Sunday, June 21, 2009

What if money were no object?

There are a handful of people on this Earth for which the answer to the question "What if money were no object?" the answer is "It isn't". Everyone can name one or two. Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Oprah Winfrey, etc.... What is it that sets them apart from the rest of the world?

Money? No. Well, yes, and no. They have more money than many of the smaller countries in the world, but the money isn't what makes them different. It's the result of what makes them different.

Ancestry? No. While there are a few on the list for whom ancestry is a major contributor (H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II of England, Senator Ted Kennedy, Paris Hilton, The Rockefellers, etc...) most people in this group could be considered "Self-Made".

The Answer Is Their Dreams!

What Dreams? Well, that's for them to know and tell us about in good time. But even if we don't know what their dreams are, it's their dreams that make them different.

Now I'm not necessarily talking about what they see in their sleep. I'm talking about their Big Dreams. What they want out of life. This is what sits at the core of their being and drives them to do what they do. It guides their decisions. It controls them. It's at once the person, and bigger than the person.

So how do you get a dream? Easy. Dream? Think about it through the question "What if money were no object?" In fact, take all restrictions off the table. Don't let a concern for money affect your dream. Don't let what other people think or say affect your dream. Don't let timing restrictions affect your dream. Don't let your (lack of) abilities affect your dream. Don't let anything affect your dream. Ever!!!

Now dream. Think about what you could do. Think about how you can change the world. Think about how you can help people. Think about how you can help animals.

Now for the hard part! Write it down!

Write it down and put it in your wallet, or purse, or make it the text that shows on your cell phone when you open it, or do something that let's you keep it with you. Then take it out every day and look at it. Read it carefully. Remember what was going through your mind when you came up with it.

Now, as you look at it, put together step-by-step goals to get you from where you are to fulfilling your dream. Don't make them "reasonable" goals. Make every single one of them a "stretch." There needs to be some level of difficulty in each goal you set. Something that challenges you to reach the goal.

Maybe your dream is to meet someone specific, but you're a very shy person. Great. Set your goal at meeting the person (which for you would be a major challenge) and set some goals such as "Meeting one new person each week" (again, a challenge if you are very shy).

And again, the hard part... Write these down and check them out every day as well.

Pretty soon, not only do you have a dream, but you have a plan for achieving your dream.

The next step... Follow the Plan!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Don't do anything half-way.

There are hundreds of people with famous quotes about how to instantly fail when you start something. You may hear "Don't do anything half-way" or "Don't start something if you don't intend to finish it". My favorite is from former British Prime Minister David Lloyd-George.

He said : "There is nothing more dangerous than to leap a chasm in two jumps."

When I first heard this, I laughed because it's obviously a funny quote. Particularly if you understand British humor.

But if you look into this deeply, what is he saying. Lloyd-George is telling us that if we don't solve a problem completely from the start, we'll never be able to solve the problem completely. We need to clear the entire chasm on the first attempt. If we don't, then we risk the possibility of falling to our doom before we reach the other side.

You can see this everywhere around you. Projects at work that fail due to shortsightedness or bad planning. Athletes that don't give 100% through the full game. People who start things, but are never willing or able to "stick with it" until it's completed.

You can look at politics and see it everywhere a politician has compromised their goals to get legislation passed.

But while there are hundreds of specific examples of people who don't make that successful leap of the chasm, there are far fewer that succeed. These are celebrated and remembered. The teams that win the World Series or the Super Bowl. The athletes that win the gold medals. The projects that succeed.

The key to making sure you clear the chasm isn't beyond the reach of anyone. In fact it's as available to you and me as it is to everyone. It involves 4 things:
  1. Setting your goal
  2. Planning how to accomplish your goal
  3. Activating your plan
  4. Sticking with your plan
Step 1 (Setting your goal) is easy. Just make sure your goal is achievable. Don't set a goal "To be Immortal." That's unachievable. But a goal "To be in a Broadway musical" is achievable by anyone. Even people who cannot sing or dance.

Step2 (Planning) is more difficult. You need to establish specific intermediate goals or milestones to accomplish on your path to your goal. Assume your goal is "To be in a Broadway musical." You may establish goals to "Go to New York", "Learn how to act" and "Audition". Then take each milestone and break that down further. Repeat this process until each step along the way to your goal is simple and can be achieved based on the completion of your previous steps.

Step 3 (Activation) is the easiest step if you planned properly, but could be a nightmare if you didn't. When your plan is sufficiently detailed, you can move from one step to the next step with ease. If your plan is missing stuff, you may need to rework or adjust your plan between steps to make sure you can continue. The key if you adjust your plan is to never change the ultimate goal. You may need to add steps before reaching the goal, but the goal is your destination.

Step 4 (Sticking with the plan) is the most difficult step of the 4. What's amazing about this is that Step 4 requires only that you keep moving from step to step along your path to your goal. You may need to pause for a while, but don't stray from the path. Once you stray, you're falling into the chasm and may never find your way out.

But whatever you do, don't look down after you leap. Keep looking forward towards your goal and make sure you have enough momentum to clear the chasm in one leap.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reminders are all around us.

I love James Bond movies. Always have. Always will. But on the "Casino Royale" DVD there is a preview for the Will Smith movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" that always gets me.

It doesn't matter that it's Will Smith, an actor whom I admire and enjoy watching perform. It doesn't matter that I haven't seen the movie, although I want to. It doesn't matter what the title is, who the director is, what the storyline is, or anything big about the movie.

What matters to me is one single line from the movie.

When Christopher Gardner (Will Smith) looks at Christopher his son (played by Will Smith's son Jaden Smith) and says:

"Hey. Don't ever let somebody tell you "You can't do something." Not even me. All right?"

The strength of that line is more powerful than any thought or concept that is taught in school. More powerful than any religion on Earth. More powerful than Superman, The Incredible Hulk, and all the other Super Heroes put together.

That simple concept of never believing it when somebody tells you you can't do something has lead to the most incredible breakthroughs in science and technology.

That simple concept of never believing it when somebody tells you you
can't do something has lead to people performing incredible feats of strength and determination.

That simple concept of never believing it when somebody tells you you
can't do something has lead to fortunes being made.

That simple concept of never believing it when somebody tells you you
can't do something has lead to us putting men on the moon and returning them safely.

That simple concept of never believing it when somebody tells you you
can't do something has lead to rescuing the Apollo 13 crew.

Embrace the concept with your entire being. Accept it as truth. Believe it with everything that is you and you will be amazed.

All you need to do now is ask yourself...

What will it lead you to?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Are You Ready?????

Are you ready?
I can't hear you. I said Are You Ready?
I still can't hear you. I said ARE YOU READY??????

Ok, now I want everyone to stand up. C'mon, stand up! Now shout, in as loud a voice as possible "I'M READY!!!!!!"


Now sit down, you're embarrassing yourself.

Did you sit down? Why?

Think about what just happened. If you stood up and shouted out, then either you're not afraid of what other people think about you, or you're alone. If you didn't stand up and shout, then you're either afraid of what others think about you, or you're somewhere "decorum" (or possibly safety) doesn't allow that sort of thing.

You know what I say to that. Who Cares!!!! If you want to stand up and shout, or stand up and sing, or even sing off key, then as long as it doesn't jeopardize anyone's safety, go ahead and do it. Not because you want to, but because anything you do that gets you up and out of your chair, or up and away from the television, or just up and doing something is wonderful. We've become a society of people who hide out in our homes or our cubicles/offices and don't interact with anyone except via E-Mail, Chat, or Cell Phones. We hardly ever actually get up and get in peoples faces and talk to them.

Just a few weeks ago I had an opportunity to secretly do some research in the "real world". Okay, so it was at a convention filled with software developers and other extreem and supreme geeks, but the important thing was that it wasn't at my home or office. It was out in the world.

At the convention (JavaOne), the first day during the keynote speech, the Grand Emcee of the show, John Gage, stood up and announced that for the entire week of JavaOne, everyone attending was Brazillian. Why? Because there's something in the way Brazillians behave that says "I don't care who you are, I'm going to walk right up to you and say 'Hi'!" It's one of my favorite parts of JavaOne. Not just because I had based a large part of my JavaOne presentation on that statement, but because after he says it, I get to watch the slow degredation from "Everyone is Brazillian" to "Leave me alone" and marvel at how fast it happens. This year it took until about Thursday afternoon for most people I saw to slowly regrow their cocoons.

There were still some Brazillians (Alex, Fabianne, Maurice, Bruno, et. al.) and some honorary Brazillians (Christine, Mike, Pratik, et. al.) that I saw, and of course the whole Sun crew, who continued chatting with people everywhere we went through the end of the conference and beyond, but most people I saw retreated back to their comfort zones. (Sidenote: If you want to see if someone is in their comfort zone or not, there's a real easy test. Walk up, stick out you're open right hand [palm facing up at about a 20 to 45 degree angle] and say 'Hi there! How are you?' -- If you want to see if they're paying attention too, use your left hand ;-) )

I was amazed by Friday at the number of people who literally jumped when I stood next to them in line and either started up a conversation, or just reached out my hand and said "Hi".

But I really said all of that to say this.

One of the things I noticed at JavaOne was the relative nervousness of the majority of presenters I saw. There were some who were obviously polished professionals, and there were others who all but fell apart at the slightest technical glitch. But they all have one thing in common.

They all got up out of their seats, stood up in front of a crowd and presented something they thought was important/neat/amazing to other people.

Did you hear that.

A bunch of technology super-freaks who can find their way around the darkest recesses of a computer, jump long pointers until they are blue in the face and decipher binary in their sleep all got up in front of a crowd and spoke for an hour.

And while many of them were scared. While many of them were terrified that their demos wouldn't work. While many of them swear they will never do it again. The fact is that they did it.



Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Looks Can Be Everything

One of the things I have the hardest time getting people who are not in Marketing or Management positions to understand is the importance of looks to success. In other words, the old adage You only get one chance to make a first impression is true in more ways than one.

If you really think about it, not only is it true that a first impression can only be made once (after that, you've already made the impression), but it is almost impossible to overcome a negative first impression that you have already made. This can be seen all around you, every day of the week, month, and year.

Look around you when you're out and about and watch how people react to others. Pay particular attention to the differences in how people treat people in suits and business dress versus jeans and polo shirts/sweaters. Even more pronounced is the difference in how people treat people in business clothes compared to people in t-shirts. It doesn't really matter whether both people are dressed alike or not. You will always notice better treatment for the people who are better dressed.

You can experience this yourself. Pick one or two places that you don't go frequently. They need to be places where you would be waited on to some degree like a restaurant or a store, and go there dressed in overly casual clothes. Your clothes should be around the level of a T-Shirt and jeans, and you should go during off-peak hours. Carefully watch how people are treating you. Both the people who are waiting on you and people around you.

Now go back about one or two weeks later, around the same time of day, but this time, make a point to dress nicely. At a minimum, men should have on a dress shirt and dress pants, preferably with a blazer or suit coat. Women should wear either a nice business outfit, skirt and nice shirt, or dress. All clothes should be clean and well cared for. Now watch how people treat you. Except for famous and well known people, I have never seen or experienced a situation where people who are dressed well are not treated better than people who are not.

But why is this important? Because if you want to exceed in life, you can't just be the part, you need to look the part.

Notice, that I didn't say succeed in life. I said exceed in life. To succeed means you will survive and live. To exceed means you will go beyond expectations, beyond your dreams, and beyond what others expect of you. This is far more than just succeeding.

NLB and the 2 MPs espouse the benefits of dressing well. When you see Donald Trump on TV, he's always dressed in a suit. Just look at the nightly news. Except for special reporting from remote locations, the lead newscasters are always dressed well with suit and tie. The reason. Respect. Whether you believe it or not, people will show you more respect the nicer you are dressed. Whether you do or do not deserve it, or believe that you do or do not deserve it.

So the next time you go to work, the store, out to dinner, the movies, etc... dress up a bit and see what happens. Then do it again, and again, and again. Then make a point to do it every time you go out. Sooner or later, you'll always be dressing nice when you go out and getting the respect and treatment you deserve.