Don’t Let Those Closest to You Degrade Your Potential

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”

Whether you believe in those sayings or not, an absolute truth that entrepreneurs and business owners can never lose sight of is that it really does matter who we spend our time and engage in conversation with.

I believe in those two sayings, and here’s why: I have lived it. I especially believe in the latter one, because when I was a complete mess and living in a dark, depraved world of drugs and low achievers when I was 16, that’s exactly who my friends were. Then, when I was fortunately able to get myself out and hang around those who wanted to achieve greatness and not mediocrity, my life was never the same.

I now make it a point to hang around those who are more successful than me, doing bigger things than me and have just as big of a vision as I do. This simple shift in how I approach friendship and who I choose to spend my precious time with has been extremely beneficial to the growth and success of my business.

According to research by Harvard University social psychologist Dr. David McCleland, the people that we speak with every day and hang out with on a continual basis determine as much as 95 percent of our success or lack of it. Think about that for a second — 95 percent!

Whether you are wondering if the percentage in that study is correct or not, that’s not the point. The point is who we chose to spend our time with. One of the first things I say to people when they come to me expressing how disappointed they are in life or how big of a rut they are in is to check their inner circles. This certainly isn’t the case all of the time, but more often than not, it’s a leak within an inner circle that has been sabotaging success and the opportunity to get to that next level of achievement.

The sad thing about all of this is that some of the most negative and energy-draining people in our inner circles are family or close friends. I have a very close friend who is on the brink of major breakthroughs in his professional life but hasn’t been able to get over some hurdles that have been limiting his potential. He has come to the realization that this barrier has been his mother and father.

I’m not telling you to immediately get rid of your close friends or cut off ties with beloved family members. However, I am hoping that you start to take a really long look and analyze the members of your inner circle. Are they helping you become the best version of yourself, build your dream life and allow you to live in a positive and healthy way? If the answer is no to any of those key questions, I strongly encourage you to start looking to make some changes.

Your life is too precious to leave any bit of your talent and ability unused due to any negative people in your life.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Guidelines for Creating a Support Group That Will Push You to the Next Level

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A mastermind group with the right people can do incredible things for your personal and professional lives.

You can have a mastermind for every area of your life. There are masterminds where business owners and CEOs get together quarterly or yearly to discuss their current challenges and ways they can enhance their companies’ growth. Then you have personal masterminds, where people get together to help them become better in their marriages and with their families or help each other achieve personal goals and be a voice of support.

I have a mastermind of five close friends who are all doing exceptional things and looking to get to the next level. We reflect with one another, laugh together and support each other. The type of impact this mastermind has had on my life is something that is very hard to put into words.

There have been several times where something didn’t go as planned or failure unexpectedly came knocking on the door and the collective input and support I received from those in the mastermind led me to see things in a different light. That’s what masterminds are for — not only to talk about your goals and find ways to become more successful, but to reflect and be honest about what is going on in your life so the group can come together to create solutions.

I strongly encourage you to gather four to six people that you trust and share your drive to be great. Here are three guidelines to think about when you are in the process of creating your own mastermind group.

1. Find out what the overall objective is.

This is important especially in the beginning stages of creating a mastermind. For example, is your group going to be focused on the personal or professional side of things? Is there a specific theme for the mastermind?

 

These are just a few questions to help get the ball rolling for you, but finding out the overall objective is a mandatory process to get things moving in the right direction.

2. Choose carefully.

Be extra picky with the potential candidates for your mastermind. You want the other people in your group to be positive, motivated and hard-working individuals who really do want to take their lives to the next level.

Imagine getting your mastermind set up, and when you come together you have someone who is constantly being a Debbie downer about everything. Even worse is someone who tries to belittle a goal or dream of yours that you share with the group.

3. Meet regularly.

It’s one thing to create a mastermind, but it’s a whole other thing to actually meet on a regular basis. It does you no good to meet every other year or hardly ever talk to one another. Whether you meet quarterly, monthly or have weekly conference sessions, just make sure to meet regularly.

My mastermind consists of people who don’t live in the same city as me, but we don’t let that stop us from meeting regularly. If you have to, conference calls as a group can work as well. The bottom line is to make sure you and everyone involved in the group does whatever it takes to meet on a regular basis, even if that means going virtual every now and then.

These are just three ways to help you get started when you are pondering where to start getting your mastermind up and running. Creating a mastermind can do exceptional things for your life. It can provide new perspectives. Don’t wait any longer to discover the phenomenal benefits of having a group of your own.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How a Gym Owner Went From Struggling to Make Rent to World Renowned

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One of the most amazing things that I do every week is talk with world-class achievers. These men and women work in different industries, but they are people who have reached the top of their professions and overcame an incredible amount of hardships to get to where they are now.

The one thing I love most when talking with them is their stories. I find it amazing how a great majority of people will call them lucky or reference a saying that we hear all too often, “Well, it must be nice,” when in reality for most of them there is nothing nice and easy about what they had to go through to get where they are.

Entrepreneurship can at times feel lonely. Going into business for yourself can feel like you against the world. At times you may be on top, and then in a second you are struggling to put a roof over your head.

I recently sat down with Joe DeFranco, the founder and owner of DeFranco’s Gym in Austin, Texas. For almost two decades, the best athletes in the world have been coming to DeFranco to get them ready to dominate their sport. DeFranco and I didn’t sit down and talk because of the long list of professional athletes that flock to him every offseason to train, but because of the empire that he has been able to build from the ground up.

Here are three things that you can implement into your own business that can help build it into a thriving and successful empire.

1. Be a master of online marketing and social media.

It’s amazing how many business owners and entrepreneurs still don’t fully use the Internet and social media to their advantage. One of the quickest and most cost effective ways to get your name and company out into the marketplace is through the power of social media. A lot of people dabble in social media and content marketing, but not a whole lot actually take the time to master it and really discover its extraordinary power.

When I asked DeFranco how we was able to go from training athletes in a 500 square-foot storage closet and barely being able to pay the bills into the huge international brand that he has today, his answer was simple: “The power of the Internet and learning everything I could possibly learn on social media and content marketing.”

Get serious about not just dabbling in content marketing and the power of social media, make it your personal business to be a master of it.

2. Don’t just follow, but live your passion.

We always hear the advice of how important it is to follow your passion, but following your passion isn’t really enough. You can follow the things you are passionate about, but if you don’t actually execute and do everything in your power to live that passion, it does you no good. Following and living a passion are two completely different things. One is just moving in the right direction while the other is immersing yourself into something that ignites you.

The successful entrepreneurs that make headlines and change the world don’t just follow their passions — they live it every waking moment.

“I will never be outworked and a large part of that is due to the fact that I didn’t just follow my passion, but promised myself from day one that I am going to live my passion,” DeFranco says.

When you live your passion, you give yourself an enormous competitive advantage that no amount of money can buy.

3. Be you.

One of the most powerful characteristics, at least in my humble opinion, is authenticity. The reason why is because it lets your customers, prospects and everyone else out there know that you are real. The brands that forget the human touch or forget that business is and will always be about people are missing a major component of what it takes to win.

DeFranco discovered the power of authenticity when he was outright about money issues because he was doing so many favors for past clients who were retired and struggling but still wanted to train with him.

“Just by me sharing some personal experiences like struggling to pay the bills and really just being myself did more for my brand than any marketing tactic or plan that I have ever thought of in the past,” he says.

Maybe you aren’t struggling to pay your bills, but being able to open the human side of your business will create a brand identity that people want to be associated with. People like to buy from those they trust. The power of authenticity is incredible.

It’s my hope that these three things will help you in the effort of building your empire just like they have benefited DeFranco for so many years.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Silence the Negative and Hateful Noise and Fight For Your Dream

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Just because someone tells you that you are out of your mind or that you’re dreaming way too big, it doesn’t mean you have to listen!

As an ambitious entrepreneur and business owner, not everyone is going to be on your side and believe in your vision. You will probably have more people tell you what you can or cannot do more than what others will ever experience. Whether these people are just negative in general or envious that you are attempting to live your passion and turn that into a business is really a non-factor.

I am a prime example of what can happen when you silence all of the negativity and go to work on your dream. In high school, I was told I would either be dead or in jail by the time I was 21. When I came to my senses and had a very special moment with the man upstairs, I decided once and for all that I wanted to change my life for the better.

At the time, the only way I knew how to pay back those I hurt and loved the most was through athletics. Right then and there began a whole new journey for me. I proudly went around telling all of my family and friends that I wanted a division one scholarship for football.

People laughed at me, even those who loved me most. What did I do? I silenced the external noise and fought day and night for my dream. Every waking moment I worked on my craft and deep down knew that I was going to make something of myself.

Six months later, I received a total of 19 division one scholarship offers from some of the most prestigious athletic programs in the country.

Once I got to college at Indiana University, it began all over again. I repeatedly was told, “You made it collegiately, but you will never play a down of professional football.” I kept working on my dream and most importantly never lost the faith in myself and what was in store for me in the future. Three years later, I signed a contract with my hometown team the Chicago Bears.

Unfortunately, I suffered an ankle injury as an NFL rookie while playing against the San Diego Chargers. The same old external noise and negativity found its way back into my life. Over and over again I was told how athletes never make anything of themselves once they are done playing their sport. Obviously this isn’t the case for all former athletes, but this is the type of junk that was being said to me everywhere I went.

The injury I sustained wasn’t career ending, but I was out long enough to reflect back on my journey and what I really wanted out of life. This is where I discovered my true purpose. My why.

Five years later, I get to travel the world and speak to people at some of the greatest companies on the planet. Please understand that none of this is to impress you, but to impress upon you. That if I can do half of what I have done throughout 27 years of life, you can as well and even so much more.

It all comes down to silencing the noise, negativity and hate from outsiders who tell you that you will never amount to anything or that there is no possible way that you can get your idea up and running and off the ground. This noise that you will hear from people throughout the course of your journey doesn’t say anything about you but everything about the person it’s coming from. When people see you working towards building a bigger future for yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone, they get envious and wish they had the courage and strength to do the same.

The sad thing is that some of this noise and negativity may even come from those closest to you. Regardless of whether they are close to you, it’s extremely imperative that you silence the noise and fight for your dream every waking moment.

At the end of the day, there aren’t many things that feel better than standing victorious and proving all of the doubters that initially counted you out or called you crazy wrong. Silence the noise and fight for your dream!

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Don’t Wish to Be Successful. Expect to Be.

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We all hope to be successful, but most people don’t expect themselves to reach a level of extraordinary achievement. Rather, they hope and wish for that to be the case someday. Hoping and wishing will never be enough to get you to where you want to go. Going into business for yourself and hoping and wishing will never build a thriving business.

There is a major difference between hoping to be successful and expecting to be successful. When we hope to be successful, we are basically saying we are unsure if it will ever happen. To an extent, this attitude dictates our level of belief in ourselves and the way we work. When we expect to be successful, that means we know deep down that regardless of how hard times will get throughout our journey, that we will eventually get to where we want to go.

There are a lot of reasons why most people just hope for great things from themselves or to reach a certain level of success. One of the main reasons is because they have let where they are at right now in life dictate their ways of thinking. Just because you aren’t where you want to be in life doesn’t mean you can’t expect greatness from yourself. Just because you don’t have the resources and money to back your idea doesn’t mean you can’t expect yourself to build and start an incredibly successful business.

You must stop this way of thinking. Don’t let all of your misfortunes prevent you from expecting great and wonderful things from yourself.

I know you want to be great and somewhere deep within you have the desire to achieve extraordinary things in your lifetime. You read Entrepreneur searching for ways to grow and learn. Or maybe you already are a major success and just love reading ways you can enhance your game. Whatever it may be for you, start expecting greatness in every area of your life instead of just hoping and wishing one day it will all come together for you.

Moving forward, increase your expectations in every area of your life. Don’t wish to be great — expect to be great. Don’t wish to become a successful entrepreneur — expect to be one. Don’t wish to change the world — expect to.

Ultimately, the difference between being average and being extraordinary will all come down to you executing your expectations.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

You Need to Conquer Your Comfort Zone Before It Kills You

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Have you ever looked back on your life and started to realize that some of your biggest goals and dreams just vanished? Not because you didn’t care about them anymore, but because you never took that initial step to get started on pursuing them wholeheartedly. Life then just started to pass you by.

Everywhere I go and speak there is always a select handful of people who come up to me afterwards describing a similar scenario as to the one I mentioned above.

As a matter of fact, this quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., says it all: “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.”

What a chilling statement.

There could be a hundred different reasons as to why someone doesn’t take the proper action that is required to get their goal or dream off the ground and up and running, but more times than not it’s the lie that your comfort zone is feeding you.

Every day, people from all walks of life have the opportunity to do what’s easy, listening to the lie of their comfort zones, or to do what’s necessary, which more than likely are the things that they do not want to do. From the time we wake up in the morning, to what we eat for breakfast, and how we go about the rest of our day, our comfort zones will be talking to us.

Everyone wants to be great. I can honestly say I have never met anyone who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves and feel as if they are a success in the game of life. Unfortunately, wanting to be successful and actually being successful are two completely different things, and a great determining factor of success a majority of the time is if a person is paralyzed by comfort or conquering comfort.

Entrepreneurs and business owners must get comfortable with being uncomfortable very quickly, or else there is virtually no chance to withstand the pressure and demands that it requires to be in business for yourself and manage others.

It really saddens me when I see someone fall into the extremely dangerous trap of comfort, and watch them bundle up their potential and push it off to the side as life passes them by. That’s the true definition of dying at the age of 25 but not getting buried until 75.

Or, as Holmes says, “Die with their music still in them.”

One of the more sad times in my life came when someone very dear to me died at a very young age due to a massive heart attack. The death alone was heartbreaking, but even more heartbreaking was thinking about all of the things he said he was going to do and accomplish, but ended up bringing those passions and dreams to the grave with him. It wasn’t a lack of skill, time or resources that prevented him from actually getting started on those things, but the cancerous word “comfort.”

Every day someone heads to the grave with their music still in them, with an unlimited amount of potential not touched, all because they let their comfort zone kill them. Please don’t let your comfort zone kill you and head to your grave with your music still in you. Greatness requires courage. It requires you to conquer comfort every single day of your life.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The 4 Secrets to a Successful Pivot

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A pivot is a powerful tool. A company that stays the course without looking for new opportunities risks failure.

Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, said in an interview: “Kodak or Blackberry — pick your favorite company in the last few years that’s gone from a 100 million market cap to 5 billion. And ask yourself, ‘was playing it safe actually that safe?’ I don’t see evidence of that.”

Even billion-dollar companies need to pivot in today’s world.

A smart pivot can save struggling companies, create growth opportunities in a related yet new direction or be the breakthrough that allows for the domination of an industry. In the dizzyingly fast pace of modern business, learning to quickly adapt through a well-thought-out pivot is essential. Responding intelligently to changing demands allows the more adaptive businesses to flourish.

Pivoting could mean a business changing its focus to something completely new, using research to help identify a fresh target audience or test a new product line. What is most important is that the change is efficient and wise.

Joe Liebke, founder and CEO of LUXPADS, a leading international vacation rental company, describes it as “a directional change that is based on experience and knowledge gained from a previous position.”

A successful pivot lies in a leader’s ability to execute his or her new plan with as much insight and passion as he or she had for the original business. This is exactly the approach that Liebke is taking by pivoting with his new venture Villaway.

Using the knowledge gained from his previous venture, Luxpads, Liebke focused on emerging trends in the way people want to experience upscale travel, essentially creating an AirBnB for the jetset. Rather than letting the opportune moment pass by, Liebke decided that Villaway has to be the leader in the field and dominate the luxury vacation rental marketplace.

So, what are the four secrets to a successful pivot?

1. Timing

You have to listen to what the market is telling you to decide when a pivot is the right move. This is something the self-aware entrepreneur needs to keep in mind. Half the battle with a successful pivot is picking when the time is right.

Liebke says “too many people fall victim to over analysis and they miss market opportunity.”

Reacting quickly is key. All business must change and owners must react if they want to stay current with their audiences and be competitive within their industry. The worst thing for a business is to become stagnant and irrelevant.

In the case of Villaway, the team behind it assessed the situation within the travel industry and felt the agency model wasn’t adequately serving the needs of property owners, managers or the guests. So they created a unique platform that connects the property managers directly to guests. This new approach to more efficiently manage luxury property might be the disruptive model that changes the way things are done.

History abounds with pivots that have changed whole industries. Remember when HBO used to play movies made by others? The traditional model of cable television was dying, so it made a pivot by producing its own content and now it is a juggernaut in the media world. A well-timed pivot can be worth billions.

2. Learn

The ability to learn, or “validated learning,” is one of the key strategies that must be adopted by business owners when pivoting. One of the foundations of this strategy is the need to understand new problems at their core. This helps to guide the business venture.

Luxpads’ experience as an agency taught its leadership the challenges and shortcomings of the current agency model. They knew they could create a viable solution by climbing vertically to a managed distribution business model by controlling the quality of product and partner members via the Villaway platform. Learning from relevant business experience helped inform the decision-making process.

You need to assess what is acceptable risk to make a change, your capacity to make that change, measure the cost and then weigh these against the potential rewards. Relevant experience should also be used to guide future learning. Knowledge is key. There is no excuse for ignorance if you are considering a pivot to a new market.

3. Adapt

A strong business leader is always assessing, measuring and adapting to the marketplace. This is the best way to create sustainable growth when making a pivot. By adapting to the market you place yourself in the best position to take on the new regulatory and financial risk-management challenges that come from rapid growth.

The window of opportunity opens only briefly, so the confidence in your team, resources and ability to execute are key measurements in evaluating a decision to pivot. Adapting to new market developments is the only way to ensure success, especially when timing is a consideration.

The success of a new business model depends on the ability to adapt to fast-changing marketplace conditions.

In the case of Villaway, Liebke says, “Our business puts us in the balance of technology, travel and real estate. These are all very dynamic and change frequently, so we have to pay close attention to all the market movers.”

This dynamism also permeates the tech world, where product cycle development gets faster every day. Instagram used to be a virtual check-in service, but it quickly adapted. Had its leadership stopped assessing their business, they never would have made the change they needed to grow.

4. Ride the wave

Pivoting was originally a sporting term, and many analogies have been made about pivoting in business and sports.

“I would draw the analogy of riding a wave. You have to sense and feel your position in relation to the wave as it is always changing,” says Liebke, a former nationally ranked surfer and surfboard shaper. “If the waves slows, speeds or changes shape, you can pivot off your back foot to reposition yourself depending on your strategy for the ride.”

This analogy suggests the importance of responding to market developments, the feel of the wave, as a catalyst for your decision to pivot. Assessing the right time to make a pivot and how you respond to the wave of the marketplace is then dependent upon having the passion and the knowledge gained from previous rides.

A successful pivot is a dynamic maneuver, leveraged from a previous position that optimizes your momentum and direction for the most positive outcome, whatever the objective might be. This applies to both surfing and pivoting. With a keen sense of timing, learning and adapting you might just make the right pivot and ride a wave to a whole new level of success.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

 

 

Wherever You Are in Life, Value the Journey

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Even though we all are on different paths, one of the major causes of unhappiness in the world of entrepreneurs, business leaders and high achievers is not taking the time to value the journey we’re on.

Whether you are already a major success and achieved everything that you set out to achieve at this point in your life, or if you are a startup founder passionately and aggressively working day and night to get to where you want to go, it’s so easy to let the hustle and bustle of the daily grind suck the life out of you and forget to value the journey.

I have witnessed this repeatedly. Just a few weeks ago, I was talking with a client of mine. He’s the vice president of a Fortune 100 company, and the particular conversation we had is what prompted me to write this article.

This man is a multi-millionaire. He is a core reason as to why his company is dominating the game right now. He has a beautiful family. His relationships for a busy executive are far above the average norm. His health and fitness are a priority.

You would think this man had it all together. However, deep down, he was miserable. He felt a major part of him was missing and his happiness was at an all-time low.

After talking with him for 15 minutes, I could easily point out that he wasn’t valuing his journey. He was letting the hustle and bustle of life drag him down. He was always striving to hit his next target, without ever taking the time to just appreciate where he is now. I simply asked him for a week to start making it a priority to value the process and the journey that he is currently on. He looked at me like he just wasted 15 minutes.

Long story short, he came back a week later in disbelief. He couldn’t believe how much his mood, happiness and even work performance skyrocketed by just beginning to value the current process and journey. He admitted that for once in his life, he was fully able to appreciate his life. Even though he was still extremely motivated to take his life and company to the next level, he was actually able to see the world clearer because he was intentional about placing a high value on his journey.

Now, I know you are probably thinking that it’s much harder to value the journey if you aren’t necessarily where you want to be in life, but I strongly disagree with that and even think that it’s even more vital when that’s the case.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the startup phase and forget why you even started your company in the first place. It’s so easy to constantly think about your next move and how you’re going to top previous results when you are already a major success in the public’s eye.

Whether you’re not where you want to be, exactly where you want to be or even if you are unsure of where you want to be, you can benefit greatly from valuing the journey that you are currently on.

Your happiness as a human being depends on it. Your performance at work depends on it. Your most precious relationships depend on it. And finally, your growth as a human being depends on it.

Value the journey.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

The Incredible Power of Believing in Yourself

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To live a life of high achievement, you must fully believe in yourself and your ability.

Find me an extremely successful person who doesn’t greatly believe in themselves. It’s not going to happen. Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Jordan, Elon Musk and Mark Cuban are just a few highly successful individuals who benefited greatly from this confidence. However, it’s not their levels of success that I want to talk about. It’s their willingness to get up again and again when they failed or experienced a setback while in pursuit of creating the life of their dreams.

They were only able to keep going and achieve success because of the level of belief in themselves despite the enormous amount of failures they had experienced for years leading up to their big breakthroughs. Their belief is what created a vision so big that they didn’t care how many times they failed at something. They were eventually going to get to where they wanted to go.

Especially as a business owner and entrepreneur, you are most definitely going to fail and experience a loss or setback at some point. If it hasn’t happened already, it eventually will. That’s not to be negative or discourage you, that’s just life. But when it does happen, and when your belief is strong, no failure or setback will have the power to completely wipe you out. Belief in yourself is the name of the game.

Here are two of my daily habits that have consistently helped me increase my belief in myself and shatter all self-imposed limitations.

Count your wins.

As human beings we naturally have the tendency to get stuck on the negative and think about all of our losses for the day, instead of counting our wins and finding all of the good that took place.

I use my gratitude journal to capture all of my wins at the end of each day. This can be the wins from today, last week, last month or even last year. It doesn’t really matter when, but the key is to just get in the habit of capturing all of your wins. This will bring you a complete sense of joy that will let you know that you have done some incredible things in the past and remind you that even bigger things can happen in the future.

Whether big or small, it doesn’t matter — just count your wins!

Talk to yourself like a champion.

Just as my friend and bestselling author Jon Gordon always says, “Talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself.” Just for one week, try talking to yourself like a champion instead of listening to yourself as a victim. I guarantee that you will be blown away by the results. It may seem weird to talk to yourself, but give it a try and then see if it’s worth the “weirdness.”

Thinking positive and empowering thoughts is one thing, but talking to yourself like a champion reconditions your thought process in an instant. When you form the habit of talking to yourself like a champion you don’t give the negative and discouraging thoughts the time of day.

With power and conviction, repeat phrases such as, “I am the greatest at what I do,” “There is nothing that I can’t do when I fully commit myself,” and “There is nothing ordinary about me. I am a champion.”

If you don’t have a huge amount of belief in yourself, then there is no way you can expect anyone else to believe in you. If you are an employee, you can’t expect your boss to fully believe in you if you don’t even believe in yourself. If you are an entrepreneur, you can’t expect an investor to believe in your ideas if you don’t even believe in yourself.

The men and women that change the world all understand the incredible power of belief.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The Important Lesson for Entrepreneurs From a Quarterback’s Fight for His Life

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Make sure you surround yourself with people who cheer you on in the midst of the battle — no matter what it is you may be doing or fighting. Whether it is starting a new business, running a certain race or even fighting for your life like Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly once was, you can’t rely solely on your own strength to get you through.

Here is an edited excerpt from the new book, Kelly Tough, written by the daughter of Jim Kelly, Erin Kelly.

Former teammates Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith went from helping raise the Bills’ score back when they all played together to raising my dad’s spirits when they came by the house to give him a sendoff as he left for New York City. He was gearing up for a six-week tour that was to include surgery, pain management, chemotherapy and radiation and it turned out to be very demoralizing. And yet in the throes of a very challenging time, even for one of the NFL’s toughest quarterbacks, all three of them also made the trip to visit him.

I learned a lot from the way all of these former players and my dad’s friends stepped right into his corner and went to battle with him, not on the gridiron as a teammate, but as brother who really loved my dad and put legs on that love (so to speak).

We are not meant to do this life journey alone. We need something bigger than ourselves and we need each other. Every one of us will come against insurmountable circumstances and trials that will cause us to want to give up and call it quits. However, when we have an incredibly strong inner-circle of people who are willing to go to battle with us, absolutely nothing is impossible.

You may not be fighting for your life like Jim Kelly was, but it certainly does show you how vitally important it is to have strong, courageous and like-minded individuals in your corner.

This celebrated and hall of fame athlete was used to being on top for most of his life, and then, in an instant, was fighting to live another day. When reading through the book and talking to those who were close to him, it’s incredible to hear that his inner-circle of loved ones is really what got him through the extreme pain of chemo treatments and the whole process as a whole.

All successful entrepreneurs and business leaders will tell you that a large part of their success is because of the people they surrounded themselves with and those that are on their team. When you feel like all is lost, when you are ready to give up and throw in the towel, it’s amazing the strength you find deep within when your team and those around you believe in you and is right by your side every step of the way.

Even though we may not be fighting against two separate bouts of cancer, we must learn this invaluable lesson from the great Jim Kelly: We are only as strong as the people around us.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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