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

Stop Comparing Yourself to Competitors. Start Perfecting Your Craft.

20141230200737-reflectionImage credit: Matt Niemi | Flickr

We’re hard on ourselves professionally. Competition is fierce in the business world. We compare ourselves to the competition every chance we get.

But I’m here to tell you to stop. Stop the comparisons. They’re doing nothing to your competition. Much like disliking a person that doesn’t know you exist, it only hurts you.

Emotional energy is what makes us great. It is the blood, sweat and tears that we experience when pursuing our deepest passions and dreams. The smile that comes when you get the sale or the tarnished ego that ensues when you don’t. It’s the yearning desire to want more and to keep pushing.

It can also be very draining and damaging if you don’t focus on the necessity of positive emotional energy. Do not sabotage yourself by draining your emotional energy on what everyone else is doing better than you. Your craft needs that emotional energy much more than your competition. Your craft needs your passion, your fire and your creative genius to push forward. Your competition is draining you of your competitive edge, and they’re not losing sleep over it — you are.

Yes, it’s important to know your market well and the others competing in your space, but keep it there. Have a concrete knowledge, but don’t worry about their quarterly sales, their new endorsements, how big their holiday party was, what media slots they are securing or what new clients they’ve gotten. The reality is that there is enough business out there for everyone. If you don’t believe so, ask yourself — how you are going to solicit a larger consumer base?

They are out there. This is where your energies need to be spent. This is where focusing on your craft comes in. Focus on the value that you, your product or your service brings to the industry. Spend time listening to what your loyal customers and clients are saying so that you can consistently perfect what you do. Focus on innovative marketing strategies, closing sales, satisfaction guarantees and new business outreach.

Most importantly, undergo the positive mind shift that is needed to protect your emotional energies. An attitude of gratitude is a foundation to win. Seeing the glass half full is half the battle. Think about what you do have and what you do exceptionally well. Focus on the consumers that already love what you do, and show them how much you appreciate them.

One thing I decided to do in the professional speaking world is that I reached out to everyone else in my industry that does what I do. Both new comers and heavy hitters. It definitely takes some guts to do. It’s very humbling, but it’s worthwhile. I introduced myself, congratulated them on their success and asked for a phone call at their convenience.

A few actually went on to become mentors to me. I strongly advise others to do the same. It is worth the time to reach out to people who have been there. You would be shocked at how many people will extend a hand to you. Your competition is curious about you as well.

Think about my alternative option. I could have spent the same, if not more, amount of energy on looking at everyone in my industry and assessing how I can beat them, surpass them or solicit their business. This idea would not have allowed me the important guidance and advice I received along the way. It also makes you a bigger target to take out. In business, you must strive to build bridges to success — not barriers to opportunity.

Because of this outreach, I’ve been invited to events to hear my mentors speak where I could learn valuable insights to incorporate into my own business. I have also had speakers who were unavailable to give a certain keynote due to prior bookings, refer me as the person to take their spot.

It doesn’t matter what industry you occupy — focus on what you do well. There is enough business to be had by all. Focus on forming allies and perfecting your craft rather than overthrowing your competition. Your craft needs your energy much more than your competition.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Our Brains Are Predisposed to Misery, But That Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Miserable

20150311170104-brain-skull-human-medicalImage credit: J E Theriot | Flickr | Enhanced by Entrepreneur

Do you know any of those beautiful people with supermodel looks who could not stop talking about how devastating it was that they had gained a half-pound or how ugly they look and feel at certain times?

I always wondered how they could look at themselves in the mirror and see only the flaws. Why can’t they focus on the positives? I also wondered what would happen to them if something major occurred — illness, loss of loved ones, etc. — in their lives. Would they be able to survive?

As human beings, we are wired to focus on the negative and give all of the failures, problems and hardships in our lives more attention than all of the good and beauty that surrounds us. It’s just like those beautiful people who will go to extreme lengths to point out the bad while totally forgetting that they are incredibly blessed with good looks.

I have talked a lot about the importance of reconditioning your mind and taking control of your thoughts every day over the years, but I never realized that we were physically hardwired to be negative until I started conducting some research.

Researchers, in a laboratory setting, showed participants identified pictures of angry faces much faster than happy ones. “We have a sixth sense for misery,” as Cracked put it.

So when you fail or something doesn’t go as planned, it’s natural that you begin to think negatively and let those diminishing thoughts take over.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., author of Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence, states that research in neuroscience is showing that we’re all hardwired to register and remember negative events more quickly and deeply than positive ones.

Have you noticed that you often focus on the negative? Have you ever wondered if you’re just a negative person or if society and the media downloaded so much negativity into the world and ultimately into our brains, that it has become a natural part of us?

“Evidence does suggest that agitation, anger and fear are easier for most of us to access and sustain than peace, happiness and fulfillment, and that a genuinely happy life doesn’t happen without deliberate effort,” writes psychotherapist Tom Moon.

Before you get depressed about all this, remember that you can change your emotions and feelings.

“What this means in practice is that if we are serious about striving for happiness, we need a sustained intention to take the actions necessary to produce it, and we also have to devote regular attention to the positive events in our lives,” Moon writes.

What we think about every minute is a whole lot more important than what most people think it is. Even when they’re the little thoughts that you believe have no meaning at all, they certainly do. Those little thoughts of negativity will add up to big thoughts, which will eventually take over if you’re not attentive to them. Get intentional about experiencing the very best that life has to offer.

Focus on your wins for the day, not the losses. Live in a space of gratitude and constantly give thanks for all of the blessings in your life. Be sure to engage in positive and uplifting conversations with family and friends. In all that you do, make sure to feed the positives in your life. As I stated above, we are wired to be negative and concentrate on all of the misfortunes in our lives, and the media doesn’t add any solutions to that problem.

From this moment on, don’t wait for anyone else or for a certain event in your life to bring you the happiness that you desire. It’s a choice that needs to be made from within, and only you can make that decision for yourself. The power of intention is extraordinary when practiced and harnessed every day of our lives.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Simple Ways to Feel Happy

20150313223526-smile-smiley-face-happy-happinessImage credit: Eric | Flickr

Let’s face it, we all have those days when we don’t feel happy. Sure, circumstances and certain events in your life can change emotions for the worse in an instant, but the outcome of whether you are miserable or happy all comes down to you.

The power of choice is one of the most extraordinary things that human beings have. We have the choice whether to be happy or sad, and that choice is in front of us to make every single minute of every day.

I learned the power of choice when I was recently walking in downtown Chicago. As I came around a corner, I saw a homeless man lying on the side of the street with a huge smile on his face. What was different about this man is that he wasn’t asking for money or even food. He was just smiling.

As I began talking to him, he said that people think he is crazy, not because he is homeless and has no shoes on his feet, but because he always has a huge smile on his face. He then went on to explain that he has a choice to either be happy or miserable, and he promised himself that he will always choose to smile and be happy no matter how tough his life may be.

This short story leads me to three ways to instantly increase your happiness levels:

1. Choose to be happy.

It sounds so easy and cliché, but as I stated before, the power of choice is extraordinary. A lot of us take it for granted. I wanted to share the above story to give you a clear example of a man who has nothing but still chooses to be happy.

I have seen hundreds of examples of men and women who don’t have as much success, materialistic possessions or status as others but still manage to be incredibly happy. How is this so? The power of choice. They choose to be happy and not let their circumstances or another person dictate whether they are going to be happy or not.

First, you must choose to be happy before you can ever be happy. It’s not an event or level of achievement that brings real and lasting happiness — it’s a choice that does.

2. Live in a constant state of gratitude.

One of the most efficient and easiest ways to increase your happiness levels is to constantly think, express and write down all that you are grateful for. I know your next statement may be, “I don’t have much to be grateful for in my life right now.” I beg to differ.

Every single one of us that is alive and breathing right now has a whole lot to be thankful for. It can be some of the most simplest things that you take for granted every single day, like having the chance to take your child to school, the beauty of mother nature or to just be alive and experience life.

It’s impossible to be stressed, miserable and unhappy when you are constantly paying attention to all that you are grateful for, and nothing is ever too small to be grateful for.

3. Get in tune with your long-range goals and vision.

This is very important because most people’s unhappiness comes from short-term disappointments. This is why creating a grand vision for your life and having not only short-term goals but long-range and lifetime goals is vitally important.

When I experience short-term disappointments, I don’t let them bother me as much because I quickly get in tune with my long-range vision. That excites me and helps me to realize that, hey, this outcome that has me down right now won’t last. I have something way bigger in store for me in the future.

The next time that you are feeling down, get in tune with your long-range goals and vision. If that doesn’t change your state in an instant, they’re not big enough.

Every single one of us wants to be happy. I hope these three easy-to-implement steps can help increase your happiness levels the next time you are feeling down.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

 

Don’t Forget the Importance of Living in the Now

20150311171621-time-clock-wasting-time-burn-fire-burntImage credit: olavXO | Flickr

Have you ever got so excited about what’s to come in the future that you completely forgot to live in the present?

I certainly have, and I know many others that deal with the same problem. It’s easy to forget about living in the present and direct our focus and energy towards the future, or even worse, the past.

Just last week I had the opportunity to speak to a large group of high school students. I always enjoy the opportunity to spend time with the younger generation and share with them not only the tools that will help them become successful, but some of the things I most regret when I was their age.

One of the main things I decided to focus on with them was the importance of living in the now. When I was their age, all I could think about was going to college, and in turn neglected my final days as a high school student. Those are days I’ll never get back. Once I got to college, the same pattern developed. I couldn’t wait to leave Indiana University and start my NFL career.

This was a huge mistake on my part. Sure, it may have worked to my advantage to an extent because I always had a vision of what I wanted in my life, but I didn’t take the time to fully enjoy where I currently was or savor the moment.

Yes, we must have a vision for where we want to go and take ownership of where we currently are, but something that we can’t let happen is to neglect the present. The present is here to help develop and mold us into the individuals we need to become.

Day by day, life is fleeing from us. It’s not just youth that needs to be reminded of this. We as entrepreneurs and business owners need the same reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in the process of building a business that you completely forget to live fully in the now.

Twenty years from now, once you are where you want to be, you will be looking back thinking what a mistake it was to not be as present as you could have been.

We decide not to give our all at work until a problem arises. We wait to tell those we love most how much they really mean to us until we come face to face with death. We forget about our most important values and priorities all to make a living or get an extra bonus.

Regardless of our stations in life, we can absolutely benefit from learning how to live in the now and be as present as possible while still having those long-term visions and plans. One of the major causes of unhappiness is to not appreciate what we already have and focus all of our energy and effort toward what we don’t have.

The older we get, some of our most precious assets will be the memories that we have created throughout the course of our lives. Don’t forget to make a life while you are busy making a living and building a business. There is no better time to start living life to the fullest than right this moment.

After all, not being present and choosing to not live life to the fullest now just might be one of your biggest regrets while on your death bed.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

6 Ways to Enhance Your Mindset So You Can Take on Life’s Challenges

20150224184002-defeat-depression-relaxation-meditating

One of the most rewarding things that I have ever done was create a daily mindset enhancement program for myself. This program has one goal and one goal only: to constantly feed my mind with uplifting and positive material that will help to keep me performing at a high level day in and day out, regardless of what’s going on.

Failure, toxic people and the everyday challenges of life have the potential to completely shatter our dreams, hopes and desires to do anything worthwhile in this world. Don’t be like everyone else and take a major hit to the quality of their thoughts and thinking when something bad happens in their lives.

Take charge of your mind. Grow and protect it with everything you have. All achievements, riches and happiness start in the mind.

There are going to be times where you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like going to work on your mind. However, failing to do so provides you with a lot more challenges and problems than to actually take the 20 to 30 minutes out of your day to sit down and do it.

Here are the steps of my daily mindset enhancement program that you can use as a starting point to help get you started.

1. Rise early.

Wake up at least two hours before you have to be somewhere. If you have to be at the office at 8, then wake up at 6. Waking up two hours before you have to be anywhere is very important because one of the main reasons why most people don’t have very good morning routines is because they rush. From the time they get up until the time they run out the door, everything is just a constant blur for them. They have no time to spend on themselves before they enter the real world.

2. Enter the classroom of silence.

In this day and age with all of the technoglogy, gadgets and obligations that we have, we hardly ever spend time in solitude. There is no better time to tune out the rest of the world and get in touch with your inner-self than early in the morning. All you need is roughly 10 to 15 minutes to sit in solitude and capture the essence of all of the beauty in your life.

I visualize how I want my day to go to every exact detail, from the moment I walk out the door, to the facial expressions of clients after meetings, to eating healthy meals all day long. My vision for the day ahead is as positive and successful as possible.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

The best attitude to have is an attitude of gratitude, and keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way to incorporate gratitude into your daily routines. When we are going through a rough time or have a million things on our mind, the last thing we are thinking about most of the time is what we are grateful for.

Taking the time to actually write down at least three to five things you are grateful for in the morning sets you up for a happy and amazing day. Regardless of what setback or challenge you may be currently facing, gratitude is one of your best weapons against unhappiness and feeling sorry for yourself.

4. Read an uplifting and positive book.

Reading to the brain is what exercise is to the body. By reading a motivational and uplifting book you are providing yourself with the mental fuel to have a positive state of mind all day long. What we read and watch first thing in the morning is said to have the biggest effect on how the rest of our day goes.

5. Utilize the tremendous power of audiobooks.

Instead of driving to work and listening to music, put on a good audiobook or some type of audio program that is going to motivate, inspire or teach you something.

Work out in the morning? Get your sweat on while feeding your mind at the same time.

We spend so much time every day in cars, trains and airplanes that one of the best ways to utilize that commute time is to grow with audiobooks.

6. Engage in conversations that stimulate your mind.

Think about all of the conversations that you have on a daily basis. How many of them stimulate your mind with positive energy that gets you extremely excited about life in general?

There will always be negative people around us, including some of our closest friends and family members, but start to get real serious about the daily conversations that you engage in every day. Our moods, lives and mindsets are greatly affected by the conversations that we engage in. Make sure yours are building you up, not tearing you down.

Creating a mindset enhancement program and going to work on your mind every single day can dramatically change the direction of your life and business in an instant.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com