  I’ve spent afternoons when I knew I HAD to make progress on a project staring at a screen with my mind feeling like it was wading through tar.  I’d do anything to get away until I was in the right frame of mind to pursue the project.

It’s that moment when I can choose to be pursue achievement or be an average guy.  The high achiever buckles down and pursues excellence.  The average guy pursues excuses.

So, don’t expect not to feel fear.  Instead find ways to overcome it.  What can you do to banish fear of pursuing achievement?

1. Try to recognize the ways you are sabotaging yourself and correct them.  When life or a specific task becomes overwhelming do you watch TV or listen to the radio instead of pursuing your projects?  Do you play solitaire or World of Warcraft in place of work?  Set up an environment that you won’t be tempted.

2. Visualize in detail what success will mean.  What happens if you achieve half of your goal?  What happens if you achieve 150% of your goal?

3. Try to honestly assess your motivation for pursuing the project.  You want to avoid climbing the ladder that is against the wrong wall.  For example, you may discover you’re in medical school not because you want to be but because you don’t want to disappoint a parent.

4. Break the project down into smaller bites and pursue them one at a time.  However, don’t get caught up in the trap of over analyzing the project instead of doing it!

5.  As corny as it may sound self talk is important.  If you tell yourself over and over that you can’t do it, it will come true.  So, when the fear or the “mind tar” feels overwhelming sit back and tell yourself that you can do it.  You are good enough, smart enough and doggone it people like me!

6. Recognize that even if you achieve less than you hoped it is an opportunity to grow and learn for the future.  It’s only when we are trying that we’re getting better.

7.  Do things differently.  Change the method or change the environment.

8.  Don’t take it personally.  If you struggle performing a task or achieving an outcome it doesn’t mean you are less than you are!

9.  When all else is weighing you down take bold action.  Make something happen that’s important to you and something significant in your life.  Anything!  That will spur you on to further achievement in every area of your life.

Leaders Learn Lessons

August 15, 2008

I’m a big college football fan.  I regularly listen to the ESPN College Football podcast though I am way behind, so I’m getting ready for the season by catching up from May through today.  I just listened to Ivan Maisel talking about a trip he took to visit the troops in the Middle East with big time football coaches Tommy Tubberville from Auburn, Mark Richt from Georgia, Randy Shannon from Miami, Charlie Weiss from Notre Dame and Jack Siedlecki of Yale.

Many of the soldiers are big fans and will get up early to watch the live broadcasts.  The coaches brought tons of souvenirs and according to Maisel one soldier commented, “I can’t believe you’re spending so much time talking to us.”

It sounded like a great trip, and one lesson really jumped out for me.  Maisel was talking about a Q and A session the coaches held with a group of soldiers.  Instead of asking about the upcoming season the vast majority of the questions were about leadership and specifics about leading young people in a stressful environment.

Obviously these coaches are world class leaders.  Just as obvious is that the soldiers they spoke to are world class acheivers.  When given the opportunity to interact with significant leaders, high achievers will pick their brains.  They know that they can learn something from every person they meet, and when they have a chance to talk to high acheivers it’s a special opportunity to learn as much as they can.

The key is to be prepared.  Know what you want to know, think about your areas of difficulty, and formulate questions before you have an opportunity to ask them.  And, if you know ahead of time you’re going to have some one-on-one time with a high achiever do some research so you can best take advantage of your opportunity.

One of the differences between high achievers and the average guy is preparation and making the most out of opportunities.

Pineapple Express

August 13, 2008

Seth Rogan wrote his stoner, adventure-comedy Pineapple Express years ago.  No one was interested.  Since then he’s had breakout hits with The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad.  So, when he shopped the script again, with very few changes, studios were ready and willing to pay an estimated $25 million.

Very often success breeds success.  The failure to find support for an idea or a project doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad one, and pursuing success in something, even if it isn’t your ultimate goal, is often worth it because of the doors that open.

So far Pineapple Express has grossed just over $40 million.

Expert v Novice

August 13, 2008

One thing that distinguishes the high achiever from the average guy is the ability to anticipate and overcome obstacles.  In his blog Between the Stations Victor Lombardi explores the distinction between those who are experts and over-comers and those who are novices and get stuck in the field of design.  It’s an interesting concept that I believe can be applied to problem solving in other areas as well.

Are you approaching problems and problem solving as an expert or a novice?  How about design?

Click here to see Victor’s post.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

August 6, 2008

Here’s a great example of the difference between average and great.  Most of us have great ideas and I bet lots of people even had this idea.  The difference is that this guy made the effort to take his idea to reality.

And what an idea!!

X Games

August 3, 2008

I completely love the X games and prefer to watch them over the Olympics any day.  I’m so bummed they are over.

Danny Way is a man!