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A Little Lesson on Never Giving Up

December 3, 2010 by  
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As most of you know, the very talented Leslie Nielsen died this past weekend. He was an amazing person not only because of his talent but also because of his perseverance.

Nielsen childhood was a difficult one, growing up in an abusive home but with one particular shining star in his life—his uncle who was a well-known actor. The awe and respect his uncle garnered inspired Nielsen to pursue an acting career even though, as he told a Boston Globe reporter in 1994, he was “very shy about it and certainly without courage regarding it”. Yet, it was what he wanted and so, even though he often felt he would be discovered to be a no-talent, he moved forward, gaining a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse and making his first television appearance a few years later in 1948. However, becoming a full-time, successful actor would still be an uphill battle for another 8 years until he landed a number of film roles that finally got him noticed.

But even then, what he had wasn’t quite what he wanted. Apparently Nielsen always felt he should be doing comedy but his good looks and distinguished voice kept him busy in dramatic roles. It wasn’t until 1980—32 years into his career—that he landed the role it would seem he was made for in “Airplane!”. That movie lead him into the second half of a prolific and notable career where his comedic presence alone could make a movie a financial success even when the critics would not give it two thumbs up.

Did Nielsen then feel content in his career? Yes and no. He was thrilled to be doing the comedy that he always felt he should do, but even during his last few years, he always had an innate sense of curiosity, wondering what new role or challenge might be just around the corner. He never stopped working, never retired. He had a passion, not only for acting and entertaining but also for living.

Leslie Nielsen’s passion and perseverance is wonderfully inspiring. He built a hugely successful career with little more than plain old hard work and doggedness. He showed us that even a single desire, never given up on, can make for a remarkable life. And I, for one, want to thank him for it.

Others’ Success Breeds Your Success

October 1, 2010 by  
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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.

Be Open to Being Open

August 27, 2010 by  
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In the past few posts, I’ve been outlining the best ways to leverage yourself with networking. In addition to getting out there regularly and having a loaded business gun so you are ready to make the most of a new connection, you also need to have the proper, open-minded attitude. In other words, you need to toss preconceptions about what type of people you want to connect with or what kind of opportunities you’re hoping to find. Some of the best connections and opportunities arise where you least expect them.

For instance, a long, long time ago a candle maker and a soap maker found themselves married to sisters. As brothers-in-law, they saw each other frequently but never talked to each other about their businesses because they created two different things. It took their astute father-in-law knocking them over the head to realize that what they did was actually very similar—they both produced tallow and fat based products sold to the home retail market. They decided to go ahead and try combining their efforts by selling both products types at each sales call and putting their individual strengths where it would do the company the most good. Within a couple decades they were one of the largest companies in Cincinnati. The simple candle and soap makers became some of the richest men in the region, something they were not likely to accomplish on their own.

Now their company, Proctor and Gamble, is known around the world and boasts sales near the $40 billion mark. And to think that initially they didn’t believe they had anything to offer the other! Opportunities are plentiful. You just have to get past the standard assumptions, think creatively, and consider ideas from many angles.

So, the next time you’re introduced to someone or an idea comes your way that gives you that “not my thing” feeling, stop and give it a couple minutes and see if you can’t come up with a way you could benefit each other. You never know what you might come up with. Keeping an open mind gives you so many more chances to multiply your finances, as well as business partnerships and friendships. You’ll be surprised at how often positive things develop if you just give them a little consideration.

Making a Living From Your ‘Gift’

August 6, 2010 by  
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At the big fundraiser my wife and I hosted last week for Utah’s governor, we brought in an entertainer and speaker, Jason Hewlett (see more about Jason at jasonhewlett.com). He has a very unique show he puts on. Through stories, impersonations, songs and more he speaks about how each of us has a particular gift to offer and how he himself turned his talent for entertaining into a gift he shares with the great variety of people he now performs for. Everyone at the fundraiser, including myself, was absolutely wowed by his show. It’s obvious that he not only has a talent for entertainment but a serious passion for it as well.

From a young age, Jason knew what his gift was and carved out a very successful career using it. But most of us aren’t able to identify our talents so easily or we get sidetracked by life’s responsibilities and quickly lose sight of what truly moves us. If that is where you are right now, take a look at Chapter 5 of my book, How To Ignite Your Passion For Living. The Chapter titled “Turning Your Dreams Into Reality” is filled with ideas and exercises to help you discover or rediscover your gift and your passion.

Jason Hewlett took his inclination for humor and entertainment and turned it into inspirational entertainment about his experiences withreaching dreams and goals. No matter what your passion is, you can turn it into a vocation. You can do what you love for a living and love the work you do. Identifying your passion is just the first step but, in the end, it is the most important step you take.