Posts Tagged ‘failure’

“The Process”

You might not be a fan of the University of Alabama or college football, but if you are a fan of SUCCESS, I think you will find what I am about to share very helpful. Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama, has won 5 national championships … one while he was head coach at LSU and four at Alabama. His four championships at the University of Alabama have happened in span of only seven years … the best run in college football history.

In football, you can only put 11 men on the field at one time … it’s your best against their best, so having great talent is critical, but not everything. So, what is the magical formula for success at Alabama and why do so many teams have trouble duplicating it? A few years ago Coach Saban asked me to present a program on communication to his coaching staff. In his world, recruiting star athletes is paramount to their success, and he wanted his coaches to make the best presentations possible to the athletes they wanted to play for Alabama.

I learned a lot of things about Coach Saban and Alabama football preparing for my three hour program. There are a lot of coaches, managers, bosses and leaders out there who never mix it up with the people who are on the front lines. Not Coach Saban; he is all about being on the ground level, getting “dirty” in the details. He understands that old saying, “The devil is in the details,” so he leaves no stone unturned and assumes nothing. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone as detailed as he is. Meetings and practices are planned to the minute and everyone understands what is expected of them and how they are to accomplish it. I don’t have time to go into all that I learned about him in this short article, so I decided to share one of the most important elements of how he has become so successful in what the college football world knows as “The Process;” Coach Saban’s way of winning.  As he says, The Process is much more important than the result.”

The critical element of his success is a simple way of breaking everything down into manageable parts. He owes this technique to Dr. Lionel Rosen, a Michigan State University psychiatry professor he met when he coached there in the late ’90s. Dr. Rosen had studied cognitive therapy used in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program and found the best way to succeed is to deal with the “moment” … not the future, nor the past. If you handle the moment correctly, the final result will work out. Dr. Rosen pointed out to Coach Saban that the average play in a football game lasts about seven seconds and that is where he needed to concentrate. What happened on the last play is done, it’s the next play, the next seven seconds that counts. By making sure his players (and coaches) fully understand what they have to do in those seven seconds, without hesitation, and prepare them properly so they can execute it … is all that matters. He teaches those young men that the game is played seven seconds at a time.

The same is true in business. By breaking down what you do into manageable segments of time and function, you will be better able to achieve the results you desire. But remember, everyone needs to understand what is expected of them and how they are to accomplish it. I would like to leave you with one last powerful thought from Coach Saban:

Saban - Two Pains - #3

Spending Other People’s Money

I just completed a program in Las Vegas and I thought I would share with you a few of the reasons why my client was disgusted with the entire convention staff at the hotel. My client and I were talking about the audio/video set-up the night before my engagement, and what changes that needed to be made to help get the maximum benefit out of my program. He told me that working with this hotel had been a very painful experience. He said he had to go over everything in detail, because at every turn they were, in his words, sticking it to him, every chance they got … to increase his bill. In the hotel’s audio/video proposal, he found over $70,000 (that’s not a misprint – it was $70,000) of unnecessary charges that he had taken out, and in his words, again … they fought me every step of the way.”

This was no small hotel off the strip … this is one of the big boys, which has developed an enormous arrogant attitude. Not one time did he feel they were trying to help him, in anyway, save money. They even told him he had to pay for security to protect the audio/video and stage set-up that was going to be used the next day; it was the hotel’s set-up and he had to pay to protect it. He stated he would hire his own security company to “protect” it for half the price they were charging, and they said there would be a management fee charged on top of what he paid the security company. (that was in the small print of the contract) Everywhere he turned they were sucking him dry, trying to get every penny they could out of him.

Then, I heard the words from my client that didn’t surprise me at all … “We aren’t ever coming back here.” He said there are a lot of places he can go where they will happily spend his million dollar plus budget … with hopefully, more “respect for his money.”

A sure way to turn a client against you is to show no concern about the amount of money they are spending with you. I personally feel that when you are dealing with a customer, you should treat the money in their budget just like it is “your own money” and do everything you can to stretch it as far as you can. When the client finds that you are truly looking out for their best interest … you will have a client for life.

Companies who feel there are no consequences for how they spend “other people’s money” are sadly mistaken. Actions have consequences …

squeezing cents

The Future is Yours

I just did a program for a large multinational manufacturing company, who has been in business for over 70 years. My client’s theme for the conference was … The Future is Yours. In preparing for the program, I decided to do some research on great quotes and statements that have to do with our future. I ran across a statement made by the esteemed economist Dr. Lowell Catlett that really surprised me. He said they did a study in 1960 and again in 2010, which involved over 7,000 economists, that rated their accuracy for forecasting future economic trends; their accuracy rate was 47%. He elaborated on that statement, saying: “What I just told you is, you can flip a coin and beat 7,000 economists by 3%.“ He concluded his point by saying, “You can’t predict the future, but you sure can prepare for it.”

So, I thought I would share with you some thoughts/quotes on “Achieving Success in Your Future.” I think these quotes will help to give you a productive perspective on addressing your success in the future.

The future is unknown, but a somewhat predictable unknown. To look to the future we must first look upon the past. That is where the seeds of the future were planted.Albert Einstein

Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to … doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you imagined. – Anon

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.George Burns

The more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek. – Anon

Your future is created by what you do today … Not tomorrow. – Anon

The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln

If I had to pick my favorite quote of all of them, it would be the second one: “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you imagined.” I don’t care where you are in life, how low you have gotten, or how bad it has been … tomorrow you can start fresh, creating a better future. All great achievement begins with deciding what you want and then dedicating yourself to achieving it. So, my perspective on having future success is learning from our past.


If you don’t apply the lessons you have learned from your past … you will never improve your future. There is no rule that says your past is your destiny. You possess the power to create a great future: we all do. Remember, your future success is dependent on your present efforts … so, do something today that you will be happy you did tomorrow.

Let your regrets fuel your future …

so your future will have fewer regrets.





Let’s get one thing straight … we all begin as a NOVICE. No one, let me repeat that, NO ONE starts as an expert. We all have to learn to walk, talk, eat, swim, count, write, and read. We all start at zero, the bottom, from scratch, zip … with absolutely no knowledge, experience, or understanding of the “THING” we are about to learn. I actually like that fact; for once, everyone starts at exactly the same place. No one has a head-start when it comes to learning.

So, then the journey begins; your progression from being a Novice, then Average, then Skilled, then a Specialist, and finally an Expert is all up to you. I really like the title of “EXPERT” because it has to be earned. You can assign someone a title of Vice President or Sales Manager, Boss or Director … but EXPERT, that title is something to be revered, respected, and admired.

EXPERTS have put in the time, effort, and study to EARN the title. They have dealt with the pains, frustrations, exhaustion, stress that come with obtaining the title of EXPERT. In fact, it’s really not a title at all, it’s a designation or confirmation that the person you are dealing with is very, very good at what they do. I like being around experts, because they have traits in their character that can do nothing but help me. You see to be an EXPERT you have to have passion, conviction, focus, discipline, dedication, drive, purpose, commitment, spirit, determination … and the undeniable WILL to perfect your SKILL.

According to the American Society for Training & Development, American workers average 6.5 minutes per day developing their skill. That statistic alone explains why there are so many average performing people. Most people just aren’t WILLING to put in the time and effort needed to raise their skill level.

Your success has a great deal to do with your level of SKILL, but not everything. I know a lot of talented, smart, well-educated people who have, in no way, come close to reaching their full potential. I was speaking to a Vice President of Sales yesterday, who was expressing her frustration at several of the sales people working for her who have the skill but not the will. She told me they have all the talent, but yet they still don’t excel. She went on to say they have the training, knowledge, understanding and a huge opportunity, with thousands of potential clients available for them to call on, but they accept being average.

You have the FREEWILL to succeed, if you have the WILLINGLESS to do it. The big question is WILL you? Who would have ever thought such a simple word as WILL would have so much to do with your success. Here are a few quotes I want to share with you that should hopefully broaden your prospective on how important WILLPOWER is to your success. They are by people you may have never heard of … ( de Balzac, Min, and Crowley respectively) … but the brilliance of their words is indisputable.

  • “There is no such thing as great talent without great willpower.”
  • “Lack of willpower leads to more failure than lack of intelligence or ability.”
  • “In the absence of willpower the most complete collection of virtues and talent is wholly worthless.”

Anyone can go from Novice to Expert if they have the WILL to do it. But, the “Skill Knob” below can only be turned to the “Expert Notch” if you have the WILL to make it happen and the discipline to study, learn and practice to perfect your SKILL.

Skill Knob

Willpower is a muscle.

The more you use it, the stronger it gets.



Don’t Second Guess

We all have to make decisions every day. Some decisions we make require little thought and the consequences will not be earth shattering or career changing. But, there are other decisions we have to make that can have an enormous effect on our lives. Decisions like … who we are going to marry or do we stay single, where are we going to live, should we have children, what career/job we choose, should we change jobs, do we get a college education or advance our education even further … these are big, tough, critical decisions that aren’t easy to make and the FINAL DECISIONS are life changing. 

I had to make a huge decision this week. I sought out council from people I respect and I measured all the pros and cons. I tried to consider all the “What If’s” and I assessed the consequences with doing it or not doing it. I had received advice like … “I should absolutely take the offer, no questions asked” … to … “no way take the offer, it is not in your favor”. I had been working towards this goal for several years, and when the offer came in writing … I turned it down.

So, what pushed me to say “NO” to the offer? Was it the 13 pages of fine print, written in their favor? No, that wasn’t it; I actually was expecting that. What really helped me decide were two things. The first thing was there was a huge “What If” question that had a very bad result, if all didn’t go well. The second thing was a statement they made: “This is our standard agreement that is non-negotiable.” Everything in business is negotiable and they just told me it isn’t. That one statement made me start re-evaluating everything … and to finally make a decision to say, “NO”. 

I started thinking, once we started doing business together, what else was going to be “non-negotiable.” That one statement triggered me to start thinking of alternatives, options, other possibilities, and a new direction I could pursue, if I said “NO” to their offer. I felt re-energized, stimulated, excited about the other options and even more surprising to myself … I was feeling no remorse about saying, “NO.”

Who is to say I made the right or wrong decision? Some people might say, “Only time will tell,” but, I still have a great deal to do with … the story that will be told. In all my years in business, I have learned two very important things about making decisions.

Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if it fails … because if you can’t live with it – don’t do it.

NEVER doubt your decision, NEVER look back, NEVER SECOND GUESS…  because if you do, those actions will help to sabotage your decision.

My job now is to make my new direction the right direction, the right choice, the right decision.

You should never make a decision because it is the easiest thing to do, nor should you make it based on convenience and most importantly, never “Second Guess” the decision you made. Former President Harry S. Truman once stated: “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” I would recommend we all follow his advice; I know I am.

The Fastest Way to Kill a Good Decision …

is to Second Guess it.

First, Last or Next

We have all had a lot of “Firsts” in our lives; our first step, first day of school, first kiss, first dance, first car and our first job. The list can go on and on with the things we have done for the first time. Some were really hard, some we thought were going to be hard but turned out a lot simpler than we feared and some just happened by accident … but we got through them all. Then we all have had some pretty neat “Lasts” in our lives as well: the last time you had to ask your parent’s permission, the last time you had a curfew on a date, the last time you had to study for a French, trigonometry, or chemistry final …or whatever courses you hated. Life is full of lots of great “First and Lasts”.

But, sometimes the “Firsts and Lasts” aren’t fun or exciting. Sometimes they are sad, hard, disappointing or even heart wrenching. I am sure you all can think of those without me having to point them out. I don’t want to address those today. I want to stay focused and positive about a subject I feel very strong about. I feel that truly successful people, those who stay on top of their profession for years, are always moving forward. They keep relevant, thriving, and successful by looking forward and moving on to the “NEXT” challenge, goal and soon to be another accomplishment. They don’t live in the past talking about previous successes. They finish what they are doing to the best of their ability … take a moment to appreciate what they have accomplished … and then move on; they relish what life has in store for them.

Your life is going to have countless “Firsts and Lasts”, whether you want them or not, but your “NEXT” accomplishment is up to you. The day you quit looking forward to your next goal, project, plan, mission, task, or grand undertaking is the day you stop progressing. When actor/comedian George Burns was 79, his career was resurrected in the 1975 film The Sunshine Boys, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He continued to work until shortly before his death, in 1996, at the age of 100. When he died he still had future engagements booked. He had more “NEXTs” planned out all the way up to his last breath. At 86 years of age, the famous poet Robert Frost recited his poem “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s Presidential inauguration. At 88, Michelangelo completed his sculpture Roudandini Pieta, depicting an aged man holding Christ. At 89, classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein performed his famous concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. At 104, educator/research scientist Ray Crist finally retired after an 80 year career that began at Columbia University.

But “NEXT” is not just for the elderly. Mozart was performing piano concerts across Europe at the age of 6. Bill Gates wrote his first computer program at the age of 13 and at 31 he had made his first billion dollars. At 15, swimmer Dara Torres set the world record in the 50-meter freestyle. Tommy Hilfiger opened his first clothing store at the age of 18, with his hottest item being bell-bottom pants. What do these people all have in common? They all kept moving forward to their “NEXT” accomplishment. 

If you want to study somebody who was really amazing at “NEXT”, take a look at Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin was an author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. He founded the first U.S. hospital, insurance company, police department, fire department, and book circulating library. He invented the Franklin Stove, the lightning rod and bifocals (to name a few). He was involved in founding two colleges. On top of all of those accomplishments, Mr. Franklin was also an Alderman, Governor, Ambassador and one of the founding fathers of the United States. He kept active and working right up until he died at 84 years of age. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral. Mr. Franklin’s entire life was a continuous journey of “NEXTs”. Here is an anonymous quote that I think sums up nicely the point I am trying to make. 

“You can’t start the NEXT chapter of your life, 

if you keep re-reading the last one.”

Well … I’ll Show You

There are two sides to rejection: those who got rejected and those who did the rejecting. Instead of crawling in some hole and giving up when you get rejected, making the REJECTERS right about you, why not see it as a challenge and simply say to yourself, “I’ll show you.” There is no law that says REJECTERS are always right. In fact, there are countless examples of the REJECTERS being terribly wrong. The REJECTERS were the ones who made a HUGE mistake. The REJECTERS turned out to be the ones who were REALLY SORRY for the decision they made.

One of my favorite stories on being rejected is about the famous cartoonist, Charles Schulz, who created the world-renowned comic strip Peanuts. Charles asked his girlfriend, Donna Johnson, whom he had dated for three years, to marry him and was REJECTED. Yep. She turned him down and married a person who had a more stable job, rather than marry a cartoonist. The Peanuts comic strip went on to be published in over 70 countries and earned Mr. Schulz approximately $40 million annually. Mr. Schulz immortalized his rejecting girlfriend by creating the little red-head girl in his Peanuts strip, who always rejected Charlie Brown. Mr. Schulz … showed her.

Marilyn Monroe was REJECTED by Twentieth Century-Fox production chief, Darryl Zanuck, after just one year under contract because he thought she was unattractive. Well … Marilyn showed him. Tom Cruise was REJECTED by the casting director for the television series FAME because he wasn’t pretty enough. Well … Tom showed him. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, originally owned fifteen Ben Franklin Hardware Stores operating under the name, Walton’s Five & Dime. He went to the executives of Ben Franklin Hardware Store franchises and suggested opening discount stores in small towns. The executives rejected his idea. Well … Sam showed them.

The manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Elvis, “go back to driving a truck because you will never make it as a singer.” Barbara Walters was told by the executive producer of 60 Minutes to “stay out of television.” Jay Leno applied for a job at Woolworth’s but failed the employment test. Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, took the original idea to the executives of CBS, NBC and ABC and was REJECTED by all of them. They all thought the idea of a 24 hour news network was stupid. Decca Records rejected The Beatles, saying, “We don’t like your sound, and guitar music is on the way out”. Authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who wrote, Chicken Soup for the Soul, received 134 rejections from publishers. Other famous authors such as William Faulkner, John Grisham, E.E. Cummings, Rudyard Kipling, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were all rejected by publishers. Well … they all showed them!

It looks like, to me, that when you are rejected you have now joined a pretty elite group of people … if you decide to prove the REJECTER wrong. Yes, the chronicles of world history are littered with REJECTED people, ideas, concepts, manuscripts, songs, paintings, and patents that later turned out to be someone or something special. So, if you want to take it to the next level, put three words in your arsenal that will dispel all failures, ridicule, mockery and rejectionI’ll Show You.

Just imagine a convention where all the STUPID REJECTERS in the world showed up and you got to meet them. You probably wouldn’t remember their names, only the fact that they were the ones who REJECTED Elvis, or Marilyn or, The Beatles. Those REJECTERS are all kicking themselves in the butt because “the rejected” proved them wrong. Elvis sold over 1 billion records with eighteen #1 hits … we are all glad he didn’t go back to driving a truck.

The famous movie actor, Sylvester Stallone, once said, “I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” Take rejection as a wake-up call … someone sounding the alarm for you to recommit yourself to prove them wrong.

Detractors, Critics, and Rejecters are Only Right

If You Let Them

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