Last week I went on a hike to get some exercise, looking forward to the great feeling that the increase of serotonin and dopamine bring on from the exercise. In my pocket I had a handful of $2 bills which I give out to kids because it always brings a huge smile and a sincere thank you and I get a big boast myself from seeing how happy it makes them.
So while enjoying the beautiful sights of Millcreek Canyon, I passed a couple and their daughter. The little girl was crying because she had fallen on the trail. As I passed by I told the her “Be sure to keep your eyes on the trail for paper litter and if you pick some up you will be TWO lucky.” I then dropped a $2 bill a few feet on. The girl saw it, picked it up, her scrapes forgotten, and excitedly showed her parents. I kept on hiking, a big smile on my face, but soon heard them talking to another hiker about what I’d done, which made me smile even more.
A little while later I passed a slightly older girl and told her the same thing. When I dropped the $2 bill she very sweetly let me know I had dropped it. I told her to keep it for good luck. I passed this girl and her parents on the way back down and her parents stopped me, thanking me over and over and again and said their daughter thought I was an angel. That made my broad smile into an even broader grin that just wouldn’t leave my face.
By the time I’d gotten to the end of the trail, I was incredibly high on all the joy my little gestures produced as well as from the exercise. I couldn’t stop thinking about how something as small as a $2 bill could make both the giver and receiver so happy. We all go to great lengths to find a little happiness, something that makes us feel good or let’s us know what we do is worthwhile. And yet some of the smallest gestures can do this very thing, not just for you but also for others.
Take a look at Chapter 12 “The Benefits of a “God- Eye View” in my book, “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living”. And take a moment here and there to make someone’s day and yours as well.
Here’s one other thing about the experience I had winning at the Huntsman Tennis Tournament earlier this month. Yes, a huge part of getting through that last rough match was my positive thinking and just taking it one point at a time but there is one other thing, something very fundamental, that made it possible for me to stay in a positive thought mode and persevere even though I was exhausted. It was my innate habit of taking action.
It’s no wonder that the phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” is so often used. Many people, even when they know they should take action, ignore the wisdom they possess and do nothing. But the most successful people not only know what action to take, they actually do it, naturally and automatically. If a great opportunity comes along, they don’t hem and haw and spend so much time weighing the pros and cons that it becomes too late. They also don’t sit back and do nothing just because there is risk involved or quit when things become difficult. Success, by definition, is a result of actions taken. You cannot be successful without actually doing something.
So ask yourself, “Is action or inaction my habitual response to a new opportunity or a bump in the road?” Start paying attention to how often you choose not to act or delay reacting. This can involve anything—a chance to meet new people and network, buying a book or tool that looks like it might be helpful, investing in a potentially lucrative but risky new venture, or being in a competitive situation like my tennis match. If inaction seems to be your default, start making conscious decisions to act even when your instinct is telling you to go sit it out. I bet you’ll be surprised at how often the outcome is in your favor and how energized you are just because you tried.
Just look at me. I came very close to losing that match but even if I had, I would have known that I gave it my all and that would have been infinitely better than throwing down my racquet and calling it quits. And look at what my persevering action resulted in! A gold medal and a hard earned win that I am immensely proud of.
This is not to say that you should just act on anything that comes your way. Make informed decisions and follow common sense. But, next time, act on a potentially good thing and keep moving forward even when things get tough. See if you’re not happy that you did it, regardless of the results. Eventually, if you keep forcing yourself to act, it will become automatic. And so too, will success.
Alright, first, I need to warn you that I am on a super unbelievable mental high right now and have been all week. It’s all because I won the Gold at the Huntsman Tennis Tournament. Well, that’s not quite right. It’s because I played the hardest match I’d played in years against a really tough player and even though I’d trained so very hard this year, I got to a point in the last game when I just wasn’t sure I could go on, but I pushed myself just a little harder and finally eked out that last point I needed and won the gold! Yes, I won the gold last year too but the competition was nothing like it was this year. It was because I had to work so hard and it was such a difficult game this year, that the win was many, many times more exhilarating and satisfying.
This whole experience reminds me of what I was trying to get across in Chapter 9 of my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” where I talk about the guy who goes out and shoots a perfect golf score the very first time he played. And then he does it again and again and realizes that there is very little, if any, satisfaction from doing so well at something he didn’t have to work at. Well that story is very much the opposite of what I did and how I felt.
This year I trained so much more than I had last year, taking lessons from a couple of great pros, Clark Barton and Jason Newell, as well as putting in more time on the ball machine and playing more matches. And yet my opponent, Michael Murphy, still hit back every ball and he could run as well as I could. I even began thinking that I couldn’t beat this guy but I pushed those negative thoughts out of my mind and tried to take the match one point at a time even as my body was screaming out for some rest and relief. And it worked. Positive thinking, taking it one small step at a time, and all that hard, even painful work, paid off leaving me with an immense feeling of true accomplishment.
Of course, while I was in the game, it was hard to feel that what I was going through was worth it, but I’ve done this enough to know that it usually is. And it so was. I know, too, that I wouldn’t still be riding this high if it hadn’t been so tough to win and if I hadn’t worked so hard at it. That’s the lesson here–The hardest work reaps the most satisfying rewards.
Just remember that next time you feel like giving up, bowing out, or taking the easy road. Just keep going, doing the best you possibly can. You’ll accomplish what you’re after and not only will it feel more than worth it when you do, it will make give you the energy and optimism to reach for that next great thing and get it.
Going after your dreams and achieving your goals should be like choosing rides at the amusement park. You could play it safe with the monorail, the steam train and the cutesy boat ride but did you go there to relax or be thrilled? If you shell out the bucks to be there, why not go for the monster roller coaster and the wild haunted house? Yes, there is a chance you’re going to get so scared or dizzy or motion sick that you have to sit out part of the day but at least you’ll have tried to get the most out of your trip and will certainly have memories and stories to tell.
Successful people would never be happy with taking the safer rides. They live for the thrill of the big payoff and the challenge of righting the plans that didn’t pan out. They don’t think small. They take big, confident, adventurous steps. And if you are going to be one of them, you must set aside those tiny, tentative, safe steps that have kept you creeping along with little or no progress.
If you’ve read my book, How to Ignite Your Passion for Living, you know I’m all about taking small steps but as a way to build to something big. Those little steps are only smaller parts making up or leading to big leaps, a way to keep your tasks form getting too overwhelming and to mark your progress. Every successful goal is made up of many smaller, but still challenging, and sometimes risky, goals.
This is not to say you should throw caution to the wind. Thinking big does not mean making rash or unnecessarily large risks. The truly successful person goes after opportunities that are risky in a manageable way and he or she has a recovery plan just in case it doesn’t work out. What risk is manageable means something different to each person but it definitely means stepping out of that comfort zone.
For what is the point of living in mediocrity, of dreaming but not going for it, living a life of quiet desperation as they say? If your dream is to be wildly successful, take some wild chances–well informed chances yet challenging and thrilling. Even when it doesn’t work out quite the way you hoped it would, the ride alone is usually more than worth it.
You ability to succeed, at whatever it is you want to do depends very much on your dedication, your passion, and a great support system. But something that is not often talked about that seems to be an essential part of a support system is the presence of a successful, talented. Henry David Thoreau was mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Frank Sinatara drew a lifetime of inspiration from his mentor and friend, Bing Crosby. Even Bill Gates who has been said to draw so much from games like Risk and Monopoly spent significant time with Warren Buffett. It’s not just the wisdom that a mentor can bring you but the fulfilling and stimulating personal connection.
It is too hard to struggle in a vacuum, aiming for a dream that no one around you carries a similar passion for. That is why the most successful people either are drawn to, or seek out, the most accomplished people in the fields that relate to their passions. Do you have someone in your life that you look up to, that can share their wisdom with you and help you realize your goals? If not, you need to seek out these kinds of people through conventions, local meetings, and industry events–any where the successful gather. If you surround yourself with the right kind of people, someone is bound to take an interest in your enthusiasm and pass on what they have learned.
Although there are amazing people whose stories and legacies are hugely empowering, that you can access through books, TV and the internet to draw inspiration from, these distant or one way relationships will never replace the energy you get from one on one time with someone who has reached a level of success you are still striving for. Being able to have a discussion, ask questions, observe, and get feedback from a person who has gone through all the trials and joys that the road to dreams are paved with has an infinitely greater impact on you. And having such a person as a friend means you have relative access to those motivating discussions and inspiring support—and a better chance of getting where you want to go.
I’ve had many o my own mentors over the years but I think my most influential mentor was Larry Rosenberg with Paul J. Meyer right behind him. You can read more about both these wonderful men in my book,How to Ignite Your Passion for Living.