2 Practical Ways to Build the Mental Toughness You Need in Business — and in Life.

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If I had to pick just one quality and characteristic I was able to take away from the game of football that greatly impacted my life as an entrepreneur, it would be mental toughness, without a doubt. Playing the game of football since I was a little kid and then eventually getting the wonderful opportunity to play at the highest level in the NFL has transformed my mindset more than anything else.

Of course I learned the incredible importance of teamwork, culture, leadership and other important qualities, but the resilience that was instilled in me from the game of football is what I am most grateful for.

If you think that football players or other professional athletes are born with a special kind of mental toughness and that it becomes second nature for them right away, you are wrong. Mental toughness is something that you can strengthen and develop over time regardless of what you do for a living.

recent study by University of Miami neuroscientist Amishi Jha found that mental toughness and resilience are skills that can be learned by and trained for by collegiate football players. The results showed that just like physical training, practice and repetition are key for mental training. Even though this particular study was limited to collegiate football players, its results were great news for everyone because they apply not just to football players, but to many different industries and occupations.

Why mental toughness is so important.

If you feel mentally defeated, chances are small that you will ever get to where you want to go. Whether we are talking about athletics or business, winning, first and foremost, will be absolutely everything. There is nothing that you can’t do or become when you have a phenomenally strong mindset.

A big part of having that focused mindset is being able to keep pressing forward when the going gets extremely tough, staying positive when negativity attacks and persisting over and over again until you finally reach your destination. That’s the true definition of mental toughness: displaying an enormous amount of belief, fight and dedication toward a goal that you are passionately pursuing. If you take a look at any category of high achievers regardless of industry, you will quickly realize that they have displayed an extraordinary level of mental toughness to get to where they are.

How to build mental toughness.

The University of Miami study showed that one of the best ways to build mental toughness is through practicing mindfulness on a consistent basis. Mindfulness is all about directing your energy and thoughts on the present moment without any judgment. I was first introduced to the power of mindfulness training when I was in college playing football for Indiana University.

Once a week, we would have a sports psychologist come in and lead the team in practicing different breathing exercises and body scans.(guided meditation focusing on different parts of the body). When we first started these routines, I was skeptical, to say the least. I thought there was no way all of these weird-looking exercises and the act of focusing on my breathing could impact the way I played on the field.

But I was so wrong. Not only did my focus on the field increase, but my anxiety and stress decreased after a few weeks of really giving these practices a try.

Based on my own experiences, I can offer two practical ways that may help you — as they did me — build mental toughness and resilience, starting today.

1. Practice mindfulness daily.

Practicing mindfulness daily is a game-changer. Not only are studies showing the importance of mindfulness and detailing the amazing benefits that it provides, but people like me are extoling it based on personal experience.

Mindfulness calms your mind down from the noisy and chaotic world that we live in; and that calm, in turn, equips you with the strength and peace of mind to keep moving forward even in the face of extreme difficulty. Being in tune with the present moment and living fully right where you currently are helps diminish the fear that holds many people back and provides them with the clarity to focus on what’s most important.

I use the Calm app, which has worked wonders for me. It has a variety of different breathing exercises and body scans that the app walks you through step by step. Practicing mindfulness daily doesn’t just help you build mental toughness, it can change your life in so many different ways such as decreasing daily anxiety and drastically increasing your overall well-being.

2. Step out of your comfort zone daily.

This one may be a lot more difficult than practicing mindfulness, but making it a daily habit to step out of your comfort zone builds an incredible amount of strength.

Just as you would go to the gym to get stronger physically and strive to make your muscles grow, stepping out of your comfort zone daily is what helps you expand your capacity for mental toughness.

The more I seek to step out of my own comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at the time, the stronger and better I feel. When I plan my day the night before, one of the first things I do is ask myself how can I step out of my comfort zone for that particular day. You can’t build mental toughness and become resilient by always playing it safe and operating only out of the confines of your comfort zone.

In short, being resilient and mentally tough is a non-negotiable if you want to step into your greatness and become the best version of yourself. Give these two practices a try. They may well help you get there.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How to Keep Fighting and Pressing Forward When the Going Gets Tough

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A lot of people like to think that there is some secret formula to achieving extraordinary levels of success and breaking free from mediocrity, but there really isn’t.

The one and only secret to crushing your goals and experiencing the success that you always dreamed of is to take relentless, persistent and massive action every single day of your life. Every peak performer knows the importance of this truth. The reason why the majority neglect it is because of the ridiculous amount of work required of them. What’s more, there is absolutely nothing exciting and sexy about that workload.

Persistence may not always be the “fun” thing to do, but it always will be the right thing to do when you are in pursuit of greatness, when you’re looking to maximize business success or achieve a game-changing goal. Being persistent requires you to get out of your comfort zone most of the time and force yourself to take action, even when you may not feel like it.

The following icons certainly understood this:

  • Henry Ford massively failed and went broke five times before he finally got his major breakthrough.
  • Beethoven was ridiculed for how he handled the violin, and his teacher told him that he was hopeless as a composer.
  • Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor for an alleged lack of ideas. He also went bankrupt multiple times before he built Disneyland.
  • Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching.” Wrote Darwin in his autobiography: “I was considered by my father a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect.”

More such stories? Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 years old and didn’t read until he was 7. His teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” He was eventually expelled and refused admittance to Zurich Polytechnic School. The University of Bern declined his Ph.D. dissertation as irrelevant and fanciful.

The script for Star Wars was rejected by every movie studio in Hollywood before 20th Century Fox finally produced it. It went on to be one of the largest grossing movies in film history.

When former University of Georgia and NFL running back Herschel Walker wanted to play football in junior high, but the coach told him he was too small and recommended track instead. Never one to quit, Walker ignored the coach’s advice and began an intensive training program to build himself up. Only a few years later, he won the prestigious Heisman trophy.

These are just a few examples of all the wildly successful people who failed before succeeding to such heights that they could rewrite the history books. Remember, we all fail at one time or another. That’s life. And no matter whether our failures are large or small, we have to persist and keep fighting. We’re all a “work in progress.” Even the geniuses.

Here are two actionable ideas to help you keep fighting and pressing forward when the going gets tough.

1. Study the greats. 

I am an avid reader. I read a new book every single week, but one of my favorite types of books is autobiographies. I enjoy reading about the incredibly successful who went on to change the world with how they lived their lives.

When you pick up an autobiography of one of the greats, you quickly realize the amount of persistence and fight they possesed, even in the face of extreme uncertainty and hardship. When I find myself going through a difficult time, one of the first things I do is pick up an autobiography of a world-class achiever.

Reading that individual’s story reminds me of the power of never giving up, and passionately always fighting for what you believe in and desire. The next time you find yourself going through a difficult period in your life, pick up an autobiography, watch a documentary or find some way to study the greats. Success leaves clues.

2. Never lose sight of your major goals. 

One of the first things that happens when people gets knocked down and come face to face with adversity is that they lose sight of the original goal or vision.

Instead, these individuals let the negativity they are currently experiencing come to the forefront of their minds, which prevents them from taking action and moving forward. I myself carry a notecard with me everywhere I go that has all of my major goals written on it. When I get knocked down, experience a negative curveball thrown my way or just lack the inspiration to keep fighting, I look over this notecard and am immediately connected to the grand vision I have that keeps me going.

Do the same thing: Put your major goals into your phone, on the front of your computer screen and in your purse or wallet. All throughout the day, especially when the going gets tough, read over those major goals and remind yourself of the great vision that you have for your life. When you make it a priority to never lose sight of your major goals, there is nothing that can permanently hold you back.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Actions to Help You Recover From a Crushed Dream

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My one and only NFL game may as well have been my own personal Super Bowl. I remember that evening in August 2010 at Qualcomm Stadium in California, playing the San Diego Chargers as though it was yesterday: the fresh smell of the wet dirt and the long grass. The taste of iron and salt in my mouth . . .

. . . And, off in the distance, the din of our fans screaming, cheering us on.

This was where I belonged: as an NFL player playing for the Chicago Bears, in a pre-season matchup against the Chargers out in beautiful San Diego, California. I was playing well. I had missed a sack opportunity on the quarterback, but I had also recorded three tackles, including one for loss. I was pumped, elated to be doing what I had always dreamed of doing: what four years of Indiana University football and endless workouts had prepared me to do.

But, something was terribly wrong. Late in the second quarter, with four minutes left before halftime, a big Chargers offensive lineman was thrown by one of my teammates smack into my left ankle. His 280-pound bulk came down hard across my leg, and my ankle became badly tangled up under this mountain of a man.

I attempted to stand — and realized that what had seemed like a routine play was not routine at all: A sharp pain stabbed through my entire leg. I felt sick to my stomach as the searing pain worsened progressively every second. The pain was so intense, I thought I might faint.

Still, I toughed it out, finishing the game with six tackles and a tackle for loss. But, that day, my performance was not uppermost in my mind; All I could think about was that excruciating pain — and the all-too-real possibility that my promising football career had just ended before it began. My first game would be my last.

Crushed dreams

While I waited to see the specialist back in Chicago, I had an extremely hard time sleeping and focusing at team meetings. I was consumed with anxiety and fear and slid into the deepest depths of darkness. My life was shattering; my dreams and goals were falling like shards of glass. I had no Plan B in place. It had been my experience that most athletes are ill prepared, if not completely clueless, about the emotional and psychological impact of sustaining an injury, then trying to recover from it.

Now I was one of those athletes.

In fact, my traumatic injury signaled the end of my career, my dreams and my goals. I completely tore a bone off my left ankle and was going to be out for a lengthy period of time. The Bears reached an injury settlement with me, and just like that, my whole world came crashing down on me. My dreams were crushed.

What to do when this happens to you

Any highly successful person along the way has more than likely experienced adversity. The people at the top, the game-changers, have all had a lot of unsuccessful years before any of their major successes became known to the public.

The feelings rendered by crushed dreams don’t happen just to athletes forced out of a professional sport they’ve worked their whole life for. They happen to men and women from all different walks of life: business, politics, education, even parenting.

What did I learned from my own crushed dream? Plenty. Here are four things to help you recover should it happen to you:

1. Face the facts. 

If something has crushed your dream, do you find yourself in denial? My own experience was that I didn’t even think there was life after the NFL, so I hadn’t even reached denial yet. What I was in was a kind of death spiral.

I believed that if I couldn’t play football, then life as I knew it was over. If you yourself are in denial about a crushed dream, or you’re succumbing to the “death” feeling, where demons roam and nothing in life matters anymore, you need to face the facts. We all have to look at those facts objectively and analyze our next move, no matter how painful it is.

What helped me to face the facts was to seek out mentors of mine that I fully trusted as well as my support system of close friends and family members. By talking to them, I was able to get out of the denial trap and finally free myself from the internal pain robbing me of my peace.

Facing the facts can mean different things to different people. But a good place to start is mentors and loved ones that you completely trust. Their words and support in extremely difficult times can make a world of a difference. 

2. Don’t overanalyze.

When something happens to crush your dream, you’ll more than likely start to overanalyze. You might worry yourself sick, wondering what to do next. Or you might question your self-worth. You might tell yourself that you’re in a nightmare, and tomorrow you’ll wake up and things will be okay.

The worst thing you can do when you come face to face with adversity is to overthink things. Give yourself time to absorb the reality of the situation, and don’t rush to “fix” things. The first thing that I had to do was realize that I was creating false scenarios in my mind.

I eventually got to the point where I was telling myself that, yes, I had been injured in an NFL game, but this was not the end of the world. No matter how bad I felt about losing my dream, I was not going to die. 

3. Surrender. 

You can’t change what has happened, but you can change how you react to it. In the Beatles song “Tomorrow Never Knows,” there’s a line that says: “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream . . . that you may see the meaning of within.” This is perfect advice: Since you can’t change the situation, you may as well turn off your mind and surrender to it.

Only then will the solutions surface. Just as long walks and meditation can give you peace of mind and answers to questions that bother you, so can your surrender to pain. Of course, this is easier said than done, and I certainly struggled at first, myself; but the benefits far outweighed anything else.

Surrendering for me was all about feeling the fear and negative energy while moving forward anyway. Before that, I had been rejecting every fear and negative emotion, which actually made things a lot worse. When you welcome the fear and negative energy but continue to move forward, you feel a tremendous sense of gratification and heavy burden lifted off your shoulders. 

4. Accept. 

Surrendering to the situation means accepting it.  And, mind you, this was one of the hardest things for me to do right away. It took me a few weeks to accept myself as well as the situation. I kept asking myself over and over, What if I had tackled differently on that play? What if I had just played for a different team? I realize now more than ever that acceptance is crucial to forgiving yourself and moving on.

So, leave the what-ifs behind. I had to get rid of them before I could ever move forward. That meant taking action and not letting my injury paralyze me from going on to do something remarkable with my life.

This injury, which was one of the lowest events of my life, actually ended up giving birth to my career as a writer and keynote speaker. One of the most important things that you can do when you get knocked down by adversity is to just move forward.

And while the pain of a crushed dream can be excruciating for quite a while, these four steps little by little helped me get back on the right track and start the process of rebuilding my life. It is my hope that they can do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

8 Ways to Stay Positive Regardless of What Is Going on Around You

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You probably hear it over and over again how important it is to be positive, think positive and only engage in positive activity. In this day and age, being positive isn’t always an easy task.

Turn on the news and the first thing you will usually see is something negative. Head into work and a negative coworker is already complaining about the boss. Watch the presidential debates and all of the coverage leading up to the upcoming election while the only thing you can do most of the time is shake your head in disbelief while you watch the two potential leaders of this country.

The list goes on and on. The point is that negativity is all around us. No matter where you look, you will always find either a negative situation or a negative person. However, you don’t have to let what happens on the outside interfere with what happens within you.

Being positive each and every day is an inside job that consists of intentional effort even at times when you don’t feel like it. No, being positive won’t guarantee that you will be a success or achieve a major goal of yours, but it will help you a whole lot more than what being negative will do for you.

I recently sat down with Jon Gordon, the bestselling author of the mega bestseller The Energy Bus to discuss eight ways you can become more positive regardless of what is going on around you.

1. Make the choice.

All of life consists of choices. In order to be incredibly successful, stay positive, and reach your full potential, it all starts with a firm choice to do just that. Jon says, “You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.”

2. Talk to yourself like a champion.

I have been speaking about the power of talking to yourself for quite awhile now.  Jon Gordon said, “Talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Instead of listening to your complaints, fears and doubts, talk to yourself and feed your mind with words of truth and encouragement you need to keep moving forward.”

3. Be strict with energy vampires.

Association is everything. It’s an absolute must that you have zero tolerance for negative energy vampires. Jon says, “Post a sign that says ‘No Energy Vampires Allowed.'” Gandhi said, “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

4. Live your purpose.

Nothing helps you to come more alive alive and radiate positive energy like living out your purpose. Gordon said, “Remember why you do what you do. We don’t get burned out because of what we do. We get burned out because we forget why we do it.”

5. Change your perception of adversity and failure.

This is what my new book, Winning Plays is all about. Being able to redefine what failure really means and learning how to capitalize off of each and every setback. Jon says, The next time you ‘fail’ remember that you aren’t failing, you are becoming. You aren’t failing, you are growing.”

6. Smile and laugh more.

Very simple things to do, but so many forget the power of just smiling and laughing more. Just as Jon said, “Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.”

7. Protect your inner world.  

It’s important to remember that regardless of how bad or negative a certain situation may be that you don’t have to let it dictate your level of happiness or positivity. Jon said, “Remember that outside circumstances and events have no power over you. You create your world from the inside-out.”

8. Be patient.

A great majority of the negativity that holds many people back is a major lack of patience. Greatness takes an extraordinary amount of time putting in the work behind closed doors before anything blossoms. Jon said, “There’s no such thing as an overnight success. Anything worthwhile takes time to build.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Positive Attitude Amid Failure

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This article is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s new book WINNING PLAYS published by Center Street/Hachette.

Many, many people talk about attitude and especially the “attitude of gratitude.” It has become such a normal topic of discussion that few people probably really think about it. I’m not sure how many people actually work on their attitude daily. But trust me, it can make all the difference when it comes to reprogramming your life so you can reap the rewards and gifts of failure. It’s important to have an attitude of gratitude and be grateful for everything in your life. Even — perhaps, especially — the failures.

How can some people defeat the odds and achieve success? How can some turn major failures into incredible gifts that not only bless themselves but the entire world? Simple. It’s the attitude they choose.

Selecting the right attitude.

When our attitude is right, we can achieve maximum results. The right attitude can help us soar to greater heights than ever before and create extraordinary lives and businesses. Likewise, the right attitude can bring out the best in others. That’s why I mentioned that we need to interact with people who have positive attitudes because they will help us achieve our best.

You’re probably saying, “This sounds great and all, but how am I ever supposed to have such a positive attitude when everything seems to be going wrong in my life?” I get it. I really do. It’s still something I battle with in my own life. Here are three simple ways to help you keep a positive attitude regardless of negative situations or events that present themselves throughout your journey.

1. Make a conscious effort.

Make a deliberate effort to work on your attitude. I always heard about the importance of a great attitude and every football coach I ever had brought it up, but I never really saw the value of it until I hit rock bottom. I struggled so much to keep a positive and encouraging attitude amidst the failure and hard times, but that all changed when I finally made a conscious effort to improve my attitude despite what was going on in my life. Nothing will change if you don’t change. Don’t let circumstances or misfortunes dictate your attitude. Decide today to build up your attitude and attract the right kind of people into your life from here on out.

2. Create an affirmation card.

Writing an attitude affirmation card can be a total game changer for you when you’re rewiring and reprogramming your thinking. You can create an attitude shift for the better. I have always reaped tremendous benefits of “speaking things into existence” by repeating affirmations over and over, and the same goes for when I needed a change in my own attitude.

When I wanted a Division I college scholarship, I wrote and recited every day, “I will receive a Division I scholarship,” and I eventually started to believe it. Simply take out an index card and describe the exact type of attitude you want to possess. You can write something like, “I (your name) am an honest, loving, and hardworking individual. I have a positive attitude, and I build up others and let my words radiate encouragement and success. No matter what happens in life, my attitude will never be sour and negative.” This is just an example to help get you started, but you get the idea. We need to rewire and reprogram our thinking and declare the exact type of attitude we want. If we don’t, it will be extremely hard to change our attitude when we experience a failure or a setback.

3. See goodness.

Most poor attitudes stem from your perception of something, so start to look for the good in everyone and everything you come in contact with. If you look for the positive, your attitude will reflect that. An amazing transformation takes place when you see the good in everyone and everything, even failure.

Don’t let a poor attitude be the reason why you stay in a mediocre state forever and why you never fulfill your potential.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Facing All-Encompassing Doubt, Roger Bannister Still Broke the 4-Minute Mile. You Too Must Believe in Your Strengths.

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Self-doubt is all too common in today’s world. We have a terrible habit of letting our fears, our weaknesses and what happened in the past creep into the present and diminish our self-belief. It’s time to kick this crippling habit we know all too well. All of the failures, mistakes and heartbreaks that we have endured in the past — leave them there. They serve no purpose in the present unless you are looking back to see how far you’ve come.

When we bring negative events from our past into the present, we cloud our ability to see what’s possible and what’s important in our lives. We need to learn from all of the misfortunes in our lives and use them as a never-ending vehicle of opportunity to grow. No matter how difficult it may seem, never let the doubts of life paralyze the belief that you have in yourself. If you are deliberate about this concept, your future will be limitless.

Directing your focus towards everything that went wrong over the years will do nothing but keep you stagnant. Moving forward in life personally and professionally requires you to learn from the negatives and allow these moments to be the building blocks, the solid foundation of creating a bigger future for yourself.  Dwelling on all of our weaknesses and the substantial odds of achieving our goals is a sure way to fall short. We must think and do the impossible, and it all begins with self-belief.

One of my favorite examples of this is Olympian, Roger Bannister. Back in the 1950’s experts thought that there was no way possible that the 4-minute mile could ever be broken. They just thought that it wasn’t humanly possible. However, Roger Bannister came along and changed everyone’s view on what the experts once deemed an impossible feat to accomplish.

Roger Bannister not only broke the 4-minute mile, but he created a paradigm shift for so many others, to go on to do the same. Roger Bannister didn’t dwell on the experts’ opinions or what everyone else was saying was impossible to do. He believed in his ability more than he doubted it. Forget what anyone says about your loftiest goals and dreams, that business you want to start or the challenges that you currently face. The only thing that truly matters is that you let your self-belief become more powerful than your self-doubt.

I believe that we all have the seeds of greatness planted within us regardless of how hard, unfortunate or terrible we may temporarily think our life has been up to this point. Somewhere deep inside, we all have big dreams and strong desires. Things we want to accomplish, things we want to change, things we want to build, and things we want to do throughout the course of our lives.

But all so often, life has a tendency of getting in the way. Big plans end up falling through unexpectedly. The tragedy of losing a loved one strikes once again. Over time, our self-doubt begins to grow stronger than our self-belief.

This shift of believing in the negative and doubting the positive, creates an all too comfortable space and reliance on mediocrity. Settling for right where you are. Settling for less than your abilities. Settling even when it is fatal to your goals.

We are all here for a purpose. No moment in time is a waste. Instead of focusing on the mishaps and losses in your life, your fears or your weaknesses, do everything in your power to focus on the wins. Focus on your strengths. No matter how big or small they may be, get in the habit of counting your blessings every single day of your life, and direct your focus towards all of the good surrounding you.

Don’t doubt the talents and abilities that were only given to you. They are exclusively yours to harness and do great things with. Do everything in your power to get your fire back. Claim your greatness and recreate your swagger. Develop and search for a deeper meaning for your life. Continually put yourself in a positive, faith-filled environment everywhere you go.  Your belief must always outweigh your doubt, and you must lead with your strengths — not your weaknesses.

The message that I hope to get through to you today is that the power is already within you to create whatever life you desire for yourself no matter what you’ve been dealt in the past. You have the ability to make your life a masterpiece and leave a spectacular legacy that lives much longer than you do. Amp up your self-belief, and kick the self-doubt. There’s no room for both.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

8 Things Exceptional Thinkers Do Every Day

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Everything that we are and everything that we are not is an end result from our current level of thinking. Every great achievement in history came from exceptional thinking. Every man or woman to ever rise to the top of their profession had exceptional thinking that played a major role in getting them to where they are.

I have never met a high achiever who lacked in their level of thinking. Our feelings, emotions, professional success and happiness levels are all affected by our thinking and what takes place on a daily basis from the neck up.

If you aren’t currently happy with where you are at in life or in your professional journey, there is great news. You can drastically alter where you are and everything around you by changing your thinking. Just like any other important habit, you can’t become an exceptional thinker if you practice it only once in awhile. Working on your mind and thinking must become a daily practice.

Here are eight things exceptional thinkers do daily.

1. They focus on the positive.

Every single day of our lives, we have a choice when we wake up in the morning whether we are going to direct our focus on the positive or negative. Exceptional thinkers know the importance of where they direct their focus. They fully understand that it impacts their energy levels and will determine how they perform. You can eliminate a lot of the worry, stress, and anxiety just by choosing to focus on the positive. Regardless of how big or small, force yourself to see the good in every situation no matter how miniscule it may be.

2. They spend time in solitude.

Exceptional thinkers know that we live in a noisy and distracting world and therefore prioritize the importance of spending time alone. If you go pick up an autobiography of your favorite inventor, president, or even athlete, you will realize that they valued alone time to reflect and think in solitude.

3. They have a long-term vision.

Exceptional thinkers have a clear vision of where they want to be in the future and all of the things that they need to do in order to make that become a reality. They rarely get discouraged and disappointed because of short-term obstacles because of this powerful long-term vision that they have for their life.

4. They have a mindset-development routine.

Whether it’s a special morning routine to jump start their day, reading positive books first thing in the morning, or listening to empowering podcasts and audiobooks while commuting, they go to work on their mind daily. Most people wait for something positive to happen throughout their day to have good thoughts, but exceptional thinkers are proactive towards positively developing their mind every chance they get.

5. They only associate with those who build them up.

There is nothing more detrimental to one’s thinking than hanging around others who are constantly negative and energy vampires. You adopt the habits and channel the energy of those around you, so make it a habit to surround yourself with positive people and remain in good company.

6. They eat clean and healthy.

A large majority of the population is oblivious as to what you put into your body on a daily basis and how that plays a role in your thinking. What you drink and eat every single day greatly impacts how you feel and how well your brain operates.

To further understand just how important what you eat is to how well you think, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Daniel Amen. Two of my favorites when it comes to brain optimization and thriving on all cylinders.

7. They find time to regularly workout.

I have talked about the benefits of working out and how it can tremendously impact productivity levels, but the same goes for brain health and increasing your current level of thinking. The endorphins released during routine exercise are packed with positivity.

8. They have an attitude of gratitude.

Your thinking and life in general is just that much better when you possess an attitude of gratitude and find ways to regularly acknowledge all that you are grateful for. It’s impossible to be truly grateful and miserable at the same time.

There are a lot of things that exceptional thinkers do on a daily basis to help them rise above, but the above eight things that I have listed have greatly impacted the way I think on a daily basis. When you understand just how important your mind is and work to constantly upgrade your level of thinking, your life will be upgraded in return.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Life’s Greatest Lessons Are Disguised in Our Most Trying Times, But You Must Keep Perspective

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As life and business problems begin to expand and tough times continually knock us down, it’s absolutely imperative that we pause and remind ourselves what all of this is about. It’s extremely easy to get caught up in all of the curve balls life throws our way — but we must choose not to. A major component of success, happiness, growth and a joyous life is perspective.

Each and every one of us has our own unique perspective on life, but our perspective on failure and adversity greatly determines our success or lack of it. Our happiness, and whether or not we grow as human beings, all begins with our perspective.

The pain. The suffering. The agony. The heartbreak. It’s all there to serve you and to help mold you into the person that you need to become. There is nothing easy about it, but if we can work to push ourselves to change our perspective of what failure and the tough times of life are present for, our lives take on new meaning. A big part of making this happen is learning to love the journey that we are on, and whether we are where we currently want to be or not.

As we go through life, we tend to set our eyes on the destination and where we eventually want to end up while forgetting the incredible importance of the journey that we are on. I am not telling you to avoid looking forward and creating massive and great visions for your life, but I am encouraging you to remember the importance of the journey that you are on at this moment.

Not only will you capture sincere, loving and fond memories along the journey, if you make it a point to live in the moment, but if you know its purpose, if you’re willing to learn from each and every experience, it will make you drastically better in the long run.

If we never fail, we don’t know the value of succeeding. If we never experience heartbreak, we don’t know the value of true love. If we never lose a loved one, we don’t know the value of relationships. In the middle of all of the chaos and turmoil, the last thing on our minds is remembering to value the journey that we are on.

I encourage you, no matter where you are now, in failure or success, adversity or glory, to embrace the lessons, and value having the opportunity to grow.

When I truly learned to value the journey and not just the destination, I noticed something special change in my life. I truly began to value the hardships in my life as growing opportunities to become better the next time around. Instead of beating myself up over something that went wrong, I dusted myself off and prepped myself for another round. I began to value each new and old relationship that I ever had with anyone, as I knew that every person that comes into our lives is there for a purpose.

Life’s greatest lessons are disguised in our most trying times. How we react during these times will determine if we miss the next opportunity or come back swinging with a vengeance.

Next time you experience a loss, failure, heartbreak or a setback, remember that it’s all part of the journey to help you grow, and if you embrace it as such, you will possess a perspective that is primed for success.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Effort Is an Overlooked But Major Key to Success

1393543808-persevere-need-deeply-held-beliefs (1)Image credit: Shutterstock

If you had to rate your effort on a scale from one to 10 and how much you give of it every single day, what would your score be? If you aren’t where you want to be or seeing the results that you want to see, then chances are a lack of effort over long periods of time may be the reason why.

Effort isn’t the only thing needed in order for you need to be successful and get to where you want to go, but it sure is an absolute must and something that lacks in a whole lot of people who desire massive amounts of success. If you followed around 10 people who were highly dissatisfied with their station in life, I can bet their effort wouldn’t even come close to someone who is doing the exact same thing they are doing except on a much higher level. Effort is the missing link.

 

The fact of the matter is this, anything and everything that you want to achieve this year has a price tag on it. You must give up something in order to get something, but the rewards and fulfillment that comes from true success are well worth the effort and fight every day.

As each day passes, we pay our lives for that day. As each month passes, we pay our lives for that month. As each year passes, we pay our lives for that year. We don’t get those days, months and years back, and the only thing that we have to show for it comes down to what kind of effort we gave throughout those days, months and years.

An often-overlooked but major key to success is to give an incredible and ridiculous amount of effort — the one thing that each and every one of us controls on a daily basis over long periods of time. That’s where the confusion enters in for most. Those who complain about their lot in life and how unlucky they have been are the same ones who only give maximum effort when they feel like it or when the timing seems to be right for them.

My good friend and bestselling author Rory Vaden said, “Success is never owned; it is only rented — and the rent is due every day.” That’s one of my favorite quotes and speaks volumes on the amount of effort and work that is required to be great and separate yourself from the pack of mediocrity. You don’t only give maximum effort when you feel good or the timing feels right. Champions give maximum effort every day of their life, even when they don’t feel like it. They pay their rent over and over, year after year, regardless of how much is in their bank account or what hardship they may be currently experiencing.

You will have different seasons in your life and business, no doubt about it. There will be times where great things will happen. There will be times where bad things will happen as well. But the one constant thing that you have the opportunity to control throughout everything that happens is your effort.

I think a lot of people look at some of the greatest athletes, executives and entrepreneurs in the world and automatically think to themselves how wonderful it must be to be in their shoes. What they don’t know is the sacrifice, work, and most importantly, the insane amount of effort that was required for 20-plus years, every day of their lives to get where they currently are at.

Orison Marden summed it all up perfectly when said, “What keeps so many people back is simply unwillingness to pay the price, to make the exertion, the effort to sacrifice their ease and comfort.”

You can learn all of the latest and best strategies in the world, but if you lack in effort, you will only get so far. It may not be the sexiest word or topic to talk about, but the one thing that effort does is produce results. Without it, 2016 will be a very long and average year.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Wake Up and Get Off the ‘Someday Island’

20141223190829-5-ways-dreamers-become-doersImage credit: Shutterstock

There are plenty of differences between high achievers and everyone else, but I think there is one that really solidifies the gap between the two. That one difference is that high achievers don’t live on the “Someday Island.” They are living on the “Now Island” and are fully creating their own circumstances in life rather than going along with what has been presented to them.

It’s disheartening when I meet men and women from all different walks of life and of wide ages who have already died inside, but just haven’t made it official yet. To hear them talking about their glory days 10 and 20 years ago while having no new hope or dreams for the future is totally depressing. The reason why it’s so depressing is because that same person has the power and ability to live their best life right this moment — now — and totally redirect where his or her life is headed.

The major reason why this becomes the point of quiet desperation for many people is because of their habit of putting important things off and living in a world of “somedays.” If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself. The next time you are having a conversation with a family member or close friend, ask them what they want out of his or her life. I can almost guarantee you that his or her response will be, “Someday, I want to lose 20 pounds and have that dream body I always wanted,” or, “I would love to someday be in business for myself and become the entrepreneur that I’ve always envisioned.”

What has happened is that living on the “Someday Island” is the new norm for many people. If you aren’t living the life that you wholeheartedly love and desire, you can change it. Don’t shut off your ability to hope and dream about the future. Right this moment can be a new beginning for you. Think about it. What would you love to do? What is your lifelong dream?

Get off the “Someday Island” and put that new idea into action for yourself. Start that business that you have been contemplating for the past 20 years. Start working and developing that new course or product that your organization has wanted to roll out into the marketplace. Start being the leader that you always wanted to be.

The fact is that you have very little to lose by going after what you desire compared to letting those same passionate things die inside of you and never unleashing them out into the world.

At the end of your life, you will ask yourself if you truly lived a purpose-driven life. Whatever that “thing” may be for you, get off the “Someday Island.” Position yourself on the “Now Island” and get busy. Your life is worth way more than living in the past or ruminating over broken dreams and wishes. It doesn’t matter if you are 25 years old or 75 years old, you have a magnificent and wonderful life ahead of you now.

One of the best decisions you can make in both your personal and professional lives is to get in the habit of living now, taking massive action and going after what you deeply desire, full steam ahead.

 

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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