Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock…

Time, one of the most equalizing, and finite parameters of life.  We all have been given 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to survive, live, accomplish, chase a calling and leave a legacy, but for some reason some people are just more effective than others and it really shows.  The question shouldn’t be, ‘How do I get more time?’, the question should always be, ‘How can I be more effective with the time I am given?’.

Time management can seem to be a boring or wearisome subject, but the average man who says this spends a majority of his time on the urgent, commonplace, and un-noteworthy just to survive.  Life is to short to live day-to-day just working, running errands, doing chores, paying bills, worrying, complaining and trying to take the edge off by entertaining ourselves to death and taking anti-depressants (30 million Americans currently)!  As H.D. Thoreau said, ‘Its not enough to be busy, so to are the ants’.

The only way to live an important, purposeful and exceptional life is to once and for all get a handle on managing your time!!!

Here are some practical, and simple time management tips taken from Orrin Woodward’s book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for Life:

1) Big Rocks First – Stephen Covey in his book First things First tells a story of a life changing presentation:

“A presenter pulled out a wide-mouth jar and placed it on the table, aside to some fist-sized rocks.  After filling the jar to the top with rocks he asked, ‘Is the jar full?’.  People could see that no more rocks would fit, so they replied, yes!’.  ‘Not so fast’, he cautioned.  He then got some gravel from under the table and added it to the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks.  Again, he asked, ‘Is the jar full?’.  This time the students replied, ‘probably not’.  The presenter then reached for a bucket of sand below the table, and dumped it in the jar, filling the spaces between the rocks and gravel.  Once again he asked ‘is the jar full?’.  ‘No’ , the students shouted.  Finally, he grabbed a pitcher of water and filled the jar completely, asking the students what they could learn from that illustration.  One of the onlookers answered, ‘If you work at it, you can always fit more into life.’  ‘No’ , said the presenter.  ‘The point is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first…there may not be any room left?’

Being ‘Efficient’ is not the goal, being ‘Effective’ is the goal.  Remember, ‘First Things First’ or as Brian Tracy says ‘Eat that Frog’!

2) Purpose Oriented Time Management – One of the first public relations experts in the country, Ivy Lee, gives Charles Schwab a bit of priceless advice to help him better manage the Bethlehem Steel Company.  Here are some bullet points to summarize Lee’s time management strategy:

*Materials needed: 3×5 card, writing utensil, and a want to become more effective.

*Write on the card the 5 most important tasks you have to do tomorrow.

*Number the 5 tasks in the order of their importance.

*Look at the card first thing in the morning and keep it in your pocket.

*Pull the card out every 15 minutes throughout the day until task #1 is done.

*Next do the same for task #2, then #3, etc…

*You may not get the entire list done each day, but you will always be tackling the most important.

*Spend the last 5 minutes of the day making out a ‘Must do list’ for the next day.

Charles Schwab took this advice and applied it for 2 weeks and paid Ivy Lee handsomely for the information.  Within 5 years it turned the unknown Bethlehem Steel Company into the biggest independent steel producer in the world, and earned Charles Schwab a hundred-million dollar fortune and a reputation as the best known steel man.

A man, of any financial stature, with no time left to do the important things in life, is no better off than a man with no money.  The last bit of advice I can give you is to systematize the day-to-day in your life and prioritize the important.  Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock…what is your plan to make sure that your time matters!  For more information, go to http://www.the-life-business.com and order Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy and Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life by Orrin Woodward.  God bless

The North-Star of Parenting

One of the most important, demanding and gratifying jobs in the world is raising children.  Is there anything more honorable than raising our children, and hopefully raising them to be as Andy Stanley says, ‘The next generation of leaders’?  In this confusing and fast paced information age, there are countless parenting strategies and philosophies espoused and taught everywhere you turn.  There are over 7 billion people on the earth, and each one of them was raised in a certain way with a particular philosophy.  I recently heard about a rebelling teenage girl who blasted her father and his parenting approach on a popular social networking site.  The father found out about it and wrote a letter in response and posted it all over the web.  In a matter of days, hundreds of thousands of people had commented on the matter, giving their perspective and opinion as to how the daughter should be handled, parented, or punished.  This recent example just goes to show that there is a massively wide spectrum of opinions as to how we should go about doing one of the most important jobs God has ever given us….raising our children!  In the book Say Goodbye to whining, complaining & bad attitudes in you and your children, Turansky and Miller tell a funny story of an aspiring father and author.  Here is the paraphrased version for this article:

“There is a story of a man who loved children, but still had none of his own.  He was also an aspiring writer, and decided he would write a future book called ‘How to raise wonderful, responsible and God-fearing children’.  After he and his wife had their first baby he revised the title to ‘A few things about raising kids’.  Now with a 3 year-old and a newborn baby he changed the name of the book to ‘Kids…are you sure????’.  Finally, when his children were full-fledged teenagers, the book title changed once again, this time to ‘HELP!’.”

Parenting to many people seems to be like following the latest fashion trends, or just trying out the parenting flavor of the month.  Tedd Tripp in his landmark parenting book, Shepherding a Childs heart, gives us a few examples of parenting techniques that are randomly being used by frustrated parents across America.  Here is a short list of the most common parenting methods:

Tradition – This is what my parents did, and I didn’t turn out so bad.

Pop Psychology – The latest and greatest heard on ‘The View’ or some radio talk show.

Behavior Modification – Reward good behavior, punish bad behavior.

Bribery – You do your homework all week, and I will take you to the ball-game.

Punitive – You have just lost your iPod for one week, keep it up and it will be two.

Eclectic – (Most people) Bits & Pieces that seem to be working at the moment from a variety of sources.

With all of the confusion as to what is right and knowing what is at stake, you just have to ask yourself, “Why are you doing what you’re doing with your kids?”  To make parenting more simple and consistent, it is important to determine and understand your worldview.  As Orrin Woodward says, “Your worldview is the lens that you see and live life through.”  I personally have a Christian worldview.  I believe in an almighty God and creator, and his son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Since I believe that God is the creator of everything, including mankind, then I must trust and believe that the Bible is the indisputable and infallible word of God and our ‘Owner’s manual’.  With this belief and worldview, it is easy for me to look to and trust the bible as our ‘Owner’s manual’ and my first and best reference source for raising children.  For example, If you had a Shelby GT Mustang and were having issues, your first and best reference source would be the owner’s manual written by Carroll Shelby, not the opinions of just any past owner. I believe that all truth in this world comes from the Bible, and therefore this is where we should look for guidance in daily living, finances, marriage, parenting, etc…  Tedd Tripp, my wife and I, and many others, consider the Bible to be the north-star of parenting to faithfully follow as best as we can, through opposition, differing opinions, good times and bad times.

I strongly suggest you know why you believe what you believe and why you are doing what you are doing with your children.  They will be gone before you know it, and will soon be raising children of their own.  For more information on parenting from a Biblical perspective, check out Shepherding a child’s heart by Tedd Tripp, Dare to Discipline and The new Strong-Willed child by Dr. James Dobson, Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis, Parenting by the book by John Rosemond, and many other great titles at www.the-life-business.com.  God bless and happy parenting!

20 Mile March – There is no such thing as a Fair-weather leader.

While at a leadership meeting the other day I heard Chris Brady give a great talk on a success philosophy from Jim Collins called the 2o mile March.  The 20 mile march philosophy  of  Collins and Hansen was adopted from Roald Amundsen, the first explorer to reach the South Pole.  The late 1800s and the early 1900s was the age of the great explorers.  Much honor and notoriety came along with a countries success in exploration.  2 of the great explorers of this aforementioned time were Robert Falcon Scott of England, and Roald Amundsen of Norway.  Scott and Amundsen both had aspirations of being the first explorer to hike the 1400 miles across the dangerous and desolate Antarctic to reach the South Pole.  In 1910 their perspective journeys began.

Scott and Amundsen were equally matched in age, ambition, and experience, but not in strategy.  Scott’s strategy was to take advantage of the nice days and rest up on the nasty days.  Amundsen on the other hand had a strategy of consistency and discipline.  Their goal was to hike 20 miles a day, and only 20 miles, no matter what.

Scott would push the limits to sheer exhaustion on the nice days, hiking upwards of 60 miles, and spend the nasty days recovering from their mental and physical exertion in their makeshift tents and reindeer sleeping bags.  Amundsen on the other hand hit the 20 mile mark on the good days and the bad days.  Whether it was sunny and calm or 40 below zero and windy, 20 miles and only 20 miles was their goal.  As one author said, ‘Routine shall set you free.’  Amundsen used the down time on the good days to check his equipment, make repairs, dry out the sleeping bags, etc…

In December, 1911 Roald Amundsen and his crew were the first explorers to reach the infamous South Pole.  Amundsen’s strategy of discipline and consistency to traverse the 1400 mile frozen wasteland ruled the day!  What happened to Scott?  He and his crew reached the South Pole 34 days later, tattered, exhausted and frostbitten.  Scott and his men soon after froze to death in their ragged tents and wet sleeping bags during their attempted long journey home.

Roald Amundsen, along with his amazing accomplishment of being the first to reach the South Pole,  went on to become the first to reach the North Pole and the first explorer to traverse the treacherous Northwest passage in Canada.  His 20 mile mark strategy of consistency, discipline, modulation, and routine made him one of the most famous and successful explorers of all time.

How does this apply to you and your pursuit of success in these trying socioeconomic times?  I am no Jim Collins or Chris Brady for that matter, but the following are 3 important points I would encourage you to make note of from this story.

1) There is no such thing as a fair-weather leader – There will always be more nasty days than nice days.  There will always be more days where  you are sick, tired, sick and tired, feel fat, fighting with your spouse, discouraged, or just don’t feel like doing anything.  There will always be more days when you get in a fender-bender, get a flat tire, spill something on your suit, and forget your wallet. There will always be more days where you have to deal with conflict, a rebelling teenager and PMS running rampant in your household.  There will always be more days with snow storms, humidity, and rainstorms than days that are perfect and sunny.  There will always be more days that  you don’t ‘feel like’ leading and when success as they say, is on the other side of inconvenience.

2) Procrastination and burn-out are equal enemies to success – As was mentioned earlier, the right routine will set you free.  A proper routine, not to be confused with a rut, will protect you from the dangers of procrastination and getting burnt out.  All of the successful leaders that I know or that I have read about are constantly fine-tuning their ‘success routine’  They have a measured routine of getting what Geoff Colvin calls ‘deliberate practice’, or what Jeff Olson calls ‘the slight edge’ or Sam Parker calls ‘the extra degree’ or what Orrin Woodward calls a ‘daily dose of leadership’.  Success habits, built into a daily ’20 mile march’ routine, is the only way I know of becoming a great leader and staying a great leader.

3) Schedule your priorities vs prioritize your schedule – The 20 mile march philosophy allows a leader to live his purpose, without getting his or her priorities all out of whack.  Your priorities of Faith, Family, Finance, etc…  should be relatively simple to maintain with a fine-tuned 20 mile march success routine.

I encourage you to get ahold of some of Chris Brady‘s CDs and read Jim Collin’s books to learn more about the 20 mile march.

God bless,


Take Responsibility for Your THINKING!

Over these last few years I have been convinced again and again that ones thinking is the key to either a positive or negative attitude, joy or misery, and winning or losing!!!  I have known and counseled many people over the last 5 years who are awesome, amazing, talented, purposeful, and driven, but for some reason they were not moving on in life.  Upon a deeper investigation, they were found to have a case of ‘stinking thinking’.  They were stuck in and being defeated by a ‘negative thinking rut’, that they couldn’t  seem to recognize or dig out of.  Chris Brady describes the importance of breaking this ‘negative thinking rut’ on the funny and famous audio, ‘Obstacles and the Productive loop’.

Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the spring of life.”  Author Tommy Newberry says the bible is talking about the subconscious mind when it refers to the heart.  So what God is saying is that we need to vigilantly guard what goes in our subconscious mind, because what goes in directly correlates with what comes out.  This 4 billion neuron ‘Proverbial Power-House’ part of our brain is what controls our attitude, mood, motivation, focus and the overall direction of our life.  In other words, whoever, or whatever controls our subconscious mind controls us!  Phil 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   The apostle Paul understood the principle of ‘Garbage in, garbage out’.  They say that we have approximately 50,000 thoughts a day, and luckily we have control over each and every one of them!

If what I am stating is true, that we are a product of our daily thoughts, then why don’t more people who want a change in their life take responsibility for their thinking?  I propose 3 possible reasons:

1) They don’t believe that their thinking is the issue.

2) They don’t believe that there is any way to change their thinking.

3) They don’t have a dream big enough to do the work necessary to change their thinking.

Which one is you?  Whatever the reason for the ‘stinking thinking’, it is fixable!  The best analogy of how to think about changing your thinking (no pun intended) is given by my friend and mentor Orrin Woodward.  He explains that a pattern of thinking is like an established river-bed where water has been flowing for years, maybe even decades.  For this example, lets say the river has been flowing down a deep and established river-bed to 3 towns on the same stretch of river; Negativeville, Loserton, and Miseryberg.  You would love for the river to flow in the opposite direction to 3 different towns, miles away from Negativeville, Loserton, and Miseryberg.  The 3 towns you want the river to flow to are Positive Rapids, Mt. Winner, and Joy city.  The only way to change where the river flows is to change the river-bed.  The only way to change the river-bed, is to start digging down in the new direction you want it to go.  How do you go about digging a new river-bed?  One shovel-full at a time!  How do you take responsibility for your thinking?  One thought at a time!  Shovel full and after shovel full, hour after hour, day after day…. it won’t be to long and you won’t be able to stop the river or thinking from flowing in the right positive direction!  In the direction of joy and winning!

Here are few bits of advice to help you dig a new river-bed:

1) Admit and own that your thinking is the problem!

2) Get a DREAM worth the price of change.

3) Try these 2 laws by Tommy Newberry: The law of attention – you will think about what you are focused on.  Are you focused on the bugs on your windshield, or the beautiful mountain range you are driving through?  The law of exchange – once you have a negative thought in your head, you can’t wish it away.  You have to exchange it for a positive thought.

4) Also from Tommy Newberry, ‘Along with a top 5 ‘to do’ list everyday, have a top 5 ‘to think’ list’.

5) Always have your head in a good book!  Here are a few suggestions: Magic of thinking big, by Dr. David Swartz, 4:8 Principle, by Tommy Newberry, Thinking for a change, by John Maxwell, and Resolved: 13 resolutions for life, by Orrin Woodward.

6) Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself with passion!  As Orrin Woodward says in his new book Resolved, ‘learn how to turn down the negative and turn up the positive’.

In closing, remember that Rome wasn’t created in a day, the Detroit Lions didn’t turn things around in 1 season (or in 1 decade), and you’re not going to change your thinking by tomorrow!  How do you change on the way to a positive, joyful, and winning life?  Taking responsibility for your thinking…..one thought at a time!  God bless

Don’t want to be criticized in LIFE? Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing!

I’ve heard the title of this post stated several times over the last decade by my good friends Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, the founders of TEAM and LIFE.  Thinking back over my life, I’ve had many friends and associates whose goal in life was to float down stream, to do as little as possible, to live a life of mediocrity.  One former coworker of mine, named Bill, comes to mind.  When I started my career as a physical therapist at a community health center in Northern Michigan, Bill was part of the welcoming committee.  He was laid back, friendly, and seemed to be liked by everyone I met. Upon getting to know Bill better, he explained his life philosophy of mediocrity to me.  He said, ‘Why set goals?  Why be an overachiever?  Why give it your all?  Why rock the boat?  Why work hard, when you get a 3% raise no matter what?’.  He said, ‘My goal here at work is to do just enough not to get fired.’  He wore his mediocrity like a badge of honor.  It was comical to see how everyone got a kick out of Bill.  They didn’t respect him, but they sure thought he was a nice guy!  Nobody took Bill seriously, but his mediocrity made everyone else feel better about their own life.  I never did hear anyone say a negative word about Bill.

I’m sure we’ve all had a ‘Bill’ in our life.  We don’t think about them much, they’re  just ‘there’ once in a while, just the guy that sat in the back row in history class,  just what’s his name in cubicle #7, just that one uncle at family get togethers. They are just a nondescript guy or girl somewhere  in our memories.  I am not sure what happened to Bill, I think he left or got fired a few years after I retired.  I go back and visit the community health center from time to time and nobody seems to keep in touch with Bill or know what became of him.  Most of the people who were there when Bill was there hardly remember him, and if they do, all they remember is that he was a ‘nice guy’.

Conversely, the people I know in life who have done their best, who have strived for excellence, who have made a decision to swim against the current, who have lived a life of accomplishment, mastery and purpose, these few great men and women get criticized at every turn.  The people who want the ‘dash’ between their birth date and their death date to matter and to have counted, they always draw a crowd of naysayers, critics, and quitters.  For example, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady are two of the most ambitious, accomplished, courageous, driven, enduring, character-based and purpose-filled leaders I have ever met, or even ever heard of.  But, at the same time they are two of the most criticized people I know.  I have been business partners and friends with them for 10+ years, and have seen them during good times, bad times, hard times, and times that would make the mediocre man tremble in his boots.  No matter what was happening around them, these two leaders did the right thing (often the hard and unselfish thing)!  They aren’t perfect, they’re just the best I’ve ever known!!  Criticism, slander, smear campaigns, and naysaying always go up proportionately with the scope of your accomplishment and purpose.  Orrin and Chris are in good company, as they join the ranks of some of the most criticized and great leaders in history like: George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill, Sam Walton, and Jesus Christ.

The great thing about critics is that their line of  ‘BS’ is usually easy for the average, intelligent person to see right through, because critics, almost without exception, are nameless, faceless cowards who have nothing better to do than to tear people down on the internet’s ‘bathroom wall’.  The average, intelligent person knows better than to attach any value to the writing on the ‘bathroom wall’, especially if the author doesn’t even have the courage to attach their identity to their work.  As Mother Theresa says, ‘If you do good, you will be criticized. Do good anyway!’

To end this post, I would like to leave you with President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous saying on critics,

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Thank-you Veterans!

On this day we want to pause and give thanks to our military veterans for their service to our country and for helping to keep us free.  Freedom is one of the 8 F’s of the LIFE business and our Veteran’s remind us that Freedom is anything but free.


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