This is the Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make

20160525140458-woman-thinking-laptop-working-cafe-break-breakfast-dreaming-freelancer-workspaceImage credit: Shutterstock

One of the most important decisions you can ever make is to become your own CEO. I’m talking about taking complete responsibility for your life and not blaming others or your circumstances for past results or where you are right now.

It’s mindboggling to me how someone can go year after year, month after month, day after day complaining about their laundry list of misfortunes but do absolutely nothing about it? I hear so many people say they want to be great, achieve more success and make more money. But they never do anything about it. The main thing that most of these individuals do is whine and complain about their sorry lot in life. They sit back and let others make their decisions.

Granted, I understand there are situations and issues in peoples’ lives that may prevent them from achieving their dreams. There can be circumstances that are beyond their control. Certain family issues, disabilities, and extreme illnesses to name a few. I’m not judging people when I see them living in undesirable situations. It’s possible life has dealt them a bad hand and they can’t navigate their way out. I get it, and I do not mean to sound preachy.

On the flip side, I see others who could do something about their lives if they just tried a little harder.

Throw away the excuses.

“I don’t have any talent.”

“I can’t ever seem to get a good job. Someone better always gets the job.”

“I can’t make enough money to pay my bills.”

“I don’t have any luck at all.”

“I feel like the world is out to get me.”

“I am worried about what others will think.”

Does this sound like anyone you know? They make you want to kick them in the butt and say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You can change your destiny! You can change your life!”

The list of examples can go on and on, but you get the point. Making excuses has never crowned anyone a champion. The day that you decide to throw away all excuses once and for all will be the day that changes your life forever. A simple but extremely powerful transformation begins to take place.

Just do it!

Nike’s slogan “Just Do It!” is one of the best in advertising. Getting up off your butt and going out there to make things happen is the way you become the leader of your life.

Sure, I know. I agree with you. I’ve been through it, so I’m speaking from experience. One of the hardest things to do is take full charge of your life and be the leader of your destiny. But when you do, you force yourself to look at your life and say, “I am not where I want to be because of myself and the choices and decisions that I have made.” Your next comment may be, “I am going to do something about it and make a positive change.”

When you do this, you take ownership of where you are and where you are headed. That’s not an easy thing to do, trust me. One of the hardest things I ever do is force myself to look within when times are not the best. Heck, when I was 16-years old and a full blown drug addict throwing my life away I could barely look at myself in the mirror. I was so despicable. Things began to change when I finally had had enough. That is when I developed the courage to truly look within myself. Slowly but surely, I became the CEO of my life — the leader of my destiny.

Becoming my own leader redefined my philosophy of life. It will redefine yours, as well. There is absolutely nothing you can’t do or overcome when you choose to be the CEO of your life. Being the leader of your destiny is rejecting the easy road and opting for what’s worth it in the long run.

Think about it. It will be a shame if you get to the final stages of your life with nothing but your excuses for why you didn’t follow a passion or a dream. It breaks my heart to even think about this, but it happens all the time.

Maximize opportunities.

Becoming the leader of your destiny opens the floodgates of opportunity, and life seems to become a bit easier, because others will join in and help when they can.

For example, let’s say there are two young men named John and Chris. John is the leader of his destiny. When something goes wrong, he doesn’t make excuses or place the blame on someone else. John doesn’t focus on the negative. He constantly searches for ways to better himself and elevate his position in life.

Chris is a totally different story. He has a long track record of letting his failures define him. Every chance he gets, he makes excuses or blames someone else for his misfortunes and lack of success. It truly is a negative, energy-draining experience for anyone who comes in contact with him.

Out of the two men, who do you think is more likely to receive more opportunities to get back on the right track and have others want to help in any way they can? The answer to that question is obvious. People gravitate toward positive people. They’re attractive and make you feel good. On the other hand, it’s difficult to be around negative people because they’re a liability to your happiness.

Make the decision.

One of the most rewarding decisions you can ever make is to become the leader of your destiny, your own CEO, and take complete responsibility for everything that happens. Once you do, it won’t be long before your opportunities begin to expand. And others will go out of their way to help you, even if it’s something simple. Being the leader of your destiny is a trait that all champions possess.

This piece is adapted from Matt Mayberry’s book Winning Plays, published by Hachette/Center Street.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How 1 Executive Became a Transformational Leader

20160525134144-business-team-training-listening-meeting-speaker-leadership-teamworkImage credit: Shutterstock

In every organization, regardless of size or industry, success rises and falls with leadership. Sure, an organization with average leadership can experience some success, but the longevity of that success and growth will be drastically shortened compared to that of an organization with a transformational leader.

So, what exactly is a transformational leader?

In my own view, a transformational leader not only builds an incredible organization that grows each and every year, but inspires his or her people to constantly innovate and reach their full potential.

Transformational leaders create an extraordinary vision for their organizations, one which employees are then eager to fully “buy into” and work incredibly hard for every day, to bring it to life. What’s more, transformational leaders are obsessed about developing their people, not just collecting a profit.

To put it simply, transformational leaders positively disrupt individual organizations and entire industries.

In an article in Psychology Today, Ronald Riggio wrote that, “Research evidence clearly shows that groups led by transformational leaders have higher levels of performance and satisfaction than groups led by other types of leaders. Why? Because transformational leaders hold positive expectations for followers, believing that they can do their best.

“As a result, they inspire, empower and stimulate followers to exceed normal levels of performance. And, transformational leaders focus on and care about followers and their personal needs and development.”

I recently had the pleasure of spending the day with Bill Darcy, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Darcy has not only transformed an organization, but an entire industry. Darcy is a transformational leader through and through. When you speak to his employees or colleagues at different companies, the impact and influence he has had is clear.

In our conversation, Darcy and I discussed three factors that have helped him rise to the top and become the transformational leader he is today.

1. Make each day count.

Spending the entire day with Darcy, I could easily see that he truly lived each and every day to the fullest. It’s not a coincidence that he listed this as number one when I asked him the three most important things that helped him get to where he is today.

Darcy said he’d learned the importance of making each day count when his son was born with a rare congenital abnormality and it was unclear whether the boy was going to make it or not. “Going through the experience of nearly losing my son changed not only my life forever, but also how I work and lead on a daily basis,” Darcy said.

Transformational leaders, in short, don’t waste their days. They make every single day count, and it shows in everything they do. They possess an incredible sense of urgency, which inspires their team members to act in the same manner. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Make each day your masterpiece.”

2. Perseverance is key.

If you dig deep into the backstory of any transformational leader to analyze this person’s path to where he or she is today, you will often notice an incredible level of perseverance. Leaders, like anyone, experience plenty of tough and challenging times. Transformational leaders, however, stay poised during these times and trust in their process to get the job done.

Darcy said, “I have been rejected in my career more times than I can count, but the one thing that I always stayed true to was to always keep fighting for what you believe in. When you keep fighting, breakthroughs eventually arise.”

3. Effort equals results.

At the young age of 25, Darcy was working for the billionaire and Penske Corporation chairman, Roger Penske. Penske instilled in his organization and all of his employees the slogan “Effort equals results,” and Darcy told me that he was able to see firsthand how vital those words were in the company’s growth and success.

“Every detail mattered and the slogan that Penske used created a huge cultural influence,” Darcy said. “No one ever had to guess what was expected of them when they showed up to work in the morning.

“As a leader, you set the tone within your organization,” Darcy added. “The one thing that we can all control when we show up to work is the effort that we put forth.”

I hope Darcy’s story of becoming a transformational leader inspires you to have the same kind of influence on not only the organization that you lead, but the entire industry that you are in.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Simple But Proven Ways to Become More Productive

20160620111434-YogaEntrepreneursImage credit: Shutterstock

There is absolutely no shortage of time-management practices and experts out there promising to increase your productivity levels. And, certainly, we all aspire to be more productive, feel more accomplished and ultimately achieve greater success than ever before.

Unfortunately, though, simply wanting these things or reading a time-management book by a favorite author is a small part of the equation and will get you only so far.

In order to truly become a more productive individual and accomplish more of what matters most, you must minimize distractions, instill new habits and have a great deal of self-discipline.

I believe that many of the problems we run into when it comes to maximizing our productivity stem from overcomplicating things — and those complications usually end up decreasing our productivity. I want to share with you three things that have worked exceptionally well for me when it comes to minimizing distractions and drastically elevating my productivity levels.

These three things are simple and straightforward but pack an incredible punch. As Stephen Covey once said, “What is common sense isn’t common practice.”

1. Cut out phone and email first thing in the morning.

At first, this daily practice, which has since blessed my life with an enormous amount of peace, happiness and focus, was hard for me to implement into my life. For the longest time, my morning ritual had consisted merely of turning over and grabbing my phone in order to open my email and check social media.

When you pick up your phone first thing in the morning, however, and dive deep into your inbox and check social media, you end up neglecting the most important thing: yourself. For the first two hours of each day, I make it a priority to leave my phone in a separate room. I go to work on myself first and foremost by getting in a great workout, reading for 20 minutes, meditating and then beginning to tackle my biggest task for the day. Only after all of those things are complete do I allow myself to check my phone.

2. Work in time blocks. 

This one may seem extraordinarily simple, but the profound difference it has made in my life is incredible. We live in a world that is full of constant distraction. Each and every one of us is getting pulled in a million different directions, all vying for our energy and attention. When you work in time blocks, though, you are forcing yourself for the next 20, 30, or 50 minutes to work on whatever project or task that is in front of you and not doing anything else.

No phone, no Facebook-checking: just you and your highly valuable project or task that must get finished. I personally work in 50-minute time blocks throughout the day, but you should feel free to implement whatever works best for you and your schedule. I personally haven’t found a more efficient way to eliminate distractions and get big things done than working in time blocks.

3. Utilize the power of breaks throughout your day.

The way I used to conduct myself was to work hard for long hours while never stopping to take a break. By the time I got home and went to bed, however, I would wake up the next morning not even knowing what had happened the previous day. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you’ll find that working hard and putting in long hours is mandatory at some point in your career, to get to where you want to go.

But this shouldn’t come at the expense of completely burning yourself out. When my 50-minute timer goes off, and I am working on an important project or task, I stand up and do one of three things.

I either take a walk outside for 10 minutes, practice deep breathing for 10 minutes or perform some type of stretching routine before I return back to work. Just a 10- or 15-minute break doing one of these three things helps me to release whatever tension has been built up and develop a new focus for when it’s time to work again.

Whether you take a walk, practice deep breathing or perform stretches is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that multiple times throughout the day, you should take a break from your work and find different ways to recharge and come back even stronger.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com