Missing the Mark: Where’s the Bullseye?

There are two targets in life for any attempt at success. The one you aim for, and the one you land on.

Now, with this principle in mind, looking at the 8 targets above, you’d be surprised to find that we probably don’t agree on where the bullseye is.

Well that’s a little silly. Unless he means the circle around the bullseye isn’t the bullseye and that the true bullseye is the X?

Close! Actually, the bullseye for me is the smallest spot of black on the X. The middle of the X, and then smaller than that. Why?

Because most people don’t aim for it. However, it’s the only target I see. The bullseye IS the target….until I miss. Then I reevaluate my strengths and weaknesses based on where my shot landed (second target).

When you’re striving for excellence, are you narrowing your focus enough to pinpoint exactly where you want to be? Don’t let the world set the standard. In competition, the rings count for something. You will be awarded points.

But get this: While I get the same amount of points for hitting the X as I would for being inside the smallest ring around the X, it’s not enough. Your standard should exceed anything anyone could ever set for you.

REMEMBER–special note: While striving for excellence, appreciate where you are, but always push towards where you want to be. Perfecting over perfection. You may never arrive, but you can always strive as hard as possible.

And whatever you do, do it now.

 

If You’re On-Time, You’re In A Rush

“If you’re on-time, you’re late.”

Sounds wise and shocking, until you realize it’s not. Impressive, because it takes something acceptable and makes it sound as though it’s completely unacceptable. Clever.

You get a little older and realize this is a lie. Kind of like when you clock-in at the last minute, fly into the parking lot by the seat of your pants a few times, show up to pick up a date at 7pm…on the dot, turn in that writing assignment to your eye-rolling professor, write “Happy Birthday” at 11:57 p.m. on someone’s facebook wall, and somehow make it to the curb with your trash can in the morning…and you know what? You got away with it. Because you’re not late. You’re in a rush. 

That’s the true saying: “If you’re on-time, you’re in a rush.”

Until now, it’s been unnoticeable to you. Because when you’re on-time, you’re good. Not great, but you’re good. And who’s going to tell you about this? Nobody. Because it’s your right. And you’re abusing it or giving up a life of peaceful, swift, and graceful entries in and out of each experience during the course of your very hurried life.

Think about it. You’re always in motion. Everything in your schedule leading up to an event and deadline in your life is now a slave to perfection and the absence of friction when you’re on-time. You don’t get to smoothly transition. You get to hurry. What used to be a negligible amount of change or deviation is now a deal-breaker. Traffic is a something to worry about. Married and a family man? Ask me how that works. Wait, don’t. I’ll tell you. Your wife can’t forget anything on the way to the car. Your kids can’t forget their favorite toy. You don’t get to look for your favorite station on the radio. The car will remain on 0 miles to empty. You will run to work. You will breathe heavily even after you’ve “made it”. Because you don’t have time on your side anymore. You surrendered that partnership when you waited until it was too late to be early.

On the other hand, you don’t have to make people wonder. You don’t have to be the person that others would love to hate, but can’t. It would have been easier to say “You don’t have to be difficult”, but that’s really what I meant to say there.

Instead of breaking even with your day, let me repeat that…instead of BREAKING EVEN with your day (meaning you gained nothing), why not invest in a small reserve of time that allows for human error? Avoid frustration. You’ll have to acknowledge that you can’t control everything, and that necessitates the need for a cushion of reserve time before the next appointment or commitment you’ve made. But trust me, it’s worth it. You’re less of a headache that way. You have less headaches that way. Ever seen the guy that always has a silly reason for being late when he finally is? Nobody cares a whole lot about that guy. They sympathize, but they can’t change him. Be the master of your schedule and make “early” the ideal, not simply the “noble” thing to do.

And whatever you do, do it now.

 

Tackling Y for the Sake of X: Addressing One Problem to Fix Another, and Loving It

You have a problem. Up until this point in the office, it’s gone unnoticed. How do we make the solution more attractive and deserving of immediate attention? Easy. Address a bigger or more pressing dilemma.

Improving your work environment is usually contingent upon the approval of someone in a position of higher authority. This presents you with the challenge of compelling rather than begging your boss to address your needs and wants.

Let’s call this: problem X. This can be your office supplies, computer equipment, office staffing, approval for an increased budget, etc….

Now, let’s look beyond Problem X to Problem Y.

Boss: “Well, that would be a huge help. Scanning into PDF form, utilizing a shared drive on the computer, and batching our paperwork processing would save us a lot space when filing and for documents subject to retention periods. We needed to figure something out on that front. So thank you.”

You: “Perfect. While we’re at it, can we purchase a desktop scanner? Something cost-efficient that would enable me to remain at my desk and upload files right away would speed up the process. It would free up the main printer for the rest of the office as well.”

Boss: “I don’t see why not. Send me a few quotes and I’ll bring it up at the next quarterly meeting.”

You’re willingness to become more efficient will often necessitate the need or increase the appeal of accommodating your requests. Rather than simply doing more to appear worthy of a favor, continue the theme of exchanged services (which is really what a job is to begin with) and position yourself to receive the benefit of efficiency. Oil the machine that pays you. Fix a bigger problem than the one you already have. One that is connected to the original issue you’re dealing with. You’ll find much more satisfaction in the return.

The reason behind this approach lies in the worst-case scenario.

“No.”

What are you left with? The idea you had originally pitched has been approved, so there is still some progress with your overall work ethic and daily strategy. Build yourself up and hope that the pack follows suit or is swept up in the fervor. Over time, a consistent stream of ideas will make the idea of change and spending the ideal rather than a break from the ordinary.

 

 

You’re Working, But Are You Whistling?

 

You’re standing on the 1st place podium. Scanning the crowd, you pick out some familiar faces that helped you along the way, smile, giving a knowing nod, and taking a deliberate breath to compose yourself, you return back to the swarm of cameras and outstretched microphones. The camera spotlights and sporadic camera flashes make it hard to make out the source of a question barely discernible amidst the roar of applause.

“What was it like to get to where you are now?”

 

You pause and lean in…the silence spreads as the anticipation builds for your reply…

 

“What was it like to get here? Well….I complained every step of the way. I was discontent, doubtful, and never really appreciated any incremental progress made as I broke through each barrier. If anything, this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed my journey in any capacity: at the very end. And in the most fleeting moment of intense euphoria brought on by victory, I have to say, it was worth every day I hated myself and moped about, looking for any validation as I complained to those around me. Thank you. No more questions.”

 

*slow clap*

 

We tend to put too much emphasis on the goal and not the journey itself. We’re wired to pursue pleasure, but often reconfigure ourselves to hate any shred of it that comes along with progress and periods of rest or delayed growth. How do you want to enter the winner’s circle? Defeated and weary? Starving for satisfaction? Or ready for an added joy that will make the chalice of contentedness run over? I choose the latter. We want an attitude of success that is scalable. What do I mean by that? No matter how successful you are, a consistent mentality of hope and satisfaction that can relate to the successful on any level and in any measure of success is key to preparing yourself for the next foothold. This means the winner’s heart and mind you have now is the same that you will bear and hold when you’re standing at the finish line. It’s one less item of preparation you’ll have to deal with after your dreams come to fruition.
Today’s society has elevated discontent to an art form. If we’re fit, we complain about not being more fit. If we’re losing weight, we complain about not being as thin as we once were. Ironically, that was when we complained the most!

Don’t confuse apathy for comfort. …Being thankful for where you are in life is an integral part of training your mind to enjoy and reap the benefits of the success to come at a later time.

We want that promotion or initial job offer. So we obsess, and wonder, and worry, and neglect to fully love where we are at the present time. Don’t get me wrong; avoiding becoming too comfortable has its value. Sometimes being discontent and hating where you are can be just the motivation certain people need to become more. But we’re not talking about that. We’re looking at the people who use those exceptions as an excuse to continue the self-loathing, and continue thirsting but never drinking in the pleasure of the now.

You’re at a fork in the road. Presently, you aim to look into the masses and explain to inquiring minds how you always hoped, always persevered, and never doubted. All of this is possible without becoming complacent. Don’t confuse apathy for comfort. We can find time to smell the roses and plant a bigger oak tree. Being thankful for where you are in life is an integral part of training your mind to enjoy and reap the benefits of any success to come at a later time.

Here’s another example: The single person who is always complaining about being single. It’s all they think about. They take jabs at themselves. They post pictures and sayings on social media that provoke a sense of longing and yearning for “something that will last…”. It helps, sure. But does it promote a life of other edifying interests and pursuits? My bet is that when this person finds their spouse (as many do), said spouse will be more enamored with the more active and positive qualities they possessed. They’ll look towards and admire the lack of self-pity or hopelessness rather than how many nights were spent listening to the saddest song that could be found. I always encourage my friends to be the person they want to be when they find someone to share life with. It’s more attractive to the opposite sex. And it keeps them from missing out on opportunities that add to the list of attributes and hobbies making them the kind of person no one else can be.

It’s the same concept for any other facet of life. You’re courting success in the present, not in the future. “Down the road” often intersects with another path you couldn’t have predicted would lead to the place where you are now. Instead of bogging our minds down with the allure of distant goals unrealized, prosper and thrive in the present fruits of your efforts. The path of the powerful and exceptional is riddled with players who end up hating the game. Those who learn to do more than exist and desire are the ones who get the most out of life. Go get the most out of yours.

Redefine What’s Ordinary: The Pool of Success

“I like to just think of myself as a normal person who just has a passion, has a goal and a dream and goes out and does it. And that’s really how I’ve always lived my life.”  –Michael Phelps

 

“I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you put the work and time into it. I think your mind really controls everything.” –Michael Phelps

 

I could say that I had always wanted to learn how to swim. And I wouldn’t be lying. Up until 2 weeks ago, the problem was found in the time and energy I was willing to put forth into figuring it out. Let me break this down in terms of proximity.

I went ahead and calculated the total distance between myself and the realization of my goal in terms of feet. Are you ready? Here it is …*clears throat*…

 

Exactly 0 ft.

 

Interesting, isn’t it? There wasn’t any lack of pool to help me learn the right technique and internalize it. The arena that I needed was right around me. In fact, I was literally up to my neck in opportunity. I even had sound instruction, but never followed it consistently. It was way easier to stand off to the side, let my feet touch the ground, and slowly trudge through the resistance to get to where I wanted to be.

Isn’t that all of us? We love to talk about how badly we want a better job. We pass the time talking about where we’d like to travel, what kind of shape we’d like to be in, and even for the believer of God, how we wish we could know God the way so-and-so does. The desire and motivation isn’t the problem. Your lack of action and time invested is.

We always hear about action. It’s the dessert of every motivational movie and speech that ended with us saying “Man, that makes me want to get out there and try it!” It’s also the start of every year. New Year’s Resolutions are a well-worded want and usually fizzle out by June. Why? Because the truth is, if it doesn’t take less than a year to achieve, then most of us will never bother to see our progress through to the end. Hence, an Old New Year’s Resolution is usually 365 days away from January 1st.

Here’s a word of advice: Start resolving and don’t stop until you’re finished. Talk is cheap and consistency is in demand. Time and Action go hand in hand. It’s really that simple. This is why the above quotes from Michael Phelps are basic in nature and honest about our shortcomings. He knows what he wants, decides that he doesn’t want anything short of victory, and spends the amount of energy and time necessary to reach success. All as a “normal person”. Let’s play a little game called Find the Normal Person In the Room. The beauty of this game is that you could be alone in a mirror maze and I guarantee you’d find a winner. Because we’re all capable of greatness on our own stage. We just need to become the right kind of “normal”.

Going “all in” can sometimes mean meeting the price of success with exact change. It’s not just commendable, it’s required. And anything less will leave you coming up short.

Are you holding onto the walls of the pool of success? Letting go every now and then, but only an arm’s length away from safety? Here’s the thing. Going “all in” can sometimes mean meeting the price of success with exact change. It’s not just commendable, it’s required. And anything less will leave you coming up short.

Do you swim without treading water? Can you navigate your way through the obstacles, only going far enough into the deep so as to “keep your head above water”? Standing in what’s easy and manageable, this is the watery graveyard of most big dreams. We get comfortable and miss out on the vast rewards of “going off the deep end”. Again, easy is not the same as effective. Ever heard the phrase “Sink or swim”? It’s the equivalent of putting yourself in a position where you have no choice but to do better and become more. It’s a special place the successful venture to because they want more than just enough.

Do you learn enough for the day, but forget to cultivate and add to your training? That was me. I knew the basic mechanics of an experienced swimmer, I put it into practice, and at the end of a good day of trying, that’s all I was left with for the next few years: A good day of trying. Ever-trying, but never truly matching desire with action and time needed for a return on my investment.

Go and train for that job you’ve been thinking of applying for. Get another one for that trip you’ve been wanting to take. Eat right and exercise often. Draw near to God and watch Him draw near to you. With one life to live, do we really want to spend our time in the pool of success barely getting by and always in a state of trying? Or do we want to glide in the deep, confident in our ability to explore a world away from effort that never goes rewarded above the surface? A good friend of mine used to say that sometimes you have to give up what’s good for what’s great. Reach your full potential and be tenacious about it. The Michael Phelpses of this world won’t be fully accounted for, because showing up is only half the battle. Keep on showing up. And whatever you do, do it now.

 

The Facebook Put-down

I rarely, if ever (usually never), post a picture or meme that would cast me in a negative and degrading light, nor attack my worth as a person. Sounds a little harsh, until you realize that your News Feed is brimming over with Put-Downs!

This is me making my way through life at the moment: enter a video of a kid hitting his head on both sides of a playground slide as he makes his way down.

My dating life in a one picture: filter-heavy picture of a person sitting down, wrapping one arm affectionately around a beer staring at a starry night.

First week after my paycheck—lobster on a plate. Second week—Ice water soup in a bowl.

 

Nicely done! 30 seconds and a few swipes later and we’ve already established (jokingly, because that makes everything alright *wink*) your friends suck at life, are extremely lonely and meeting little success in the dating world, and have zero self-control when it comes to spreading out their finances through to the next payday. And that’s just scraping the surface! It’s amazing how we can scroll through this all day, every day without batting an eye, but if we were around someone who verbally talked this way about himself or herself ALL the time, we’d get sick of it really quickly. You’d think they were desperate for attention, self-loathing, and quite honestly, a little too self-absorbed. All for the sake of being “funny”.

 

“Would you punch yourself in a street fight, Mr. Burgess?”

“No sir.”

“Then don’t punch yourself in a word-fight.”

 

In the movie The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington (playing professor Melvin B. Tolson) points out that to truly advance in his life, particularly in this debate team, Hamilton Burgess (played by Jermaine Williams) would need to avoid insulting himself. The joke he had previously made at his own expense was a detriment not only to himself, but the team as a whole. …Why?

Tolson understood the power behind his words. It was a cheap and easy way to get a reaction, to become comfortable with his audience, and to make a point without involving anyone else. But at what cost?

 

“The problem with putting yourself down is that, no matter how wonderful you actually are or how many positive qualities you have, you’ll always find verification of that which you’re looking for.” —Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff with Your Family, Richard Carlson

 

Put-downs are not grounded in truth. We gravitate towards the realization of what we think is true. Sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. We act with consistency towards our beliefs or what simply consumes our time and thoughts.

Ever notice how once you or a close buddy purchases a new vehicle, you suddenly seem to notice that vehicle everywhere? It’s not a coincidence. What was once in the background of the world is suddenly at the forefront of our minds, selectively choosing what is worth noticing.

But what’s wrong with being relatable? Nothing at all! Nobody is perfect. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The problem is that our attitude online bleeds over into our lives. We joke in the office, we poke at the people around us who are “Forever alone!”, we chuckle at our last bologna sandwich when it’s Tuesday night and we have 3 more days to go till we make bank again. Why?

Because building takes work. Tearing down is easy and less of a laughing matter. But here’s the secret: It’s worth more. Worth the energy, worth the creativity, and worth the silence when matched up against the noise of the critical mind.

Know what would happen if you didn’t post until you had something that is a tribute to your more capable self and attractive qualities?

  1. You’ll post less at first.
  2. You’ll grab the phone out of habit and NOT desire every 10 seconds ( a.k.a. the detox period) –Take your time and keep yourself busy.
  3. Eventually, EVENTUALLY, you’ll stumble across a happening worth mentioning, a success worthy of admiration and considered imitable. Something that doesn’t conjure images of a hopeless, bumbling moron, but a human being that actually has a life and hits the mark every now and then.

Trust me, it’s more becoming. It’s Axe in the fog of B.O. posts that reek of insecurities. And you know what? It covers the stink you create (mistakes) in the sweat of grinding out other victories during the marathon of life.

 

Here’s a quick mental exercise: How do you phrase your thoughts as you make your way through the day? Does your phrasing focus on the negative or positive? Do you put an uplifting spin on what you lack or strive to achieve? Try these on for size…

 

“We never go out anymore.” Vs. “We should go out more.”

 

“I’m a terrible cook.” Vs. “My strength lies more in foods that are made on the stove-top and not baked.”

 

“I’m tired of being such a blob.” Vs. “I’m going to get more fit by trying [insert actual exercise or activity].”

 

See a pattern here? Longer sentences on the polar end of your typical dialogue? Sure. A little lighter on the heavy word-lard that’s become the social norm? Absolutely. But it has a better after-taste and doesn’t bog you down when you should be lacing up and meeting milestones. It’s a Low-PutDownMe diet that will yield a brighter outlook. I promise.