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The power of simple hard work

September 25, 2009 by  
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One of the most fascinating areas I went through on my recent European trip was the Baltic states. Even though these regions didn’t really start to modernize until 1989 they have made incredible progress in the short time since. The roads are wonderful, food is terrific, the people are incredibly friendly, and technology is sprouting up everywhere. We even had full internet service on the super bus we took from Latvia to Estonia. I have to say, I didn’t expect to see such advancement, especially so soon after many decades of Soviet occupation and repression.

It’s obvious this development didn’t happen spontaneously in the Baltic states. The people of these countries worked very hard to get where they are today and continue to work hard to support the growth and improvement of their region. There was no magic pill or secret formula that brought on such incredible growth. Just a goal, persistence, and plain, old, hard work.

You can also see the results of such determination in the hardworking immigrants that come to the United States, many with no money and no prospects when they get here. Still, many manage to build businesses and successful careers from nothing more than perseverance and their own blood, sweat, and tears. Even when you don’t seem to have anything else, you have the ability to work hard to achieve whatever it is you want.

So look to the former Soviet countries and to the rousing examples of their success for inspiration and as an example of what can be done with simple determination and hard work.

One more thing about working hard—and keeping at it. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers puts forth the 10,000 hour rule. His research has revealed the difference between the “haves and the have not’s”—10,000 hours. Gladwell calls it the 10,000 Hour Rule. He points to phenomenal successes like Bill Gates and The Beatles. These were not particularly brilliant or gifted people—just hard workers, putting in 10,000 hours of more of consistent work on their focus.  More on the 10,000 Hour Rule in a future blog.

But for now, continue to set BIG goals for yourself, write out your B-RAM lists, and get to work!

Give Your Brain the Novelty It Craves

September 18, 2009 by  
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Have you ever considered how children and young people are always trying something new, pushing themselves, eager for adventure … but older people seem to be content to do the same things they always do in the same old way?

It’s just a generalization as I know many older people, myself included, that still continuously seek out new and challenging experiences. However, there is a sense of complacency that is easy to fall into as we get older or as the obligations of our life wear us down.

As our physical energy wanes, so does our ambition, and next thing we know, our brains turn off and we are just living on autopilot. It’s at that point that making any change in our lives gets very, very difficult.

The thing is our brains don’t wear out the same way as the rest of our body. Normally the brain is still willing and able to do its job learning, solving problems, and amassing knowledge even when we physically feel worn out. But when faced with a lot of stress or just dull repetitious experience the brain deteriorates.

To keep your brain in top shape, give it the novelty it craves. Educating yourself through books, television shows (like PBS and the History Channel), and on the Internet will certainly help, but remember, your brain is a multi-sensory organ. Feed all of it.

Get out of the house, out of town, out of the country when you can, and experience new sights, smells, sounds, flavors, and textures. New experiences will boost both your physical and mental energies and motivate you to do even more.

In fact, go and create a ”bucket list”—that stuff you want to do before you kick the bucket, like Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholsen did in the movie “The Bucket List”. I sure know that having my own “bucket list” motivates me to get out and do more and avoid stagnancy. There’s just so much to do in our short time here.

More on my bucket list–and some of the huge goals I have in that list–in the near future.

Keeping up that energy and motivation are KEY to getting what you want. So go out and enjoy life, learn and explore, and keep your mind sharp and your energy up.

Being Ready for Serendipity

September 14, 2009 by  
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Life is full of unexpected and random encounters. Sometimes the opportunity and the assistance you need to reach your goal or enact the change you want in your life will just drop into your lap from the most unexpected places. You need to be open and ready to grab on when serendipity comes your way.

It was just such an incident that led us to an invaluable and ever so delightful friendship with a wonderful, generous man named Krzysztof Fialkowski. My wife and I love to travel. Having a life that allowed us to travel and experience the multitude of cultures out there was a primary goal of mine when building my wealth and shaping our life. In our travels we run into many people and strike up an interesting conversation here and there but usually we just move on afterwards. When my wife got waylaid by a friendly stranger at a stop in Poland I thought of it as one of these momentary distractions and wandered off to look into the next leg of our adventure.

Eventually my wife brought her new acquaintance over and introduced him and we all chatted for a bit. An unexpected friendship bloomed right then and there and now Chris, as we call him, personally takes us around the neighboring countries when we visit Eastern Europe and has introduced us to places we would never have encountered if it had not been for him. My goal of experiencing different cultures was expanded on several levels by this random encounter. Had I been in more of a hurry that day we meet Chris and cut short the conversation, we would have missed out on an invaluable opportunity and friend.

You never know where serendipitous encounters will arise. Don’t make assumptions about what someone or some event can do for you. Get out and meet new people, go to a variety of social events, and visit new places, and seek learning from sources that stretch you. You never know what will come your way. It could be the very key you need to reaching your goal.

Celebrate Life

September 4, 2009 by  
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After all your hard work, all the trial and error, the long hours, the ups and downs of your success, there needs to be a pause, a time when you step away and look at what you’ve done and celebrate it. Taking time out to appreciate what you’ve accomplished is as necessary to successfully reaching and sustaining your goals as any other aspect.

These past few months have been a non-stop circus for me with the marketing of my book, the talk shows and interviews, the speeches I’ve made, and the building of a new home. But now I am off to Europe to visit with friends and take a leisurely barge trip through France. It may seem odd that I would go on a trip now when there is still so much to be done, but if I don’t, when will I stop and savor the life that I’ve built and all that I’ve done?

You work hard to achieve your goals but if you never step back to appreciate what you’ve done, you will lose perspective on why you’re doing it and will be working only for the stated goal instead of for the bigger picture—improving your life for you and your loved ones. You have to take time out to enjoy your accomplishments and enjoy your life.

Whenever you’ve gotten through a particularly difficult set of tasks or when you’ve reached a goal, even a minor one, celebrate it. Go out for dinner or take a trip like I have or simply allow yourself an afternoon off to go for a hike and consider what wonderful things you’ve accomplished. Not only is taking time out to celebrate essential to your happiness, it will add to your motivation and energy and make your tasks much more enjoyable.

Life is for the living, as they say. Work hard when you need to but live fully and take time out to appreciate all you have and all you’ve done.