Hard Work and Good Choicesstring(26) "Hard Work and Good Choices"

I believe that everyone wants some degree of success. I’ve yet to meet somebody who doesn’t want to be successful at something important in their lives. I also believe that while everyone is entitled to pursue success, success itself is not an entitlement.

It is largely determined by our hard work and our choices. I have known many people who work hard but make bad choices, and most of them think they deserve to be more successful because they have worked so hard. On the other hand, I don’t know of very many successful people who have made good choices but didn’t work hard.

Working hard is only the first part of success. Making good choices is the second part. It truly takes both to achieve success at whatever you do.

Advice About Making Decisions

Years ago, when I was the CEO for BNI®, I knew the choices I made were important to the business. My decisions impacted hundreds of employees and franchise owners, as well as hundreds of thousands of BNI members around the world. I remember talking to a good friend and mentor about some tough decisions I had to make and my concerns about them. He said, “Not every decision you make has to be a good one. Just make sure that you make more good ones than bad ones and when you make a bad one – minimize the impact by fixing it quickly.”

Wow! That was great advice! It is advice that precisely hits the point about working hard and making good choices. Not every choice you make must be on the mark. However, enough of them do so that you can get the results you want. Some of my biggest lessons in business have come from my losses, not my successes. Generally, neither had much to do with luck but instead with the choices I made or the commitment I gave to the project. I think the harder you work, the luckier you get. And you want to work smarter, not just harder.

Plan the Work and Work the Plan

During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with thousands of people who have experienced varying degrees of success in their lives. A recurring theme I see with these people is that they plan their work and work their plan. They think through their possible choices, make the best ones they can with the information they have, and then work hard to carry out the choices they’ve made.

I remember talking to someone I’d known for years about the growth of my business and some of the personal goals I had achieved, and he said, “Man you’re lucky. It must be nice.”
I responded by saying “Yeah, I’m “lucky”. Let me tell you the secret to my “luck.” First, I went to college for ten years. During that time, I started my own business and  worked really long hours for two decades. Along the way, I mortgaged my house a couple of times for the business, and I wrote five books. You too can have this kind of “luck.” All you need to do is apply this kind of effort to whatever you do, and you can be just as lucky.” He laughed and said, “Okay, okay, I get it!” 

Success is most often earned. It is not handed over because you are entitled.
If being successful was easy, everyone would have the success they think they deserve.  Working hard is only the first part of success. Making good choices is the second part. It’s important to remember that it truly takes BOTH to achieve success at whatever you do.

Thinking Big

Thinking Bigstring(12) "Thinking Big"

This is my belief about thinking big. Our vision controls our perception, and our perception becomes our reality. Don’t become so attached to a limiting belief that you can’t see what is possible. Move past limiting beliefs and move towards meaningful beliefs. Think big.

The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little results. Think big goals and smash other people’s expectations of you. You know, it takes the same energy to think big as it does to think small. Sure, if you think big, you’re sometimes worried about whether you can achieve those dreams or not. But when you think small, you’re disappointed in yourself because you didn’t achieve the success you want. Personally, I would rather be a little bit worried than disappointed in myself. Think big. It takes as much energy as thinking small, but you can end up in a much better place.

Be a Product of Your Decisions

Do not let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. There are those voices rattling around that will stand on your shoulder and tell you why that dream isn’t realistic. I had that. Remember the story of my dream of having 10,000 chapters? Did I let that guy influence my dream? No, I didn’t. Don’t let small minds influence your big dreams. I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things throughout my career. I believe anyone can do extraordinary things with the right mindset, plan, and effort.

The last time I was on Necker Island, I heard Richard Branson say that if people aren’t calling you crazy, you’re not thinking big enough. I love that. And he’s absolutely correct. To inspire others, though, you must first inspire yourself. If you want to be big, you need to start thinking big and behaving big. Don’t be a product of circumstances. Be a product of your decisions. One of my greatest lessons in life was learning that I can alter my circumstances by first altering my beliefs, then my attitude, and eventually my behavior. If you have the power to change lives, grasp it.

Think big. Think big, my friends. Think about how you can change people’s lives. Anything less is not a good use of our opportunity.

Can’t Decide What to Do

Can’t Decide What to Do?string(26) "Can’t Decide What to Do?"

There have been many times in my career where I have struggled with making an important decision.  Do I go left or, do I go right?  Do I say “yes” or, do I say “no?”  I generally tend to look at things logically and try to make good use of the data I have at hand.  But still, there are times that I have continued to be torn about what to do next on some issues.

Over the years, I’ve learned to rely on my intuition when I’m struggling with a particular choice.  To assist with that, I’ve developed two techniques that have helped me make decisions that involve things I’m still unclear about.

Get Out of Your Head

The first one came to me more than twenty years ago.  When my children were young, we were in a Baskin Robbins ice cream store and the kids were completely undecided as to what flavor to get.  We were next in line and there were a lot of people behind us, and I knew that they had to decide soon.  So, I told them all to close their eyes and stick their tongues out and wave it around.  Imagine being in line behind us. There was an adult and three young children standing in a row with their eyes closed and their tongues out waving around in the air.  The other customers must have thought we were crazy.  But interestingly, each one of my children suddenly announced the flavor they wanted.  My hope was that they would get out of their head where all the choices were swirling around in front of them and go with their intuition and choose what their gut was telling them they really wanted. It worked.  They all immediately decided what they wanted (much to the delight of everyone behind us).

Now, full disclosure – when I’m in my office and I can’t make a decision, I do not actually stick my tongue out and wave it around (can you imagine someone walking in my office while I’m doing that?!).  However, I do mentally go there.  Once I have enough information – if I still can’t decide, I sit back and mentally stick my tongue out and wave it around.  That allows me to get in touch with my gut feeling or intuition.  More often than not, I am glad that I did.

The Coin Reaction

Here’s a second technique that I recommend when you can’t decide what to do about something.  Again, get all the information that you can relating to your choices.  Then, grab a coin and assign one choice to heads and another choice to tails.  OK, you’re probably thinking – seriously Ivan, you’re a Ph.D. and you’re going to suggest that I flip a coin?!  Hang on – listen to the rest.  When you flip the coin and get your result, sit back for a moment and check in with that intuition again.  If you feel frustration or dread, that’s the wrong choice.  However, if you feel relief or satisfaction, that’s the choice you should go with regardless of what side the coin landed on. This technique is a way to use something tangible to get in touch with your intuition and cut through the decision-making confusion.

Remember, I still believe you need to look at the data and consider the facts.
I am just suggesting that there are times (and ways) to also take your intuition into consideration.

Your intuition is your inner soul talking to you.  Don’t ignore it, embrace it.