The teacher stopped the presentation and asked for a volunteer from the class. A young lady was the first to raise her hand and was brought to the front of the room.
“I want you to stand against this wall and reach your hands up as high as they can go.” said the teacher.
The young lady went up on the tips of her toes and reached her hands high up the wall, touching a spot with her finger tips.
“That’s as high as you can go?”
When she answered affirmatively again, he stood up on a chair and put a piece of tape on the wall where the tips of her fingers had reached.
Then he took out a $100 bill and told her, “I will give you $100 if you can reach higher than that piece of tape.”
The young lady went back to the wall, got on her tip toes, reached her arms up and then somehow stretched her fingertips about an inch past the tape.
“Now hold on,” said the presenter. “You told me the first time you had reached as high as you possible could!”
“I thought I did!” she said.
We all laughed as the young lady collected her money and sat down.
I have thought a lot about the lesson of that demonstration over the years and how it applies to us individually, and organizations collectively. From time to time we are all stretched to our limits. But are they our actual limits or just our perceived limits? We can all probably think of some times in our life when we had given everything we had but then were forced to dig deeper to give a little more effort.
I think that the most common mistake we make as humans is that we underestimate ourselves every day. We avoid certain ambitions or opportunities because we think we don’t have the time, energy, or ability to accomplish them. We forget that we are able to stretch. We all have a little more ability than we initially believe. Often times, we just need the right motivation, like a $100 bill, to bring out that extra effort from us.
Someone once said that if you ran as hard as you could until you absolutely couldn’t go anymore and then looked up into the face of a hungry lion, you would suddenly find a little more energy to run away.
In sports, it has been shown that athletes will give up mentally about 20% sooner than their body would have to give up physically. We tell ourselves we are too tired to go on long before our body actually becomes too tired to go on.
In life, we determine a task is too hard or impossible long before we have really tapped into our full abilities. This is the root of failure. Determining our full ability based on a flawed misconception of what we think is our limit.
Winners are not just the people who are vastly superior. They are the people who will give just a little bit more than the common person. One more phone call, one more mile, one more push or effort. When the voice in their head says, “You’re done.” they still go a little further. And it is in that extra effort where all of the growth happens. The real victories and successes happen after the point where you first thought, “I should give up.” Because when you stretch to accomplish something great, you never return to your original size. You grow. Mentally, physically, emotionally. And the next time you have a big task to accomplish, your reach will already be a little farther.
Action Items to “Successify”
#1 – Stretch Your Vision. Take a look at the ultimate vision you have for your life. Your career, income, hobbies, accomplishments, relationships, etc. What would you have to accomplish so that on your death bed you could say you lived a successful life? If you have already accomplished everything or feel like you could do it in the next few years, try setting a bigger goal. It will inspire you to stretch yourself further.
#2 – Exceed Expectations. Look at your current situation and determine the biggest task, project, or obstacle that you are dealing with. Think of ways that you could not only accomplish it, but exceed anybody’s expectations of what the task requires. Figure out how most people would finish it, and then do it better.
#3 – Ignore the voice. When you are in the middle of something really hard, that voice will come and try to tell you to stop. Learn to ignore the voice and push on. You have so much more in you than what your think you have. You must convince yourself of this. The only way to do that is to try it. Once you exceed your reach a couple of times, that voice will learn to be quiet.
I wish you success as you learn to stretch yourself to your full potential. Success waits for you on the other side of your limits.
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Tags: Education, Graduation, High school
To continue our Graduation Week posts, I wanted to share this wonderful short poem from Donald Kaag, a high school teacher from Moscow, Idaho. He shared it at a high school graduation in 2006, the year he was retiring. These were his final words to his students and I think they are applicable to all of us:
I’d wish you a nice life
If I didn’t care about you so much…
So you will appreciate warmth.
So food will taste wonderful when you get it.
The work and the difficulty of earning…and keeping…friendship.
I wish you love
And love again…
That you find something so precious you would give your life for it,
And then the sense…the heart…to live for it.
So you can confront it, conquer it.
And a life lived…earned…
A life of challenge and caring
Despite the cost
Giving your best,whatever it takes
Standing for what you believe in…whatever it is.
I wish you to brave the storms of life
Pay the cost in wounds…tears…scars
And I wish you the most precious gift you can ever possess…
Don’t have a nice life My Kiddos
Build a good one.
Tags: Graduation, High school
This week all around the country many teenagers will graduate high school. All the years of homework, minimum wage, and social anxiety will culminate in the wonderful event we call graduation. Many will consider it their move from adolescence into adulthood. Some will go on to college, some directly to careers. Some will enter the military or leave on a religious mission abroad. No matter what the future holds for you, young graduate, there are some tips that I would like you to know as you enter “the real world.”
#1 – Enjoy your time at home. These are your last days with your parents and siblings. Once you leave it will never be the same, even if you come back. You may be in a hurry to get out on your own and experience the “freedom” outside the walls of your home but, trust me, it is a whole lot more complicated than it sounds.
#2 – Don’t grow up too fast. I remember as a teenager how I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and graduate high school. Then I couldn’t wait to be 21 and working towards getting into dental school. And in dental school I couldn’t wait to be done and moving on to my career. Eventually you get to a point and realize you spent so much time looking towards the next phase that you completely forgot to enjoy where you were. The future will come in time but you need to enjoy the present.
#3 – Decide on a vision for your future. You don’t have to decide right now what you want to be when you “grow up.” But you should start thinking about how you picture your ideal life. When you look into your future, are you married? Children? What kind of income? What hours are you willing to work? What type of work seems fun and interesting to you? What education do you need to get your ideal job? Where would you like to live? If you can start answering those questions now, they will naturally guide you as you move forward. Unfortunately, there are far too many people out there in their mid to late 20′s and 30′s who are wandering along trying to figure out what they want to do with their life. They took whatever jobs came their way because of money or necessity and now they are stuck in them. If you decide on your future, you can make it happen. If you let life just happen to you, you will end up with whatever comes your way and I’m pretty certain it won’t be very fulfilling.
#4 – Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. If you don’t take risks, you will never reach your full potential, and you also won’t have much fun. George Bernard Shaw once said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Risk and hard work pay off, mostly, and if they don’t, you will have still learned from the experience, or at least have become a horrible example to others!
#5 – Believe in something. If you are not passionate about something in your life, you are missing something essential. Find something to believe in, and when you do, work for it, sacrifice for it. The great joys in life come from devotion to a great cause; the type of cause that makes you to stretch and grow. Most people walk down the middle of that main road of life, where the ruts are deep and the excitement is watered down. Be one of the bold people who strikes out onto that “road less traveled by.” It will make all the difference.
#6 – Ignore the critics. The moment you decide to believe in something worthwhile you will find that you come up against some critics. Every worthy cause comes with criticism from those too timid to try it themselves. In fact, if you never meet with any criticism, you may want to set higher goals for yourself! Critics are those insecure people who have never dared to invest themselves in a great cause or dream. They cannot accept the fact that someone will do the things that they are afraid to try themselves, so they put all of their energy into criticizing people. They want everyone to be like them so that they can feel okay about themselves. Remember what Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts.” You will hear them, but do not listen.
#7 - Give something back. All of you were blessed with brains, skill and a drive to succeed, or you would not be sitting there this week in those caps and gowns. You don’t simply own those traits… you also owe those things to your parents, your community, and to your country. You are obligated to use those gifts for something other than your own aggrandizement and enrichment. The people I know who are really happy are those who have followed their own muse, and lived their lives in service to others. Do something useful with your lives. Make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Leave something behind when you leave this earth, not just because you should, but because it is the surest way of living a good and fulfilling life, and it will make you happy.
In closing, I would like our young graduates to remember this line from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
You have everything within you to create a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life. Don’t ever doubt yourself. Be bold in the pursuit of your dreams. We are excited to welcome you into the “real world.”
*** Do you have advice for a graduating senior? Post it in the comments below. I would love to create a post at the end of the week with advice from the Successify community! ***
Normally I try to post on Mondays and Thursdays but this week I got to spend Thursday in the hospital welcoming our baby girl, Lily. We have 3 boys at home and decided to go for one more try at a girl.
The morning before coming into the hospital we had one last breakfast together with the boys. The conversation revolved around poop. No kidding. That is life with all boys. You try to teach them the important things in life but their ears only perk up when somebody farts. They grow out of that at some point right?
Here is the picture of when they came to see the baby. I think my youngest is just realizing that he won’t be the center of attention any more!
We are extremely excited to experience a young lady in our home. It has already been a bit of a paradigm shift for me.
As I sit in the hospital, cherishing every 20 minutes of sleep I can get between crying, feeding and changing diapers, I can’t help but think about what a miracle birth and life are. I think that every parent looks at their newborn and deep down has the thought, “Okay, let’s just not screw this kid up.”
I am grateful to all of the readers of this blog for the insights and comments you have made. Successify is about 9 months old and I have learned so much from you. I know that I will be a better father to my children because of what you have taught me.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Tags: Mother, motherhood, Mothers Day
Wasn’t yesterday a great day? Mother’s Day is such a wonderful holiday because there is nobody who deserves a special day more than mom. They have more influence on how we turn out as adults than any other person we encounter as a child. They love us for who we are more than anybody else. Moms are special.
And that’s why, across the country, millions of dollars were spent on flowers, cards, chocolates and jewelry. At our house the boys and I made breakfast and gave my wife the gifts we had made. Later I tried my best to make a delicious dinner (although this morning my stomach is telling me I may have given us food poisoning). Sorry honey!
So what happens now?
Well, today is “Mother’s Under-Appreciation Day”. It’s the day where moms continue doing what they have always done. They get back to work. They resume their daily job as the teacher, counselor, maid, chauffeur, provider, chef, tailor, and child psychologist all wrapped into one. They do it thanklessly and without complaining. They wait quietly for 364 more days until they get to be recognized again for all that they do. How often do our young people see their mom washing their clothes or cooking their dinner and walk by without saying thank you or even acknowledging her effort? How many husbands do this to their wives? It happens all of the time.
I know I am guilty of it.
On Mother’s Day I counted 147 Facebook updates in my feed where someone referenced appreciation for their mother or wife. Today I have counted 3, and 2 of them apologized for not saying it on Mother’s Day. That is why today is “Mother’s Under-Appreciation Day”. It starts today and goes until next May. It is that period of time where we don’t stop appreciating our mothers and wives, we just stop telling them as often.
That’s partly why moms are a miracle. The fact that anybody would do so much for us while asking so little in return is just incredible to me. They put many parts of their life on hold for 20-30 years so that their children can be provided for physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
A certain woman was heard to say as she observed a manly young man: “I would give twenty years of my life to have such a son.” And the mother of the young man was heard to say: “That’s what I have given – twenty years of my life to have such a son.”
And that is what a mother will give. She will give everything. I tell the youth I work with that there are not many people in this world who would give their life for you without question, but your mother is one.
I echo the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
I hope that we can all help our moms know how much we appreciate them every day. I’ll leave you with a poem I found this weekend.
The bravest battle that ever was fought!
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world you will find it not;
‘Twas fought by the mothers of men.
Nay not with the cannon of battle-shot,
With a sword or noble pen;
Nay, not with eloquent words or thought
From mouth of wonderful men!
But deep in a walled-up woman’s heart –
Of a woman that would not yield,
But bravely, silently bore her part –
Lo, there is the battlefield!
No marshaling troops, no bivouac song,
No banner to gleam and wave;
But oh! those battles, they last so long –
From babyhood to the grave.
I hope we can all take the time as often as possible to thank the women in our lives for all that they do to love and support us.
If you enjoyed this post, please pass it along to your mom, wife or other special lady to brighten their “Mother’s Under-Appreciation Day.”
Tags: Eagle, Flock, Friends, Influence
What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
The Law of Attraction or the Law of Magnetism would say that you attract and surround yourself with people similar to yourself. I think if we look around society, we would agree. The rich usually group together with the rich. The positive with the positive. The negative with the negative. The athletes, the computer programmers, the historians, and the artists all tend to find themselves surrounded by people with similar interests, disposition, socioeconomic status, etc.
Have you ever stopped to wonder if your group of friends is indicative of the type of person you are, or whether you are a product of the group of people around you? Did you draw them to you, or did you change to become like them?
I belong to a wonderful group of philanthropic dentists called the Crown Council. One of our mantras is “Birds of a feather flock together, and flocking causes birds to be of a feather.” You will naturally surround yourself with people like you. But you can actively choose another “flock” and become like them.
I am reminded of the story of a father and son who were driving through the countryside and came upon a farm to ask directions. As the father spoke with the farmer, the young boy wandered over to the pen where the chickens were out scratching in the yard. Moments later, the boy came running back to his father and said, “Dad, there is an eagle in with the chickens!” Not believing him, the man continued talking with the farmer. Again the boy returned and said, “Dad, you have to come see this eagle.” The father told his son that it couldn’t be an eagle and began to apologize to the farmer for the interruption. The farmer stopped him and said, “It’s okay. There is an eagle in there.”
In disbelief the man walked over to the fence where his son stood pointing. There he saw a bald eagle walking around on the ground pecking for food in the dirt. The man could not believe it. He turned to the farmer and asked, “How in the world did this happen?” The farmer laughed and said he found the eagle when it was a baby. It had fallen out of its nest in a storm and was injured. He brought it home, weened it back to health and put it in with the chickens because it didn’t know how to fly yet. Time passed and the eagle grew but never learned how to fly. In fact, it never seemed like it wanted to. It was happy to be in with the chickens, eating seeds and digging for worms.
In the story, the father was absolutely right. An eagle had no business walking around on the ground digging for worms. Eagles are meant to soar. But if you put an eagle with a group of chickens, sooner or later, it will act like a chicken.
Who are you flocking with?
Again I ask, what have the people around you helped you to become? Have they lifted you or brought you down. Do you feel happier around them or more negative? Do they have the same types of goals that you do? Are they positive and uplifting? Do you feel like you are always the one holding the friendship together? Do your friends make you want to be a better person?
If the people you associate with don’t push you to be better, then it is highly unlikely that you will have the energy and support to follow your goals or dreams. You know the type of person I’m talking about. They are like motivation vampires. They just suck the excitement out of you.
But when you are surrounded by people who are motivated to improve their lives, you will suddenly find that you are more productive and proactive about chasing self-improvement. Just being around them makes you want to work harder towards your goals so that you can feel comfortable in the group.
#1. Take an inventory of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Are they what you want to become, or are you happy you aren’t more like them? If it is the latter, guess what, you are becoming more like them every day. If it is the former, congratulations, you are becoming more like them every day.
#2. Decide who is bringing you down or holding you back and cut them loose. Okay that sounds a bit harsh. I wouldn’t say you should ever completely get rid of someone as a friend. They might need you. But you can add someone else to the mix who brings you more happiness and choose when to associate with a negative person. Just remember, they are influencing you as much as you influence them. You will end up meeting somewhere in the middle and that is NOT what you want.
#3. Look for people who are already the way you want to become. Most people know somebody who has accomplished a lot of what we want to accomplish some day. Find a way to get closer to them. When I graduated dental school, one of the first things I did was find the “top dentists” in my city and go to talk with them about how to be successful and happy as a dentist. We didn’t become friends but just my association with them has greatly accelerated my progress and fulfillment in my profession. You don’t have to be best friends with someone you admire but you should try to find as many opportunities as possible to be around them.
#4. Be picky about your flock. As you form your group of friends and acquaintances, be picky about who you give your time and energy to. They will decide who you become. You don’t have to devote yourself to someone who doesn’t build you up.
In the end, you are the sum of your friends. Choose them wisely. They will decide who you can become.
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Tags: habits, Law of the Harvest, mental-health, Thought
One Sunday afternoon a crowd of people went to watch an Oakland Raiders game. During the second quarter, 5 different people came to the infirmary feeling ill and vomiting. The doctor on staff found that most of them were sitting in one end of the stadium. Suspecting food poisoning, he had security shut down the concessions stands on that side of the building and had stadium officials make a public announcement over the loud speakers instructing fans not to visit concession stands in that area due to the possibility of food poisoning.
Before long, almost 200 people from that part of the stadium came to the infirmary feeling sick and showing other symptoms of food poisoning. The staff began sending people over to the hospital for treatment when the doctor made a discovery. While interviewing the original 5 patients, he discovered that they had all eaten spoiled potato salad from the same deli across the street from the stadium. The food at the stadium was completely safe.
As soon as this new information was announced, guess what happened to the other 200 poisoned fans? They instantly got better! In fact, they went back to the game before the second half started! When they thought they had been poisoned their body began to exhibit the symptoms of food poisoning.
Isn’t that amazing? Their thoughts alone produced physical problems like vomiting and nausea!
This morning I was thinking a lot about…well…thinking. More specifically on the power of our thoughts to influence our reality. We have almost all heard the proverb that says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) How true is that statement? I believe it is incredibly true.
You may have heard this thought:
- Your thoughts determine your words,
- Your words determine your actions,
- Your actions determine your habits,
- Your habits determine your character,
- Your character determines your destiny.
I do believe that we are actually able to think one way yet act another for a while; but eventually our thoughts will determine our actions. It is inevitable. Nobody goes out and cheats on their spouse without having cheated in their mind for a period of time beforehand. Nobody commits a major crime on a whim. There is a thought process first. The more we think about something, the more likely it is to happen.
What a blessing and a curse!
It is a blessing because it also works in our favor. Successful people don’t appear spontaneously. They have learned to focus their thoughts on success, productivity, goals, happiness, etc. The more they think about them, the more they start to develop successful habits. The more successful habits they have, the sooner they will achieve their goals for personal success, whatever they may be.
Someone once said, “Show me what a man thinks when he has nothing else to think and I’ll tell you what kind of man he is.”
Good thoughts eventually lead to good things. Bad thoughts to bad things. It is the Law of the Harvest in action. (You can get the book for free by clicking on the picture!)
Sow the seeds of positive thinking now and you will reap the harvest of success later.
1. Check your thoughts – The next time you have a break from work, a spare moment, or when you’re driving, be conscious of what you are thinking about. Do you go straight to Facebook, think about a television show, or just turn up the radio? These aren’t inherently bad things. They are just the natural place our brain goes because it requires little effort. But imagine the difference if you spent more time thinking about your long-term goals, the people you could help, a new skill you want to learn or a motivational story your heard.
2. Make a plan - Locate 3 areas in your life where you would like to improve. Write them down so they become goals instead of wishes.
3. Act on your plan - When you have a moment in the day, look at your list and think of something you can do right then to improve in one of those areas. If your plan was to lose 5 pounds, you could do some jumping jacks. If you wanted to help more people, look for someone to compliment or offer your help to. You will find that acting on your positive thoughts will reinforce them and you will start thinking about them more often. As we said before, the more you think about them, the more they will influence your actions, habits and destiny.
Remember, you control your thoughts and therefore you control your destiny.
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This is another awesome cartoon from Gavin Than at ZenPencils.com. Check out his site, it is awesome!
Tags: Diamond, Gemstone, Rock (geology)
Back in college I took a geology class because I was looking for an easy way to fulfill a science requirement. The class was interesting and not particularly difficult. After the first few weeks I was ranked #2 in the class and was certainly overly proud of myself.
One morning when we arrived at the classroom the door was locked. There was a sign on the door that said we would be assigned to specific stations that day based on our class rank. Below that was a list of the students, with a number by their name indicating which station they would be at for the day.
Before long, the teacher opened the door and announced that we would be studying gemology that day. He let us in to find our assigned seats. As we settled in, I noticed that half of the stations had microscopes and other instruments for closely examining small stones. The other stations had a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass.
Since my station had the microscope, I assumed that all of the kids on my side of the classroom were the top of the class and because we had worked so hard, we were given the extra benefit of superior tools.
Once we were all settled, the professor told us that we would be having a competition that day. He was going to give each group some precious stones to evaluate. He wrote the average price of each type of stone on the chalkboard. Our job was to evaluate the size, weight, cut and clarity of each stone and then make an educated guess as to the value it held. The team that came closest would be given extra credit points on the upcoming exam.
This almost seemed too easy! There was no way that the other team would be able to pick up on the imperfections in the stones with only a magnifying glass. They’d just have to guess by looking at how “pretty” it was or if it just “looked expensive.”
I got even more excited about our chances at victory when I started to look through the microscope. With the enormous magnification I was able to see all of the discrepancies in the stone that would decrease the value. Every stone had them to some extent. There was no way the other team would see them. We had this in the bag.
We confidently submitted our estimated prices for each of the stones.
As to be expected, the “B team” had grossly overvalued their gems. Their prices for each stone were much higher than ours. It wasn’t their fault, they just couldn’t see the imperfections.
We waited with a smirk on our faces as the teacher began to unveil the actual price of each gem.
To our shock and horror, the gems were worth a lot more than we had estimated. In fact, we were generally lower by about 50% in every instance. Not only that, across the board the other team was within 3% of the actual cost. We had not only lost, we had been humiliated.
So what happened?
The professor paused for a moment as the chatter and cheering died down, then he explained to us where we had gone wrong.
“The value of a gem is in the appearance to the eye.” he said. “The way it sparkles, the way it shines. It is based more on how you feel when you see it. It is true that a gem with less imperfections will tend to sparkle better but that is not always the case. Some of the most brilliant diamonds in the world look crystal clear from one side but if you take a microscope and look from another angle, you will always find an imperfection. A gem’s value is more in the way it sparkles and not so much in it’s imperfections.“
I was stunned and a little angry. He had set us up! He played upon our pride to make us think we were better equipped and smarter than the other students. He led us right into his trap! I was really bothered for a couple of hours until I realized the point he was teaching. He was teaching me something important about life, not just about gems.
I was reminded that day that we all have imperfections. Every one of us. That is what makes us unique. But often times we start to look too close at our imperfections or the imperfections of others. We whip out our microscopes and start analyzing every little blemish as though it were enormous. The more we focus on the imperfections, the less we see of the person’s “sparkle”. In the end, it is the way that we “sparkle” and “shine” that determines our value, not the size or amount of our imperfections.
Take home messages
- Let’s avoid looking at people with a microscope to find their faults, blemishes or habits that we don’t agree with. When we do, we vastly undervalue them.
- Many times we look at others with a microscope and ourselves with a magnifying glass. Stop it!
- Many times we look at ourselves with a microscope and others with magnifying glass. Stop it!
- A person’s value is in the way that they shine in life! It is in the way they bring happiness to others, in spite of their own faults and imperfections.
It is my hope that we can all shine brightly and never undervalue ourselves or someone else.
Put away the microscope.
We are all designed to shine!
If you enjoyed this post or know someone who could benefit from it, please share it below or tell me what you think!