One Single Push-Up

Depressed… overweight… weak. I stared disgusted at the reflection in the mirror and asked, “what in the hell happened?” It was November 21, 2018. After a few more moments of turning around and looking at my physique from different angles I stopped the mini-pity party and got in the shower. After awhile my mind started to wonder. I had a crystallizing moment where several ideas that have been floating around in my head finally got aligned. I had just finished reading Jordan B Peterson’s “The 12 Rules of Life,” the day before. I had read Andy Andrews “The Travelers Gift” and Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect” several times each. Rule #4 from Jordan Peterson’s book was “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.” Andy Andrew’s book gave the first principle of personal success, which is “You are responsible for where you are in life based on your choices.” Darren Hardy’s book states that “small, almost unnoticeable changes, applied consistently over time, equals miraculous results.” And in that moment in the shower it all became clear…

I wasn’t happy with my physique because I knew I had made poor choices. Choices of eating and drinking too much and not being disciplined when it comes to working out. I also knew that it wouldn’t help to compare myself to others and how ripped they looked because I can’t control what they do. And I also knew that if I made a change, I would just need to apply it everyday, little bit little… and later a miracle might happen.

So I exited the shower and dried myself off. Got dressed. Got down on the ground and did 1 single push-up and 1 single crunch. I went to a notebook I had and marked the date and what I did. I pushed the snowball off the top of the mountain. I took the first step. It may seem stupid. Not even worth the time. But I knew the truth. This was going to be special.

The next day I got down on the ground and did 2 push-ups and 2 crunches. Then the following day I did 3 and 3. 4 and 4. And I increased by 1 rep each day for 100 days. I kept going. I added more exercises. Squats, bicycle kicks. 200. I added planks. 215… and counting.

I’ve lost 14 pounds since I started. I have a strong chest and core. I like the reflection I see in the mirror now. My workout now only takes about 10 minutes per day. That’s it. I’ve achieved incredible results in averaging less than 10 minutes per day.

It doesn’t take a life shattering moment to change your course. It doesn’t take a huge, momentous, and improbable luck to strike you. You just need to decide to take the first step. First it takes focus to know what you want to achieve. Then it takes discipline to stay consistent over time. First others might question what you are doing. Then later others will wonder how you did it.

What first step are you taking today?

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A Lay Off Story

Wednesday 11/30/2016

Our VP called the management staff in for a mandatory meeting at 2pm. Everybody was in and settled by 2:03pm. The VP informed us that our biggest client has decided to no longer do business with us. This includes all projects including 33 employees that work at our client’s location and 67 employees in several of our locations across the state. The client had posted a really bad fiscal year and the writing was on the wall for a long time. We just didn’t know it was possible. After all, we had been partners in business for 10.5 years… Ending a relationship like this is closer to a divorce. After the management meeting (that included 2 Managers and 2 Supervisors working on projects for this client) ended we immediately called a meeting with all staff working for this client.

The angst was palpable. The nervousness and shuffling in the seats was quite apparent as the almost 50 employees filed into the break room and took their seats. After everyone was seated, it was time to talk…

The VP stood tall and proud and looked at the faces of the employees. She told them the news and the bitter truth. She explained the client had decided to no longer do business with us after 10+ years of working together. She also explained that upper leadership will do everything in their power to add as many jobs to this branch as possible. She also explained that adding 50+ jobs in a 30 day period of time wasn’t feasible. She told the employees to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I couldn’t help but admire her courage.

I fought tears while standing up in front of those 50 souls while the VP explained their future would include turmoil and unknown challenges. This client was the VP’s legacy. She had started the business relationship with this client and it was her that created this much business and revenue for our team. After 10.5 years… gone. A bitter divorce, a sad end. And yet, she stood there in front of the 50 souls (that represented a lot more people if you include their families) and explained to them that we failed. And maybe we didn’t fail, maybe the client failed, but regardless of who we put the blame on, the situation remained the same.

Monday 12/5/2016

Thursday and Friday of last week were somber and difficult to deal with. Right on cue the employees were the ones that stepped up and decided to make “light” of a very difficult situation. They began hanging up Christmas lights, wreaths, Santa’s, candy canes and any other decoration they could get their hands on. They wouldn’t let this terrible news derail their holidays. We haven’t found out much since the initial meeting. We know that these types of contracts usually have a 30 or 60 day contractual agreement to “sunset” the projects.

Many employees began calling out sick. If they get laid off they don’t get to keep sick time, so it’s a natural reaction. It was hard to put on my tie and drive to work this morning. I did so with the idea of “the show must go on”. I know from my experience in retail with restructures and adversities that I could help the employees that were being impacted by speaking to them. I know a lot of inspirational quotes, stories, wisdoms and lessons that could be beneficial for them during this difficult time.

Unfortunately I didn’t even get to start the day before hearing from the employees of the fading client that there isn’t much work available. Several employees saw the work load and wanted to leave for the day. A couple actually did. Even with the limited workloads the employees began to slack off. They took longer smoke breaks and more trips to the bathroom and break room. They moved around from cubicle to cubicle talking to their coworkers, not knowing how long they would hold that title.

The Managers and Supervisors were worse for wear. They didn’t know how to lead the team through these turbulent waters. One of them remained silent, with teary eyes for most of the day. After all, she had been with this client from the very beginning. Another Supervisor was going around looking depressed and telling employees and other leaders that he started looking for jobs and began updating his resume. One Manager was the worst off. She was conflicted and taking the news pretty badly. Questions from employees and Supervisors would go to her and the responses would be empty or weak. Sometimes she didn’t answer them at all. It’s a difficult thing to measure. A person shows up early to work every day, works hard and strives to do their best work. They stay late when needed and go through very difficult decisions and actions on a daily basis. And yet, despite all the blood, sweat and tears… it still wasn’t enough. Losing is unfortunately part of the game of life. It plays a fascinating role on our journey. Losing opens us up like open heart surgery and exposes our flaws and missed opportunities. When the stiches are sealed we are left with an understanding. We can look in the mirror and reflect and learn from what we could have done differently. Adversities plow the path of opportunity and wisdom. Like a machete in the rain forest, it cuts away the leaves and vines of pride, jealousy, sins, flaws and failures. It helps us go down an unknown path. But when we venture down this path, we go stronger than before. And with that strength…we can achieve greatness.

Thursday 12/8/2016

Today the lay-offs begin. I’m preparing the final checks now. Last night I had trouble sleeping knowing that today I would be the person in the suit, walking into an office, telling a group of people that they are fired and handing them an orange envelope. I actually think this is good for the employees. This company brings a certain stress about it. Like there is always a tight feeling in one’s chest while working here. I don’t know how to describe this pressure. It comes from the top. Not the CEO… he’s just a face… a personality. He doesn’t realize the actions that the hounds take after he lets them off the leash. The CFO runs the company with an iron first. She’s brutal and relentless. She still isn’t as bad as the CRO. The CRO is the “Hammer”. She comes in and leaves rubble behind her. Manager trying to defend their work and their project, she comes in and blows it all up thinking she’s doing what’s best for the company. It’s obvious she has no idea what type of ramifications come from her words and actions. She probably thinks she is doing a good job. After all, she is so dedicated, right? She arrives to work early and stays very late. Works on holidays, weekends, etc. It’s a shame that someone can be in a position of that nature and still not get the simple concept of working smarter and not harder.

It’s not just the CRO though. The company is considered “old school” and they actually brag about that. So while the world changes around them instead of making necessary adjustments they are striving to bring things back. If you crack an egg it’s very difficult to get it back into the shell. The shift of society is proving the crack is real and yet they decide to pretend like the egg is fine. We’ll see if I’m around when it all shatters.

Friday 12/16/2016

All morning the HR Manager and I worked feverishly to try and prepare all of the final paperwork for the 15 additional people being laid off. We prepared the final checks, got the legal documents we had to provide. Employees would walk by the closed door of the office wondering when it would be time. They were told they would get paid for 8 hours that day as long as they showed up, but that they wouldn’t be here that long. It took us so long that we weren’t finished until after 1pm. We tried to eat some food and then we began the meetings…

Groups of 3-4 would come in. Mixed reactions on their faces. Overall just awkward. Some wore smiles, other couldn’t mask their sadness. We handed them their check, they signed the form, and then they turned in their badge. One lady had been working with the company for over 15 years. She was offered a position and chose to be laid off instead. When faced with a choice to continue a 15 plus year career or to not have a job, she chose to not have a job. The company should really think about that for a bit and strive to find out… why. When it was all over I remember vividly the badges stacked on the desk. 13 badges… One person didn’t come in and another had forgotten theirs. It was symbolic though.

Tuesday 12/20/2016

The emotions still linger. The VP sent out a mass text over the weekend with a rally cry, trying to get the management team to snap out of it and start looking towards the future. As I sit here and type this, I’ve overwhelmed with grief. I woke up, took a shower, got dressed and came to work. There are a lot of people that didn’t have that routine this morning and wished they could. The guilt is more than I can bare. Although I appreciate the VP asking us to snap out of it and to look forward, it’s easier said than done. I know in business we have to “put on our big boy pants” and suck it up because “it’s just business.” Well business is an asshole. Business needs to recognize that the capital in which it makes money is a living, breathing human being with a soul. It’s not a tally mark, it’s not a “resource”, and it’s a human. That’s how we should rebrand this company. Not one of resources and management. One of humans, analytics and leadership.

Friday 12/23/2016

Today the last of the lay offs take place.  There’s only five people today, not as bad as the nine on the first day or the fifteen on the second day.  But it’s still a heavy burden.  I just hope these families are able to enjoy their Christmas… Merry Christmas…

Friday 12/30/2016

The VP called me into her office.  As I sat down she looked burdened and stressed out.  There was no other management in the building, so it seemed she just needed someone to talk to.  She told me the layoffs weren’t over.  I thought they were done with last Friday.  She said the client that pulled their business from us accounted for 33% of the company’s revenue.  We only laid off 20% of our workforce.  The lost revenue caused the CRO and CFO to analyze and they decided that we needed to “trim the fat.”  Several projects had too many employees.  Operationally, the managers and supervisors working the projects would vehemently disagree.  They already felt understaffed.  It’s a shame that wages are the easiest line item to cut on a profits and loss worksheet.  The VP said she sent her recommendations to the CRO and CFO as far as what they will be cutting.  She left the door open as to whether or not I’d be involved.  Her somber mood and the way she was talking to me led me to know a couple of things for sure.  Either I’d be processing more people’s lay offs who thought their job was safe… or I’d be laid off myself.

Friday 1/13/2017

Today they laid of the HR Manager.  The HR Manager was with the company for 10+ years and due to this situation they had to let him go.  Part of me wonders if they would have kept him if I wasn’t employed here.  The guilt definitely took its toll.  After all, I’m cheaper and there are simply less employees in our branch now.  If the company was making the decision based on tenure or loyalty then the HR Manager would still have his job.  But alas, they made a “business” decision and my wage is simply less then his wage. I haven’t truly recovered from December.  I’ve held on to all the badges of the employees we let go.  I’ve already started receiving the unemployment claims.  At least these are easier to deal with.  I simply check the box that signifies “Yep, we just laid them off, they win unemployment.”  I love working in Human Resources, because I like helping people. But there is a balance.  The company has to make money, so I can help people to an extent and after that I have to do what’s best for the company.  This isn’t a bad thing in fact sometimes when I have fired someone in the past they have used it as a wake up call to accept personal responsibility and get better as a person and an employee.  But lay offs are tough.  That may be an understatement.  This layoff was tough because it was a client that had this much power over us.

Wednesday 1/25/2017

The HR Manager texted me and let me know that he found a job with higher pay, better benefits, better hours and closer to his house.  This makes me feel a lot better.  The CRO was able to move another project to our location, so it appears that the bleeding has stopped.  I hope this is a turning point and we can start growing again.

Tuesday 2/7/2017

I don’t know how much longer I can take it.  The mood of the office is that of a boxer who just got KO’d in the title fight.  I’ve been really depressed.  I think the weather isn’t helping because it’s been raining for weeks now.  I’m not even motivated to write about the lay offs because they are still so fresh, but after over a month it should start to be getting better.  It’s going to get better right?

Thursday 3/2/2017

Today we hired our first two people since December.  A couple of people have resigned since the beginning of the year.  I’d be lying if I told you I hadn’t applied elsewhere myself.  Going through a lay off as a Leader is gut wrenching and heart breaking.  A Leader’s job is to help his team members succeed in achieving a common goal.  It’s fair to say we felt like failures during the winter.  But Spring is on its way and a new beginning is in sight.  I actually interview these two employees in late November.  I had to call them and tell them that the position is no longer available when we got word of losing the client.  But to our luck they were both still interested.  It felt good on boarding again, but selling people on the vision and future of the company took a lot of tact and a display of faith.  I’m optimistic we can continue to grow and get back to where we were.

Friday 3/3/2017

One of the two people I hired yesterday just got a call at lunch and was offered another job she had applied for and it was more money and better benefits.  She told me she resigns.  Two steps forward and one step back.  It’s okay though, we’ll keep searching for quality people to join the team.

Monday 3/6/2017

The other person I hired on the 2nd called and quit stating his wife was in a car accident.  Surely this was just bad luck and not a reflection of us as a company and myself as a leader… Still optimistic.

Thursday 3/23/2017

Hired another person today.  We did get some bad news that a client we were attempting to sign decided to use another vendor.  The VP took it hard, but she is working on another smaller project (2 employees) to at least try to get momentum turned.  Momentum is a funny thing.  It seems it isn’t just a physics term for the impetus gained by a moving object, rather it applies to our daily lives as well.  The phrase “When it rains, it pours,” ties into this concept.  Once bad things start happening it seems they keep piling on one by one.  The snowball that was at the top of the mountain has rolled down and is now an avalanche crashing everything in its path.  It takes a jolt or a sudden change to stop the object and start the rebuilding process.  Hopefully we can start adding smaller clients and keep the people we hire and start getting a positive slope on the momentum curve.

Wednesday 3/29/2017

The new hire from last week resigned because they accepted another job with higher wages and better benefits.  Am I being pranked?  The VP is having a tough time with the small client.  They don’t have anything we need just to be able to help them with what we need to help them with.  It appears we are still fighting through our period of adversity.  Hopefully we all have the grit needed to turn the ship around.

Wednesday 4/26/2017

They laid of the Leadership Development Manager at Corporate.  Every one loved him and enjoyed speaking with him.  He was someone the employees could go to, an ear in the head of upper leadership.

Friday 4/28/2017

They laid off the Administrative Manager at Corporate.  She had been with the company for 29 years…

Friday 6/2/2017

Reflection.  There is something to be said about the phrase “the night is darkest just before the dawn,” meaning before things get better they are going to get a whole lot worse.  I’m still at the company and the upper leadership is still striving to rebuild the damage from December.  We added the two person client and it’s caused a tremendous amount of headache so far.  Our turnover has stabilized.  This write up wasn’t about the company I work for’s struggles.  This was about going through something as terrible as a lay off and some of the emotions that play into it.  It could have been worse, you hear of large companies laying off everyone and people losing their pensions and stock, etc.  This is a small company and I’m sure it can recover.  I admire those employees that stuck with us though.  It proves they have loyalty and grit.  Sometimes you have to ride the momentum roller coaster even if it’s unbearable hitting maximum speed towards the bottom for awhile.  My advice is any person that has to lay people off is to be respectful, have genuine empathy and do your best to support that person in any way that we can.  As a Leader we have to have “tough” conversations whether we are writing someone up, talking about something embarrassing, or terminating employment.  When we have those tough conversations it’s important to be honest and sincere.  Employees will get more angry with being fed lies then getting hit in between the eyes with blunt honesty.  In terms of lay offs, what made this most difficult was the timing.  Laying people off during the holidays is just horrible.  But those employees that were impacted were able to start the new year off with a clean slate, a new beginning.  Sometimes it’s good to take a step back, get a good look at the path ahead and then start walking again.

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So You Didn’t Get The Position…

In the business world every person goes through the situation where they apply for a position or a promotion that they really want, are qualified for, and when the time comes to hear their fate they are told that they did not get the position.  I’ve seen this situation dozens of times in the 8 years of retail leadership that I’ve experienced.  My first time not getting a position I applied for was at Best Buy when I was 19 years old.

At the time I was a full time customer service associate with a hunger to move up in the company.  The administrative assistant position became available and I knew my skill set would be perfect for the job.  I was organized, thorough, intelligent, and knew how the admin position was suppose to work.  I applied and interviewed for the position and after a week of confidence my manager, Steven, told me I did not get the position.  I was heart broken, but I knew that getting down on myself and pouting about it wouldn’t do me any good.  I decided then that I would show the leadership staff that they had made the wrong choice and I was going to work harder and try harder every single day that I worked.

When you do not get the job you applied for you a faced with a choice. A fork in the road appears and you must choose which direction to go. On one side of the fork you have feeling depressed about not getting the position and an overall feeling of wanting to quit because the people that made the decision obviously don’t value you as an associate, so maybe it would be better to take your talents elsewhere. On the other side of the fork there is feeling humble about not getting the position and an overall feeling of self reflection that helps you pin point the weaknesses that the leadership saw in you, so you can hone in on these weaknesses and try to better them. On this side of the fork you would try even harder to prove yourself and do everything you can to strive to get better every single day.

A few months after I got passed over for the Admin position it became available again. I applied again after having a few more months of experience proving myself to my leaders. I had gotten better at organizing my paperwork and holding my peers accountable to a higher standard. After the interview process was over and the time came to hear whether or not I got the position I was beaming with confidence. The result; however, was the same. I did not get the Admin position. They gave it to someone else. I was back at the fork. My manager, now Mike, told me that they had bigger plans in store for me and that my talents wouldn’t be utilized to the maximum of their potential if I was in the Admin role. This upset me quite a bit and it became a little harder to decide the right path at the fork. I prayed about it and decided that there were still opportunities for me to get better and I wouldn’t let this situation derail my potential. I chose to try harder.

Not surprising to me the Admin position was open a couple of months after they decided on a person that did not fit the skill set very well. She wasn’t successful and they moved her to another position in the store almost as quickly as they put her into the position. “Third times the charm?” I thought.

I applied for the Admin position for a third time. This position had a lot to do with hiring in the store, organizing the paperwork in the cash office, and working directly with employee files to ensure our strong human resource relationship with corporate was bulletproof. You never want someone to try and take advantage of a company due to some immoral bureaucracy. I felt it was my job for the taking. I got passed over for a third and final time. They gave it to someone else. Like walking through mud, I approached the fork for one last time. This time they didn’t tell me I wasn’t qualified, but instead told me my sights were too low. I was overqualified for this position and another opportunity would be open in the near future that I would be a better fit for. They appreciated my reaction to the first two times being passed over and saw the hunger in me to get better. This made making the right choice a little easier. I self reflected and kept staying hungry. I set up contests with the cashiers to drive more sales results. I had customer service sparkling clean on days I wasn’t even working due to high standards from my peers. About a month after getting passed over, the Computer Supervisor position was available.

The Computer Supervisor was responsible for overseeing 15-20 associates, driving sales and results of high volume computer sales, and ensuring merchandising standards were being met. I applied for this position that paid almost 25% more than the Admin position. When the decision day came I sat down with the General Manager, Greg, and listened for my fate. “I want to make you Computer Supervisor,” he said. I accepted immediately and the rest is history. I was over a 23 million dollar per year department for the store at the age of 21 years old. It’s important to remember in times of adversity that everything happens for a reason.

A few months after getting promoted to Computer Supervisor a strong partnership I had with the Geek Squad supervisor led to us winning a sales contest. The Geek Squad supervisor left the company a few months later and his second in command applied for the Supervisor position. When the second in command was passed over for this position he quit without notice from the company. This individual was over 30 years old and up and quit because he didn’t get the position. He wind up getting a job somewhere else, but it definitely backtracked what looked like a promising career.

We all experience this situation at one time or another. The important thing to remember is that when faced with the choice of quitting or being humble, always choose the humble route. It may not seem right when it happens, but everything happens for a reason. It takes humility, patience, and determination to get through this type of situation, but getting through it pays off in the long run and can even help make you a better person.

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When Hope Is Lost…When Faith Is Gone…

Don’t give up.  Just keep going.  Keep progressing forward.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Sometimes life can seem too overpowering and too demanding.  When life gets to the point where you feel like it would be easier to give up and end it all…that is when something amazing can happen.  The darkest hour is just before the dawn.  If you can find a way to get through the worst of it and make it to the dawn of the new day amazing things can happen.

If you are depressed or going through more stress than you think you can handle remember you have to listen to motivational music, lectures, friends, etc.  Find something inspirational.  Here are a few of my favorite “go-to’s” when I’m feeling down or getting overly stressed about things:

1. Josh Groban’s “You are Loved (Don’t Give Up)”

Here are the lyrics of the song:

“Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don’t give up
Because you are loved

Don’t give up
It’s just the hurt that you hide
When you’re lost inside
I…I will be there to find you

Don’t give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you
I…I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don’t give up
Because you are loved

You are loved
Don’t give up
It’s just the weight of the world
Don’t give up
Every one needs to be heard
You are loved”

And a link to the music video on youtube:

2.  Barlow Girls “Hope Will Lead You On”

Here are the lyrics of the song:

“Rise up again
Shake off the shadows
Unlock the doors
And let hope live once more
Cause up from the ashes
A fire is woken
Cause those who were broken,
Are becoming the chosen

So lift up your eyes
Cause we’re not forgotten
And hope will lead us on

Our hearts come alive
With every moment
Become the flame
That shows us the way
So sing out your freedom
Sing it out loud
Cause though we are broken
We’re becoming the chosen

So lift up your eyes
Cause we’re not forgotten
And hope will lead us on
Oh we pray for the dawn
And we reach for the morning
And hope will lead us on

Oh the day will come
As we press on
When the battle’s won

So lift up your eyes
Cause we’re not forgotten
And hope will lead us on

So lift up your eyes
Cause we’re not forgotten
And hope will lead us on
Oh we pray for the dawn
And we reach for the morning
And hope will lead us on
And hope will lead us on
And hope will lead us on”

And a link to a music video on youtube:

3.  The Canadian Tenors “Hallelujah”

Here are the lyrics of the song:

“I’ve heard that there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
It goes like this the 4th, the 5th, minor fall the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moon light overthrew ya
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby, I’ve been here before
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
Seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
Its cold and it’s a broken, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Did my best, it wasn’t much
Couldn’t feel so I tried to touch
I told the truth I didn’t come to fool ya
Even though it all went wrong
Stand before the Lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah”

And a link to the song on youtube:

4.  Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect” on Audio Book

6 CD’s for longer and daily inspiration.  Nothing opened my eyes more to personal responsibility.

5.  Andy Andrews “The Traveler’s Gift” on Audio Book

7 Decisions that determine personal success.  Fantastic read.

Find ways to lift your head up and step forward.  No matter what comes our way it’s important to remember that we live better now then Kings of old.  We have an abundance of food and clean water, there are ways to get shelter, and clothing is cheap and plentiful.  Basic human needs are met in America and we have amazing opportunity here.  It’s important to be thankful for what we have and be thankful for the adversity and hardships we face to make us stronger and better people.

Don’t give up.  Never give up.  Keep pushing forward with everything you have.


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Mirror, Mirror…

How often do you find yourself deflecting blame that comes your way?  If you forgot to send an important email or didn’t do the dishes like your spouse asked you to and they question you about it, what is your response?  “I was too busy.”  “I ran out of time.”  “I forgot!” or my personal favorite, “I would have been able to accomplish that if you hadn’t…”, etc.  It seems that more and more people lack that ever important quality of humility.  We act like an impenetrable shield, blocking incoming blame our way and deflecting it to others.  Sometimes we deflect blame on things that can’t defend themselves.  “If the dog wouldn’t have…”  “If I didn’t have to fix that broken…”, etc.  So how does one gain humility in a society of ever-growing egos?

The mirror is a good starting place.  Have you ever stopped for a few minutes and just looked in the mirror?  Looked into your own eyes and just thought about what type of person you are?  In my first blog entry I discussed how people are responsible for their own choices and thus, control their own lives.  Have you looked into your own soul and told yourself that you are in control?  I hadn’t until my brother gave me “The Traveler’s Gift” By Andy Andrews.  Andy does a fantastic job explaining this concept. We are where we are in life because of decisions that we’ve made.  And that’s good news because if we controlled how we got here then we control where we go from here.  We all have to accept personal responsibility for our own lives.  No one else controls my life, but me.  We are all connected, so how can this be?

Let’s say the university you attend randomly selects your roommate for your freshman year at college.  Y’all are both fresh from high school, so in essence y’all are starting out all on your own for the first time.  After a couple months you notice that your roommate hasn’t been going to class as much as he was at the beginning of the semester.  You also notice that he’s increasingly less hygienic and you suspect that he has begun to do drugs with a group of friends he has that doesn’t match your lifestyle.  Despite some warning flags when the semester is over you continue to be roommates in your second semester.  The drug problem has really manifested at this point and your roommate even has started doing drugs in the dorm room.  There is a random inspection by the Resident Assistant (R.A.) one day and they call the cops after the suspected drug use.  You are charged with your roommate and get kicked out of the dorm!  Your natural reaction is to be furious with the “stupid” roommate that went down a bad path and that dragged you down with him; however, that’s not how I see this situation.

As soon as your roommate began skipping class, did you inquire about his lack of motivation?  No?  Then you chose not to inquire.  When you saw your roommate hanging out with less desirables did you request to the university or your R.A. to switch dorms or at least roommates?  When you noticed the drugs in the dorm, did you let the R.A. or authorities know immediately?  If you didn’t act on any of these things then why are you blaming the roommate?  Ultimately it’s your choices that dictate your path.

I know there are exceptions to every rule, but I learned at a young age a generally accepted principle that I fear many have not learned as I have.  If you make bad choices, bad things will happen to you.  Now we can get into a lengthy debate about what constitutes “bad,” but I’m old school when it comes to defining “bad.”  Bad is giving into temptations that are damaging to your potential future, bad is deciding to drive drunk after having too many drinks, bad is influencing others to fall into addiction with you, bad is being envious of others while not striving to obtain things that you desire, bad is striving to obtain things over experiencing love, bad is being greedy and not giving to charity, bad is giving into lust and not respecting women, bad is spending more than you make, bad is rationalizing poor choices instead of learning from them, bad is eating too much and not exercising, bad is not taking responsibility and blaming others for your failures.  Most of these decisions happen when we aren’t paying attention.  Most of these decisions occur when we let our mind run on autopilot.  Making decisions without thinking about them at all and letting our human instincts dictate our lives.  We are hungry, so we eat.  Those bright shiny golden arches look good.  Like a fly to a bug zapper we roll on into that drive thru.

I also believe that if you make good choices, good things will happen to you.  Good is deciding to stop eating ice cream before going to bed, good is deciding to take nightly walks with your spouse, good is packing a healthy lunch before going to work or school instead of eating fast food, good is being grateful for what you have, good is reading inspirational or motivational material a little bit each day, good is being mindful of those you surround yourself with, good is saving for your future or your kids’ futures, and good is accepting responsibility for your choices and actions.

So if you find yourself depressed or upset about a certain aspect of your life visit your mirror.  Reflect on the choices that you made that led you to this unsatisfactory state.  What choices impacted your path the most?  Which choices can you learn from?  What choices can you make going forward to bring you to where you want to be?


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Intro to ‘Be Successful Daily’

Focus.  Take a deep breath.  Try to let your mind go blank for 30 seconds.  What’s that?  “Your troops are ready to take you into battle?” -Chimes your smart phone.  “You have a new email!” – Says the computer.  “Buy Now and SAVE!” – whistles the radio ad.  Even when there is silence when we are driving from one place to another we have sign after advertisement after sign after…It’s too much.  Sometimes in this day and age it’s very difficult to stop, sit down, and actually reflect on your own life.  Sometimes it’s difficult to even take inventory on recent decisions that you’ve made whether they are small ones or huge ones.  Our senses are constantly overloaded.  Advertising agencies have picked apart our biology and have transformed us into the consumer culture we now live in.  Do you feel like you just sped through the last year of your life?  5 years?  More?  There are techniques and methods to get control of your life.

Here’s how I got control of mine:

In 2011 I was ready for a change.  I had been working in retail for 4 years and during those four years I picked up a college degree and a mountain of debt.  I needed to make sure that retail leadership was right for me.  I was 21 years old, supervising a computer department that sold over $23 Million dollars in annual revenue.  Retail was the only job I had ever known.  My brother, Eddie, gave me one of the best gifts that I’ve ever received.  “The Traveler’s Gift” By Andy Andrews.  A story about a man that was down in his life and goes through an incredible transformation where he learns seven decisions that determine personal success.  After reading this book I was inspired, humbled, and motivated.  I then began going to job fairs and meeting with people from different industries.  That’s where I met Mike Kotval, Director of Creative Financial Solutions in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I then spent the next few months studying part time to pass my Louisiana health and life insurance exams and my series 6 exam, so that I could sell annuities.  Soon after I began studying my brother Eddie struck again.  This time he gave me the book “The Compound Effect” By Darren Hardy.  This book is about the small choices that you make everyday that can compound over time resulting in drastic changes over a period of time.  These books made such a tremendous impact on my life.  I recommend any person that is feeling down or doesn’t feel like they’ve met up to their potential to read these two books.  I also recommend any young adult ages 18-22 to read these books.  They teach through inspiring vision.  They teach about personal accountability.  They changed my life forever.

Now I don’t work for these two men and I’m not getting paid to advertise for them.  (I’m actually hoping I’m not breaking any copyright laws by mentioning them).  I will be posting on here weekly to try and inspire and motivate, much like Andy Andrews, Darren Hardy, and my brother have done for me.

Just remember the major themes of this blog:

You can’t control the hand you were dealt.

You can control your choices.  Meaning you are where you are in life due to the decisions you’ve made, not the circumstances that you couldn’t control.

You control your destiny.


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