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

Image credit: Shutterstock

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 Destroy Your Fears — for Good

20160311201925-potholes-road-crackedImage credit: Shutterstock

Just as happens with a lot of things in life, we all have choices to make regarding how we live: Are we going to choose to let our fears overtake us and wallow in our failures? Or, are we going to rise above these things and live a faith-filled life?

By “faith-filled life,” I mean always believing that the future is going to be bigger than the past and that there is absolutely no limit to our potential. The decision is ours; no one can make it for us. But it’s a decision that has to be made, because the more we experience adversity throughout our lives, the more our fears will creep in and rob us of our peace and happiness.

Interestingly enough, fear, failure and faith have a lot in common. When we fail at something, we let fear stop us from trying again. And when we operate out of fear, we set ourselves up for a negative and limited belief for a future that is still unwritten.

Faith focuses on the positive, while fear focuses only on the negative. When people experience a setback or failure, they immediately begin to believe that there is no choice but to accept the outcome of that negative experience. They lose sight of the fact that the first step in conquering adversity and uncovering the gift that lies within every failure is to constantly develop and strengthen the faith muscle which will help them destroy their fears and move forward.

As physician and Holocaust survivor Emannuel Teney put it, “As your faith is strengthened, you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.”

Destroying your fears 

We’ve all had numerous failures and setbacks throughout our journey. And, like most people, we may be afraid of trying something new — afraid we’ll fail again. But, if we are going to thrive despite the bad times, we absolutely must destroy our fears.

That is certainly no easy task, considering how much our fears have been ingrained. Where a lot of people go wrong is that they don’t do anything the moment fear begins to invade their thinking. They let it build up inside their minds; and, over time, fear is all they know.

When that happens, they are guided by their fears, instead of faith and hope. They never come to the realization that letting fear lead the way is a recipe for a life of mediocrity and “settling” for an average, lesser version of themselves, rather than the best version.

And don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves?

As the Rev. Charles Stanley said, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.” 

I wholeheartedly believe that so many people struggle with overcoming major setbacks and failure in life because they haven’t destroyed their fears. They fail, become frightened, then listen to, and end up living, their fears. This paralyzes them from taking action and doing what’s necessary to get them where they want to go.

I want to share with you two exercises that have worked wonders for me, for destroying my own fears:

1. Take out a sheet of paper and grab a pen.

For this exercise, it’s important to find a quiet location to help you get deep into your thoughts and bring you clarity. The goal here is to start writing every single fear that has ever crossed your mind and still has power over you. This fear could be preventing you from taking action, from talking to a certain man or woman. This fear could be preventing you from following your passion in life.

Whatever it is, write it down. A few years ago, I did this exercise and wrote down almost 200 fears.

Now the fun part: From every day going forward, pick one thing on your fear list. Pick one thing that you’re afraid of and force yourself to just do it. It could be picking up the phone and calling someone you have been wanting to talk to, but kept putting off. It could be making that first introduction to someone you’re interested in.

It could be enrolling in a class you’ve thought about pursuing. Or even starting a business. This exercise, done properly, will help you drastically shatter your fears. It has provided me with so much courage over the years and reminded me that the majority of the fears holding me back were only in my mind — and were false.

2. Shift your mindset — from the negativity of failure to the positivity faith and hope. 

Most of our fears aren’t even real. We let made-up scenarios — worries — play out in our heads and then run with them. Over time, we really start to believe those scenarios, which more than likely, are self-diminishing instead of self-empowering.

We must engrave in our minds that the only way fear can hold us back is if we let it. The only power it has is the power we give it. Shift your mind from the negative clutches of fear to the positivity of the beautiful gifts we receive when faith and hope in a bigger future are present. Then, from that point on, always look to strengthen your faith, not your fears.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Defeat Resistance and Get Your Most Important Work Done

1411076170-10-steps-change-life-step-step-guideImage credit: Shutterstock

Have you ever been in the situation where you really wanted to get something important done but all of a sudden your internal dialogue took over and you ended up talking yourself out of actually doing it? If I had to guess, chances are you have. It’s more than likely that all of us at some point have been in a similar situation.

I come across people on a daily basis who go on and on explaining how badly they want to write a book, start a business or pursue a passion. And, as the conversation continues, the next thing that comes out is a list of reasons why that hasn’t happened yet.

Unfortunately, most will continue their lives without realizing their goal. It’s not that they lack talent or that something is wrong with us. What has happened is that like millions of other people, we’ve let one of the biggest dream killers, resistance, completely take over our lives and decision-making ability.
We all have big hopes and aspirations, but as time goes on and we grow older, we let that resistance creep in and prevent us from tapping into our full potential. And the thing is that the more important and special something is to us, the stronger and more powerful our resistance will be. One of the best books I have come across that details this process is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I highly recommend it because it explains that it’s not just creatives who deal with resistance; it’s anyone who desires to live a bold and highly successful life.
I have had my own battle with resistance over the years and have learned how to minimize its effectiveness each time I feel it gaining an edge on me. Here are three ways I’ve defeated resistance and gotten my most important work done.

1. Just get started!

Resistance is at its strongest when you’re getting ready to start something. When I first sat down to write my book, I stared a few minutes at the blank screen, knowing exactly how much I had to write, and immediately came face to face with resistance.

Multiple excuses began to pop up, and the last thing I wanted to actually do was to start writing. But the turning point came when I stopped thinking about the thousands of words I had to write that day and just made getting started my main focus.

Once I was able to just get started, everything was downhill from there. When you direct all of your focus to  taking the first step, you destroy resistance little by little. The last thing resistance wants you to do is to start on an important project or work that truly matters. Whether that project is writing a book, starting a business or pursuing a passion, just focus on taking that first step.

2. Compete with yourself.

One of the major benefits of being a former athlete is that I am always trying to compete with myself and have fun with everything that I do. Instead of looking at resistance as some dreadful and awful experience, I try to have some fun with it and make it a game. At the end of each work day, especially when I am in the process of working on a major project like writing a book, I will keep score of how many times I have beat resistance. Nothing feels better than to get to the end of the day and look at how many times I have successfully defeated resistance.

This ends up increasing my fulfillment, happiness, and overall satisfaction for that particular day. This simple and fun practice has drastically transformed the way that I work. I encourage you to find your own practice and what works best for you. What works best for me may not be the best solution for you, but that’s not the main point. The most important thing is that you give yourself permission to have fun with resistance instead of let it cripple you from performing your best on a daily basis.

3. Get extremely clear.

When you get extremely clear about what you’re  trying to achieve, who you are as a person and the overall mission and purpose for your life, the resistance you’re up against loses a great deal of its power.

Returning to my efforts to write a book: Once I got extremely clear about why I wanted to write in the first place and the type of impact that I wanted it to have on people, I got motivated to take action. A lot of times, resistance gets the best of us because we forget the importance of gaining clarity before we start something.

The next time you feel resistance overpowering you, then, stop what you are doing and spend some time getting connected with your major life purpose, your biggest goals and dreams for the year and anything else that motivates and excites you. A simple mindset shift like this can make a profound difference in not only your ability to beat resistance, but in the way you feel about life.

I strongly believe that every one of us has a unique talent and ability that can be used to make a tremendous difference in the world. Don’t let resistance get in the way of preventing you from leaving your mark on the world.

Just as author Steven Pressfield said, “Most of us have two lives: the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

Don’t let resistance interfere with your becoming the best version of yourself.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Actions to Help You Recover From a Crushed Dream

20160223012617-football-nfl-2Image credit: Shutterstock

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

3 Questions That You Should Regularly Ask Yourself That Can Transform Your Life

20160811093208-InspirationImage credit: Shutterstock

Asking great questions regularly can drastically transform your life in many amazing ways. Doing this also encourages you to pause and think more deeply. What’s more, asking the right questions stimulates creative thinking that can inch you that much closer to experiencing a major breakthrough.

Such questioning has been monumental in my own personal and professional growth over the years.

I truly believe that the best of the best, those excelling at a very high level in all that they do, have formed the habit of asking better questions on a regular basis than everyone else. Tony Robbins once said, “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

To get you started on the right track, here are three questions that I regularly ask myself that have provided a tremendous amount of value in my life.

1. “Where am I?”

Taking the time to ask yourself where you currently are in life is incredibly important. A huge majority of the population never even stops to analyze where they are right this moment and if that’s where they truly want to be. They just continue going through the motions and living life way beneath their full potential.

Then, all of a sudden, they get stopped dead in their tracks and realize how unfulfilling their lives are, and they start feeling sorry for themselves and playing the blame game. Please don’t fall into that trap. Start asking yourself on a continual basis where you currently are in life and answer that question honestly. One of the hardest things to do is to admit that you aren’t where you want to be or that you have been doing it all wrong leading up to this point.

However, do you know what’s even much harder to deal with? Regret. And a lot of the regret that people unfortunately experience comes directly from never taking the time to ask this simple but extremely important question.

2. “Where do I want to be?”

This question is all about digging deep within yourself and discovering what your true passions, goals and dreams really are. In this day and age, it is so easy to get sidetracked by the fast-paced and noisy world we live in, while totally forgetting about what we truly want for our lives, personally and professionally.

One of the best ways to constantly make sure that you are moving in the right direction is to get in the habit of asking yourself where exactly you want to be. Where do you want to be professionally? Where do you want to be financially? Where do you want to be in your personal relationships? Where do you want to be in your health journey?

3. “How am I going to get there?”

All three of these questions are vitally important to ask yourself, but this last question can exponentially change the game for you. This question also happens to be the one that most people end up never asking because it requires a whole lot of work and actually getting up and doing something after you take the time to answer it.

Everything that I have ever been able to accomplish in my life has been a direct result of constantly asking myself this particular question, writing down every possible thing I can think of, and then taking massive action to execute everything that I wrote down.

Asking the above three questions and taking the time to write out the answers on a regular basis has changed my life in so many ways; and I fully believe it can do the same for you. I don’t just challenge you to ask yourself these questions, but to actually think long and hard about your answers and then write them out.

When we set aside time to write everything out, we start to see things we never would have seen before. Asking great questions puts you on the right path to start receiving great answers.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Have a Bigger Impact in Your Personal and Professional Life

20160301181643-man-screaming-letters-flying-shouting-ranting-yelling-mouth-verbalImage credit: Shutterstock

In my travels all over the world, speaking to different organizations of all sizes, there are two common questions that I always seem to receive at some point before or after I deliver my keynote presentation: “How can I decrease the daily stress in my life, and, “How can I have a bigger impact this year?”

Most people are stressed out at a very unhealthy level and truly believe that they must go through pain and all kinds of stress in order to take their lives and business to the next level. But this popular belief couldn’t be more wrong.

Yes, you absolutely need to sacrifice a tremendous amount and work in a way you have never worked before, but not at the expense of feeling miserable. The truth of the matter is that there is a way to not only decrease stress levels at a rapid rate, but also transform the impact that you have in the world. The more stressed out that you become, the more paralyzed your ability to unleash your incredible potential into the world.

Here are three things that have worked exceptionally well for me in the hopes of looking to minimize stress and increase impact.

1. Live in the now.

Regardless of where you may be in your life, whether it’s a time of failure and distress or a time of unbelievable success, don’t forget to live in the now.  Be as present as possible. All too often, we let our ambition and desire get in the way of enjoying life today, which will always provide anxiety and stress to some degree.

Living in the moment doesn’t mean completely forgetting about the past and the future; it means not allowing the past or the future to control the present. I can honestly say that one of the things I am most proud of during my short time in the NFL was being present every single moment and taking it all in. People who rush, rush, rush toward their future often forget about what they’re doing right now.

Time goes quickly, and if you don’t stop and enjoy what’s occurring, at the end of your life you’ll end up wondering what exactly happened.

2. Be a champion of preparation.

Working insanely hard doesn’t stress people out; weak preparation and working hard on insignificant tasks is what stresses people out. So, be a champion of preparation. Do the work others aren’t willing to do. Being around future Hall of Famers in the NFL and seeing “up close and personal” what it really took to excel at an extremely high level was eye-opening for me. I immediately noticed the ridiculous amount of preparation and hard work that was required to be the best.

I also noticed that these were the players who never worried and stressed themselves out, because they knew deep down that they worked to the best of their ability. They left it all out there, each and every day, regardless of whether the context was the film room, the practice field or the way in which they were taking care of their bodies.

Sure, many people would love to have the glory and accolades of becoming a Hall of Famer, but how many would actually do the work to obtain it? That is the question. So, start today. Dedicate yourself from this day forward to preparing to be the best you can be at whatever it is you want to do.

Study, research, practice, prepare. There is immense gratification that comes from adopting this mentality. It’s never enough to just do what’s required. When you become a champion of preparation, you will notice your impact rise and your stress levels drastically decline.

3. Celebrate every day.

There is power in celebrating everything — especially the small daily wins. Make it a personal habit right now to start celebrating everything in your life. Just because you haven’t reached one of your main goals yet doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and capitalize on where you currently are. One good way to get into the habit is by recording your small daily wins in a journal.

I personally use a Moleskine notebook, and at the end of each day, I write down five wins for that specific day. It doesn’t matter how bad my overall day was or what happened, I force myself to jot down five positive things. It puts me in a positive state of mind before I go to bed and builds momentum for the following day. Whether those wins are big, medium or small doesn’t matter. Celebrate those wins!

These three daily habits have greatly benefited my life and I hope they do the same for you.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

10 Great Quotes on the Power of Goals

20170118200409-GettyImages-81159095-cropImage credit: Michael Ochs Archives | Stringer | Getty Images

As January is officially upon us and most people are working on their resolutions and goals for the year ahead, I thought it would be very fitting to compile a list of some of my favorite quotes on goals and share them with you.

I suggest at the end of each week when you have a weekly review and analyze where you are in the process of achieving your goals, that you take a look at some of the below quotes. They will remind you not only the importance of setting goals and then working hard to attain them, but to keep fighting even when the going gets tough.

Here are 10 of my favorite quotes on goals.

1. Never have a lack of goals.  

“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” –Lou Holtz

Having goals that we are passionate about gives us something to look forward to each and every morning when we wake up. Not having goals is an excellent recipe for average living.

2. Vision is everything. 

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” –Lawrence J. Peter

Highly successful organizations and individuals all have an extremely clear vision of where they are going.

3. Dream enormously big.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” –Les Brown

Nothing has benefited my life more than shooting for the moon and dreaming enormously big dreams. When you dream big and shoot for the moon, you are forcing yourself to get out of your comfort zone.

4. Persistence makes all the difference.

“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” –Bear Bryant

If you are passionate about a goal or dream of yours then don’t stop until you achieve it. Do whatever it takes. Persisting in the face of adversity is what builds champions.

5. Goals give our lives meaning. 

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland

Setting goals and then working ridiculously hard to achieve them sets you on the path of living a purpose driven life.

6. True success is all about working towards meaningful goals and dreams.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.” –Bruce Lee

Achieving our goals and dreams is fantastic but that’s not the most important thing about setting goals. The most important thing is the type person that we become along the way.

7. Stop playing small. 

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” –Michelangelo

There are no benefits what so ever from playing small and setting your aim too low.

8. Where are you headed? 

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar

If you don’t set goals for your life then it’s almost certain that you will be very disappointed with your results. Aiming at nothing is setting yourself up to achieve nothing.

9. Stay focused at all times.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” –Henry Ford

When we take our eyes off of our goals, anxiety, worry, and doubt immediately begin to take over. Stay focused on what matters most at all times. Picture yourself achieving your goals and what that feels like instead of the obstacles that you will experience along the way.

10. It’s never too late.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis

There is no such thing as being too old to change your life and set new goals and dreams for yourself. Nelson Mandela was 75 years old when he was the oldest elected president of South Africa. Dimitrion Yordandis was 98 years old when he finished a 26 mile marathon on October 10th, 1976. Don’t ever say you are too old.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The 24 Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs In 2017

20161215220414-gettyimages-471688870Image credit: martin-dm | Getty Images

Entrepreneurs and business leaders have turned to podcasts as a great source of inspiration and education. But with more business podcasts launching into the iTunes store to meet the growing demand, it’s getting harder and harder to find the best podcasts for entrepreneurs.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs and executives. You might have heard of more publicized podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show and Entrepreneur on Fire, but this list covers a wider range of podcasts and includes a lot of new and noteworthy examples, like Powderkeg: Igniting Startups and Breaking Into Startups, that you shouldn’t ignore.

Here are the 24 best podcasts for entrepreneurs in 2017.

Starting Up Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

1. StartUp

StartUp is one of 10 shows produced by podcasting company Gimlet Media. Co-hosted by Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg and former FiveThirtyEight editor Lisa Chow, it tells the story of how Blumberg founded Gimlet and everything he learned along the way. It tackles all the issues of starting a company, like naming it, valuing it and bringing on partners through a personal, narrative lens.

2. Mixergy: Startup Stories

What makes Mixergy unique is that host Andrew Warner arranges some of his interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs into online business courses. The “Starting a Business” course presents six interviews in an order that works as a “how-to” guide for building a company, with each successive interview delving deeper into the topics of product development, customer acquisition and sales.

3. How to Start a Startup

Back in the fall of 2014, Y Combinator president Sam Altman gave a one-semester crash course at Stanford University on how to start a startup. Bringing in 29 other Y Combinator alumni as guest speakers, he put together 20 lectures on running a startup from inception to later-stage concerns. The lectures were recorded and have since been archived under the appropriate title, “How to Start a Startup,” and can be downloaded as video or audio files.

4. Entrepreneur On Fire

EOFire is an award-winning podcast where host John Lee Dumas interviews the most inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. Every single day, you can expect to hear incredible stories from highly successful entrepreneurs, actionable ideas that can transform your business, and be inspired to build the life of your dreams.

5. Powderkeg: Igniting Startups

A newcomer to the business podcast lineup, Powderkeg is already turning heads in the industry with a solid lineup of guests, in-depth interviews, and informative content. Focusing on the tech industry, this show reveals how entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley found traction and ultimately, success. Energetic host Matt Hunckler taps into the minds of top-tier entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to provide insights that will help aspiring founders no matter where they’re located.

Leadership and Productivity Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

6. Jocko Podcast

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL officer who doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it like it is. You are sure to learn key lessons on leadership, work ethic, and discipline that will help you to become the best version of yourself. Apple recently named Jocko Podcast one of the best podcasts of 2016 having this to say about it, “Leadership, fitness, military history — retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson.”

7. Self Made Man

In a nutshell, Self Made Man is a self-improvement podcast. Investor, entrepreneur and host Mike Dillard, along with each episode’s guest host, offers advice on how to improve yourself so that you can improve the world and achieve true greatness. The show places a special emphasis on business and finance but also covers topics like health and relationships.

8. The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden

The Action Catalyst podcast will inspire you to start taking action on what matters most in your life and how to take your productivity to the next level. Self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling Author Rory Vaden Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries get extraordinary results.

9. The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is the first business/interview podcast to surpass 100,000,000 downloads and when you listen in, you will be able to see exactly why. Angel investor and #1 New York Times bestlling Author Tim Ferriss interviews world-class performers from all different industries on what helped catapult them to the top and provides actionable advice you can implement into your own routine. Former guests include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, and many more.

10. Youpreneur FM

Lots of modern entrepreneurs are successful because they create a personal brand. Chris Ducker is one such person, and his Youpreneur podcast is aimed at instructing its listeners in all things personal brand entrepreneurship. He and his guests, which include top online business minds, cover everything from building your brand to creating products and marketing yourself in order to teach you how to succeed as a solopreneur.

Innovation Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

11. This Week in Startups

This Week in Startups has a finger on the pulse of the tech industry. As the name implies, host Jason Calacanis brings on a guest entrepreneur each week and talks about what’s happening right now in tech. The podcast is a combination of current events, company profiles and insider gossip, which means there’s so much juicy information packed into each episode that you can’t go wrong by tuning in.

12. The Twenty Minute VC

Have you ever wanted to get into the mind of a venture capitalist? (Here’s a hint: you should.) The Twenty Minute VC does just that. Host Harry Stebbings interviews two prominent VC investors each week, delving into why they do what they do and what they’re looking for in a startup. The show is also notable for being brief and to the point, with most episodes clocking in at around 20-30 minutes.

13. The Full Ratchet

Angel investor Nick Moran came up with the idea for The Full Ratchetas a result of his own difficulties obtaining clear and actionable information on how to be a good investor. He decided to start recording his chats with industry veterans to help investors and entrepreneurs understand how the whole funding process works. Like The Twenty Minute VC, this podcast teaches you how investors think and what will persuade them to buy into your company.

14. a16z Podcast

According to Silicon Valley-based VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z), “software is eating the world.” Their podcast brings on tech experts and business leaders to talk about the current state of devourment, discussing tech news, industry trends and what the future holds. If you want to hear what industry behemoths have to say about their work and the world, then this is the show for you.

15. Breaking Into Startups

Breaking Into Startups has only aired a few episodes, but it’s off to a very promising start. Created by Artur Meyster, Timur Meyster and Ruben Harris, the program shares the stories of people who broke into the tech industry from nontraditional backgrounds. The goal is to encourage and inspire people who want to get into tech by teaching them how to leverage their unique experiences in other industries.

Sales and Marketing Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

16. Marketing School

Neil Patel and Eric Siu are experts in digital marketing, and they share a bit of their knowledge every day in Marketing School. Each episode provides you with a unique online marketing tip in fewer than 10 minutes. It’s a great podcast for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and get to work implementing actionable advice on a daily basis.

17. Social Pros

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert and Adam Brown of Salesforce co-host this podcast about how to market your business on social media. Each week, they interview a leading social media strategist from a prominent company (think Dell, IBM and ESPN) to pick their brain and discuss the latest trends in social media marketing.

18. SaaStr Podcast

From software-as-a-service community SaaStr comes the SaaStr podcast, presented by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin and hosted by Harry Stebbings of The Twenty Minute VC. The show focuses on the world of SaaS, bringing on business owners as well as investors to explore what it takes for companies to succeed in their highly competitive market. SaaStr’s trademark area of focus is on advising startups how to go from $0 to $100 million ARR faster.

19. The #AskGaryVee Show

CEO, entrepreneur, angel investor and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk has built his personal brand with social media, and now he’s helping others do the same with his show, #AskGaryVee (available in video and audio). The show follows a simple Q&A format, with Gary answering viewer-submitted questions about marketing, social media and entrepreneurship.

20. The Growth Show

If you’re looking for advice on growing your business (and why shouldn’t you be?), then The Growth Show is just the ticket. It’s produced by HubSpot and features guests who have achieved remarkable growth with their businesses, delving into how they did it and what it was like to go through the transition. It’s sure to give you plenty of ideas and strategies for taking your business to the next level.

Inspirational Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

21. The School of Greatness

The School of Greatnes which is hosted by successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes will without a doubt inspire you to achieve your biggest goals and dreams. Lewis is a phenomenal interviewer who asks great questions. This is one of the most popular podcasts each and every year for a reason. It never disappoints.

22. Smart Passive Income Podcast

Pat Flynn is known in the blogging and podcasting spheres for building an online business almost entirely through passive income channels. On his Smart Passive Income podcast, he shares tons of passive income strategies that work as well as all the ones that don’t. Building passive income streams is all about working hard now so you can sit back and watch the cash flow in later!

23. Eventual Millionaire Podcast

Jaime Masters thought at a young age that she would one day be a millionaire. She still believes this is true, but she hasn’t gotten there yet! In her Eventual Millionaire blog and podcast, Masters interviews businesspeople who have reached that milestone to learn their tactics and advice for growing personal wealth.

24. Unemployable Podcast

If you’ve found yourself drawn to the entrepreneurial life, if might be because you’re “unemployable,” like lawyer-turned-writer-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark. In his weekly podcast, Clark draws from his 18 years of experience to provide advice and encouragement for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to develop their personal businesses.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Questions That Helped Me Discover My True Purpose

20161027204648-gettyimages-533979479Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Discovering your why, the real reason as to why you do what you do, that special thing that tugs at your heart and gives you complete satisfaction, very well could be one of the most important tasks that you will ever be faced with.

Finding out your why means that if you identify a dream or a major goal you want to pursue, ask yourself why. Is it because it will put the music in your heart? Will it fulfill the creative stirring that’s welling up inside you? Or do you want this goal because it will make you rich? I remember in college some friends talking about wanting to become physicians.

When I asked why, a couple of them said, “Because I’ll get rich.” I couldn’t help but think that was the wrong answer. I would never want to go to a physician who was in it for the money. I believe that to be truly fulfilled and happy, you must follow and live your bliss.

You must embrace a purpose-driven life and serve mankind in some way. For me, it was simple. I wanted to change peoples’ lives through my speaking and writing. I wanted to share everything I had learned with everyone else. And, yes, friends and family were shocked when they learned that I didn’t want to play professional football anymore. But my mind was made up. I wanted to live my purpose. That’s what tugged at my heart. I strongly believe that each and every one of us was put here to fulfill a specific purpose.

When you find out what that purpose is, I can promise you that your life will never be the same again. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” If you haven’t yet found out what your why is or discovered your true purpose, answer the following questions. They may help steer you in the right direction.

1. What keeps you up with excitement at night?

I loved football tremendously, but it never tugged at my heart and kept me up with so much excitement at night that I couldn’t sleep. On the other hand, speaking and impacting the lives of others absolutely did and still does to this day.

2. What makes you cry?

Best-selling author John C. Maxwell says, “Finding our purpose requires us to seek to discover two things: our passion and our giftedness. What is the deep desire set in your heart, the thing that sets your soul on fire? What makes you cry? What do you get most excited about? And what are you good at? No one else in the world has exactly the same gifts, talents, background, or future that you do.” When you identify what makes you cry, and what sets your soul on fire, and you tap into those, you begin to understand your why.

3. What would you do if your days were numbered?

If you went to the doctor for a routine checkup and received unexpected news that you were terminally ill and had a very short time left to live, what would you do? I asked myself this before I told my agent that I would no longer be playing football. I thought of many things I wanted to do, but football wasn’t one of them. Speaking and making a difference in the lives of others was at the forefront of everything I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Answering these three questions helped me discover my true purpose and I strongly believe that they can point you in the right direction of doing just the same.

This column is an excerpt from Matt Mayberry’s book, “Winning Plays.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

4 Visualization Techniques That Can Propel Your Success

20161004194257-gettyimages-160002644Image credit: Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

I strongly believe in the power of visualization. We must “see that image” in our mind before we ever venture forth to manifest it.

Jim Carrey is one of my favorite examples of this. The famous comedian and actor was once a “wannabe.” I remember seeing a highlight of his appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” back in 1997 and he spoke about his early days trying to make it in the entertainment business. He was broke and had no future. But he took a blank check and wrote out $10 million dollars to himself for acting services rendered and dated it for Thanksgiving 1995.

He said that he carried that check in his wallet at all times and looked at it every morning, visualizing receiving $10 million dollars. Five years after he wrote the check to himself and right before Thanksgiving 1995, he found out that he was going to make $10 million dollars from the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” That’s the power of visualizing your dreams. That’s the power of dreaming. That’s the power of relentlessly believing and working toward your vision every single day.

Here are four ways to help make visualization work for you.

1. Picture yourself victorious.

If you can’t see it, then it’s not going to happen. In order to achieve your biggest goals and dreams, you have to picture yourself victorious. You have to look beyond your current circumstances and past failures. Visualize as many details as you can. If you’re on the beach, feel the warm sun on your body, the wind in your hair, the salty ocean waves spraying on your face. Imagine the environment, the people around you, what you’re wearing, what you’re hearing. Re-create any feelings that are in alignment with your dreams. For me, I visualized myself playing college football. I smelled the locker room and the cut grass on the football field, and I heard the crowds in the bleachers as they shouted for Matt Mayberry. If you make this part of your daily routine, you will be amazed at the improvement in your life and astounded when your dream is realized.

2. Utilize the power of a trigger card.

When I was 16-years-old and after a teenage drug addiction easily could have killed me, my biggest goal and dream at the time was to get a Division I college scholarship for football. I put this incredibly huge goal at the time on a note card which served as my trigger card. From my 3×5 index cards, I read daily: “I will receive a Division I college scholarship for football by next year.”

I could feel how awesome the moment was, and I felt happy and alive. Get in the habit of doing this every day like I did. Each morning and each night, read those index cards, close your eyes, and imagine yourself accomplishing and following through on that major goal of yours. Whether you write yourself a check like Jim Carrey did or put your biggest goal and dream on a note card like I did, just make sure to utilize the power of a trigger card. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

3. Create a vision board.

A vision board worked wonders in my life when I believed there was no bigger future in store for me. It gave me the chance to actually see my goals. This vision board can be a poster board, a piece of paper, the back of a cardboard box, or anything you have. You could even use a vision book. On the vision boards and inside the books, put pictures that illustrate what you desire in your life. For me, it was photos of college football players who played their optimal best. I wanted to be one of the best, too. On my vision boards I also posted quotes that embodied what I wanted and I read them every single day.

4. Feed your mind with happy, loving memories.

It’s important to constantly feed your mind with happy, loving memories. I’m not referring to reliving the past, but to recreating those moments that once made you smile. Recall times of happiness in your home, such as a birthday party, a get-together with friends, a special holiday or something encouraging a loved one expressed. Do whatever you have to do to keep the naysayers and negative people out of your life as much as possible. You need all the happiness and love you can surround yourself with if you want to constantly focus and work toward your dreams.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com