On Toxic Thought

positive

I am an entrepreneur and I spend a great deal of my time mentoring others who want to be entrepreneurs.

I love what I do.  And like most things in life, I learn a great deal from my coaching students.

One of the greatest challenges to success is the self-doubt, second-guessing and downright toxic thought process that invades their minds.  Most people that want to be successful entrepreneurs have a clear vision of their goals.  Unfortunately, many are not really sure if they’re capable or worthy of leading the process.

You can’t succeed unless you believe you can.  Period.

We all have doubts about our own capabilities.  That’s not the issue.  The skill is to get past the doubts.  I don’t know of anyone that built a successful business while thinking “I’m not capable”.

John Rampton is an entrepreneur and blogger.  He created a list of ‘toxic’ thoughts and some great counsel on getting past them. I agree with him.  Totally.

John writes:

I’M GOING TO FAIL

You’re more likely to fail with that self-talk, certainly. Plus, you don’t really have statistics on your side since the numbers don’t lie: The vast majority of startups do fail. It’s how you see those challenges and take them on that make a difference.

You only have two options as a potential entrepreneur who knows the failure rates: Think you’re going to fail, or think you’ll be an exception. Choosing the latter is a much healthier option. However, should you fail (it happens), learning valuable lessons will make you much more likely to succeed next time.

Related: The Morning Rituals of 10 of the World’s Most Inspirational Entrepreneurs (Infographic)

I SUCK AS A LEADER

Nobody is a natural-born leader, but everyone has traits they can hone to make them a great leader. Remember there are many different types of good leaders, and you don’t need to mimic a particular style to find success. Of course, there are a lot of successful entrepreneurs who aren’t good leaders. That’s why they hire a CEO to take care of the overall leadership for them.

Entrepreneurs are jacks of all trades, masters of none (it’s kind of a requirement), so if leadership isn’t your thing, work on that weakness but also consider bringing on a stronger leader to fill the gaps.

I’M NOT A REAL ENTREPRENEUR

There’s no industry-wide degree, certification or licensing to become an entrepreneur. It’s not like saying “I’m not a real plumber.” The reality is that even the definition of an entrepreneur is up for debate. It’s not about fulfilling a certain number of criteria to “be” an entrepreneur. Don’t ask yourself if you’re really an entrepreneur or put yourself in charge of defining what it is. It’s not important. If you want to start a business, you’re on an entrepreneurial track. It’s time to step out of your shell and become the leader that you’re meant to be.

Related: Are You a Real Entrepreneur or Just a Fake?

I’M A HORRIBLE SALES PERSON

Join the club. It takes a very special kind of person to be a “natural” salesperson, but anyone can learn those skills. There are many ways to work on your sales skills, but remember that the ultimate goal isn’t to be the salesperson on the floor talking to every single customer. Right now, you need to “sell” yourself, your business and your goods/services to investors and your early customer base. There’s an end in sight, since ideally you’ll eventually hire sales teams. You can do anything for a while. Remember: It’s not only “salespeople” who can sell.

MY WORTH IS, WELL….

If you don’t think you’re “worth it,” why should anyone else? A lot of entrepreneurs don’t believe in themselves and devalue their worth, which sets them up for failure. Don’t focus on your “worth,” but instead work on your business drive. Being scrappy with a hustler attitude is what it’s going to take in the early days. Also, “worth” is very subjective, and not necessarily tied to a specific figure. There are plenty of other things to focus on at this point.

You’ll face plenty of negative talk on this journey, so why join in? Welcome support from all angles, especially yourself.

Related: 6 Toxic Beliefs That Can Ruin Your Career

Bottom line for me is that, like any other challenge in life, it’s up to you to push through, abandon your comfort zone and just go for it.  It’s absolutely worth it.

Closing as always with something to think about: “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.” (Elvis Presley)

On Bringing Out The Best

be nice

I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when my friend Larry Lowe started the ball rolling on my Facebook wall with something  he called R.A.P.  That stands for Random Appreciation Post.  Every couple of days Larry does a random post just to say “I appreciate you” to someone in his life.

It has become a contagious exercise.  I started posting my own R.A.P. on Facebook and re-discovered a couple of things I knew but hadn’t thought about in years.  First, these people are all positive influences in my life.  And secondly, I’m a better person when I’m with them.

So how does that happen?  How can simply being in the company of a friend make me a better person?  It’s not like they knock on the door and hit you with some kind of zombie apocalypse mind meld that makes you want to be be better.  It just happens because they are who they are.

So I wonder how can someone just ‘be’ and make your little part of the world a better place?

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure this out.  And I may have some insight.  Every one of he people in my life that makes me a better person seems to have the following traits in common:

1.  They are perpetually happy.  Even on down days (yes, we all have them), they find something to focus on that makes them smile and the rest of the world seems to smile with them.

2.  They treat everyone with respect.  There is a difference between courtesy and respect.  Courtesy, as they say, is common.  Respect not so much.  When you’re with these people you feel respected.

3.  They lead by example, sort of.  You will never hear one of these magical people say things like “it can’t be done”.  And they don’t say “why don’t you try it and find out”.  They say things like “let’s give it a try and see if we can make it work”.  Their leadership style means standing by your side and not in front expecting you to follow.

4.  They are positive thinkers but not in the traditional way people interpret that phrase.  They don’t believe in absolutes, celebrating the positives and avoiding the negatives.  It’s more like they look at things as they are realistically but choose to pay a little more attention to the good things, the small kindnesses, the small wonders in life.  And they share those rather than the inevitable challenges.

I am blessed to have many people like this in my life.  I won’t name them individually but you know who you are.  And I spend as much time with them as I can because it just feels good to be with someone because you are a better person when you are.

And as always, something to make you think:  “Keep your face to the sunshine and you can’t see a shadow” (Helen Keller)

On Searching For Scams

cautionAs most of my friends and readers know, I’ve been involved in the direct sales industry (network marketing) for many years.  I’ve always been very careful about companies that I partner with, because YES, there are some very bad deals out there.  But that DOESN’T mean that all home business opportunities are bad deals.  Far from it.

There are thousands of legitimate, profitable ‘work from home’ opportunities available if you do your homework first.  Most people get into network marketing because someone they know asked them to.  But this should be a business decision.  If you want to find out how to make an informed decision about a networking company, please refer to this article I wrote in November of 2009..

But to the point…..

I got a call from a friend today telling me that he was doing due diligence on a company with an incredible 10 year track record but he was going to decline.  When I asked him why, he responded that it was obviously a scam.  How did he find out it was a scam?  He googled the company name and the word scam.  Almost instantly 39,500 links showed up.  That’s a lot of links.

Here’s the problem.  Google is like the library.  Sometimes you have to find the right section and then look at dozens of shelves to find the book you are hunting.  Most people don’t do that with internet searches.  Google, although the most widely used, is just one of a large number of search engines.  And they are a resource that requires you to manage the information.

So here’s a short comparison.  Remember, my friend googled the company name and the word ‘scam’ and got 39,500 results.  Here’s some comparisons using the company name and the word ‘scam’:

My friend’s search:  39,500 results

Mark Kay:  367,000 results

Avon:  512,000 results

More unbelievable?

Petro Canada:  45,900 results (not a home business but apparently it’s a scam according to search engines)

Canadian Tire:  295,000 results (again, not a home business but also not legit according to search engines)

And if you search ‘Is Apple A Scam’ it returns almost 22 million links.

The point is, Google is a resource.  And like all resources it can be manipulated.  Just for giggles, search “where is Elvis today” and you’ll get about 35 million results answering your question.

Please, do your homework.  But please remember that an internet search is simply a starting point.  The business you’re reviewing may be a scam. Or it may be the opportunity of a lifetime.

And as always, something to think about:  “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.” (Daniel J. Boorstin)

 

To A Diminutive Warrior

brandon banks

 

 

 

The picture tells it all.  It was a crushing moment.  A moment that Brandon Banks will never forget.

Brandon Banks is tiny compared to the rest of the professional football players in the CFL.  He says he weighs 153 pounds. His trainer says he’s 143.  He’s fast with dependable hands and a heart as big as the stadiums where he plays.

The Hamilton Tiger Cats were building what could have been a huge upset in the championship game.  Down to the Calgary Stampeders 20-6, the rally started.  And with just minutes left in the game Brandon Banks returned one for a touchdown.  Or so he thought.  It was a memorable display of athleticism.  As he was zipping down the field he had a purpose, a mission, a dream – get the ball into the end zone, score the winning touchdown and finish a remarkable comeback for his team.  That’s the stuff that heroes and legends are made of.

It wasn’t to be.

As Banks ran, behind him a penalty flag had been thrown.  A clipping call on Hamilton.  And as the camera zoomed in on Banks with the look of determination on his face that led to a victory celebration in the end zone, my heart sank for this diminutive warrior.  He had no idea that a penalty had been called.  He had no idea that this amazing kick return was in vain,  that the score wouldn’t count and that his intense effort to inspire his team would quickly turn to anguish.

Within seconds of feeling the triumph of what could have been the game winning touchdown he realized it was not to be.  Something totally beyond his control had stopped his team from achieving the dream they’d battled for all year.  He crumpled in the end zone.

This is a learning experience for all of us whether we watched the game or not.

Because Brandon Banks proved a point yesterday.

If he had been in tune with the stunned silence that began as the fans recognized a flag had been thrown, would he have stopped?  Had he taken a quick look at his teammates on the sidelines holding their hands to their heads would he have just given up?

He didn’t stop.  He didn’t give up.  And the reason he didn’t stop was very simply that his focus was so intense that he had no idea that something had gone terribly wrong.  It was out of his mind, out of his sight and out of his control.

Brandon Banks was focused on one thing and one thing only.  Achieving the dream.  And in that picture of a crumpled, heart-broken football player is the true essence of motivation.

We should all have this kind of drive, determination and focus.  And despite the fact that he didn’t score the game winning touchdown Brandon Banks caught the ball, turned on the jets and did exactly what he set out to do.

His touchdown didn’t wind up creating CFL history.  It didn’t count.  But he scored it anyway with laser-like focus on completing his mission.

That’s what heroes do.

That’s why this picture of a dejected, devastated athlete has been placed on my computer monitor.

To remind me that Brandon Banks’ touchdown didn’t make it to the scoreboard.  But he completed his mission.

“Always focus on the front windshield and not the review mirror.” (General Colin Powell)

 

 

View From The Office

My friend and business partner Mike sent me a picture this week.  At first glance, it was a nice pic.  It took some time for me to grasp the full impact of what he had provided.

Mike is a chopper pilot.  He flies to and from offshore oil rigs in Asia.  And this particular picture was taken from his seat in the cockpit one warm, sunny but slightly cloudy morning.  He labelled it “today’s view from my office”.

I found myself looOffice Viewking at it again and again trying to unravel the mysterious hold on my attention it had taken.  And I started thinking about everyone that looks out their office windows every day.  What do they see.  Other offices or office buildings or some non-inspirational vista?  Or, as I did for most of my career, sitting in a small radio studio with no visibility to the outside world, surrounded by soundproof baffles.

So I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the studio with a window that provided the view that Mike had the foresight to capture from the helicopter pilot’s seat.

The feeling was bliss.  Calm, focused, productive and happy.  That’s a great way to spend your day at work.

And no, I’m not naive enough to think that a simple picture will cure all the challenges you face at work.  But if one picture can make even a slight, positive change, isn’t it worth a try?

I’m going to suggest that you do something about the view from your office window, even (and perhaps most especially) if you work from home.  Find that picture of a person, place, situation or thing that makes you feel great and stick it to your window.  Someplace where it takes just a glance to catch your eye just for a second now and then throughout the day.  And if you want to share the view from your office window, please feel free to tell us about it (condensed form) in the comments section of the blog.  I’d love to hear what inspires you.

Mike inspired me.  I owe you one, buddy!

And as always, something to think about:  “All men dream, but not equally. “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”  (T.E.Lawrence)