Monday, February 08, 2010

Starting Successfully

In today’s internet world, information about pretty much everything comes at us a-mile-a-minute and in such impossible volumes to manage. Somehow, we have to wade through all the advice, good & bad, and all the “you can do it” encouragement and actually begin to do something. With the incredible bombardment of our senses, it’s sometimes hard to even know what the first step should be. “Where do I start?” “What do I do now, like, right now?” “How do I begin and where do I begin it?” Amidst the confusion, it’s so easy to put off doing anything.

Once we do figure out where to start, it's important to get off to a good one.  In reality, we are all starting daily. Every day is new day and in each day we simply start again.

Starting successfully begins with accepting responsibility for not only where I’m at right now, but, more so, where I’m going to be.
“Before anything else, getting ready is the secret of success.”  Henry Ford

We have to become self-starters.  John Maxwell calls it the Great Separator. There are Doer’s and Do-Nots.  It is essential to be a self-starter. It’s important to always remember a simple basic principal:  To Win – We Must Begin.
“To Succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”  Ben Franklin

Starting Successfully   
START with yourself.

The first question we must answer is not where do I start – it’s who do you start.  As Ghandi plainly put it, we must “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We must be the change we envision and it begins with 'me'.

The Value of Starting With Myself:
First, starting with myself gives me experience, gives me confidence, gives me integrity and gives me influence.  And remember, Leadership is nothing more than influence. Second, I am with myself more than anyone else.  Some of you didn’t know that. Others are thinking, boy that Matt, he’s about as sharp as a bowling ball.  You have to be the one to push your own start button.  In a way, since you’re with yourself so much, you have to become your own mentor; to hold yourself accountable; to develop self-discipline and self-mastery.  Third, I must start with myself in order to give to others.  I must realize that I’m the only person I have any control over.  But the magic is in understanding the paradox  of power that control of myself leads to the influence of others… to follow your lead.  Starting with myself permits me to give to others.  It can be difficult trying to help others if you don’t help yourself first. 
The #1 Leadership Principle At West Point is ”Lead by Example”.  It’s really the only way to lead.  People do what they see.  Be the example you want others to follow. Be someone you would want on your team.

START early.
Start early in every aspect:  daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.  The value of starting early is this… it allows you to tap into
The Slight Edge: Secret to a Successful Life- the power of compounding:  The earlier you start, the more power you have.  I don’t necessarily mean get up at 6am and start working.  What I mean is, don’t put off till tomorrow what you can complete today!  It’s the smallest seemingly insignificant things we do daily that accumulate into the biggest results.

The Value of Starting Early:
1.  You increase your odds of success.
2.  You compound your success.
3.  You have more options later in life.

Though you cannot go back
And make a brand new start, my friend,
Anybody can start from now,
And make a brand new end!

START small.
This one is important because we can get intimidated in beginning what may seem like a monumental journey with no end in sight.  Don’t expect to understand everything it takes to get to the top right away.  Just take the next step.  It’s the daily things you do that get you closer.  Don’t think you have to have all the answers or that you to have everything figured out before you start.  Just begin.
A solid philosophy to begin is:  Think Big & Start Small. The first 2 steps to start effectively are to first, Define your dream, your vision of your success and, second, commit to seeing it through.  You can decide to do both right where you are… right now!

The Advantages of Starting Small:
1.  It encourages you to get started. Hard work is an accumulation of easy things you didn’t do when you should have.  Starting small allows you to experience progress quickly reinforcing your activity.  When you accomplish a small step, you provide yourself encouragement that you can accomplish the next step.   Set small goals that build confidence. Each day maybe it’s simply listening to an audio, reading one chapter of a good book, or making one contact.

2.  It allows you to prioritize and concentrate.  Focusing on the next best thing you need to do creates progress and clarity of purpose.  “If you can’t feed 1,000 people, then feed one.”  Mother Theresa

3.  It provides the necessary step to take the next step.  You put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door. (Santa Claus is Comin' to Town). The next step is the necessary step to take the next step!
One bright morning a boy rushed to get up and get out to the beach. There had been a terrible storm the night before and he could just imagine all the treasures that had washed ashore during the night. When the boy got to the beach he was amazed to see the beach covered with thousands of starfish. They had been washed way up onto the sand and were starting to dry out. The boy, knowing that they would die, began to pick them up and throw them back into the water. A man who was strolling on the beach watched the boy frantically rushing to throw the starfish back into the ocean. The man approached the boy and said, "You know you can never throw all of these starfish back into the ocean. There are too many and they are already dying. Your throwing them back won't make any difference." The little boy carrying another starfish in his hands, stopped and looked into the man's eye thoughtfully… then tossing the starfish into the waves he replied, "It makes a difference to that one!" and he rushed off to saving more of the dying starfish.

What you are going to be tomorrow you are becoming today… step by step.

START with the end in mind.
As you begin . . . look way out there.
“I will get ready and perhaps my chance will come.”  Abraham Lincoln
“It’s too late to prepare when opportunity comes.”   John Wooden

We don’t get into a car and just start driving.  We get in the car, put the key in the ignition, shift, brake, hit the gas, hit the turn signal, all because we’re going somewhere!  People spend more time planning their grocery shopping than designing their future.  The basic difference between people who live their dreams and those who only dream about how they would live is the accuracy of their plans and their ability to take action.  You now have the knowledge to capture your dreams.

To start with the end in view, you need energy and direction.  Let your passion, dream, and vision pull you forward to that end.  Let your planning give you direction.

3 Reasons To Start With The End In View:
1)  It gets you started right.  All’s well that begins well. 
    How do you get started right?
    A.  Define your vision:  What is your passion?
    B.  Learn:  What those who have been successful have learned; the principles of their success.
    C.  Do:  What those who have been successful have done/are doing.  Listen to them; watch their life; follow their example; learn from their mistakes and their victories. 

Maintain a positive healthy attitude visualizing where you’re going and do the work necessary to get there.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard

2)  It keeps you going right.  Starting with the end in sight, keeps you on track.  It allows you to see it though. With clear vision, you have more energy to give which creates self- motivation.  You have less energy to lose because you have direction. You see the big picture.

3)  It gets you where you need to go.  What gets measured gets done.  Results!  At this point we should have already learned that life isn’t fair and it isn’t going to be fair.  Stop sniveling and whining and go out and make it happen for yourself.
Dick Butler, an Advertising Executive and International Consultant wrote:  “In business I see too many people who expect the financial tooth fairy to come at night and remove that ugly dead tooth from under the pillow and substitute profitability just in the nick of time at the end of their fiscal year.”

Success does not arrive, your ship isn’t going to come in… you’re going to have to swim out and get it yourself.
If you wait for the perfect time to start, it’ll never come.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Karen Lamb

3 Reasons To Start Now:
1.  Because the Power is in the present!  Required reading to grasp this concept and the perspective to capitalize on it are
The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz & Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrows Success (Maxwell, John C.).

One of my favorite Maxwell quotes is that “We over-exaggerate yesterday. We overestimate tomorrow. We underestimate today.”

“One today is worth two tomorrows.” Ben Franklin       

2.  It removes the greatest barrier to your success:  Procrastination
I think that word is toxic.  It's the ninja dream killer- you never see it coming until it's too late.  The best way to never achieve anything… is to never start anything.  We certainly won’t have to worry about any critics or adversity if we never attempt anything.  Do nothing, be nothing, say nothing.

Anybody who brags about what they’re going to do tomorrow probably did the same thing yesterday!  That’s called Destination Disease.  It’s the ‘I’ll get to it tomorrow’ syndrome.  Procrastination is the assassination of motivation. Knowledge is power only when it is applied. Do it now!
“The greatest gap is between knowing and doing.” Dick Biggs
“Today is the day you worried about yesterday.” Alice Klendworth

3.  It is the open door for opportunity. 
And it is right before you this very moment.  It is simply a matter of reaching out your arm, putting your hand on the doorknob to success, turning the knob, opening the door and taking that first step through the doorway.  It’s the job that never started that takes the longest to finish.
“Most people fail in the starting.” Maureen Falcone
“Start now, because tomorrow may not be yours to start.” Sherrie Perry

And one of my all-time favorites comes from Mr. Mikey Kasem:
“You can’t leave footprints in the sands of time if you’re sitting on your butt.  And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?”
The problem is that we want the rewards of success without paying the price. 
Author Seth Godin wrote:  “You don’t win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of intensive training.” “There’s no such thing as an overnight opera sensation.  Great law firms or design companies don’t spring up overnight . . . Every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way;  bit by bit, step by step, little by little.”  There is no magic solution to success.
The formula for success is simple:
“How wonderful it is that we need not wait a single minute before starting to improve ourselves and our world”.  -Anne Frank

As we ponder the arduous journey toward success, take ownership of your vision and of your progress toward it.  Manage your attitude, your activity, your priorities… and discipline is the by-product.
Knowledge is not power unless it is used.  Love is not divine unless it is expressed.  Life is not the purest joy imaginable unless we act with every fiber of our being in its realization. Tom James, Personal Development Coach

You can only master those things in your life through use, action, and implementation.  Do something to move yourself closer to your dream every day starting TODAY!  And you’ll make a bigger difference than you ever thought you could.

I remember hearing Orrin Woodward once say that “the greatest sin is to be given the gift of life and return it unopened.”  Let that not be said of you & I.

Start with yourself.
Start small.
Keep your dream big enough to keep it pulling you forward.
And lead yourself and your team to victory.
Make 2010 your best ever!
It’s within your control.
And it starts NOW!