Category Archives: Uncategorized

Permission granted!

Quit waiting for permission to be a badass!

I spent years of my life waiting to be anointed, to be “ready” to start making awesome things happen. I thought – when I hit a certain age, when I get this title, when, when, when…I woke up one day in my early 30s and realized that day would never come unless I grabbed it! I got real frustrated and started to blame everyone and everything around me. I would hope someone else would take initiative for this or that to happen, then get mad when the person of the day didn’t understand me…might have been my boss, my wife, my brother, my co-worker, etc.

But I knew one thing, I was tired of the path I was on. I realized life was passing by quickly. In small doses, I could taste the fruit of regret. I looked at my life 10, 20, even 30 years down the road and didn’t like where I was headed. I began to try things. I failed many times over. There were moments along the way where I almost lost my self, my faith, even my family.

It hasn’t gotten easier. I’m presented with challenges each day from the moment I wake up. Negative thoughts flood my mind, only to be absolved by conscious moments to soak in gratitude. The stakes are higher with three children and nearing completion of another decade of life.

If it were just for the challenges I would fold. Thankfully there is hope to fill the sails. When I focus on gratitude I see that I am not alone. I can appreciate that my imperfections have been perfectly placed at this point in my life to give me what I need to move forward, to struggle, to learn, and to grow.

In this next decade I’m certain I will fail more times and in bigger ways than I did in this past decade. But I’m also certain I will press on fueled by hope and gratitude, guided by a plan and purpose that is made stronger with each storm.

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Where will you arrive?

Ten years from now you will surely arrive. The question is, where? Jim Rohn

clayton_workout

I’ll never forget December 13, 2015. I was mindlessly browsing Facebook when I came across this photo of a high school friend. Pausing for a moment, I thought to myself here is a guy who graduated high school the same year as I did. We both played sports, I went on to play football in college. After that I lost the intensity and focus for exercise that I had. Here both of us are, twenty years later, he’s doing weighted pull-ups and I rarely exercise. I’m overweight.

What will things be like twenty years from now? I pictured myself on the same path – gaining more weight, health problems with my heart, joints, etc. Would I enjoy activities with my kids and grandkids or would I be too tired or physically unable to participate? Would I be here?

I made an important choice that night and signed up for a CrossFit membership. My first class was on December 15, 2015 and it wasn’t pretty. I felt like passing out. I felt like a failure. At the end of the class I walked outside, hugged a dumpster and threw up.

But I came back. Again and again I came back, showed up, did the reps and worked hard.

I’m not doing weighted pull-ups (yet!) but I’ve noticed improvements. I have more energy. A few months ago I could touch the rim again, something I haven’t been able to do since college.

Starting the day with exercise completely changes my outlook of the day. I’ve already accomplished something on a day when I would have normally been sleeping. I have energy. I have focus.

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This was me today. One year later, December 15th 2016. I made it one year! It hasn’t been perfect, but there has been progress. Plenty of pain but plenty of fun and success. I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring!

 

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Don’t stop!

I was at a trade show this week, promoting a mobile platform for the agriculture industry. We built the premier mobile platform for the grain industry – you should check it out here: https://magrifarm.com/

The trade show ended at 6:30 on Monday night, and exhibitors were supposed to leave booths up until 6:30 before starting to tear things down. At 6:05 several exhibitors were already disassembling booths, making their way out the door minutes later.

Really?

Why stop there? Wouldn’t it be better to wait? That last conversation you have might lead to the biggest sale of the year. Perhaps a prospect walks by who meant to earlier, only to see you busy being a quitter.

It reminds me of Napoleon Hill’s story of the miner who quit three feet from gold. I won’t re-hash it here, as it’s been dissected and discussed thousands of times elsewhere. You can read a good summary here: http://inspirationalperspective.com/2013/06/02/are-you-stopping-3-feet-from-gold/

After 6:30 we started tearing down our booth. Fifteen minutes later the CEO of a large agriculture software company came by wanting to talk. We answered her questions and have a meeting setup for next week to discuss working together.

Put in the extra time. Don’t settle. You never know what might come of it.

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Setting goals, big or small

Several weeks ago I hurt my elbow and have been using modified workouts at CrossFit. Today I was doing air squats and sit ups while the rest of the group was on the row machines and doing pull ups. For my first round I worked hard (or so I thought) and logged 25 air squats and 24 sit ups. During the minute break I thought to myself “I wonder if I could do 30?”

The next round I did 35 squats and 30 sit ups! Now we were rolling. I had a challenge each time. Rather than going into the minute thinking “get as many done as possible” I had a challenge…I had a mission. Hit 30 of each. Most of the rounds I hit my goal but I noticed a few things about the workout after I changed gears:

  1. Going at it by yourself is tough. When you are working out with a group, there are people around you to challenge you. It’s a natural competition and drive to do better. You are all in it together. When you are doing your own thing, those driving factors are gone and the motivation needs to come within.
  2. Set specific goals. When I approached the minute with a goal in mind, it changed my intensity. I had focus. The minute had a purpose.
  3. Celebrate! When I had a specific number in mind, it gave me something to look forward to. I was working towards that number and felt GREAT when I hit 34 or 35. Without that expectation it wouldn’t have felt the same way.

What are some of the ways you set goals for the small things?

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How do you start your day?

 

Several weeks ago, Jeff Bajorek posted a short but important video on YouTube. “What’s The First Thing You Do Every Day?”  Once you are ready for work, how do you start? Most people would answer by saying they check e-mail or social media.

Jeff notes that most people look for something to react to, rather than seizing the day. Do something positive! Take a few minutes to read 10 pages from a book that inspires you. Watch a motivational video on YouTube. DO SOMETHING that inspires you to approach the day with vigor.

His challenge was to take the rest of that week and next to start your day like this. I thought to myself, “I like this! I’m going to do it.” Here’s what happened.

When I wake up in the morning, my mind is like a coiled up spring. Energy bottled up from the previous night’s sleep that needs to go somewhere. I noticed the following on days that started with exercise a positive mindset:

  • I was more focused, accomplished more, and was more fun to be around.
  • Time felt more effortless.
  • Days had a clearer purpose.

On the days where I missed exercise and the right start:

  • My activities were less efficient.
  • It took more energy to get started with or move between tasks.
  • Negative thoughts increased exponentially.

Jim Rohn once said: “Don’t start the day until it is pretty well finished — at least the outline of the day. Leave some room to improvise. Leave some room for extra strategies, but finish it before you start it.”

This begins with your mindset. Have a positive mindset, set a vision for the day, then approach it with vigor!

What’s the first thing you do every day? Are there certain authors or people you follow, things you do to get motivated? Let me know in the comments.

 

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The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work (And How to Fix Them)

Looking back on the past eight years I’d be lying if I said that everything has been wonderful. There have been many stressful moments, most of them self-inflicted.

I got involved with a family business for the wrong reasons. Our family relocated…twice. I sat with indifference for several years at my day job just waiting for the right moment to be anointed as a leader. I fought with those around me – my spouse, my children, myself, my brother, my parents. I waited for others to make decisions then blamed them for my own lack of self-determination.

James Clear has identified three stages where people fail in life and work:

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-3-stages-of-failure-in-life-and-work-and-how-to-fix-them-5d69196e0b38#.i5xy28qag

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work
The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve fell down on all the points listed in the article. The idea that struck me most while reading this article was the example of Emerson.

Like many children, Emerson followed the path of his father to the same school and the same profession before opening his eyes and realizing it wasn’t what he wanted. Adopting someone else’s vision as your own — whether it be from family, friends, celebrities, your boss, or society as a whole — is unlikely to lead to your personal dream. Your identity and your habits need to be aligned.

My work in progress from this article is to determine my non-negotiable. I also stand to improve how I handle criticism (read: I don’t handle criticism well at all).

Which stage do you identify with most? Where are you at on the journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Defeated before the day starts

“Have you ever waken up and just felt defeated before the day even starts?”

This has happened to me many times. I wake up at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning immediately worried about the topic of the day. One time I found myself worried that I wasn’t going to be able to pay my kids’ college tuition. My oldest daughter is 7 years old. I paused for a moment and came to a few realizations:

  1. My kids might not go to college, or a traditional 4 year school (and that’s ok!)
  2. If they do go, it’s not my responsibility to pay for it.
  3. There is no limit or end to the arbitrary things I could pick to worry about.

When I wake up in this state, it’s so easy for it to snowball into the rest of the day. That stress and anxiety leads to thoughts of self-defeat and negativity. Before you know it everything is going wrong. It reminds me of a book I read as a child: “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

Perhaps you read this as a child and are now reading it to your kids or children in your life. What I’ve come to realize is that you have a choice on how good or bad your day is. One of my virtual mentors, Jeffrey Gitomer, put it this way:

“I’m having a bad day” is bologna. What you’re really saying is: “I’ve let other people get to my attitude” or “I’ve let other circumstances get to my attitude.” That’s not only unjustifiable; it’s a sign of mental weakness. If you tell yourself you’re having a bad day, I promise you will have one, and if you tell yourself you’re having a great day, I promise you will have one. The day is not bad unless you declare it bad.

My best plan of attack, once I’ve realized I’m in this cycle is to stop the cycle, slow time, and reset.

Stop the cycle

Once the thoughts and stress are rolling, it can feel difficult or impossible to stop but I promise it isn’t! People have many ways to stop the cycle but what works for me is a quick pause for meditation. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on releasing all the thoughts in my head. Usually 1-5 minutes is enough time to break the cycle to move on to my next move which is to slow time.

Slow time

I love walks! Taking a quick walk around the block gets the blood flowing. It takes me out of the physical atmosphere where the negativity started and gives me a chance for a fresh start. I pause and take moments to experience everything that is around me. Last week I took a quick walk and appreciated the cool breeze, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the sound of the birds. I focused on being present in that moment.

Reset

Each of these steps helps me get to a state where I can reset or reframe my day. I begin to focus on positive thoughts. Reflecting on life’s blessings, I look to the future as a place filled with opportunity and hope.

I hope you have found this to be helpful. Each day is full of possibility! You will find what you are looking for in the day whether it be positive or negative. What are some ways you conquer these patterns in your life? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Celebrate your failures!

 

“I didn’t catch a fish daddy!”

Emma cheered gleefully as she pulled the line out of the water. It was her first time fishing. She sat intently at the edge of the dock, fishing rod in hand, peering over the edge into the water. This was, without a doubt, the highlight of her weekend!

I watched her repeat this and wondered to myself why she was so excited for producing nothing, until it hit me. The aim for Emma wasn’t to catch a fish, it was to enjoy the moment and activity. At 4 years old, Emma demonstrated mastery of a concept Brendon Burchard calls “How to Slow Time”. (For more information about this idea I recommend checking out his post here.)

How often are we focused on the wrong definitions of success? It’s easy for failures to draw us into negativity. In this context they become false confirmation of negative self-talk. Failure can be an opportunity to reflect, to learn, and to grow.

The next time you encounter failure will you enjoy this moment, or will it fuel a negative spirit? My hope is that you will embrace the moment as Emma did, celebrating her catch.

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